The Watch

San Isidro de Los Destiladeros

Trinidad, Valle de los Ingenios, Cuba

2000 World Monuments Watch

Sugar mills were an industrial force in the Trapiche region of Cuba beginning in the late-eighteenth century. San Isidro, near the city of Trinidad on the Caribbean Sea coast, was a typical sugar plantation, operated with slave labor. For generations, the local economy was sustained by a network of such mills. Sugar production ceased at San Isidro around 1890 and its fields were used to grow a variety of crops. Remnants of this thriving and historically underappreciated industrial heritage survive: an impressive owner's house, three-story tower, cistern, main sugar factory, ancillary buildings, and dikes. Almost all are in ruins or in imminent danger of collapse. While nature continues to subsume the buildings, another threat comes from future tourism. Without adequate upkeep and restoration of San Isidro, the buildings are vulnerable to vandalism and the effects of too many people visiting an ill-equipped site. Plans have been proposed for making the plantation house into a museum, reestablishing the landscape, and employing locals for restoration work. Lobbying efforts continue to include San Isidro in UNESCO's World Heritage Site designation for Trinidad.

Since the Watch

Following the 2000 Watch, a guard was installed and vandalism was halted. Since then, the site has been a protected area and annual archaeological excavations have been carried out by the Office of the Conservator of the City of Trinidad and the Valle de los Ingenios. This research has yielded insights in the history of sugar production in Cuba. January 2011

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