CAVEMAN OF CUBA
by Virgilio Sánchez-Ocejo
Currently there is, in the island of Cuba about 1,000 registered caves or caverns. Some of them have been totally or partially explored by the Speleological Society of Cuba which was established 70 years ago, and we highlight its valuable work. Although these figures do not take away that some scholars claim that the known caves do not exceed 5% to 10% the number of actually existing caves or caverns on the island, so their total number could reach 10,000 (1) this without counting those that might be at its coasts under the sea. Considering that the island of Cuba has an area of 105,007 square kilometers, 10,000 caverns would make the largest number of caves per square kilometer.
These caves represent multiple incalculable value, not only as tourist attractions, but also, in many cases show recorded in its womb, stories of past generations and races. There are new research and hypotheses on cave drawings of geometric characters that had previously been classified as unexplained.
In these caverns also are written the history of the island, from current events to those lost in the past. This reason inspired me to write this essay.
The sources of this work are reports that we are getting on the Cuban caverns or caves from researchers and valuable documentaries dealing with this topic, in addition to reports from the, Speleological Society of Cuba published in Bohemia magazine, entitled "Reporting Riches" that we took from microfilm on the library at the University of Miami.
We hope to arouse curiosity, which is the base of scientific research, among both scholars and the general public. A new path in the history of our island is recorded on the walls of its caves.
Some geometric pictographs: circles and a cross.
This story begins today. We have received reports that there are currently dozens of families living in unknown or as yet uncatalogued caves, fleeing the current communist system of government. Most of the caves are inaccessible due to dense vegetation. The people live inside sheltered from inclement weather and the authorities’ view. For food, the cave residents feed on crops of cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, and bananas, all planted under trees or in the bushes. Some have small animals for consumption like chickens, pigs, goats, in small separate pens under some leafy trees, which cannot be seen from the air. Their kitchen and sleeping places are within the depths of the cave. Thus they hide from view the smoke from the fire, causing the deterioration and loss of pictographs or aboriginal arts that the caves could contain. Most of these caves provide drinking water from their underground springs. When in need of some groceries, sporadically, they sent a messenger to a nearby town, doing some exchange with the product of their crops to a family member or a friend.
The authorities are aware of this, but to capture them, they would have to use the whole army. Most of the army and the militia are currently working in the Department of Tourism. This project would take several years "combing" the island to find them. Moreover, the cost would be very high at a time when the economy is going through tough times. In addition, the cavemen do not represent any danger to the government, which would not justify the high cost to find them; therefore it isn't worth it and they decided to do nothing. Although it seems taken from a science fiction story, there are caveman today!
In addition, during the Republican era, the caves were used as shelter by the Cubans. For example, the "guajiros", or farmers, of the “Sierra de los Organos” in the western province of Pinar del Rio, famous for its tobacco valley, lived in "holes" or small valleys, who communicated with the plains through spacious surrounding caves with underground rivers. These farmers were isolated from the rest of the republic. They lived there because it cost them nothing, not having to pay rent on the plains of the great valleys. A family who lived isolated in the "Valle del Ruiseñor” [Valley of the Nightingale], an open cavern at the foot of a cliff that was the entrance to a huge mountain, used the cave as a natural way of communication. Moving through the dark underground tunnels, they used firebrand or torches made of pine. The farmers of the "Sierra de los Organos" used its caves to pick bat excrement, which they scattered for fertilizing their tobacco fields. These farmers had a narrow view of the outside world. Almost all elevations of the "Sierra de los Organos" and the "Cueva del Rio Ancón”, have underground rivers by its splendid galleries (2).
Some of those who now hold positions in the government survived, thanks to the caves, when they fought against the republic government, west of the island, in the "Sierra Maestra" and its center in the "Sierra del Escambray”. A senior military attaché at the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti, told me that in the late fifties, soldiers of the government lay a siege in the "Sierra Maestra" to fight and capture Fidel Castro insurgents.
He had news, that later proved that a small group led by Fidel Castro had come by sea, and fleed the siege, to Haitian territory. The remaining troops left on the mountain were ordered to hide in the depths of the existing caves in that area. The siege ended with negative results, and the government troops were ordered to return to their respective bases. Later, Castro and his small group returned to the region, joining with those who was hiding in caves, to continue their fight.
Discovery and colonization.
The discovery and colonization of the island by the Spanish, 1492-1868, brought to the natives of the island, the Taino, Siboney, and Guanajatabey, forced forced labor. Many of them were forced to take refuge in caves that were known, which they had used for their cave paintings. In “Cueva del Indio” [Indian Cave], located facing the city of Nueva Gerona, human remains were found, apparently indigenous as recorded and issued by the then mayor dated May 15, 1911. When the indigenous race disappeared, the Spanish colonists began importing slaves from Africa. Like their predecessors, many fled and found refuge in the caves. In the “Cueva del Tambor” [The Drum Cave], and in the pit of Fania belonging to the mountains of “Quemados de Pineda” [Burns Pineda] in Pinar del Rio province, were found a mirror and a drum shell made of palm wood. It is hard to day to find a drum of this class. This suggests that it was a refuge of black slaves. In the “Cueva Funeraria de Carbonera” [Burial Cave of Carbonera], 15 km. of the Via Blanca, in Matanzas province, human remains were found. In “Cueva Florencio” [Cave Florencio], saved to science, was found a skeletal remain with the general characteristics of the black race.
