Sitios de Memoria
  Ingenio de Cepi-Cepí
photo gallery
Ruins of the purge house

The Cepi-Cepí sugar mill is mentioned by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo in his 1546 list. By the name of Cepecepín and it was owned by Diego Caballero de la Rosa, First Secretary of the Real Court of Santo Domingo. This sugar mill was located in the north-eastern end of the Ocoa Bay. According to Luis Peguero, quoted by Ramiro Matos, it had “70 blacks and 365 Indians”.

The Cepi-Cepí sugar mill is part of the system of colonial mills in Azua, which included the Ocoa sugar mill which owned by Alonzo Suazo in Palmar de Ocoa; the Santiago de la Paz sugar mill owned by Hernando Gorjón in Los Tramojos; the Barreras sugar mill owned by Martín García; the cane grinder of the Méndez family in Orégano Chiquito; the cane grinder of the Andújar family in Higüerito; the Jácome Castellón sugar mill in Finca 6; the Ansonia or Azuano mill in Ansonia ,and the Los Cacaos de Río Vía sugar mill.

Together with the rest of the Azua sugar mills, Cepi-Cepí turned the area into one of the places where the political and military pressures against the maroons were most deeply felt. The maroons had a strong presence in the 16th century colonial society. Very active maroons such as Diego de Ocampo and Juan Sebastián Lemba went all over the Azua’s woodlands which together with the Bahoruco mountain range turned the village into a reference point both for the squads that persecuted emancipated slaves and for the maroons themselves. Lemba, the great guerrilla man, died in an ambush between Azua and San Juan de la Maguana.

Azua and its sugar mills became a favourite place for maroon movements. This historical space is depositary of a historical memory which should be reassessed and a fair place in history given these heroes who were silenced by traditional Hispanic-oriented history.

For quite a long time Las Charcas community has associated the site of the sugar mill with religious practices and even now some people call the ruins House of the Indians. Only two walls still exist of what could have been the boiler room. There are also some water ponds 50 meters from the ruins and a rock canal. These water ponds were fed by a spring on a higher hill, La Acequia, is also the name applied to the whole place.

The spring, now quite weak, still feeds some small irrigation canals; it has been part of the project called “Rescue and Sustainable Use of the Archaelogical and Natural Resources of La Acequia of Las Charcas, Azua. ( Dom/05/02).” The Project is funded by UNDP and is being implemented for the past year by Center of Promotion for Integrated Development and the Community Council for Conservation and Development of La Acequia- CEPRODI, an NGO which is building a visitors center close to the spring. Their objective is “to encourage sustainable management of the resources available at La Acequia, making proper use of the potentials for ecotourism in Las Charcas.”

The place is also part of the religious tradition in the area. The spring is the final stop of the annual procession to a small rural Calvary altar, with three rustic crosses, held on November 27 on the occasion of the festivities for La Milagrosa (the Miraculous Lady).

The name of the sugar mill, which comes from the name of the stream, has changed with time and there are several variants such as: Cepecepín, which appears in the Historia natural by Fernández de Oviedo, and Sepi Sepi, the name used by Juan Odalis Calderón, current Trustee and historian of Las Charcas. The most common name is Cepi-Cepí, which appears in several historical documents.

Among the intangible manifestations, we could rescue the so-called “Mojiganga” a disguise worn during the so-called “maroon carnival,” held on Easter Saturday in the communities in the south of the country – a tradition rescued by the community in spite of the lack of support from the power sectors of the region.