History of Cayo Granma
This fishing community in the city known as Granma Cayo, is first linked, according to historians, with the existence of aboriginal settlements in the river channels of the rivers Paradas, Gascon, Yarayo and Caimanes as well as other sites located in Churruca, La Estrella, Punta Caracoles and Nispero of the coastal littoral; from which it can be deduced that these indigenous groups certainly penetrated the area.
Secondly, the following history of the town is closely related to the very founding of the town of Santiago de Cuba and the consequent events linked to that process, such as the attacks of privateers and French and English pirates in 1538, 1547; which is supposed to have much to do with this site given its advantageous geographical position at the entrance of the bay, serving as a shelter of the same. In this respect the references to the defense of the Santiago as to these attacks are known during the second half of the seventeenth century.
Significant was for the history of Cayo Granma the attack of the Cuban independent troops led by Maximo Gomez, Flor Crombet, Enrique Collazo and Narciso Silva to the Spanish garrison of the colony of La Socapa during the War of the 10 years, 18th of December of 1870 the inhabitants of La Socapa sought refuge in “El Cayo”, a time from which they speak of a population settlement in the place, which by 1879 amounted to 184 inhabitants and since 1877 was built there the Hermitage of San Rafael.
Characteristics and Traditions of Cayo Granma.
At the entrance to the bay of Santiago de Cuba, on the Caribbean Sea, Cayo Granma emerges, a territory of about two thousand square meters, where a community consisting mainly of fishermen live.
The Cayo, which is only reached by sea, was first called Smith, the last name of the first person who baptized the place. The small town, where there are no streets but paths, where there are no cemeteries and there are about 120 buildings (including a school, a church, a post office, a medical room, a cellar and a house of culture), can be travelled in just over an hour.
This spark of land stolen from the sea, with a population of more than two thousand 700 inhabitants, stands as a perennial guardian of the entrance to the bay and customs rooted in its inhabitants.
The Carijai Festival, which is also known as the celebration, is the place where typical dishes from the area are made from fish and shellfish, such as crab tea or broth and fried mangoes.
A scenario where craftsmanship of the inhabitants is also exhibited, construction of boats and nets to catch fish, works with natural fibers, among others, expression of popular culture tied to the main economic activity that is fishing.
The event preserves the tradition of hunting the crustaceans, rewarding the child who finds the smallest living specimen, which is later returned to the sea, and the adult who captures the largest crab, always found on the seabed.
Another special day in Cayo Granma occurs once a year, just as the dock of the popular council of Ciudamar is witness to massive exodus, motivated by the traditional visit to the Hermitage of San Rafael, every October 24th, the day of the patron saint of people sick and travelers.
At the beginning, dates in the colonial period, these feasts dedicated to the saint were revelations that lasted more than a week and attended musical groups throughout the country.
In 2011, for the first time after 30 years, this day began with a procession of San Rafael throughout the cay.
Just at the entrance to the bay of the city of Santiago de Cuba there is a place called Cayo Granma, where history and current events merge as an example of the cultural wealth that reigns in this city, the so-called Capital of the Caribbean.
In Cayo Granma history and culture are fused, an example of the popular wealth that treasures a bit of the east of Cuba.