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    October 10: beginning of hundred years of struggle

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    10 de octubre: comienzo de cien años de lucha

    In the early morning of October 10, 1868, the bell of La Demajagua sugar mill rang out and the slaves met in the square with free men, peasants and people from the city and together they heard the owner of the farm, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, talk of war against Spain, of independence, of Homeland, but what those humble men understood the most was that they were free and could participate or not in the independence struggle, to which many joined.

    That day from dawn, Céspedes organized the insurrectionary parties and gave the orders to prepare for the march to the improvised troops, while he dedicated himself to preparing the manifesto that would announce to the world that the Cubans were beginning the armed struggle for their freedom.

    In the historic document he wrote: “No one is unaware that Spain governs the island of Cuba with a bloody iron arm; not only he does not leave secure in the properties, claiming the power to impose taxes and contributions on it at will, but having it deprived of all political, civil and religious liberty, its unfortunate children are expelled from soil to remote climates or executed without form of process, by military commissions established in full peace(….)”.

    He also established that democratic principles are defended by patriots and the "imprescriptible rights of man", and advocated for the equality of all citizens, whether they were white or black, Cuban or Spanish.

    He declared the freedom of his slaves and did not stop at any gradual emancipation as the manifesto proclaimed for a tactical sense not to impress wealthy patriotic sectors, and set an important precedent that speaks of the radicality of his thinking much more advanced than that of his own social class.

    Nevertheless, the hard tests began for Céspedes when in the first encounter with the colonialist forces, the revolutionaries were dispersed, and only 12 men accompanied him. Faced with the surrender of some, he got up on the horse and replied with energy: “No, there are still 12 men left! They are enough to achieve the independence of Cuba”.

    A few days later, the Mambisa ranks regrouped again and the insurrection was consolidated throughout the East and the Center of the Island to start the first Cuban war for independence that would last 10 years and in which the patriots, lacking the minimum resources in the bush, they were only able to stock up on the weapons that were taken from the enemy to establish a tradition that accompanied the mambises of 95 and the combatants of Sierra Maestra in the last redemptive contest.

    With La Demajagua and the other uprisings, the decision of sacrifice and intransigence of the most radical sectors of the Cuban landowners to achieve independence at the price that was necessary was made evident, exemplified in the precursor figures of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and Ignacio Agramonte, which would not survive the struggle they called and would fall in combat against the forces of the colonialist metropolis.

    A new vanguard among the popular classes would emerge from the crucible of war, which by dint of heroism and blood, and imposing themselves to harsh circumstances, would reach the highest ranks in the Liberation Army, such as the brothers Antonio and José Maceo, Máximo Gómez, Quintín Bandera, Guillermón Moncada, Calixto García, Serafín Sánchez and many others.

    It would be José Martí, a young man barely 16 years old when the conflagration broke out, and who suffered prison in Havana for his independence ideas, who was in charge of leading a new stage of the independence feats for almost 20 years of the so-called Fertile Truce that followed to La Paz del Zanjón in 1878, which was reached by internal divisions in the revolutionary ranks and which brought the end of the Ten Years' War.

    The crest work of Martí would be to unite all Cuban patriots for the beginning of the Necessary War on February 24, 1895, in which he offered his life, leaving his legacy of patriotism, Latin Americanism and anti-imperialism, which would guide the Cuban people for all the times.

    This idea of ​​continuity and homage to Martí and to all the initiators of our national feat was completed by the maximum Cuban leader, precisely in his memorable speech for the centenary of the feat on October 10, 1968 when he said:“(…)

    What does this glorious date mean for the revolutionaries of our country? It simply means the beginning of a hundred years of struggle, the beginning of the revolution in Cuba, because in Cuba there has only been one revolution: the one that Carlos Manuel de Céspedes began on October 10, 1868 and that our people are carrying out in these moments".

    Those words are fully valid today, because they explain the resistance capacity and ideals of the Cuban people who accompanied them during the 153 years since those memorable bell tolls with which Carlos Manuel de Céspedes called the first fight for the independence of the homeland.