|AMISTAD CON LOS PUEBLOS
Amistad con los Pueblos means 'Friendship with the Peoples' and is a term commonly associated with communist and
socialist regimes. Prior to the renaming it was known simply as Amistad. As with many Cuban sugar mills the amount of
activity varied from season to season and in some years mills were closed and cane was worked to other mills via the FCC or
even by road. Amistad con los Pueblos was one mill which rarely, if ever seemed to be open. However cane is grown in the
fields surrounding the mill and then taken to Hector Molina or Osvaldo Sanchez for processing. This meant that steam was
still to be found in the shed area of the mill and inter-mill workings could provide considerable interest.
ALCO 2-6-0 No.1303 (built 1905)
stands in light steam just outside of
the shed at Amistad in April 1996
A front three-quarter view of the
In the mid to late 1990's it was
common to find many
semi-derelict locomotives in and
around the shed area. It was
always uncertain whether or not
they would be restored to working
order or left to gently rot away.
Baldwin 0-4-0 ST No.1106 (built
in 1888) was one such locomotive
which never returned to steam
Baldwin 2-6-0 No.1707 (built
1920) stands in steam in the yard
at Amistad in April 1997. As
seemed to be the norm, Amistad
was out of use but locomotives
were used to move cane to other
Our arrival in Cuba in 1997 was
proceeded by a period of heavy
rainfall and much of the cane
cutting had come to a standstill.
Baldwin 2-8-0 No.1803 was found
standing in light steam besides a
flooded field at Amistad
|Two further views of Baldwin 2-6-0 No.1803 at Amistad con los Pueblos
Generally access to mills and steam sheds was simple and
visitors were made welcome.- although there were notable
exceptions and certainly at one mill I was escorted from the
engine shed at gunpoint!
The economic sanctions imposed by the United States
meant that all but the most essential items were constantly
in short supply and loco crews and shed staff were aware
that usually visiting photographers came with gifts!
Most common were ball point pens - most Cubans had to
make do with pencils - scented soap for the wives and
girlfriends of the crews - who otherwise were limited to
carbolic soap and chewing gum (almost all Cuban children
asked for Chiclets which were multi-coloured and candy
coated - my supply came through a contact at a USAF base
in England!) Cigarettes were also a common form of
currency supplied in return for favours such as providing
smoke effects or footplate rides.
Many shed staff were also anxious to have photographs of
their locomotives taken during previous visits.
Here the crew of No.1303 pose obligingly in the expectation
of the usual rewards for such co-operation.
With the relaxing of restrictions on the ownership of US
dollars the loco crews became increasingly demanding and
even resorted to 'decorating' their locomotives with
branches and foliage until paid to remove them. Such tactics
signalled the 'beginning of the end' and for me it was time to
look to steam in other parts of the world.