Wednesday, May 19, 2010
All over the world exiled Cubans celebrate Independence Day. Since the communists came to power over 50 years ago, this day is not officially celebrated inside Cuba.
On May 20th 1902, after 30 years of wars against Spain, Cuba won independence.
The Cuban Liberation Army of about 40,000, was several times smaller than the Spanish Army, which numbered more then 200,000 troops. However, superior guerrilla strategy, higher combat morale, excellent command and the general support of the population, enabled the final victory. The Cuban freedom fighters "Mambi fighters", fought with bravery and were known for their exceptional ability to use the machete to charge the enemy. The Spaniards, though cruel and vicious were no match for these brave men and women. I suppose that when you fight for love of country the motivation gives you strength to do anything.
200,000 Cubans died fighting these wars. 400,000 died as a result of the "Reconcentration Policy" that sent thousands of Cubans into concentration camps. In 1896, General Weyler of Spain implemented the first wave.
Weyler had nothing on Hitler who probably learned from this butcher. Under Weyler's policy, the rural population had eight days to move into designated camps located in fortified towns; any person who failed to obey was shot.
The housing in these areas was typically abandoned, decaying, roofless, and virtually uninhabitable. Food was scarce and famine and disease quickly swept through the camps. By 1898, one third of Cuba's population had been forcibly sent into the concentration camps.
As a result of this inhumane policy, many women joined the men in the battlefield.
Correspondent Julian Hawthorne -- son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter described the Spaniards as "pitiless."
Cubagenweb.org has a searchable database where the names of these patriots can be found as well as all kinds of interesting information related to Cuban History and Genealogy.
Sources-Dyal, Donald H.. Historical Dictionary of the Spanish American War. Greenwood Press: Westport, CT, 1996.
O'Toole, G.J.A., The Spanish War: An American Epic-1898. W.W. Norton & Company: New York, 1984.