Chibás, a revolutionary forerunner
By Max Lesnik
August 16, 2022
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Eduardo Chibás, whose tragic death is commemorated today, August 16, is a fundamental link in the Cuban revolutionary chain, which was started by Felix Varela and José Martí in the 19th century, continued alive in the thought and action of men like Julio Antonio Mella and Antonio Guiteras during the first third of the mediatized republic. Chibás was a continuator of that revolutionary tradition. He is also one of our great dead.
The upright conduct of Chibás in the face of the imperial arrogance of the United States was present in all his acts as an exemplary revolutionary. He never [allowed anyone to] escape from his verbal whip the lashing of those who, lacking dignity, knelt before the American proconsul on duty.
Unfortunately, there are still Cubans – a few on the island, most of them outside Cuba – who maintain a servile behavior before the “revolted and brutal North that despises us”, to put it in the words of José Martí.
No better reference to that kind of despicable behavior than what Chibás said in the article entitled “Where Cuba is going”, which appeared in the Silver Jubilee edition of Bohemia magazine in 1934. It was a frank allusion to those who, in search of mercenary gifts, went to the U.S. Embassy to request support for their bastard ambitions.
Chibás then said: “I prefer Colonel Jiménez, cheerleader of the dictator Machado, dying shot with a gun in his hand, rather than the one who visits the American Embassy slavishly begging for protection to fight the government of his country. These are traitors of the worst kind. In countries with strong national tradition, they are despised and shot in the back.”
His words at that time seem to be addressed to those who still today repeat such a despicable attitude. The conduct of Chibás throughout his life, as a young man at the University or in the ranks of the revolution of 1933, as well as in his subsequent trajectory, fighting national evils, from the prevailing corruption in politics to the arrogance of Batista and his colonels, won him the popular support that never before had any character in Cuban public life until the triumph of the revolution in 1959.
It was Fidel himself who best pointed out the importance of Chibás as a fundamental pillar of the Cuban revolutionary process, when he spoke at his tomb on August 16, 1959.
Fidel Castro said: “But today it is like the summary of all history, the history of the revolution, the history of July 26th, which is so linked to the history of this tomb, which is so linked to the memory of the one who rests in this tomb, which is so intimately linked to the ideology, to the feelings and the preachings of the one who rests in this tomb, because, I must say that without the preaching of Chibás, without what Chibás did, without the civism and the rebelliousness that he awakened in Cuban youth, the 26th of July would not have been possible.”
Combatants were recruited mainly from among the young people who followed Chibás. If that youth had not existed, if that preaching had not existed, if that seed had not been sown, July 26th would not have been possible. It was the continuation of Chibás’ work, the cultivation of the seed he sowed in our people. Without Chibás, the Cuban revolution would not have been possible.
We all missed his physical presence, we all missed him, we all said a phrase: “If Chibás were alive”, and we said it with bitterness as if we had lost hope. And yet, Chibás had not abandoned us. Chibas was with the people, Chibas was present and on that basis was built the triumphant revolution that is in power today”. That is what Fidel Castro, the hero of the Moncada, the head of the Revolution, said when he spoke at the tomb of the late leader of the Cuban People’s Party.
Fidel’s words, in homage to Chibás, are fully valid, because even today, there are shameless Cubans who are looking for American support for their treason, as well as latent threats to the sovereignty of the nation. In the face of these dangers: Varela lives. Martí lives. Mella lives. Guiteras lives, Fidel lives! And Chibás also lives as upright revolutionaries live. Serving as a flag. Today, August 16, the anniversary of the physical disappearance of an exemplary revolutionary like Eduardo Chibás, Cubans pay homage to him as men of giant stature deserve. Long live his example!