Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES – On October 10th 1868, the Cuban Revolution began and as a result, it has just turned 150 years old. The Cuban people’s struggle for their freedom has undergone different phases, depending on the historic context at the time. It kicked off with the first Independence war against the Spanish Empire and continues today against another Empire’s attack, which has been dominating us for 60 years and still insists on dominating us again.
Carlos Manuel de Cespedes began the first phase of the Revolution when he freed his slaves and invited them to follow him in the struggle for Cuba’s independence, which had suffered colonial domination for over three centuries.
For 10 years, thousands of Cubans gave up their lives and estates to the struggle against their oppressor. “I don’t have anything if I don’t have my Homeland,” one of the wealthiest Cubans at the time, Francisco Vicente Aguilera, would say, who gave up everything he had for the revolutionary cause.
Due to the lack of unity between rebel forces, an important group of rebel leaders made a peace treaty with the Empire without independence and without abolishing slavery. However, General Antonio Maceo and other generals refused to sign the treaty, so they could continue on with the war, but they had to abandon their efforts and flee the country as they were lacking support.
Another attempt to continue the struggle came shortly after, but it only lasted three months, as several of the main leaders weren’t able to make their way to the island. This period was called the “Little War”, because it didn’t last very long at all.
On February 24, 1895, another phase of the revolutionary struggle began, which was organized by Jose Marti from the US, who managed to unite all of the revolutionaries who took part in the first independence war, by founding a party to lead the struggle, along with what he called “the new pines”.
In 1898, when Spain had already been practically defeated and the Cubans were about to win the war, their victory was thwarted by a US army intervention, as they saw an opportunity to kick Spain out of the Americas and keep a fine piece of war booty, as it became the owner of Puerto Rico and the Phillipines, and it imposed neocolonial conditions on Cuba, limiting its sovereignty and claiming the right to intervene whenever they felt necessary.
A conditioned Republic was born, governed by civilians sometimes and by the military at other times, as long as they had the US’ green light. This is how the Cuban people were made to suffer cruel dictatorships and corrupt governments, against who they didn’t stop fighting and cost thousands lives.
The last dictatorship, one of the bloodiest, began on March 10th 1952, with the coup perpetrated by Fulgencio Batista; but on July 26th 1953, with the attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba and the Carlos Manuel de Cespedes’ Baracks in Bayamo, the last phase of Cuba’s independence struggle began.
Even though both of these military actions were unsuccessful, they helped to awaken the Cuban population’s conscience, who didn’t then stop fighting until January 1st 1959, when the tyrant and his henchmen fled the country. The Revolution finally triumphed under Fidel Castro Ruz’ leadership, thereby making the dream of its heroes true, who had always seen their attempts to achieve a Republic for everyone and for the wellbeing of everyone thwarted, in 1868, 1895 and then later during the conditioned Republic.
I wrote the following verses just over three years ago, which sum up 150 years of Cuba’s revolutionary struggle.
the first clarion call of our Revolution
was sounded in our Subjugated Homeland.
Cuban people taking action
in the mountains and the plains,
soldiers who were up to the task
of their sovereign duty,
with a machete in hand,
in the battlefield.
the heroic feat begins again,
which made the Mambise star on my hat
shine even brighter.
A patriotic date I want
to salvage from oblivion.
I dedicate these verses
to those who have yet to be born.
We can’t forget
the glory that we have had.
another manly clarion call
and the Homeland, that was dying,
went to the Moncada’s walls.
The people resisted
in spite of treason.
They put their hearts
into the guerrilla fight,
so that on a January 1st
the Revolution triumphed.