Una identità in movimento

Cuba's Freedom Fighter, Antonio Maceo (Part 3)

Magdalen M. Pando

Final Defiance

On June 23rd he relayed to Madrid details of the action sustained by General González-Muñoz, who on a mission with six battalions and four pieces of artillery battled through Bramales to Sierra Rubi against insurgent bands that were assumed to be those led by Diaz, Bandera, and Delgado. He included information regarding the triumphant takeover of trenches, and the total destruction, of the extensive camp found in the hollows high in the Rubi mountains, which appeared to be a permanent rebel headquarters site with newly-built huts and vegetable plots. The Spaniards did not know that Maceo had led the battle, that he had become a casualty moved by stretcher to the security of an isolated farmhouse. That Maceo had sustained a dangerous wound was a carefully guarded secret.

While his shattered leg healed in the secluded and well guarded farmhouse deep in the sierra, about four kilometers from where the battle had taken place, Maceo wrote a long letter, dated June 27th and headed "Campaign", to Máximo Gómez, deploring the general's appointment of Calixto García as head of the forces of Oriente, by-passing Maceo's brother José and "Mayia" Rodríguez, thereby creating an impossible situation, described as "playing a goad in Flanders". He accused the old general of playing favorites, forgetting, he pointed out, that such procedures in the previous Ten Years' War had brought disaster.

The solution developed, hinted at in his reports, was in a plan to concentrate the Islanders into the larger cities or military camps. This bold plan required preparation and approval from Madrid. In the meantime, early in July, he received information that it was rumored that José Maceo had been killed in action in the area of Holguín, in the province of Santiago de Cuba. Confirmation of casualty took many months, but his absence on the field of battle was noted.

On July 14, Maceo still in his campaign headquarters in El Roble, elated by his possession of ample supplies, wrote an affectionate letter to Gonzalo de Quesada, charge d'affaires of the Cuban rebels, then in Washington, expressing appreciation for the manner in which the successful operations of the rebels under his command had been publicized. If the revolution continued to receive aid from abroad, the entire Spanish army, even though reinforced as suggested, by 200,000 more men, could not win: "we are masters of our destiny and no one, no power can take it away from us by arms", were his concluding words.

The long letter contains the statement of his philosophy as a Cuban patriot, which has been construed as his rejection of the United States. In it he reacted to the concept that the United States should be the protector of the Cuban people. He rejected the idea of protection from any source. He said:

I have never anticipated any benefit from Spain; she has always despised us, and it would be unworthy to believe otherwise. Liberty is conquered with the edge of the machete, it is not asked for; to beg for one's rights is a device of cowards, incapable of exercising such rights. Nor do I expect any benefit from the Americans; everything must be accomplished through our own efforts; 'tis best to rise or fall without assistance than to contract debts of gratitude with so powerful a neighbor.

These words have been construed to convey his hatred of the United States, while they were actually a warning to his fellow countrymen to avoid involvement if they wanted to form an independent nation.

Although Maceo's letters during the last days of July and early August begged for definite word on his brother's whereabouts, confirmation of José's death did not reach him until late in August. Besides being distressed by lack of news regarding his brother, Maceo was burdened by the neglect of the government leaders; they had not sent the auxiliary troops he had asked for and needed to crush the concentration of Spanish forces in the western province.

José Maceo had been killed July 5, 1896, nine days before his brother requested information from their New York friend. the battle in which José lost his life was reported in the regular military message of that day to Madrid, but it was not known then that he had perished in the action.

From another camp, that in Manantial, on August 12th he directed a form letter to six generals and a colonel in the eastern areas asking that they make every effort to clarify rumors regarding his brother and to advise him of the truth. Also in the letter he stated he wished to know something of the political situation in the insurgents' government, for he could not obtain unbiased information from the Spanish newspapers available to him in Pinar del Río. He wanted to know whether the rebels' problems existed as they were publicized in recent days, presenting dissensions and threatened resignations. Hopefully his inclination, he stated , was toward the belief that the Revolution was not experiencing such difficulties, but the belief was not enough. He wanted confirmation of this faith from his correspondents. He assured them that he was continuing the job of the Invasion, with excellent success, and that circumstances which appeared to be adverse had been turned into favorable accomplishments. To these men he gave a warning, concluding his missives with the admonition that if they did not pull together

… a worse enemy than the Spanish tyrants would be our own unpardonable discords. Let us hope that we'll have a smooth road to the end, embracing in peace after having been brothers in the struggle against our common enemy.

