September 15, 2011

Leased Cemetery Plots in Cuban Cemetery

From The San Francisco Call of San Francisco, California on April 24, 1904: 
San Franciso Call, April 24, 1904
Havana's Golgotha 
When Americans visit Havana they are confronted with many peculiar customs.  One of the most startling and revolting is that which prevails in regard to the dead.  Colon Cemetery, a beautiful burial ground, laid out in romantic walks, arched with superb trees and adorned with costly monuments and classic cenotaphs, is the last home for all, grandee and peasant alike. 
The rainbow effects of the city's architecture are carried out here, as revealed in the various colors of the crosses which mark the graves; but suddenly, and without warning, the vision is astonished with a grotesque contrast, which is truly a shocking commentary upon civilization. 
It appears that the ground in this cemetery is leased, not sold, and if after a term of five years the renewal rent is not paid the dead forfeit their resting places.  The bodies are ruthlessly dug up and cast into a common heap, exposed to public view along with thousands of other skulls and bones of men, women, and children who can never be traced by posterity.

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