Symbol-of-anti-slavery-movement Ship in Cuban Waters

2010.03.22 - 12:31:53 /

In 1997, filmmaker Steven Spielberg recreated in one of his films the story of a schooner which left Havana in the nineteenth century, full of slaves who rebelled and after taking command of the ship ended up in a point very close to the American coast of Long Island.


Such an event happened in real life, exactly in June, 1839 and 10 years ago a replica was built of this, the official yacht of the American state of Connectitut, which recalls the original, a symbol of the abolitionist movement.


The schooner, christened with the name of Friendship, will sail Cuban waters during the last decade of March, bearing the emblematic national flags of Cuba and the United States because both countries played their role in that story.


Its 10-day-stay in Cuba will help remembering not only the tenth anniversary of the construction of this replica, but also the date on which the British Parliament abolished slavery in 1807.


Those 49 African men who were in the boat had been kidnapped in Sierra Leone,

Africa, by Portuguese traders and they preferred to face any danger than to suffer such ignominy.


In 1841, two years after having sailed from Havana, their case had the timely intervention of former U.S. President John Quincy Adams, who created the political conditions favorable to free the Africans.


The Supreme Court of the United States in its historic ruling stated, “Joseph Cinque, head and soul of the group, had one goal only. It was not to hack and steal but save himself and his colleagues from an illegitimate subjection. They were never subjects of Spain. They were aboard “La Amistad” against their will. They just wanted to be freed from the chains to return to their homes and loved ones. In doing so, they committed no crime by which we might condemn them of piracy. "


The replica of the schooner that recalls these events has run the last three years the waters the slave ships sailed. This is part of a program included in the Slave Route Project, sponsored by UNESCO.


In 1886 the Queen Regent Maria Christina of Austria signed a Royal Warrant ending the patronages, and thus abolishing the ignominious slavery in Cuba.

(Agencia Cubana de Noticias)

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