Cachita's Streets: The Virgin of Charity, Race, and Revolution in Cuba
Royalty in Exile: Banishing Bembes
An elderly member of an Afro-Cuban house temple in Santiago’s barrio Los Hoyos recounts the 1931 police raid of her father’s bembé (drumming ceremony) held in honor of the Virgin. The chapter interprets the restrictions of the Machado dictatorship (1925–33), which purged Cuban streets of black Cubans’ performances of royalty (carnival kings and queens) and waged “anti-witchcraft” campaigns targeting their home ceremonies for regal orichas (deities) of Regla de Ocha, which was then spreading among blacks in Santiago’s poorer neighborhoods and attracting the sympathetic interest of afrocubanista intellectuals. The Machado administration’s large-scale public works and urban planning projects regulated Cubans’ behavior within increasingly rationalized and regimented streets, through which the dictator dragged the bodies of his opponents.