Alberto N Jones
HAVANA TIMES — The massive destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere in the United States prevented the media from reporting about another massive destruction that has crippled Santiago de Cuba and placed nearly one million people on the brink of economic collapse and created even greater uncertainty about the future of this 500-year-old city.
I’m speaking of not only the second largest city in Cuba but is also the birthplace of Mariana Grajales. Known as the mother of the Cuban nation and the most extraordinary woman of African descent in this hemisphere, she saw her whole family enlist in the wars of independence of 1868, ‘79 and ‘95, where most perished fighting against Spanish colonialism.
General Antonio Maceo, her most outstanding son, went from being a simple soldier to become the second head of the Liberation Army. In combat he defeated the bravest and most decorated Spanish generals as he led an invasive war from the east to the west of the country in the most extraordinary military action of this campaign. His story was deserving enough to be perpetuated in the military museum of Paris and in military academies around the world.
Santiago de Cuba is the most Caribbean, boisterous and cheerful city on the island. It has the largest Afro-Cuban population in the country and was the place where the Black soldiers from Tuskegee Institute were sent under General Teddy Roosevelt to shed their blood and gave their lives in the Hispano-Cuban-American War of 1898.
Santiago de Cuba Province was at the epicenter of the horrific slaughter of more than 3,000 members of the Independent Party of Color in 1912, which stained our nation’s history with an indelible ink.
Santiago de Cuba was where in 1953 the seed was planted that blossomed into the overthrowing of the bloody tyranny of General Fulgencio Batista. It was the birthplace of underground leaders such as Frank and Jose Pais, Vilma Espin, Pepito Tey, Tony Aloma and the martyred William Soler.
Santiago de Cuba is the home of the School of Medicine of the Caribbean, with its current 2,500 students and from where hundreds of students from Africa and the Caribbean have received their diplomas from medical, nursing and health technology.
We can point especially to the students from Haiti, as more than 700 of them have graduated after having studied there for free. In addition, thousands of health care, sports, cultural and educational professionals from this city have given their expertise to millions of dispossessed people around the world.
Should 50 years of unfounded political and ideological difference between the US and Cuba allow this community that has contributed so much to humanity to perish for lack of solidarity support from our neighbors?
With the end of the cold war and that unfortunate chapter in our history, what’s needed is greater cooperation and less confrontation between peoples in our endless effort to build a better world for all.
Directed by Dr. Alberto Jones, the Caribbean American Children’s Foundation (CACF, PO Box 353593 Palm Coast Fl., 32135), a US 501c3 organization, engages in a number of programs focused on the Caribbean, many of which deal with Cuba. Dr. Jones is also a member of the West Indian Welfare Society in the city of Guantanamo, Cuba. His e-mail is: [email protected]