Intransigence at Any Cost / Fernando Damazo

Fernando Damaso, 16 March 2015 — When a phenomenon is analyzed, or a historical occurrence or any important matter, this analysis should be done objectively evaluating all its components, be they internal or external, without a priori positions, keeping in mind their positive or negative aspects.

Yesterday marked another anniversary of the events which occurred at Mangos de Baraguá on March 15, 1878.

The Baraguá Protest, mounted by General Antonio Maceo and other generals and officials of the Cuban Army of Independence [in the 19th Century against Spain], as a response to the Pact of Zanjón, has been included by history as a symbol of intransigence for Cubans. The virile gesture by Maceo and his comrades deserves the greatest respect — even though it did not correspond to the actual status of the struggle which, except for within the jurisdictions of Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo, had waned, primarily because of the exhaustion of the Mambí forces, the internal divisions within the Army of Independence, and the rupture between it and the Cuban Government-in-Arms.

Besides, the Camagüey and Las Villas forces, as well as those of Bayamo, plus General Máximo Gómez and other important military leaders, had accepted the Pact and, since February, there were no longer an insurrectionist Executive Power nor Chamber. As a result of the Protest, General Vicente García remained at the helm of the district composed of Las Tunas and Holguín, while Maceo headed the zones of Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo.

Once the hostilities were broken off on March 23, they failed and Antonio Maceo had to lay down arms and, with his family, depart for Jamaica on May 9 (55 days after Baraguá), aboard the gunboat Fernando el Católico [“Ferdinand the Catholic”], which the Spanish Chief General Arsenio Martínez Campos had placed at Maceo’s disposal. On May 28, 74 days after Baraguá, the veterans of that skirmish were laying down arms and acceptingthe Pact of Zanjón. Only Limbano Sánchez in Oriente, and the brigadier Ramón Leocadio Bonachea in the zones of Camagüey and Las Villas — the latter for 11 months — prolonged the resistance, but their efforts proved futile: the Ten Years’ War had ended.

These adverse results do not detract from the protesters of Baraguá, but the days and months that followed demonstrated that they had erred in their assessment of the situation and what needed to be done: they put their libertarian desires ahead of good judgement. In this matter, the perjoratively-named “zanjonerians” (so called for having accepted the Pact) — among them General Máximo Gómez and other important military leaders — proved to have had the greater capacity for analysis.

Unfortunately, this is not what is said and written when recalling Baraguá. Were it to be recognized, however, would perhaps help us to more intelligently confront the various situations we face today, in a complex and changing world. Intransigence at any cost, as history shows, is not always the best option. It behooves us to remember that “Neverland” only exists in children’s stories.

 Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison