Speech by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada,
President of the National Assembly of People’s Power,
at La Demajagua. 10 October 1998
Major of the Revolution Juan Almeida Bosque,
The idea, rather than the sunshine, brightened that morning:
“Fellow citizens, until this moment you have been my slaves. From now on, you are free as free as I am. Cuba needs from every one of her children to conquer her independence. Those of you who want to follow me, do follow me; those who want to stay, do stay; all will remain as free as the rest.
The announcement, emulated by all the land owners around Céspedes on 10 in the October 1868, would strongly mark the nature of the war.
With those words, right here, 130 years ago today, the Cuban nation started to move ahead in our own a only Revolution began, which would be continued thereafter by successive generations of Cubans, and for almost a century would squander feats, withstand defeats and sacrifices until victory was achieved.
Born from the unlimited love of justice, equality and human dignity, it knew how to stoically cope with the worst adversaries and learn how to stand up to them, without even relinquishing its ideals. It inspired men to bequeath everything and to fight to the bitter end, without anybody’s help, following the example of that who on a day like this called everyone of us to start out. This same Revolution that 130 years later, dealing with similar obstacles resists, preserves and triumphs, and can recognize the path it has gone along as the best tribute to those who took history by storm on 10 October 1868.
In that society poisoned by the slaves system, freeing the slaves and openly proclaiming it is in its first act imparted the emerging movement the deepest radical nature, placed its face to face with the primary problem of that time. But Céspedes would not just break the chains that oppressed those men. He went, all the ones, or beyond. He turns them into citizens with exactly the same rights as the rest. He defines the homeland as an ideal, as a project for me the holy to blacks and whites, two former masters inserts, and urged all of them all and exactly the same wording to fight the last four of the last La Belle was not calling them to work, nor was it just announcing freedom calling it was an invitation person for foremost to the creation of a common work.
It was the founding of the only true democracy, on that does not recognize privileges, that rejects prejudices, stresses virtue, trusts men and incorporates everyone.
It was the birth, then, of the Republic of Cuba and the outset of the struggle to conquer the Homeland.
Slavery was the decisive question that defined Cubans. The despicable exploitation of human beings was the main source of the wealth of the criollo well-to-do and the fuel for the colonial regime.
Slavery had been present, all over the century, in our intellectuals’ and politicians’ reflections. It would always come up as the dominant subject in the projects to reform the colonial system, in the attempts to change relations with the Metropolis, in the plans to design the Island’s future and would weigh heavily thereafter, during the war itself.
It was also linked to the core question at the time when Cuba was emerging as a distinct identity and which should forcibly separate from Spain. Who were the Cubans? Who made up that new people?
It is necessary to deepen into our history if we are to understand the meaning of what happened that day and to fathom the complexity of a problem that would not solve with a noble act, of incomparable altruism, or with its formal proclamation. It would demand a struggle that would require tenacity, staunchness and wisdom. It would be part and parcel of the war itself; it would most strongly mark it and determine the future course of our life as a people.
The La Demajagua message, issued by a group of white landowners, entailed a total break with the line of thinking and behavior on slavery and blacks maintained by the reformist sectors, including those with more advanced ideas.
Its real forerunners were not those groups, but slaves who more than once had revolted against the abominable system. The Matanzas province risings in 1843, butchered in a sea of blood, shook the colonial society.
Those rebellions would cause fear amongst reformists, the wealthy criollos who sought to change the gloomy society in which they lived but who, at the same time, would not go beyond that which an anachronic and obscurantist empire would be able to grant them. Slave masters could demand nothing from their colonial masters. The most important separatist attempts promoted by them sought to perpetuate slavery and annex the island to the United States. Notably, their main actions were armed expeditions, openly organized and prepared in the U.S. territory; from where they left for happen afterward with the efforts to be made from there by emigrant patriots. Also, most of those expeditioners were foreigners; very few Cuban-born people participated with them.
On the other hand, for slaves -subjected to the cruelest exploitation, isolated in their barracks, with no access to education, lacking the means to communicate their demands and organize themselves- it was virtually impossible to assume the leadership of a nation-wide struggle. They could – and did in fact many of a time rebel against their masters and punish them or flee to the woods. But they were not in a position to turn their struggle into a movement that would get other forces together to conquer equality and, with it, political independence the warranty for justice to be real and conclusive.
That space could only be filled by criollos freed slaves, craftsmen and landowners who were willing not only to abolish slavery altogether but also to incorporate the emancipated people to the common national project. It was not enough to oppose the slave trade or to criticize the excesses of human serfdom.
It was not a matter of compassion, philanthropy or economic calculation. If the purpose was to build a nation as demanded by the evolution reached by the colonial society, it was imperative to recognize the human factors constituting it and to attain their full integration.
A total abolition of slavery in all of its forms and manifestations, a true emancipation of full exercise of citizenship – with the same civic and political rights as the other men-, the elimination of racism, including prejudices and discrimination, where the demands posed by history and could only be assumed by a deeply and truly revolutionary movement.
The essence of that movement would have to be justice and solidarity. It was La Demajagua’s main message. It would thus be proclaimed, years later, by Antonio Maceo when he said that on October 10, 1868 “Cuba flew the flag of war for justice.”
That morning, before their liberator, there were scarcely twenty slaves, which was his full endowment. So it was not a decision significant in concrete military terms. The aim was not to set u pa major detachment with them to march on Yara, the goal of the then-emerging Liberation Army. Twenty men was nothing compared to 100,000 colonialist troops, or to the hundreds of thousands of slaves that there were on the Island. But it was to that mass and to their masters, precisely, that the message was for.
It was the beginning of a complex process –that would have ups and downs- which would see a quest to firmly stick to principles and to incorporate, as much as possible, other elements, without excluding the planters from western Cuba. The unequal balance of forces facing patriots forced them to do that, but loyalty to their own ideals made them keep a radical and consistent path even at the early stage.
At La Demajagua, a channel had been opened that would allow slaves and sincere abolitionists to move ahead of the sugar oligarchy’s hostility and of fears and inconsistencies present also amongst the revolutionary ranks.
On 28 October, the Bayamo municipal government would unanimously decree immediate abolition. In April 1869, the Guáimaro Constitution would enshrine freedom for all Cubans and the end of slavery, but a subsequent House of Representatives agreement –on July 5- would keep former slaves subjected by forcing them to continue to work through the Freed Slaves Rules.
Céspedes would annul it on 25 December 1870. It was this decision that ended slaver –conclusively and completely all over the Republic’s territory- , including covert slavery under the so-called Patronato. Before that, on March 10, the Revolutionary Government had declared null and void the Chinese colonization contracts, a hardly disguised form of servitude.
Thus –indicated Céspedes- their “natural capacity as free men was restituted, exercising their personality in its entirety, enjoying the same civil and political rights as the other citizens in perfect equality. “
Complete abolitionism had triumphed and would be the rule within the territory liberated by the Republic in arms. However, it would have to go on fighting bitter battles against the landowners who, in the western region, controlled most of the country’s riches, and against their agents who amongst émigrés, would promote divisiveness and plot against the Revolution, to deviate it from its course.
The La Demajagua message reached all Cubans. One of the main representatives of reformist landowners went as far as asserting, on 2, October 1868 that “never before had Cuba been closer to a true social and socialist revolution.”
General Dulce, for his part, in a decree he issued on 12 February 1869 –to then unleash the fiercest repression of the fighters for independence and of all those who supported them- included amount the serious crimes of “infidelity”, insurrection, conspiracy and sedition, those of “coalitions and leagues of day laborers and workers”.
That is why, among the first freedom martyrs were, on 9 April that year, several tobacco workers, members of the guild called Gremio de Laborantes (day laborer’s guild), A Havana secret society, who found their death at the vile pillory. One of them, Francisco de León, at the foot of the gallows, delivered a fervent speech that ended with wishes of long life to the independence of Cuba and to Carlos Manuel de Céspedes.
Repressive action focused especially on the association of tobacco workers, core of the Cuban emerging workers’ movement, which had gone on strike several times since 1865 and whose newspapers were suppressed.
An irrational violence was unleashed against the Havana population as a whole, which suffered the terror caused by incidents like those of the Villanueva and Tacón theaters and the Louvre walkway, and later the murder of the medical students.
General repression triggered the exodus of an important part of the Cuban population. According to a Spanish historian, only between February and September 1869, over 100,000 people left the country through the port of Havana.
