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The Sikh Global Village Cuba

There is evidence that Sikhs did go to Cuba in early twentieth century but that they found tough going in the country because of the heat, humidity and fever. So, most of them stayed short periods, a couple of years or so and then looked for better alternatives for settling down. As in other countries, some got left behind who settled down and have got assimilated. I was told that there are some old settlers or at least their siblings in the western province of Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo. A name of a TV Announcer, Castillo Singh was mentioned but in the short period I was there, contact could not be established. However the Indian Embassy did mention that some years ago there were a few Sikhs, including one Jagtar Singh, who contacted the Embassy to examine how they could claim their ancestral lands in Punjab. Details were not available.

An old immigrant Ajit Singh gave some information about himself on the telephon- details later. Another young Sikh entrepeuner, a Stephanian from Delhi but now a Canadian citizen is doing well business-wise in Havana.

In Argentina, I had seen some old passports with Cuba Immigration stamp. While visiting Panama later on, Prakash Singh told me that two Sikhs from Cuba had visited Panama eight years ago when they called on him as the President of the Indian Society.

There is a newspaper clipping (provided courtesy Prof. Pimental) which gives details of Indian/Sikh immigration to Cuba. The interesting bits are that Amar Singh came in 1917 and worked at La Isabel Sugar Mill and married Felipe Esteria Ibanez. One lady Susana (Punjabi name could have been different?) Singh came in 1917 with others and married B(V)attan Singh who presumably had come earlier on. When interviewed in 1966 she said that when coming to Cuba she had brought along with her a "Dopatta of the Sikhs". Battan was in Central Romelia and acted as the Head of about 30-40 Indians workers. He later moved to Cruce de Benito. Post her husband's death in 1959, Susana Singh has been wearing black dresses only since the death of her husband.

AJIT SINGH: He was reluctant to meet with me but agreed to talk on the phone. His first question to me was - "Am I keeping turban"? On assuring him on that count he started to relate his story. He came to Cuba in 1955 through his uncle Udham Singh....

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