Is Morón Real?
The City of Morón is one of Cuba’s oldest settlements but if you had visited the region in the early 20th century before the railroad arrived you might have thought you had crossed a time warp. Prior to the railroad and causeway extensions, Morón was isolated from the rest of Cuba and the rest of the world.
The shallow reefs made shipping of goods and large equipment nearly impossible. The only way products reached the city was via sailboat or via rowed boat. As agriculture was the main source of revenue and necessary for survival, crops were raised with the help of a few animals but mostly by hand.
The citizenry was not displeased with their isolation. In fact, that is why the settlement was founded in 1750 by a group of dissatisfied Spanish sailors and a few disenchanted Creoles who migrated from Sancti Spiritus to the desolate area.
The Spanish sailors originally hailed from Andalusia in Old Castile, Extremadura, Galicia and the Canary Islands. In one sense, Morón’s founding fathers were misfits and they liked it that way. For 150 years, the community existed but few people from the outside world or from Cuba were aware of it.
Making charcoal and fishing were other mainstays of the Morón economy. Fisherman set out in dinghies every day. They rowed beyond the reefs and made their catch. Some fisherman built small sailboats and went to deeper water. Life was challenging but quiet and unbothered.
To reach the mainland was a ten hour trip that had the added risk of being on the sea. In the 1750’s, that could mean being at sea in small boats and trying to avoid pirates.
Morón began to appear on the scene in 1869, during Cuba’s 1st War of Independence. A fort was built near the city to mark the northernmost point of containment for the rebellious forces from the eastern section of the island. The Trocha from Jucaro to Morón is still a tourist attraction today.
Along with the Trocha, a railroad was built to enable the transport of troops to the fortification. By 1915, the Trocha rail was active and the city finally began to grow. Not all citizens supported the growth which was spurred by the efforts of Colonel Jose M. Tarafa, who was determined to put Morón on the map.
The city was eventually declared the new rail line’s headquarters and gradually crops and equipment began to flow to and from the area. In particular, the demand for sugar grew substantially and the farmers who were now blessed with more livestock and equipment proved very capable of meeting the new demand.
Eventually, sugar plantations popped up in and around the municipality of Morón. Previously, sugar trade was confined to the south and central sections of the country.
In the 1960’s a road was constructed across the surrounding marshland. In the 1990’s, the causeway to Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo was completed. The Morón of today is very different than the isolated city prior to the railroad and ensuing civilization.
Tourists now flock to the city of 60,000 from Cuba’s nearby beach resorts. Archaeologists wonder at the numerous digs, whose discoveries are placed in the local museum. Today, there are buses and traffic but one cannot help but imagine what this remotes area of Cuba was like when the original settlers decided to create their own, protected civilization.
Another major attraction is the country’s largest natural lake, Laguna de Leche. Here, the country’s largest reservoir of trout thrive at the nation’s International Trout Center.
The city is in the municipality of the same name. The City of Ciego de Avila is to the east. The Bay of Buena Vista and the Jardines del Rey archipelago are to the north with Ciro Redondo to the south. Chambras is situated west of the city.
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