Born on June 14, 176 years ago in Santiago de Cuba, with two greats of Cuban independence as parents, General Antonio Maceo Grajales led Mambi troops across the island from East to West battling the Spanish colonial yoke, along a trail of courage, dignity and patriotism, which continues to illuminate our sovereign country before the world
Granma | June 14, 2021
A Titan was born on June 14, 176 years ago in Santiago de Cuba, with two greats of Cuban independence as parents. General Antonio Maceo Granjales led Mambi troops across the island from East to West battling the Spanish colonial yoke, along a trail of courage, dignity and patriotism, which continues to illuminate our sovereign country before the world.
Hand in hand with his mother Mariana Grajales, along with his father Marcos Maceo and brothers, Antonio de la Caridad took the road to the scrub just two days after Céspedes launched the struggle at the Demajagua, and would only cease after 28 years of hard battle, when his 26th wound left lifeless his “bronze” body which had withstood some 800 combat actions.
His courage and intelligence earned him growing prestige, military responsibility and greatness recognized beyond our borders, while he bequeathed to the homeland unsurpassed epic feats that, in the opinion of General Máximo Gómez, defined him as an extraordinary man and illustrious figure.
If it is difficult to summarize all the battles in his extensive service record, but it is enough to immortalize the Baraguá Protest, described by Martí as “the most glorious in our history,” where Maceo taught us intransigence and resistance. His stance resounds today before every new battle, against recent and old enemies, invisible and imperial.
The Titan who led the machete charge from East to West with Gomez, in an invasion that specialists of the time described as the most audacious military operation of the century, calls us to dignity, to never give up, never surrender, to struggle…
And Martí rightly stated, “Maceo has as much strength in his mind as in his arm…” making him a sort of prodigal son in the realm of ideas who said, as our “Homeland or Death!” of today identifies us, “Whoever attempts to appropriate Cuba will collect only the dust of its soil soaked in blood, if he does not perish in the struggle.”
Impressive, as well, are his warnings about the nascent northern empire: “I never expected anything from Spain… Freedom is conquered with the sharp edge of a machete, it is not requested; begging for rights is for cowards incapable of exercising them. Nor do I expect anything from the Americans. We must depend entirely on our own efforts; it is better to rise or fall without their help than to assume debts of gratitude with such a powerful neighbor.”
Thus, once during a banquet in his honor in Santiago de Cuba, one of the guests expressed the belief that Cuba would eventually be annexed by the United States, and Maceo immediately retorted with a conclusive phrase: “I believe, young man, although it seems impossible to me, that this would be the only case in which perhaps I would be on the side of the Spaniards.”
It is said that fighting at his side, always on the front lines, was considered a source of pride, hence in these times of unrelenting imperial siege it is worth remembering the great honor we enjoy of having him as ours, and the validity of the words of Che Guevara when he said on December 7, 1962: “Maceo’s fighting spirit is the spirit of the Cuban people today, in the most difficult moments”.