Wars of independence.
During the wars of independence; first the “Ten Years War” from 1868 to 1878 and then the "Independence War” from 1895 to 1898, Cuban fighters called “Mambises” also used caves as shelters. In the Cave of Cepero, in Carbonera, General Carlos Rojas took refuge on several occasions, and like these, many other caves served as a refuge to the Mambises.
Before the arrival of the Spanish in the island, the caves were used by the natives, besides wildlife refuges, as means of expression that left embodied in its walls, ceilings and secondary formations, as evidence of their way of life and their material needs. In one of them, there are paintings of men with tails. Rock art is one of the best known aboriginal art forms worldwide. In America, its spread across the continent, the Caribbean and, of course, in Cuba.
Men with Tails?
I do not want to get into the technicality of what aborigines used in its artwork; we leave that to cavers and archaeologists. I do want to point out some work, done today by some of them, that have come to our hands. There are, in our caves, some pictographs, or rock drawings, of geometric character that cannot be explained. With modern computers, some of these pictographs of unexplained geometric design have been taken from one plane into the third dimension. The 3D images were the work of Carlos Andrés García, an artist, amateur archaeologist, and ufologist. After a study, based on observation, analysis, and reproduction, these archaeological artifacts or “machines” came to life in 3D, making a visual communication with the rock-art artist. The research was based on the painters of the Renaissance, between the years 1492 and 1493; they started applying science-dimensional, registered in the Madrid Codex 1 of Leonardo da Vinci.
Carlos Andrés García - unexplained Machine - Another unexplained machine - Artist's impresion in 3-D
In the Cave of St. Ambrose, near the beach of Varadero, Matanzas province, the pictographs geometric # 22 and # 28 are represented by a mechanical device that moves when taken to the 3rd Dimension on the computer. These pictographs are very similar to the "Gray Pictograph" shown in “Cueva de los Portales” [Cave Portals] in Sierra Cubitas, in the province of Camagüey, and in pictograph # 28 in Cave Ramos in Cayo Caguanes, located on the northern coast of the Sancti Spiritus province.
Pictograph #28 in Cave Ramos. Artist's impression in 3-D - Pyramid with UFO?
The most inexplicable of all these geometric pictographs is located on the roof of The Cave of St. Ambrose, classified as the Pictograph # 23. Its form has aerodynamic features, are like an artifact in the form of a flying machine or spacecraft (3). We ask: was this an illustration of a prehistoric flying machine that was invented 6,000 years ago in the Paleolithic period?. That would be 6,000 years before Leonardo da Vinci?. Da Vinci’s own flying machine design was based on the flight of birds and human anatomy. He concluded that man could fly. We also should note, that some assumptions made by scholars on some representations that adorns the Caves of Altamira in Spain and Lascaux, in France, suggest the presence of UFOs or spacecraft.
Pictograph #23 in the Cave of St. Ambrose = Artist's impression in 3-D of Spaceship?
The largest cavern of Cuba, the "Great Cavern of Santo Tomas", is 8 kilometers, in depth. It is located in the province of Pinar del Rio. In its depths was discovered a mural on fourteen feet of smooth wall, with geometrical figures carved by Indians of an unfamiliar culture. In this dark, deep cavern, christened "Dr. Garcia Valdes" in tribute to the late archaeologist of Pinar del Rio, these drawing were etched carvings that showed a firm intention by the authors, to make a mark, a message (4).Helicopter?
Huge stone tools, which have to do with the first aboriginal, were found by an amateur archaeological group, in the coastal areas of Sagua la Grande, in the Villa Clara province. The group found 18 monolithic axes made of siliceous rock, the largest so far found, with vertically cut rocks, arrows tips, and spears with enormous dimensions. Some of these objects were underground and others on the surface. The axes measure between 7 to 14 inches (18 to 35 centimeters) and weigh between 5 to 11 pounds (2 to 5 kilograms). These pieces were built by unknown communities in Cuba.
An expert commented: “They belong to a period that I do not dare to calculate, because it will demolish not only theories and hypotheses of Cuban settlements, but even the Americas. This is an enigma of high scientific significance”.
The weights and sizes of the axes indicate that the men who used them were very strong and the animals they killed were of huge size, of which were no survivors. In the area of the discovery, a huge vertebrate's fossil appeared with marks done by axes. The only way to know the date on which these axes were created is through modern scientific analysis, but Cuba does not have the resources to do so. Could this discovery prove that the first American man entered the continent through Cuba and not by the Bering Strait?
