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Canaries Cuba 1800 - 1900's

From Cuba? Could you be Canarian?

Accurate figures for immigrants during the 19th century do not exist, but an approximate picture can be reconstructed (Hernández García 1981). In the 20-year period from 1818-1838 for example, more than 18,000 Canary islanders emigrated to the Americas, most to Cuba and proportionately fewer to Venezuela and Puerto Rico. This represents a significant proportion of Cuba´s population, and given the relative size of cities in Latin America in the early 19th century, a not inconsiderable shift in the linguistic balance of such places as Havana and Santiago de Cuba. In the period from 1835-1850, more than 16,000 Canary islanders emigrated to Cuba, a rate of approximately 1000 per year. In the 1860's, Canary emigration to the Americas took place at the rate of over 2000 per year, at a time when the total islands' population was by then perhaps 240,000. In the 2-year period 1885-6, almost 4100 went to Cuba. These are only official figures; when clandestine emigration is taken into account, the numbers would be much larger. For example, Guerrero Balfagón (1960) has documented the illegal but significant immigration of Canary Islanders to Cuba in the first half of the 19th century.

Many words in traditional Cuban Spanish can be traced to those of the Spanish spoken in the Canary Islands. Many Canary Islanders emigrated to Cuba and had one of the largest parts in the formation of the Cuban dialect and accent. There are also many elements from from other areas of Spain such as Andalucian, Galician, Asturian, Catalan, as well as some African influence. Cuban Spanish is very close to Canarian Spanish. Canarian emigration has been going on for centuries to Cuba, and were also very numerous in emigration of the 19th, and 20th centuries.

Through cross emigration of Canarian´s and Cubans, many of the customs of Canarians have become Cuban traditions and vice versa. The music of Cuba has become part of the Canarian culture as well, such as mambo, salsa, son, and punto Cubano. Because of Cuban emigration to the Canary Islands, the dish "moros y cristianos", or simply known as "moros", can be found as one of the foods of the Canary Islands; especially the island of La Palma. Canary Islanders were the driving force in the cigar industry in Cuba, and were called "Vegueros." Many of the big cigar factories in Cuba were owned by Canary Islanders. After the Castro revolution, many Cubans and returning Canarians settled in the Canary islands, among them were many Cigar factory owners such as the Garcia family. The island of La Palma has the greatest Cuban influence out of all seven islands. Also, La Palma has the closest Canarian accent to the Cuban accent, due to the most Cuban emigration to that island.

Many of the typical Cuban replacements for standard Spanish vocabulary stem from Canarian lexicon. For example, guagua (bus) differs from standard Spanish autobús the former originated in the Canaries and is an word stemming from the sound of a Klaxon horn (wah-wah!). The term of endearment "socio" is from the Canary Islands. An example of Canarian usage for a Spanish word is the verb fajarse ("to fight"). In standard Spanish the verb would be pelearse, while fajar exists as a non-reflexive verb related to the hemming of a skirt. Cuban Spanish shows strong heritage to the Spanish of the Canary Islands.

Many names for food items come from the Canary Islands as well. The Cuban sauce mojo, is based on the mojos of the Canary Islands were the mojo was invented. Also, Canarian ropa vieja is the father to Cuban ropa vieja through Canarian emigration. Gofio is a Canarian food also known by Cubans, along with many others.

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