Among them were moneyed families, but also important groups of workers. That emigration would have been an indispensable support for the Revolution, but it could not unite to fight the big landowners’ annexationist intrigues and the Washington Government’s systematic opposition.
Emigrant workers made generous contributions from their salaries for the purchase of weapons and the preparation of expeditions. They devoted their time to defend the Cuban cause and many of them laid down their lives in combat. Of all 156 expeditioners aboard the Virginius, 47 were workers, 23 of them of the tobacco sector.
The emigration question would be a decisive factor in the war’s unfolding. As to the wealthiest landowners who had left the country, their relations with the Revolution would be a reflection of the attitude towards the Revolution maintained by that sector which controlled the Island’s greatest riches, concentrated in its western region. The Junta de New York was an extension of the Junta de La Habana and an expression of its interests closely linked to slave production. Despite the many efforts that the Orient and Camagüey people made with them –since before October 10 and which would go on after the Revolutionary Government was in place- the war could not move into the west, where several risings by local patriots were discouraged and aborted in different ways by the capital’s leaders.
Their behavior was opportunistic and treacherous. They appeared to support the Revolution as long as it took place away from their properties and actually supported it only in hopes of getting concessions from Spain or in wait for a Yankee intervention to annex the island to the United States.
This group was essentially annexationist and its positions on the social and racial questions never went beyond the lines of reformism. This led to one of the most dramatic aspects of that war and to one of the main causes of defeat. The bloodiest, longest and most devastating war in the Americas had a theater of operations limited to the country’s poorer and less developed half.
The conflict was not reflected in the colony’s sugar production, which kept basically the same levels over those ten years, except for some variations caused by the situation on the world market. This goes to show that, in this time period, Cuba’s western planters –Spainiards and criollols- saw an increase in their profits obtained from slave labor whereas the rest of the country was bleeding dry for freedom.
To regard the War of 1868 as a landowner’s and criollos bourgeoisie’s movement –a flaw some have made- is to not look at things in-depth. In the history of Cuba there was never a chance for a bourgeois revolution because in this country there never was, as a class, a national bourgeoisie. The men who started the Revolution cam by birth from that class, but they did not implement its policies or served its interests. The fathers of the Revolution –Céspedes in the first place- represented from the outset the people’s –including the slave population’s- aspirations; they merged with them and brought them along to the movement’s leadership at all levels.
If one were to point out that those men, from the family origin viewpoint, were our patricians, one would have to note that they were part of a Jacobinic patriciate capable of radicalization, along with the exploited masses, at the pace the process was moving on.
Furthermore, the Metropolis’ clumsy policies and the outrages committed by the mobs of voluntaries in the cities, particularly in Havana, placed many of those planters in difficult situations and, in some cases damaged their property and made them victims of repression. From the revolutionaries’ perspective, that reality justified the efforts to bring them to join in the cause, to seek their support or to neutralize them.
The Revolution was also desperately in need for imperative resources from abroad. It also needed solidarity and international support for its lonesome struggle. Learned Cubans, trained for diplomatic work and propaganda, were not many then. The best from the country’s central and eastern parts were fighting at war. The best from the west had emigrated.
All those factors were the backdrop of the complex, contradictory and difficult relationship that there would be amongst the wealthy émigrés and the Republic in arms. As a rule, when it comes down to the Great War and its internal conflicts, three factors are mentioned; the Liberation Army, the revolutionary Government and the House of Representatives. But a fourth factor is to be added; and it was emigration, which had a close connection with the others and played a major role by action and default in the course of events.
There would be no time here to go deeper into this important issue. I will just point out that, in those years, the group of leading exiled planters, controlled by annexationists, had a preeminent influence over emigration as a whole. It included Céspedes’s bitterest enemies, who publicly opposed his policies and were part of the conspiracy that brought him down from the presidency.
Most of the emigration was made up of poor craftsmen and workers, just arrived at a racist society, still struggling for their life in an alien and hostile environment. It was a profoundly Céspedesite mass that regarded the La Demajagua man as their liberator, that admired his generous sacrifice and understood his intransigence against exploiters and his love for justice.
His opinions were voiced in publications that denounced the annexationist and slavery advocates’ maneuvers by the Junta de New York. That city’s working women expressed their feelings through the sword the bestowed on Céspedes, which he did not accept out of modesty.