We recently received a report about one of these axes, which served as a baseball “home” plate on a piece of land, where some boys were playing in Las Villas province. A doctor, a resident of the place, had seen on TV a report on these findings, and recognized the stone as a tool supposedly created by aborigines, (because no one really knows its makers). He picked it up and ran from the place, pursued by the boys, who shouted at him to return their “home” plate. The doctor took the stone to the local museum of archaeology, where it was found that this was indeed one of these tools called an “axis-shaped bicycle seat."
In the areas of these findings were also discovered huge bones and skulls of animals. The “Megalocnus rodent”, the size of a black bear; the “Mesocnus”, a somewhat smaller type; the “Acratocnus” (Miocnus), another very similar species; and traces of a species belonging to the same family as the armadillos.
However, one of the most interesting mysteries is the origin and the arrival of the almiqui (Solenodon) to Cuba, without relatives in the Americas, only known in Madagascar and Central Africa. These were some of the species that lived in our forests during the last million years of geological history in Cuba, long before man appeared on the earth (5). One of the most exciting and interesting questions that our scientists argue fervently is this: From where, in what manner, and when did these strange animals arrive in Cuba? We also asked the following question: Were there giants in Cuba? This question should not surprise us because, a few years ago, on the small island of Flores, in Indonesia, human and animals remains were discovered. It is estimated that this newly discovered race existed from 95,000 to 13,000 years ago. Called Homo floresienses, these little humans lived alongside their counterparts Homo erectus who migrated from Africa to Europe (6). Therefore, it should not be puzzling that, at the same time, there was a race of giants living on the island of Cuba. On the other hand, the discovery of giants in Cuba would completely change our knowledge, of human evolution. It would also shed new light on the possibility that the first inhabitants of the Americas did not cross the Bering Strait, as popularly believed, but instead came from Cuba.
We conducted a short tour and tried to reveal the history of Cuba from its caves. After all, the present is a window into the past that has been lost in the darkness of time. Physical evidence that has been found in these caves with their carvings and drawings with various geometric aspects are difficult to explain. This ambiguity creates a controversial subject in Cuban archaeology. Many former investigators have tried to downplay the inexplicable character, of the depicted controversial pictographs. However, with the present scientific methods, observation and analysis, investigators are discovering breaks in the reality that the rock artists once visualized.
1. - Bohemia Magazine; Reporting Riches, Importance, and Surprises of Our Caves, by Nivio Lopez Pellon. 7-8-154-155 pages, December 1955.
2. - Bohemia Magazine; Men and Landscapes of Cuba, Guajiros Living in Los Hoyos, by Antonio Nunez Jimenez, pages 137-137, 1955.
3. - "Dedalo Aborigen; Machines in Prehistory?" Documentary - producers, Hugo Parrado Frances and Carlos Andrés García Rodriguez, 1999.
4. – Bohemia Magazine; Sensational Archaeological Discovery in Pinar del Rio, Antonio Núñez Jiménez. Pages 34-35-36-37-83, September 4, 1955.
5. – Bohemia Magazine; Of Our Prehistory, The Armadillo Fossil Cubano. Pages 20-21-22-130, 1955.
Comments Recently Added:
Comment received on 10/28/2011:
(This comment was sent by a doctor I personally know and trust. I value his high credibility. I omit his name for obvious reasons.)
Dr. Virgilio Sanchez-Ocejo,
The Cave of the Indians in Puerto Padre, sorry to comment on this.
Behind the hospital Guillermo Dominguez there is a cave that has been transformed into the largest military base in Cuba. I worked cleaning it in the 1980s and 1990s.
Thanks, for sending me the issue of the caves. I grew up in Puerto Padre, in a village named Las Tunas, north of Oriente Province, located between Puerto Padre and Delicias (sugar mill), to be more accurate, behind the hospital Guillermo Dominguez. There is a huge cave that, in 1980, Cuba's government transformed into a haven for military tanks and other weaponry. The entrance is covered with sugar cane fields and banana plantations. This cave connects Puerto Padre and Gibara, another town that is located more than 100 km from Puerto Padre. From 1980 until 1983, I was sent to work there, during my high school years, in the construction and cleaning of the entrance. A jumbo jet could fit perfectly. Then I moved to Havana in 1984 to continue my studies in the specialty of medicine. From 1985 to 1990, I was sent to work and clean more than 100 caves beneath Puerto Padre. They were called ”refugios” [shelters] and there are rumors that they were built with the help of North Vietnamese, but in reality, all that was done was cleaning and seeking some entrances and exits close to community settings in case of a war, because the shelters were natural. Yes, nature built those thousands of years ago.
The amount of historical-anthropological values that were destroyed were incalculable, from aboriginal remains of Taino Indian's communities, to engravings, and paintings. Tractors dig deep inside the caves and destroy all, creating more capacity for military equipment.
I have received other reports with low credibility. For example; a report from a wealthy family that had hidden most of their furniture and belongings; such as pictures and ornaments, in a cave that is in their estate. This report was sent to me by one of those who helped with the move.
I hope that in the future, when we can freely explore the caves of Cuba, the surprise will be amazing what we find in them, besides the irreparable destruction that was done to the history and culture that is heritage, not only to Cubans, but Universal.
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