Cuba Marks 155 Years since the Beginning of the Struggle for Independence

Carlos Manuel de Céspedes

Every October 10th is a reason for national pride. On that day in 1868, 155 years ago, Cubans began the struggle for the independence of the island, then known as the “most precious jewel of the Spanish crown,” which lived under a humiliating submission amid an unstoppable process of love for the homeland. The first light of day and the chiming bells of La Demajagua sugar mill were the beginning of a sole, continuous process, which started with the Father of the Homeland, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, and concluded with the victory of the “Barbudos” on January 1st, 1959.

Céspedes was not only the first brave man to initiate the struggle for Cuba’s independence. He was also the first to free the slaves of his vast sugar mill and encouraged them to join the independence cause. This was the beginning of a hundred years of struggle, the beginning of the Revolution. Céspedes, whose mortal remains rest in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, next to those of the Apostle José Martí and the leader Fidel Castro, symbolized the spirit of the Cubans of that time, the dignity and the rebelliousness of a people that began to be born into history.

The uprising couldn’t wait too long. Nor could it risk going through the long process of achieving a perfect organization because it was extremely difficult in Cuba’s conditions at the time.

These events provided us with an extraordinary example for the years to come: it doesn’t matter if there are no resources or weapons. There will be no obstacles that prevent us from fighting against injustice and tyranny as long as there are people we trust.

More than a century ago, we had no Cuban nationality, political maturity, or common destiny. In those first decades of the last century, when the rest of Latin America had already gained independence from the Spanish colony, the power of Spain over the island remained on solid foundations.

The road against the monopoly was not easy. According to historians, few people in the world could face such great sacrifices as those endured by the Cuban people during those first ten years of struggle.

“To ignore them is a crime against justice and culture… it is a crime for any revolutionary,” the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz (1926-2016), acknowledged during a speech on the 150th anniversary of the founding date of Cuba’s Independence. It is well known the almost total lack of help from abroad and the history of divisions, which made it difficult and finally impossible for the diaspora to the Cubans who rose up in arms.

“However, our people – making incredible sacrifices, heroically bearing the burden of that war, overcoming the difficult moments – learned the art of war. It built up a small but energetic army supplied with the weapons of its enemies. The most virtuous patriots, such as the Maceo brothers, began to emerge from the heart of the humblest people, the combatants, peasants, and freed slaves,” he recalled.

We have plenty of reasons to contemplate our history with pride. Today’s consciousness, our constant resistance against the impossible, is thanks to the lineage inherited by the first men and women who dreamed of a Free Cuba a century ago in a context in which it seemed a chimera, a utopia.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – English