The Cuban people have, in their living memory, the outstanding patriotism, the unquestionable firmness and the fruitful abnegation of our beloved Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y del Castillo, Cuba’s independence hero and legitimately recognized as the Father of the Nation.
Born on April 18, 1819, Céspedes is remembered for initiating the Ten Years’ War, a confrontation that would begin the process of independence against the Spanish colonial forces.
Under his aegis, that fight began in the early morning of October 10, 1868, at the La Demajagua sugar mill, where he granted freedom to his slaves and invited them to join the struggle to free Cuba. The aspiration of an independent and fully sovereign homeland, which Céspedes imagined possible with early lucidity, began to forge from that date.
Thus, on the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday, the insurrectionary uprising hastened. Cuban essayist Salvador Bueno evokes those moments:
“A tricolor flag, very similar to that of Chile, has been made by a young peasant woman Cambula (Candelaria) Acosta. Céspedes leads the troop in a brief, emotional harangue. He orders to ring for the last time the bell of the mill; he summons the slaves that are going to become free: ‘It was never bigger -José Martí wrote years later-, when he proclaimed his free Homeland, but when he gathered his servants and called them to his arms as brothers.”
For his part, the Cuban historian and intellectual Dr. Martí Eusebio Leal Spengler reminds us that in Carlos Manuel de Céspedes’ Diario Perdido, the revolutionary evokes that glorious date as follows: “I spoke to them of the emotions that stirred us on the eve of October 10, 1868, and of the final resolution that we took on that great day, when we considered that in spite of all this, the freedom of more than a million black and white slaves would come from it, concluding with the cries that guided us, as we launched into the Revolution: ‘Long live Cuba! These were answered amidst thunderous applause and I came down from the rostrum to the voices of: “Long live the President of the Republic! Long live Carlos Manuel de Céspedes! I was overcome by a feeling of complete gratitude.
This was the first day of freedom. A few weeks later, a warship would fire on La Demajagua until it turned the once flourishing mill into ruins.
The Father of the Homeland was the first president of the Republic of Cuba in arms. In his professional and human trajectory, his dedication to promoting change in his country stands out, since he always had an unshakable faith that freedom would always triumph against tyranny.
He abhorred Spanish domination, and dedicated every day of his existence after 1868 to consolidating the Cuban people’s desire to wrest their independence from Spain at whatever cost.
His legacy was widely humanistic and pro-independence; with patriotic action, his fierce defense of independence and the rights of the homeless people changed the course of Cuban history.
Our intention in this brief biographical sketch is not to gather all the facts of Céspedes’ life, there is much to be done to give a full and lucid look at the transcendence of this life and work, although we believe that these lines briefly reflect the life trajectory of this exceptional Cuban patriot.
When we go into the life of Céspedes, we are moved by his courage and total sacrifice, to the point of managing to smooth out the very roughness of his character for the very good of the work he was carrying out.
In this regard, our Apostle José Martí comments: “Céspedes, who was irascible and of an impetuous temper, said: ‘Among the sacrifices imposed on me by the Revolution, the most painful for me has been the sacrifice of my character. That is, he dominated what no one else dominated”, said the Hero of Dos Ríos.
On this glorious date we evoke this great man who is a paradigm and a fertile seed of the best of our ideals and, as the great poet said: “The Homeland is a plough and not a pedestal”, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes knew this and embodied it to the letter.
Such was his consecration and dedication that he sacrificed his son, his brother, his nephew, his entire family, for the sake of achieving a free and sovereign nation, and for that reason today and forever, our most heartfelt admiration and reverence for the one we all call the Father of the Homeland.
Teken from: www.radioenciclopedia.cu