In a lovely gesture, artisans expressed their support by agreeing to economically support the Homeland’s Father’s wife and little children. This action prompted a greater gesture from Céspedes and a clarification of his thinking when, on declining the offer, he said that he wanted his family to follow in their steps by “working for a living and contributing if possible with their savings to the Republic’s funds”.
New York’s Sociedad de Artesanos Cubanos, the representative of the then emerging Cuban proletariat, would elevate its protest for the Republic in arms President’s deposition, which it had denounced and rejected even before it took place.
That mass of poor men and women would be the support of the revolutionary efforts during the Ten Year’s War, when the plantation owners stepped back to wait for the Yankee intervention, and they would continue to do so in the future attempts; would support Marti’s Party and would continue to fight until 1898. The truth is that over those thirty years, as Máximo Gómez acknowledged, “the combatants’ last hope of salvation is always the cigar roller’s knife”.
The colonial repression broke loose with a unique rage against defenseless towns, trying to wipe out all forms of collaboration with the Liberation Army.
Among the measures adopted by Captain-General Dulce in 1869 and denounced by Céspedes to the world were “the confiscation of assets of republican army members and of those suspect of being friendly to the revolution, the compulsory collection of horses from all rural farms in all rebelled districts… The reconcentration, also compulsory, of all population in rural settlement and the subsequent abandonment of farms, the ruin of all corps and fields to devoid the patriots from foodstuff, the arrest and immediate execution of all Cubans found in the fields, both armed and unarmed”.
An Irish journalist who visited the island during the war left testimony of the desolating picture he found in the Las Villas towns: “most of the population is in the saddest stage of misery as a result to the severe orders given by the Spaniards for the reconcentration of people in towns and villages, concentration that has resulted in families being ravaged by hunger and disease”. And on his arrival at Sancti Spíritus, that author wrote: “There one could see, asking for a bit of rice from door to door, lines of women whose faces showed the unerasable signs of hunger and in many of them you could read sad stories of sufferings and hardships”
Extending the war to the rest of the country, achieving an effective integration of all territories and getting the indispensable war resources from abroad were strategic needs that the Revolution had to meet to consolidate itself and triumph.
Those objectives came face to face with not only the colonialists’ power but also the anti-national oligarchy and the US government.
It is recorded in American official documents that between March and November 1869, the entire federal Government machinery was mobilized in 16 States, from Florida and the Gulf of Mexico up to the Canadian border, with the active participation of the Navy, to thwart expeditions, stop ships, seize weapons and pursue, arrest and punish the patriots.
The authorities’ hostility towards the Cuban cause contrasted with American people’s manifestation of communion and support. For instance, in its report of 14 June 1870 the House of Representatives’ Foreign Relations Committee included numerous annexes with belligerence in and independence of Cuba. They came from different parts of the United States and were backed by tens of thousands of people’s signatures. One of those letters was signed by 72,384 New Yorkers.
The official attitude counter to the feeling of so many Americans would be expressed, at that time, in an address to the Congress where President Ulysses Grant rejected any assistance for the Cuban patriots, about whom he used the most slanderous and vulgar of languages.
Back in 1870 Céspedes had warned that the US Government’s “aspiration is to take possession of Cuba without dangerous complications for its nation and while it remains under Spanish rule, even if it is to become an independent power; that is the secret of its policy”.
In a message to Benito Juárez, on 13 December 1870, Céspedes said “you certainly know only too well how terrible are the efforts we are engaged in to secure our national rights and how big are the difficulties we have to overcome, for you know that our enemies are great many and well disciplined, that we have to fight in a quite narrow island, that the coastline is patrolled by a large fleet; and that we are abandoned to our own resources in spite of being at the very center of the independent America”.
Two days later, in a letter to a New York newspaper editor, Céspedes denounced that while Spain can easily procure everything it needs for the war, the Cuban patriots are persecuted and “their ships and weapons –bought out of their patriotism and with our women’s tears and our brave soldiers’ blood-are seized”.
The persecution of immigrants in the United States and the authorities’ actions to prevent any aid from there to the revolutionary movement reached its highest expression with the proclamation issued on 12 October 1871 by President Grant himself. Alleging that the revolutionaries’ activities violated United States laws, he threatened them with these words: “which is why they are subject to be punished, will be most severely pursued without possibly be punished, will be most severely pursued without possibly expecting mercy from the Executive to save them from the consequences of their crime, if convicted. And I admonish and consequences of their crime, if convicted. And I admonish and encourage every authority of this Government, civilian, military or naval, to use every means within their reach in order to apprehend, try and punish each and every one of such criminals, transgressors of the laws that impose upon us sacred obligations to all friendly Powers”.
