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When the José Antonio Aponte Commission was constituted in the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, one of its first agreements was to prioritize the celebration every year of a National Day on the Maceist Ideario.
We had to rescue from oblivion and memory so many feats and so many stories. Give light to the political and ethical ideology of the Bronze Titan, as well as to the legacy of the entire Maceo-Grajales family.
The first of these Maceist Days took place on June 14, 2010 on the occasion of 165 years of the birth of Antonio Maceo y Grajales and 195 of Mariana Grajales, Mother of the Motherland.
With the contribution of academic institutions, political and social organizations, historians and the general public, from that first day all actions began on June 14 and ended on December 6 with a pilgrimage in San Pedro. Why on December 6 and why in San Pedro?
It happens that traditionally from the early hours of the 7th a long march takes place until the Mausoleum of Cacahual, where a large representation of young people from the region participates and it was more feasible for us, in coordination with the Uneac de Artemisa, to mobilize groups of students for the morning of day six.
Why San Pedro? Because it was the place where the life of those who, according to Generalissimo Máximo Gómez, ended up being the greatest of the children of Cuba, and of the Army; The first of its Generals. The most outstanding figure of the Revolution.
The place where "one of the main columns of the temple of the homeland" was demolished.
You had to go there, to the place of more than forty versions. The site that had shaken the world, with the fall of the greatest of the Cuban generals.
San Pedro, the place where death was transformed into life and the Baraguá tree was sown forever.
Without a doubt, there everyone who trembles. "General Antonio fell here," the guide told us as he pointed to a piece of land marked with indelible ink. The image of that gigantic bloody body immediately came to my mind, with 26 war scars and more than 600 fights.
“Moments before from nine to eleven in the morning was the General trying to solve the disagreements between several leaders of this region. Everything was for ambitions of command and spurious jealousy. ”
"Around one o'clock in the afternoon," the museum guide continues, "Maceo had lunch and Miró began reading some chapters of his War Chronicle. The general's sad face went into his usual good mood. He enjoyed reading where he recounted the tactic he had used against Martinete in Colosseum, as Maceo called the Spanish general Martínez Campos in his joking moments. In addition, after being informed that there were no enemies around, he was excited about the idea of attacking and assaulting Marianao that night.
Suddenly some gunshots are heard, followed by closed shots. Maceo tries to get up from his hammock, but he can't, for a few days he wasn't in very good health. "Give me your hand," he tells his assistant Benito. With his help he gets up and starts putting on his boots and sticking his arms. He saddles the horse immediately, with his own hands, as he usually does when he is going to fight, because he feels safer on the stirrups.
Already on the horse, unsheathes the machete and orders the march: "Over here," he exclaimed imperiously pointing to those around him the way to be followed.
The General, furious with surprise, advances escorted by few men.
"And the stone fence?" I asked, remembering the night of the sixties when Fidel, in the Plaza Cadena, gave us a detailed account of the combat of San Pedro to a group of students of the Faculty of Humanities, and where He referred to the imprudence of having chosen that place to establish the camp and made a thorough analysis of the military tactics used.
"Well, according to the narrator, the historian Griñán Peralta," the guide continued, "Maceo gave little importance to that meeting, so he only took a small group of officers with him, because he said he wanted to show them how to load the machete . The general trying to load the machete, approached the stone fence that divided two farms to reach the enemy cavalry and infantry, but he was prevented by a wire fence that intercepted his passage.
I interrupt the versed guide to tell him that Fidel had told us a lot about that wire fence and the fearlessness of Maceo.
Yes, Maceo was sixty meters away from the enemy who kept shooting and then ordered the fence to be cut. The small escort of Juan Manuel Sánchez proceeds to fulfill the order, but a downpour of bullets did not let the task end.
Says Miró Argenter, who was next to him, that the general touched him supporting the hand on which he held the bridle and said: This is going well!
Saying this, a bullet caught his face, he stayed two or three seconds on horseback, let go of the bridles, the machete fell off, and collapsed.
Juan Manuel Sanchez raised Dying Maceo. He sat him down and holding his body he said What is this, General? That's nothing! Don't be intimidated!
Another bullet targets the fallen general. Is dead".
I saw sharp eyes and tears falling from the companions who listened carefully to the guide's story, just in front of the piece of land where the greatest hope of the Revolution had fallen, which did not come to succeed until 123 years after that fatal day.
Knowing that General Maceo fell dead there shudders to the depths of his heart. It is a human burden that shows the ephemeral nature of life but also the greatness of dying with the duty fulfilled. The immense weight of history feels like never before. No Cuban or Cuban of feeling should die without first visiting this sacred place.
They say that when Panchito learned of the news, he ran to meet his beloved godfather and teacher. When he arrived at the abandoned corpse, he burst into pain. A bullet knocked him down on the inanimate body of Maceo. On a sheet of paper he wrote:
Dad, dear brothers:
I die in my post, I do not want to leave the corpse of General Maceo and I will stay with him. They hurt me in two parts. And for not falling into the hands of the enemy, I committed suicide. I do it with pleasure for the honor of Cuba.
Goodbye loved ones, I will love you very much in the next life as in this one. Y ours Francisco Gomez Toro.
In Santo Domingo, please friend or foe, send this role of a dead man.
No one knows what happened next. Five Spanish soldiers approached to devalue the bodies. Panchito was still alive. The practical Spanish topped him off with a machete… ”
The guide ends its story with the reading of the letter that moves us all. We returned to the bus that moved us to the graveyard where the general finally fell and I meditate, thinking about those reflections made by the Commander in Chief that night in the Cadenas Square and I think about the destination or the circumstances.
Already seated in the bus I take the book of César García del Pino about Antonio Maceo and the campaign of Pinar del Rio and the first thing I read are Fidel's notes in his historical allegation History will Absolve me, where he expressed:
“There is an unforgettable passage of our War of Independence narrated by General Miró Argenter, Chief of the General Staff of Antonio Maceo, which I could bring copied in this news to not abuse the memory:
“The people from Bolivia that Pedro Delgado commanded, mostly provided with machete alone, were decimated by throwing themselves on top of the Spanish soldiers, so that it is not an exaggeration to say that 50 men fell by half. They attacked the Spaniards with their fists; No guns, no machetes and no knives! Searching the weeds of Rio Hondo, fifteen more were found dead of the Cuban party, without at the moment it could be indicated to which body they belonged. They had no trace of having wielded a weapon; the locker room was complete and the waist had no more than the can glass; Two steps away from there the lifeless horse with the equipment intact. The culminating passage of the tragedy was rebuilt: these men following their hard boss, Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Delgado, had obtained the palm of heroism; they threw themselves on the bayonet with their hands alone; the noise of the metal, which sounded around them, was the blow of the drinking glass as it hit the stump of the saddle. Maceo felt moved, he, so accustomed to seeing death in all its positions and aspects murmured this panegyric: I had never seen that, the novice people who attack the Spaniards unarmed, with the glass of drinking water for every utensil. And I gave it the name of impedimenta. ”
This is how the people fight when they want to conquer their freedom, throw stones at the planes and turn the tanks upside down.
(Taken from CUBARTE)
English version Héctor Hdez.