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 II. THE 10th OF OCTOBER

 

 

What we need is not a newspaper article, but a challenge to combat. Not here, within the corrupt exile, but in Cuba, taking possession of the homeland's forbidden soil; this is how we had expected, how we had hoped, how we had demanded that this sacred day be remembered.

Not by fake patriotism, not by embellished literature, not by election day oratory-no, a revolutionary should be inspired by quiet patriotism by the literature that calls upon the conscience, by the oratory of days mourning.

Are they revolutionaries, those who, having a duty to fulfill, a pm pose to accomplish, and a high aspiration to satisfy, let hours, day! weeks, months and years-entire years, endless years for the martyred homeland-go by, feeling nothing but the destruction of feeling, thinking of nothing but the dream dying in weariness, doing nothing but bribing their consciences so as to suffocate them?

Are they revolutionaries, those whose coolness, whose sluggishness and whose barrenness of means and resources, makes them inferior to their duty?

Are those who cannot achieve their purposes revolutionaries?

We cannot be revolutionaries if we are unable to derive anything from the greatness of our aspirations but the stupid virtue of patience.

We cannot be revolutionaries if, in spite of our daily suffering, we have the patience to sit back and watch while blood gushes from the heart; days pass uselessly by in which the slightest of the sacrifices w accept with idiotic resignation would suffice to make something powerful out of the powerless inertia in which we weaken and despair.

October 10th has ceased to be a day for celebration.

As long as our brothers on the battleground are so superior to us, a long as the memory of the homeland long waiting to be rescued bring us great remorse, as long as we are responsible for the dream whose salvation is in our hands, and whose risks are idly felt, October 10th will be a day of sadness and mourning.

All the glory, all the joy of that day, belongs to those who have called upon themselves to do what their heroic patriotism demanded.

They have the right to link that date to the memory of the nation the have brought forth, and in that way sanctify their heroism.

  The day is theirs because theirs has been the heroism.

  A few pinched pennies have been spent; some unsuccessful attempts

 

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have been made. A few desperate days by those faithful to the ideal, a few hungry days by those who could not be corrupted by all the exiles' flattery, and some days of sacred rage by the best of us have been spent.  Does this entitle us to share with those who forged the nation the pleasures of the day which commemorates its birth?

     We must do more, yet we do not. We must triumph, yet we do not.  We must finish what we have begun, yet we do not.

I

 

Leave slander and personal accusations to those who measure themselves against others or who measure others against themselves.  If it was necessary at one time to release a pain long repressed, the need has passed. A higher one presents itself to us on the glorious anniversary of a yet unfulfilled duty.

    This duty must be fulfilled. This is what we should be thinking about today. It has been six years since Cuba's torment began.

Would that torment have lasted for so long, if the desire to rescue the forsaken homeland had been placed before any other, with increased passion, faith, and greatness in the face of obstacles?

The homeland has not wavered for an instant.

     Her liberators' example of self-denial was perhaps unmatched even by the noble men who liberated the entire Continent. Heroism such as that of our brothers on the battleground, perhaps no history can offer as a noble example. Resistance such as theirs to misery, pain, and disillusionment; to the deep sorrow of being forsaken by everyone, of being coolly seconded by their natural allies, has never proved to what degree the cause which they alone support is a just one.

     Spurred by their example, thousands of patriots within the forced immigration have implored a hundred times to be enrolled as soldiers and fight for their country. Many selfless men, had they been supported, could have obtained aid from other nations. A thousand opportunities had they been taken, could have presented themselves to an intelligent

and diligent patriotism.

What have we lacked?

        Have we lacked money? No one can say that without disgrace. The least we can contribute in the service of the bloodied homeland, in honor of the ideal we pursue, the least we can give in oblation to a suffering which we share intellectually and morally, is money. Essential as it may be, money is a sacrifice only when a family is sacrificed because of it.  We also have models of that kind of sacrifice. Without having to follow

 

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those examples, hundreds of rich Cubans could have restored to the country some of the wealth they owe to it. Doing this would have been like an operation in common arithmetic: the more money they invested the more the revolution would progress, the faster it would end, and faster they would be reimbursed.

Has this not been done? Then let us lift our heads so that we can look into the eyes of the conscientious men of this world.

