Paper Money

Cuba releases bank note celebrating founding of Havana

The Central Bank of Cuba is commemorating the 500th anniversary of the city of Havana with a 2019 500-peso commemorative bank note with allegories related to the founding of the township of San Cristóbal de La Habana by the Spanish in 1519.

The face of the new note is similar to that of the regular 500-peso note, with its green and red coloring and a bust of the 19th century revolutionary Ignacio Agramonte. Added to it is an image consisting of the Giraldilla and the logo of the 500th Anniversary of  Havana City Foundation and the date 11/16/1519. 

La Giraldilla, as it is known, is a weather vane in the guise of a small bronze female figure. For more than 350 years she (now a replica, placed somewhat lower — the original is in a museum; a 1926 hurricane tore it down) has kept watch over Havana from atop the Castillo de la Real Fuerza in the city’s Old Quarter. 

On the back of the note, the scene of the Guairmo Constitutional Assembly of 1869 shown on the regular issue is replaced by one that represents the Templete, on the site of the first mass and town council of San Cristóbal de la Habana, celebrated Nov. 16, 1519. It was built in 1827. The caption below reads “EL TEMPLETE (1828) – HAVANA FOUNDATION SITE (1519).”

The new bills will circulate together with the previous issues.

It is still illegal for U.S. citizens to import coins and paper money from Cuba.

Although the exchange rate for the Cuban peso is 25 to the dollar, it is a closed currency, illegal to take out of the country, and essentially worthless except as a collectible.

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