Mister Grant’s threats were dramatically realized when the Yankee authorities confiscated the ship Pioneer and all the weapons it was carrying to Cuba. The Homeland’s Father gave instructions then, on 30 November 1872, to withdraw the unofficial diplomatic representation that the Revolution had set up to at least seek the acknowledgement of our belligerence. In doing this, he left history these words of permanent validity: “It was no longer possible to put up with the contempt with which the United States Government was treating us, a contempt that increased as our sufferings increased. For long enough we have played the beggar who gets the alms repeatedly denied, and who gets the doors slammed insolently on his face. The Pioneer case has come to break the back of our patience: not because we are weak and unfortunate should we stop having dignity”.
While obstructing solitary actions from the Cuban immigration, the United States facilitated the colonialists’ continuation of the war with the use of the American territory and industry. With this support, Spain deployed up to 83 warships to block Cuban coasts, including 30 stem gun boats, built, armed and equipped in the United States.
In a message to the president of the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee which constitutes a profound analysis of the war’s development, on 10 August 1871, Céspedes had unmasked Washington’s policies: “that Republic’s Government… no longer being a mere spectator indifferent to the barbarities and cruelties executed before its eyes.. but now providing indirect, moral and material support to the oppressor against the oppressed, the strong against the weak, the Monarchy against the Republic, the European Metropolis against the colonial America, the hard-line slavery advocator against the liberator of hundreds of thousands of thousands of slaves”.
After 1898, when the Yankee intervention brutally interrupted the eliminate them from the memory of the people, to lessen the meaning of their struggle and hide the true nature of the problems they had, the way they faced them and the solutions they found.
Stressed were the different points of view on various issues that, at times, some of the main protagonists of the epic had. Any analysis was eliminated from the evolution of those opinions and the context in which they came to be. Everything was reduced to inevitable personality differences. In fact, it was the human passions that explained the failure of a ten-year war. They wanted us to believe that, in the end, it was our own characteristics as a people with explained the failure of a ten-year war. They wanted us to believe that, in the end, it was our own characteristics as a people what explained the defeats we suffered. They were trying to introduce in the collective psychology the fatalism that has always been used by the annexationists to justify docility to their masters.
In 1868 there was no nation or a national conscience. We were a heterogeneous, shapeless mass, out of which the people would emerge in the middle of the struggle and would identify itself through the struggle, thus acquiring its definite identity.
Those men did create the nation, forge the people, make the reality of Cubanness come true. Was it possible to do it with no discussion or passionately contrasting ideas?
Many times concepts were repeated to us that were like an echo of the distortions and slanders given at its time by the colonial and the US government’s propaganda of the events and their participants.
Céspedes –supposedly authoritarian- accepted, however, the majority’s criterion at Guáimaro, and later observed the House’s deeply unjust and mistaken decision to depose him. He who was presented as a militarist did his best, as far as possible, to regularize the war and make it more humane. An all-out abolitionist, he made tactical concessions in the initial phase two attract or neutralize western planters.
But he never hesitated to fully exert his powers when the principles were at stake for it was necessary to secure the advance of the Revolution. He did it on 10 October 1869, on the struggle’s first anniversary, when he ordered the Liberation Army the burning of all sugarcane and coffee fields, when he commanded that, in a Las Villas invasion, properties be burned and that slaves be brought to the rebel and accepted in the patriotic ranks were sent to Camagüey to protect them from their former owners; also when he annulled the House’s agreement that governs the life of freed slaves, thus definitely eliminating the servitude system; when he appointed two blacks as alderman in Bayamo, Cuba’s first liberated city and home to the Revolutionary government; when he promoted Antonio Maceo and Máximo Gómez to generals and blacks and mulattos who were former slaves and from the poorest sectors of people to high military ranks; when he decreed, on 15 February 1871, that traitors be considered all those who took part in any negotiation that did not observe Cuba’s absolute independence and the complete abolition of slavery.
