The following story is a little different from the usual stories concerning gold…. In 1599, Don Francisco Manzo de Contreras was sent to Cuba as King Phillip II’s Chief Justice, with a directive to stop the smuggling of gold and other valuables. He settled in the town of Remedios in Villa Clara Province, near the northern coast seaport town of Caibarién, and over time, he became very wealthy doing exactly what he had been sent to stop! He filled his chests with gold bullion, but the heavy, bulky gold is not something that can easily be taken with you!
In 1776, his heirs were three Catholic nuns, who had stashed six chests of gold into the walls of the Santa Clara Convent. Being afraid of pirates, they commissioned their nephew Joseph Manzo de Contreras to take the gold across the Atlantic to be deposited in the Bank of England in London. Being an obedient nephew, according to him, he took the gold to England and followed his aunts’ instructions to the letter.
Many years later, the half-forgotten fortune was handed down to Angel Contreras, who claimed that his great-grandfather, Joseph Manzo, once had a receipt for it. The receipt was handed down through the family and when his uncle took possession of this valuable paper, he hid it, attempting to protect the family treasure. Ultimately, he was murdered when he refused to tell the thieves where it was.
Unfortunately, the receipt is now lost, and although the family has searched high and low for it, it has never been found. Angel lived in Majagua, Cuba, where his family worked at a candy factory. He claimed they looked everywhere for it, but the receipt was definitely gone! With almost six decades of communistic control, the family decided to lay low and do nothing more to find it. They feared that the State would take whatever inheritance was rightfully theirs, and they probably would be right.
Some of the Manzo family have since left Cuba and now live in Florida. They staged protests at the British Consulate in Miami, accusing the Queen of having reached a deal with the Cuban government. They stated that what should have been their money, was sent to Fidel Castro. During these demonstrations, nine members of the family were arrested for causing disturbances but not much else came of their claim. The Bank of England stated that the story of lost gold is just a myth, and that they have no record of it. Although this is the sad ending to the story for now, the family is continuing with their claim. However without a receipt, it seems unlikely that they have much of a case!
“They put him in a madhouse,” Angel said, “and then they killed him. All for greed… they wanted the money.” Angel Contreras, referring to what had happened to his uncle….
Photo Caption: Desolate street scene of present day Caibarién, Cuba. (Visit Facebook.)
Captain Hank Bracker, who served with the U.S. Military Intelligence Corps, is the author of the multi-award winning book, “The Exciting Story of Cuba” His books have been nominated to be at the NYC Book Exhibit this summer and are available at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, BooksAMillion.com and many Independent Book Shops.