Friday, December 7, 2007

On the Anniversary of Antonio Maceo's Death (1896-2007)


"I am now and I will always be on the side of liberty as my principles and sense of duty dictate. You say that we are confronted by insurmountable obstacles, but what was impossible yesterday may prove possible today. It is easy and fashionable for the defeatists among us to claim the gift of prophecy and condemn an entire people to perpetual degradation when even death by the tyrant's sword is preferable to living like debased savages under his heel. Given Cuba's present situation, what could be worse than to have our rights trampled by rapacious foreigners; our people exploited by befouled henchmen and political intriguers and submitted to hellish tortures and executions without end? Prison, chains, gallows, all this is still to be preferred to the shame of never having fought without respite for our liberties."Antonio Maceo

Today marks the 111th anniversary of the death in battle of General Antonio Maceo, which was commemorated in Cuba as our Memorial Day. Half a million Cubans died besides Maceo in our wars of independence. Maceo exemplified for Cubans that vast legion of heroes who shed their blood more generously for freedom's cause than any other people in the history of this hemisphere. To appreciate the magnitude of that sacrifice, it is enough to point out that 4000 Americans died in Washington's Revolution and 10,000 South Americans in Bolívar's. Maceo was the greatest soldier and the greatest loss that the cause of Cuban arms ever sustained. No date is more fitting to remember all who have laid down their lives for our country, then and in all times, than the anniversary of Maceo's death.

José Martí said of Maceo that his mind was just as powerful as his arm. His letters, both personal and public, show him to have been a profound student of history who synthesized its lessons in sculpted sentences worthy of Caesar. Yet he is known, and has always been known, not as one of the political architects of our country — though he certainly was that — but as the intrepid soldier; the tireless fighter for his country's freedom; a veteran of three wars and more than 1000 battles; the man who bore on his body the scars of 22 combat wounds; and, of course, the peerless general — in sum, the arm of the Revolution. His military genius has always been acknowledged even by his enemies, who rejoiced at his death as at no else's because they believed, wrongly, that it would mean the end of the war so sure were they that no one could replace him (and, indeed, no one man could; but many men did). As a leader of men, it is enough to say his general staff included white men from Cuba's first families and that their loyalty and obedience to him were absolute and transcended race and all other superficial differences which then were less superficial than today. In him the general stood no higher than the citizen. His commitment to republicanism and the Rule of Law, his abhorrence of anarchy and barbarism, his fundamental sense of justice, and, above all, his noble intransigence, made him an exemplar of not only military but civic virtues.

Some day his tomb, desecrated hundreds of times by the Communists, who not only buried Blas Roca beside him but paraded troops destined for mercenary wars before it, will again become the altar of patriotism which it always represented to our people before history was buried in our country.

6 comments:

Charlie Bravo said...

We should never forget that Antonio Maceo was demoted to Colonel by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose knowledge of Cuban history seems limited to the notion that Castro is a dictator.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Charlie:

In a way it is a compliment to Castro to think that Cuban history began in 1959. Without the signposts of the past we can never hope to extricate ourselves from the present reality. We cannot conceive of a better future if we do not know that there was a better past.

Charlie Bravo said...

As Pitaluga said, the past is just a succession of old presents, and the future is also a succession of presents, the newer ones....

Vana said...

Manuel:

How fitting you should dedicate today's post to Maceo, to me the gratest General that ever lived.

I have read of another General who thought and felt the same way of Maceo, George Patton, who actually studied Maceo, and emulated him at the front, how proud I felt when reading those words.

I had no idea that Cuba celebrated today as our Memorial Day, surely no better date could have been picked, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Ofelia Fox, wife of the owner of the cabaret TROPICANA of Havana, was the first female radio personality of South Florida, broadcasting a daily radio commentary: "El Mensaje de Liansú" for which she did not charge a penny. WMIE, from where she transmitted, is now called "La Cubanísima" (WQBA) and a collection of Ofelia Fox's manuscripts has been published as CUBA, PATRIA EN LAGRIMAS Y EL MENSAJE DE LIANSU. A 391 page book, including 16 with photos, that is a true diary of the first wave of political refugees from Cuba.

Mensaje transmitido el Miércoles, 27 de Febrero de 1963:
"Ayer llegó procedente de Nueva York el cadáver de un héroe de Playa Girón. Ironías de la vida. Jugadas del destino. Ese valiente soldado se llamava Ivo Fernández. Yo no lo conocía , pero para rendirle tributo me basta que fuera un soldado que fué a pelear por mí. Sí, por mí y por tí, Cubano que me escuchas. Sí. Tú y yo y aquel otro nos quedamos aquí mientras los soldados de Playa Girón fueron a pelear por la libertad en Cuba. Que es lo mismo que pelear por todos los Cubanos que estamos desterrados. ¡Y pensar que se debatió en el mar o en el aire o en tierra, que estuvo preso en las cárceles de Fidel Castro quien ignoró todas las reglas del trato a los prisioneros de guerra y los maltrató y humilló a su antojo! Pensar que sobrevivió la desnutrición, las enfermedades y los castigos físicos y morales de las prisiones comunistas. Que salió de aquellas cárceles dinamitadas con el firme propósito de volver a pelear por Cuba. ¡Y muere aquí, sin ver a su patria libre, como el la soñara!
Cuando oí la noticia ayer, aquí en este mismo espacio, sentí un dolor y una pena enorme de que este Cubano se nos hubiera ido tan pronto, sin ser testigo de la libertad que fué a defender un día. Que Dios acoja su espíritu en Su seno y lo cobije como Cubano triste, como héroe y como hombre de honor. Aquí, con sus restos, nos queda Ivo Fernández, soldado de la Brigada 2506, que seguirá latiendo en el corazón de todos y cada uno de sus compañeros y en el de cada Cubano que sufre el destierro. Descansa en paz, Ivo Fernández.
"Liansú"

Anonymous said...

"Today is Memorial Day in the United States. It is a day like our December 7th in Cuba. Today we pay homage to the fallen warriors of all wars. To that legion of men and women that gave their lives for the freedom of others, always hoping to achieve a lasting peace. There are moments when a look to our past doesn't bring a pleasant memory of partying and revelry but a stabbing pain.
I wish for peace for the soul of those that have died in past wars. Their death was not in vain. Those of us that now live in this powerful nation enjoy the wonderful fruit from the tree irrigated with their blood.
The freedom that they defended remains intact. We cannot say the same of our 7th of December, of our dead and our country. That's why today my head hangs low. Because we were not capable of defending our independence that lasted just 57 years. That republic for which the heroes of the machete gave their lives, now is just one more Soviet satellite. And what is even more sad is that if there was a hecatomb and the Soviet Union fell into the sea and they lost their subsidy and military help, those that govern Cuba today wouldn't hesitate to hand her to another country. They have prostituted our motherland. And, like in the case of all prostitutes, the first client is the most bitter swallow. All others become easier to serve. Poor mambises! Poor Cuba!”
Broadcast of Ofelia Fox (Liansu) on Thursday, 30th of May of 1963 thru WMIE (now La Cubanisima) Miami, Florida.
Translation of page 232 of her book CUBA PATRIA EN LAGRIMAS Y EL MENSAJE DE LIANSU.