We have lacked other things that are as important to the revolution as money. We have lacked enthusiasm; we have lacked timing in our patriotic contributions; we have lacked loftiness of the spirit, and we have lacked self-denial, which is how revolutions begin and end, which the weapon that guarantees victory.

 

II

 

The fighting patriots' deeds represent a miracle of faith in themselves and in their cause.

Given an arithmetic which only includes addition, it would seem that any of our fellow nations in Latin America has resisted longer than the Cuban people have.

Given an arithmetic which reasons, we can see that a revolution lacking the values that glorify our revolution could not have resisted so much time, so many setbacks, so much opposition, adversity, indifference, and injustice. No revolution could have resisted as much violence and as much power as ours has confronted during the last six years.

Six years during the era of the steamship and the telegraph are worth countless years of another era.

The telegraph announces any new undertaking, and the steamship moves to oppose it. The telegraph brings the anguished throbbing of the Island to the ears of its transatlantic oppressors, and the steamship ex-ecutes the order which averts danger, which overcomes a formidable circumstance.

The telegraph tells lies each day through the deceptive words of the tyrant, and each day false news is spread about the fall of the revolution causing grave damage: revolutions thrive on universal enthusiasm, an no enthusiasm can withstand the constant repetition of news of defeat The steamship brings the victim closer to the offender. Every time he has been able to, the offender has sent-sometimes with horrible regularity-fortnight after fortnight, thousands and thousands of soldier!

The telegraph is a medium for universal discussion. Since it is at the enemies' disposal, the world has discussed their version of the revol-

 

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tion a hundred thousand times for each time it has analyzed the true revolution they have disfigured. The steamship hastens commercial transactions. Since those who could have been our friends continued to trade with our enemies, commercial interests, which grew in proportion to the speed with which they were stimulated, started to turn against us. The telegraph brought to the battleground the confused murmur of the world's contradictory discussions about the revolution: fleeting hopes, disappointments which in a brief second destroyed an edifice of sacred dreams, friendly voices drowned out by enemy screams, and good advice debased by evil suggestion, insults, taunts, condemnations, and curses.

Meanwhile, the steamship either failed to arrive, or arrived without the aid that was needed and expected.

We must mentally place ourselves in that terrible situation, the most tragic one ever experienced by a people; a people divested of everything, its enemy vested with all the power and all the resources of civilization; a people forsaken, its enemy well-aided; a people disdained, its enemy adulated by the complicity of the whole world. We must be capable of feeling all the pain of those long years of agony to realize how long the revolution has endured, to know how much time has passed, to appreciate the amazing example of resistance set by its soldiers, to appreciate their heroism, to be worthy of admiring those admirable men.

Those men are not merely fighting, resisting, and winning against an enemy who is superior in numbers, organizational discipline, and monetary, military and social resources. They are fighting, resisting, and winning against the blind forces of nature, which civilization exploits and injustice hands over to their opponents.                                   .

 

III

 

We must live in a time as infamous as this, stumbling in the darkness of injustice, not to feel for those men, whole men who have risen to high levels of dignity, all the zealous reverence, all the fervent admiration inspired by those who are able to heroically represent humanity's highest virtues.

If only to be worthy of them, to convince ourselves of our moral stature when we look at them face to face, equal to equal, honest man to honest man; if only to, in the struggle by and for the good, finally put to use a life which becomes useless in the barren anguish of exile-solely for this, if not for some other cause, do we feel capable of, and should all feel capable of, rising to the heights of duty.

 

 

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IV

 

When we look our duty in the eyes, what a disgraceful difference we see between what our brothers have done and what we have done, or rather what we have attempted to do!

They have taken responsibility for a land dishonored by despots and have raised it to the category of a nation, while we have been counting the sighs our distance from the homeland has cost us, if indeed it has cost us anything.

They have fought and kept silent, while we have argued and demanded. They have resisted all the violence of pain, while we have not been able to resist all the temptation of pleasure.

They have grown, whereas we have become smaller.

The have learned their lessons on the battleground, while we have ignored the lessons taught by exile.

They have accomplished a great deal, and they have faith. We have done nothing, and to be frank, have almost completely lost the faith we had in ourselves.

They are dying in order to live within the memory of the future nation. We are living only to die definitively in the memory of the nation­past, present, and future.

    Come! Let us commemorate with tears of blood the anniversary we could have celebrated in our own country with tears of joy!

 

New York, 1874


 

 

 

 
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