Exploring Cuba's History Through Postage Stamps

Early History of the Spanish Posts in Cuba

While the colonization of Cuba began in 1511, development of the resources of the island were slow. It was not until 1755 that regulations for an internal mail service were published. Postal routes were laid out between the major cities of Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Guanabacoa, Matanzas, Santa Clara, Sancti-Spíritus, Puerto del Príncipe, and Bayamo. Mail service was scheduled to leave Havana for Santiago de Cuba, for example, at midnight on the first day of each month, and return to Havana on the 29th of each month. It took 14 days to reach Santiago de Cuba by the overland route, a distance of approximately 550 miles.

No postal markings, however, were applied to letters until 1760, when Postmaster General José Cipriano de la Luz had a box-type town mark made for Havana. In December, 1769, bronze townmarks were supplied to Trinidad, Puerto Príncipe, San Juan de los Remedios, Villa Clara and Bayamo. As postal routes expanded and other towns were added to these routes, they too received postmarks to be used in the dispatch of their mails.