October 10, 2005

October 10 1868, the Cry of Yara

This day marks the official beginning of Cuba’s armed struggle for independence a mere 137 years ago. Cuba had been a Spanish colony for almost 4 centuries when Carlos Manuel de Céspedes (pictured) organized the uprising now remembered as the Ten Year War. From this war emerged the heroes that would forever be identified with Cuba’s bid for independence from the Spanish empire; Maximo Gómez, the Maceo family, most notably Antonio and Jose; Calixto García and many others.

The Ten Year War came to a stalemate ending in 1878, when Spanish Captain General Martinez Campos negotiated a cease-fire, and assured the rebels that positive changes were on the way for the island. Of course, a few years later the Spanish empire turned down all of Campos’ suggested changes. Big surprise.

“You can’t negotiate freedom,” said Maceo in May 1878.

After a brief insurrection known as the “little war,” the rebel leaders were dispersed into the U.S., Latin America and Mexico. A decade later, while organizing the Cuban Revolutionary Party, Martí re-iterated Maceo’s idea. “You take your rights,” he said, “You do not beg for them. You do not buy them with tears, but with blood.”