Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean

Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

Cuba - Empresa Azucarera México (Mexico sugar enterprise)

Formerly Álava sugar mill, today CAI México, Municipality of Colón, built in 1846 and its majestic slave quarters in 1850, it boasts a central bell tower in three levels, the only one of its kind in Cuba.

The rest of the quarters has been turned into dwellings, one of them a temple house with valuable original pieces.


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Since 1982 the Álava community is implementing the project “Tras la huella de nuestros ancestros” (Seeking the imprint of our ancestors), which has allowed them to know about the history of the sugar mill and that of the municipality of Colón.     

Around 14 % of the population’s family name is Zulueta on the father's and the mother's side, and 20% is Zulueta on one of the sides. They are not necessarily related, but they are descendants of the slaves belonging to the same landowner.

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Other data of interest


Historical name

Ingenio Álava

Founding Date



CAI, México. Colón. Carretera San José de los Ramos. KM 10 , PC: 42400 .

Responsible entity

Municipal Division of the Ministry of Culture in Colon

Management plan


Agro-industrial complex



Access level


Current Use

México Agro-Industrial Complex

Original use

Sugar mill, slave quarters and bell tower.

Property kind


Heritage documents under its protection

Books of account from the turn of the 19th century. The state of conservation of these documents is good.
This documentation is used as a source of information for research.

Expressions of intangible heritage associated

Traditional drumbeats, chants, dances and feasts related to African deities. In the small town surrounding the sugar mill there are different places of worship:

The Elegguá relic represented by an idol and a carved wood staff, property of slave Ta Jorge. This fiesta is held on the 23-24 October.

(Orula) St. Francis of Assisi relic. It is represented by a table and an earthenware jar; it is in the house Atanasia Zulueta. This fiesta is held on October 4.

St. Lazarus relic. On October 4, during a fiesta to celebrate St. Francis a ceiba o silk-cotton tree was planted in the slave quarters, where this relic is today.

Oggún relic. It is represented by the trunk of a jiqui (Malpighia obovata, Cuban timber) planted there in times of slavery and by the tree there is a ritual stone. This fiesta is on June 24.

Changó relic. It is represented by a stick of hard wood that requires an offering in the upper part and has its load or representation under the ground.

Naná Burucú relic. In the back of the bell tower there is a water ditch in which to make food offerings and light candles when the drums beat for Eleggúa.

Yemayá relic. It is in the sugar well since the times of slavery. This fiesta is celebrated on December 7.