A Date That Should be Respected / Fernando Dámaso

Today, May 20, as in all countries that respect their history, we should mark the 109th anniversary of the birth of our Republic, but here, officially, that’s not the case: This date, like so many others, has been demonized and expunged from the national calendar. Like hundreds of thousands of Cubans whom we have seen forced to live in exile or in the memory of those who do not accept the erasure of history. This bad habit, absurd to many, has been a natural practice of our government for years, with regards to the figures and dates of our nation which they find bothersome, regardless of their era.

On this date our flag was raised for the first time, free and sovereign, throughout our entire country, hoisted by the glorious hands of General Maximo Gomez as he announced to the world the emergence of a new nation. Simply for that fact alone, for what it meant to those who participated in it as principal figures, and for what it represented to different generations of Cubans who had the good fortune to witness such an event, that day in 1902 deserves to be remembered, regardless of any subsequent assessment which may or may not be fair. This changing-changing of history over the last fifty years is neither healthy nor serious: It conspires against the true identity of the country, subjecting it to harsh ideological shift.

The Republic instituted this day as a result of the struggle and efforts of several generations, like any human endeavor, was not born perfect, but in the short period of its existence (only 56 years), despite caudillos, regionalism and political and social tensions, it achieved results that placed it first in many things among the countries of the Americas and the world, which is easily verifiable by studying the publications and documents of the time.

The epithets of neo-colonial, pseudo-republic and mediated-republic, as used by the present government and its officials, have no purpose other than to discredit the work of generations of Cubans, which, in many respects has been destroyed without something of greater worth being substituted. It is difficult to hide an involution such as this nation has experienced, making it now one of the most backward in the Americas and the world, one where the poverty level (never officially released) affects the majority of citizens (the income of a person does not exceed two hundred fifty dollars per year).

It is true that the Republic was born with a constitution that included an Amendment as an appendix whose Third Article concerned sovereignty and independence, but it was repealed in 1934. Also let us not forget that the Socialist Constitution was born with an entire Article of submission to the Soviet Union, and that did not disappear until the extinction of the USSR. It seems that the same sins repeat themselves in different historical times, although some they criticize and others they pretend to forget.

With lights and shadows, as in all other things, on May 20, 1902 the Republic arrived, and it is a date that should be remembered with pride by all honest Cubans, regardless of the political ideology they profess. Because over all of them, transient beings all, love should prevail in the nation, the land where, fortunately or unfortunately, we were born, and we must respect the work of our ancestors which no one has the right to invalidate.

May 20 2011