In the 16th century, and for hundreds of years after that, the Caribbean sea was
the Mare Nostrum of piracy.
A numbrer of countries that were enemies of Spain, especially France and England, coveted the wealth the Spaniards were obtaining from their American colonies and authorized their seamen to attack ships under the Spanish flag and loot them.
The corsairs, protected by the laws of privateering passed by their rulers,
attacked and massacred not only the crews of the Spanish galleons but also
pounced upon cities and towns, robbed them and laid them waste.
Aware of the benefits accruing to their governments from the booties they took, the corsairs began to pocket a share of the riches and thus became pirates.
The pirates grouped and formed fleets that roamed the Caribbean Sea, mainly around Cuba.
The record of atrocities, looting and violence committed by the pirates at the
point of a sword or grappling hooks is the central theme of the Piracy
Museum, lodged in the Morro Castle of Santiago de Cuba.
This fortress, erected on a cliff at the entrance of the bay in the 17th century, was built precisely to defend the city from the filibusters.
The museum shows, among other things, that, since 1538, Santiago de Cuba was the victim of successive piratical attacks for twenty-four consecutive years.
One of the most memorable was launched by Jacques de Sores, who attacked
the city with four ships while the dwellers were sleeping. The pirates
kidnapped the most illustrious citizens and asked for 80 thousand gold
pieces as ransom. Sores remained in the town for 30 days.
The townspeople realized the precarious situation of their city and decided to move to Bayamo, further inland.
The Jolly Roger continued to wave over the Caribbean until the 1830s.
I - History of piracy in the Caribbean.
- Collection of weapons used by the filibusters.
Address: Castillo del Morro,
Santiago de Cuba.
Open: Tuesday to Sunday: 09:00
to 1 8:00.