TODAY, October 10, we evoke the day and the hour when, 149 years ago, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes launched the one and only Revolution that has existed in our land: the one he started and that today we continue.
These were the words of Havana City Historian Eusebio Leal Spengler, during the political act and military interment ceremony of the remains of Mariana Grajales and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, in the patrimonial cemetery of Santa Ifigenia, Santiago de Cuba.
In a ceremony that he described as momentous, Leal Spengler highlighted the leadership and radical thought of the Father of the Fatherland, as Céspedes is known, while reviewing his life and work: from his birth in Bayamo, April 18, 1819, to the Grito de Yara (The Cry of Yara) rallying cry of October 10, 1868, that launched the Ten Years’ War; to his appointment as first President of the Republic in Arms, until his death on February 27, 1874.
Céspedes’ virile and austere gesture at the La Demajagua sugar plantation, where he freed his slaves, inaugurated a new era in Cuba: the struggle for independence, which lasted 30 years; and the human, solidary and courageous tradition of the Cuban people. This spark triggered a voracious fire, an inextinguishable flare that illuminated the whole island, the historian remarked.
More than 20 members of Céspedes’ family died for Cuba’s independence, Leal noted. The first of them was his son, Oscar, who was captured and executed on refusing to call on his father to lay down the arms he had raised against Spanish colonialism.
Likewise, Leal told the story of Mariana Grajales, mother of the Maceo Cuban independence heroes, emphasizing her character and intransigence, and describing her as the “Alma Mater” of the country.
José Martí, who visited Mariana, wrote a beautiful biographical note about her, and after her death he laid a floral wreath at her grave on behalf of the newspaper Patria, with the word “Mother” written on its ribbons, the Historian of the Cuban capital noted.
Our Revolution, he reiterated, is a singular one: that which began in La Demajagua and was continued by Fidel with the Assault on the Moncada Barracks.
Fidel continued the path of the forefathers of the homeland, he declared, adding that the monolith that marks the site where Fidel’s remains lie is symbolic of the continuation of the only Revolution we have experienced: that which continues today under the command of Raúl. In that urn and that granite stone is the will of our people, Leal stressed.
Meanwhile, he praised the remodeling process undertaken in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery, and thanked everyone who worked day and night to make it possible.
Leal also expressed the value of this site in the teaching of history and of the illustrious men and women of the nation: a duty of the state and of all of us.
Next year, he concluded, we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the independence cry of La Demajagua, and we will do so with the conviction of the need to preserve our history.