Isla de La Juventud History
This island, the largest of the Canarreos archipelago, was discovered by Admiral Christopher Columbus in 1494. During several centuries served as a haven and operation base for pirates and smugglers.
It has been called indistinctly treasure island, parrot island, island of the deported, and until 1975 it was called Isle of Pines. From that year on, it has been called Isle of Youth as a recognition to thousands of young people that have lived in the island. Its main city, Nueva Gerona, was founded in 1830.
Two places intimately related to our history are located in this island. One of them is the ranch El Abra, declared national monument, which contains personal objects belonging to José Martí and where one can know details of his stay in that place. The other is the Presidio Modelo, a former penitentiary facility that is only of its kind in Latin America and which exhibits the characteristics of the jail system from the 20’s to the beginnings of the revolutionary struggles of the 50’s. There, several independence fighters suffered imprisonment, among which Fidel Castro and other young people that attacked the Moncada Garrison in 1953.
The political imprisonment of the revolutionary leader and his followers, despite its punishing character, served to strengthen their revolutionary conscience and their conviction that armed fight was the only way to attain victory. From his cell, Fidel continued his guiding of the rest of the fighters, free or imprisoned, and of all of the Cuban people.