are several different versions about the origin
of the province's name, which is Spanish for "massacres".
The priest Bartolomé de las Casas makes reference in his
chronicles to an event taking place in the bay of Guanimar in 1509:
the aboriginals of the zone attacked and slaughtered a group of
Spaniards who were sailing in the area. In 1513, the cove of Guanimar
adopted the name of Matanzas and when the city was founded in 1693,
it was called San Carlos y San Severino de Matanzas.
This region of the country had a slow development up to the first
half of the 19th century. At that time the economy of the of the
region started to develop with the modernization of the sugar industry
and came to be one of the most sugar-productive zones of the country.
Owing to the very development of the industry, the slave system
would continue and become more and more inhuman. In 1843, Leopoldo
O'Donnell, Captain General of the island, willing to inflict a massive
exemplary punishment to
put an end to slave uprisings, carried out one of the bloodiest
episodes of colonial history: the repression of La Escalera.
During the invasion, led by Cuban patriots Máximo Gómez
and Antonio Maceo, Matanzas played an important role. In its territory
the battles of Coliseo and Calimete took place in the first months
of 1896. After the first of those battles, the invasion column,
attempting to fool the Spanish troops, pretended they were turning
back and returning to Las Villas. However, they were just making
a strategic loop movement that determined the advance of the Cuban
troops to the western region of Cuba.
During the neocolonial republic, Matanzas was characterized by its
participation in workers' and students' struggles. Along the tyranny
of the Batista regime, it was the scenario of relevant actions.
On April 29, 1956 the Goicuría garrison attack took place.
That action, though a defeat where all the attackers died, constituted
a demonstration of the rebelliousness of the people of the city
against the tyrant.
In 1957, a Matanzas-born patriot from the city of Cárdenas
named José Antonio Echeverría, president of the federation
of university students, and member of the revolutionary direction,
took part in an attack to the presidential palace and the takeover
of the radio station Radio Reloj. When his mission of addressing
the people through the radio was accomplished he engaged in a shooting
where he died.
After the revolutionary triumph, in 1961, the southern coast of
Matanzas was the scenario for the mercenary invasion of the Bay
of Pigs, which was defeated by the people in only seventy-two hours.