The True Face of Cuban History / Mackandal – Manuel Aguirre Lavarrere

An old photo of “Independents of Color”

One hundred years after the massacre of the Independents of Color, the most horrifying crime that has been committed in Cuba, against blacks and mestizos, who were only seeking the recognition of their rights after having fought for Cuba’s independence from Spain for over three decades, they were left with nothing and were massacred by their brothers from struggle. We need to bring to light some of the events that historians hide or distort, adding up to the misinterpretation and muddying of national history.

Any study carried out on whether or not there was a request from the Independents of Color for Americans to intervene in the conflict that broke out between them and the government of José Miguel Gómez, as well as Martín Morúa Delgado — representing the interests of the Liberal Party — must be based on solid facts if it is intended to be serious.

In the first place, we have to ask ourselves about the role of the United States and its relationship with Cuba at that moment. The U.S. was the paradigm of freedom and representative democracy.

Secondly, we have to ask ourselves: where was Cuba back then? Cuba had just come out of the Independence War, becoming a Republic in 1902; it continued to be a country that depended on outsiders. Cuba spent centuries under Spanish rule without having the least autonomous power. All the conflicts that emerged on the island were resolved by Spain. Cubans did not have a sense of belonging yet. Anything that came from the outside seemed good to them.

Therefore, it was neither a mistake nor a betrayal for the Independents of Color to ask for the intervention of the United States, as confirmed by Rolando Rodríguez, author of “La Conspiración de los Iguales”, the most racist and anti-black text that has been edited in Cuba since 1959.

It was logical that they requested assistance from the United States. The aspiration was to become like the U.S. when it came to development and civil liberties. Throughout the struggle for independence, the most patriotic men like Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, Ignacio Agramonte, and other heroes, who today are true icons of Cuban History, saw the United States as a role model in terms of development and civil liberties. Neither these patriots nor the Independents of Color can be judged as traitors. The epithet of traitor is for others.

Domingo Del Monte, who regretted so much that slavery disappeared with the efforts of England and France, was a notorious racist and the tattletale of the Metropolis (Spain). The Memorial that he sent to the Spanish government proves his shameful submissiveness. This distinguished humanist and organizer of literature workshops, who felt threatened by blacks and feared them, contributed to the instability and panic that caused the massacre of the, still nebulous Ladder Conspiracy in 1844.

Narciso López, a recalcitrant slave owner, who made his slaves work to the limit of human endurance, under the whip of his plantation overseers, was perhaps the most fervent annexationist of all of those who, with their way of thinking, made up the icing of the Cuban bourgeois cake.

The uprisings and massacres of blacks continued to take place throughout the history of Cuba. There was an uprising and a massacre for the emancipation of centuries of slavery and forced exploitation. There was an uprising and a massacre because of the betrayal of many of the major white colonels from the wars for independence, like Gaspar Betancourt Cisneros, Manuel Sanguily, and more than a hundred of them, who used the negro as cannon fodder and then got rid of him, leaving him empty handed and with no rights to make any claims. There was an uprising and a massacre to stop the negro from being recognized as a human being and to stop him from overcoming, with his own effort, the abysmal gap of inequality and civil annihilation.

Published by Primavera Digital, 2012/05/03

Translated by Chabeli