These positions and Céspedes efforts to eliminate regionalism, to lead the invasion to the west and his support for the most radical sectors in the exile in their opposition to the planters annexationists maneuvering, place me as the starter of a consistent revolutionary line that would later continue with a Protest of Baraguá, with José Marti’s revolutionary work and with other people’s unending struggle until the victory of January 1st and these glorious fourty years in which, under Fidel’s Céspedesite leadership, the people at last saw the La Demajagua come true.
The goals of independence and justice of the Cuban Revolution that started on 10 October 1868 were attainable in the first phase. To realize them there would have to be a national consensus, a Party to lead and integrate the political and military struggle and a fighting strategy to be spread throughout the entire island. These objectives would be later achieved with Marti’s indefatigable genius and work.
But the Apostle’s work would have never been possible without the Ten Years’ War, because it was that War that forged our nationality, radically transformed the colonial society and turned the exploited masses into the propagandists of their history.
Before 10 October 1868 there was different criteria as to the time to commence the war, and from that moment on, up until April 1869, there were diverging ideas as to the strategy to be followed and the organization of a revolutionary power, they’re being two main centers in Oriente and Camagüey, two leaderships, two armies in the event two wives. It is true that that Guámimaro they discussed deeply; they surely had to discuss passionately because they were trying to design the Homeland into the find a way to get there. But most important of all is that, with everybody’s concord, Guámimaro produced only one Revolutionary Government, with only one program, only one Army had only one flag. At Guámimaro prevailed, above all, the sense of the indispensable unity, the common will to set aside the differences and to add up everyone’s energies for the common battle.
Céspedes and Ignacio Agramonte, the main chiefs of that period, were symbols of the two initial notions regarding no revolutionary power’s organization which were ex needs some worry. But after his thesis triumphed Guámimaro, Agramonte himself would criticize, amid his brilliant military campaign, the House’s interference with the condition of the war and would claim for the indispensable sing single command to lead it. On 14 January 1871, after stating that there were “contradictory opinions but no divisions war concessions”, the celebrated Camagueyan added “I am one of those who think it most and necessary to replace the officials for delaying the expeditious and energetic advance of our military operations… “ There up use plenty of evidence that as they advanced in the war, all relationship of mutual understanding was growing between Céspedes and Agramonte. In the Homeland’s Father’s epistolary there was proof of his happiness in this regard and he dedicated words of admiration and affection to Agramonte.
Just as Fidel had explained, should Agramonte have been alive, he would have opposed and probably prevented Céspedes from being disposed by the House of Representatives. The historical truth is that when he fell in Jimaguayú, the Homeland’s Father lost a decisive support, the most eminent disciple, he who should be his successor.
The 1898 Imperialists you search and frustrated the movement initiated here 30 years before. The two possession of the country and its resources, planned to correct and US-client regimes that exploited and divided the people. In that base Republic remaining the colonial society’s worst vices. There was no hold tight servitude of millions of Cubans suffered capitalist slavery and along with it, misery, helplessness, racism end radical discrimination.
There were six decades of ignominy, radical negation of the 1868 ideals. That republic was the opposite of La Demajagua; it had nothing to do with Céspedes an Agramonte’s dreams for wit that heroism, the sacrifices in the light should buy hundreds of thousands of Cubans over three decades.
Today’s youth, who learned to love and respect are glorious founding fathers, will find it difficult to imagine that it was not always like this. Under the Yankee domination regime, they tried to steal their memories from the public, your history was distorted, they tried to dissolve into forgetfulness the example of their heroes in the lessons of their struggle.
The neo-colony and its masters were specially in place a ball with Carlos Manuel de Céspedes. Since that regime was the most opposite to patriotism, they had to make sure of the Homeland Father’s eternal death, have him completely disappeared from history, for forever buried his message.
There you have all the data in archives and libraries. Céspedes is thought, his political documents, his ample correspondence, his literary work was more publicized over the 30 years of war than after the date the intervention. Over 60 years in the so-called Republic of Cuba use only published, together with works by other offers, a tiny portion of his political work in one book for circulation appeared in 1938 under the title Breve Antologia del 10 de Octubre (Brief Anthology of 10 October). On Céspedes, over sixty years, were published 3 books, 3 booklets and 24 newspaper articles, not always fair to him.
Numberless were, however, the biographies, studies and tax of former annexationists and autonomists that came out of Cuban printing shops during the same period.
Also, to those characters were dedicated statues and monuments, and streets and squares were named after them.
But not to Céspedes. It is true that Manzanillo zealously took care of the Bell and the Bayamo and Santiago, witnesses of his immolation, mark some places with his glorious name. But the rulers of the time, for sixty years, did not pay any tribute to his memory, outside his tomb.
It is good that our young thing about it. It illustrates on the meaning of our said terry and struggle in our single revolution, the one initiated by the man who the enemies of the homeland wants to destroy and disappear. It also reminds us of how he continued to fight even after he fell in San Lorenzo.
He who always foresaw his death before the triumph and had warned us that he would come out of his two as many times as necessary to our minds Cubans of their duties for the homeland, continue to call on the young and the two patriots to retake the La Demajagua road.
This is why his first monument in Havana, a humble plaster bust, was built and put at the entrance of Vibora’s Secondary Education iIstitute in 1949, paid for by his teachers, students and workers, penny upon penny. This is why in 1947 Fidel Castro and the University Students’ Federation took the glorious bell to the university campus and rescued it from political maneuverings they denounced of a memorable acts in the capital and in Manzanillo. This is why, in 1956 Emilo Roig, exemplary teacher, took that autocrat king from the seat where he was still honored by the spurious republic and replaced him with the Homeland’s founder.
Only after 1959, when the Revolution that he initiated triumphed, his work and thought was finally rescued and extensively spread. Today, for the Cuban people his exemplary life and his ideas are they in the spring where the pure water of patriotism and the virtues and value of Cubanness always flow.
In this same place, thirty years ago, our Commander- in-Chief gave an essential speech. He defined our history’s greatest truth, one so many have tried to hide in various ways: that there has only been one Revolution in Cuba, the one undertaken by Céspedes on 10 October. Fidel summed up the insoluble continuity of our historic process with this admirable phrase: “We, then, would have been like them. They, today, would have been like us”.
Being like them, today, when the threatened homeland is faced with powerful enemies, just like then, when we have to face fifth up the dangers of confusion and overseas fostered hesitations, means, first and foremost, to revive the La Demajagua message and to turn it into a way out of behavior, into a guidance for the present revolutionary action.
Unyielding defense of the Homeland’s absolute independence, without concessions of eight times that might damage our national dignity; true unity, real, intimate among all Cubans, and the elimination of every trace of discrimination or prejudice that may separate us; indefatigable struggle for equality and solitary amongst people, founded upon the ethics of sacrifice, abnegation and virtue.
This is the legacy left us by our common Father, the founder, the internal President of the Homeland.
He who told us that “those were not willing to sacrifice everything, everything for the freedom of the homeland are not revolutionaries”, their rich planter and gave up his wealth and laid down all his personal to rate for the revolutionary cause. He was sacrificed his family and promised to leave them with “an inheritance lacking in money but plentiful of civic virtues”, they enlightened man, the poet, that until the eve of his death was teaching to read and write with rude instruments that he would bring out of the woods; the Manzanillo and Bayamo Symphonic Orchestra organizer who in his last refuge in the Sierra Maestra admired the dances that former servants rehearsed for him; he who called the black man brother in the worker comrade; he who was unyielding loyal to the Revolution despite the injustice, abandonment and ingratitude he suffered; he who fought to the last minute, completely by himself, almost blind and surrendered by enemy soldiers.
At this time when they are trying to take the sentiments of justice out of men’s hearts, in a world where selfishness and greed are trying to be imposed, the Cuban Revolution continues to be our people’s only road and carries indispensable values for humanity. In the middle of the war, Céspedes drew a clear line between Cuba and colonialism, and outlined that insurmountable line that separates us today, even more clearly, from the imperialist. The enemy “fights to sustain slavery of the black, to spread obscurantism, to perpetuate iniquity; the Cuban patriots fight for all men’s freedom, for the triumph of justice, for the enthroning of civilization; out go the greed, the ignominy, the night, here come the reason, the truth, the light”.
Today’s and tomorrow’s Cubans will continue to defend the Homeland founded here, the Revolution started on 10 October, our Socialism that and this sacred land took its strongest roots. We will continue to fight ever on to victory.
Long live free Cuba!
Independence or Death!
SCANNED FROM 1998 PAMPHLET in 2018.
“Printed by the printing section of the
National Assembly of People’s Power”