Guantanamo’s Most Important Anniversary

Alberto N Jones

Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez.

HAVANA TIMES — September 18th marked the 32nd anniversary of the most important event in the history of Guantanamo, since it was founded in 1870, as the village of Santa Catalina de Ricis.

Although 19 years had transpired since the impressive irruption into outer space by Yuri Gagarin, a hero of mankind who created a before and an after in the annals of contemporary history, and 17 years after Valentina Thereshkova became the first woman in space, validating once again women enormous contributions to the world, another impressive, indelible landmark was created by one of ours.

On September 18, 1980, a joint Soviet Union-Cuba exploration spacecraft was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in the former Soviet Union, under the command of Colonel Yuri Romanenko and Colonel Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez.

Those increasingly regular space launches, became this time an epic human accomplishment, when the first Latin American, first Cuban and the first black in history, burst into outer space to the admiration, honor and gratitude of millions of men, women and children, especially in the third world.

Afro-Americans, Latin-Americans and Asians have followed through the years, this un-erasable landmark of our pioneer in space.  There will never be any doubt that the first man in space with African blood and African roots was born in Guantanamo, putting Cuba and its people at the height of the stars.

It should come as no surprise when on occasions  in other writings, I have bitterly expressed my frustration with the stagnation and lack of development of Guantanamo, with which, I may have unwittingly hurt the pride and feelings of some of my fellow citizens, causing their anger and rejection.

Like them, I am convinced of the enormous potential and the capacity of the people of that region, who have excelled in every walks of life, have earned  many accolades for our country and whose only demand is to be given the opportunity and conditions to develop their aptitude to the fullest.

Cuba has made a fundamental mistake, by not educating, perpetuating and disseminating this epic event in and outside of our country.  A yearly newspaper article can never foster the honor, pride and character-building, that millions of children especially minorities, poor and forgotten in our region, need to reverse the moral deficit of millions of children, by actively developing  these self-esteem, value-promoting principles.

That is why, creating in Guantanamo an aerospace museum to honor our national hero and all others who have advanced this field of science in the world, becomes an urgent, inexcusable imperative and a critical reminder of who we are and always must be.


One thought on “Guantanamo’s Most Important Anniversary

  • Among those of us who do remember this event there has always been the debatable question as to what role Col. Tamayo truly played in this launch. Was he along for the ride as little more than a hood ornament to be used as a public relations tool or did he contribute to the science which led up to the trip as well as during? Because of the typical media blackout regarding the work and training done by Soviet cosmonauts it has been difficult to give whatever credit is deserved. Yes, we know a Cuban was aboard but not much more than that.

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