History of Long Key, Isle of Youth.
Long Key was the place chosen by pirates and corsairs for brief stays and to hide the treasures conquered or ransacked during their adventures across seas and cities. One of those pirates set a cross on the coast of Key Largo as a symbol of conquest and imposition of their customs and habits. Years later, slaves running away from Spanish colonialism chose the most inhospitable places to escape from punishment.
A group of slaves ran away from the sugar cane plantations in Matanzas Province to Ciénaga de Zapata. Later on, they sailed south on canoes and found this part of land. Walking around the key, where Playa Blanca is today, they found a cross to which they offered a religious ceremony, blessing it with the rites of their gods, resulting from religious syncretism. They assigned the mission to protect this land to the cross.
This legend went further beyond the key borders and in 1961, at the start- up of the construction of Isla del Sur Hotel, the cross was transferred to the place where it is today. From there, it safeguards this land blessed by nature.
The founders of this tourist place say that this cross must not be touched and even less, taken down. There is much talking about its legends, but nobody dares to question that it has accomplished the mission given by the orishas.
Isle of Youth
Almost completely abandoned, it served for several centuries as a sanctuary and as operational base for corsairs and pirates. Its name has varied with time and the number of visitors who knew it for the first time.
Cuban aboriginal communities called it Siguanea or Camaraco and left its pictographies in a series of caves that can be seen nowadays. Admiral Cristopher Columbus named it Saint John the Evangelist. Under Spanish colonialism it was called Isle of the Deportee, for it served as a prison for those convicted for political reasons, and later Isle of Pines until 1978 when it was oficially named Isle of Youth.