In the rough headquarters of Puerta de la Muralla, he organized protection forces along designated routes for the successful movement of the announced expedition under the supervision of Brigadier Juan Rius Rivera. Rebel leaders were given definite instructions; commands were changed as the General considered expedient. He headed out of headquarters on August 25th for the purpose of personally escorting the men and material through enemy fortified towns and through the countryside where it was known from spying activity that many of the inhabitants had not quite decided upon their loyalties. The possibility that Spanish authorities would be advised of every rebel move was a constant consideration.

The staff accompanying him and three hundred troopmen included Sotomayor, Leyte Vidal, who had brought the previous expedition, Nunez, and the disgraced former brigadier Bermudez. Relieved of his "brigadier" status for undertaking unauthorized executions of captured enemies, his defense that his procedure was in the best interests of the revolution rejected, Bermudez meekly accepted Maceo's order breaking his rank and became a part of the rescue brigade. Although his chastisement had taken place several weeks earlier, his continued acceptance of it could be attributed to his admiration for his commander, or, to the conviction that Maceo would not hesitate to have a subordinate hanged if that subordinate's actions did not reflect his, General Maceo's, standards of conduct.

The above was soon tested by a group of mounted bandits who in the name of the Revolution attacked Las Nieves sugar-mill grounds in Santa Lucia. They shot up the buildings, took possession of the general store-tavern, drank up the liquor, destroyed the premises, and roaring drunk remounted and raced away, threatening to return to kill mill personnel and dislodge families. Maceo's discipline was established when he ordered pursuit and capture of the culprits, their prompt trial, and punishment by being hanged from limbs of trees off the mill road.

Toward the Winter of 1896

Although Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau received abusive criticism of his performance and ugly characterization of his person — he was said to be repellent — from the rebel public voices and from the partisan press in the United States, he cannot be accused of neglecting his assignment to eliminate the rebellion in the colony. At this time, the first objective of the Spanish government in its efforts to reach this end, as Weyler saw it, called for the removal of Maceo, who locked in the Province of Pinar del Río, was the rebel king on the military chessboard. To carry forward this plan, Weyler asked for and received additional Spanish forces.

Maceo's activities in Pinar del Río, from early harassment to taking posession of the cargo shipment successfully unloaded in spite of vigilance of Spanish naval and land forces, to the openhanded use of armaments thus acquired, continued to be Weyler's greatest concern. Yet, fighting also continued on the rest of the island. In the area of the line enclosing Maceo, Commander Cirujeda continued to move, and reports to the War Office in Madrid repeatedly praised his actions. Towards the end of the month Weyler ordered forces in this area to leave via war vessels from Batabano for the southern end of Pinar del Río province to increase Spanish strength there.

On the evening of October 21, Maceo, at his end of the island, marched toward Arolas's territory, following a patrol he had sent forward to lay a route through the backwoods. Above the fortified town of Artemisa, near the Linea, site of Arola's fortified headquarters, in a dense circle of palm trees neglected by the Spanish sentinels, he placed his men and cannon. When the night shadows quieted the town, he set the pneumatic cannon booming off into the plaza. The surprises inhabitants rushed out of their homes screaming, the soldiery in the guard house sounded trumpet blasts, and soon horrified townspeople dodged fiery volleys coming from the circle of palms ringing their community. Arolas ordered artillery fire, but did not seek to engage the rebels in combat. The rebel leader retired his men, his only satisfaction being that he had caused panic.

About the same time Maceo tried to do battle with Arolas in Artemisa, Weyler's Bando de Reconcentracion became public. Known as the most infamous decision of the governor's campaign, its restrictions were spelled out in five harsh paragraphs.

    1st.— Every inhabitant of the countryside or outside the lines of fortified towns must within eight days move into occupied towns. Any person who within the stated period remains in the open country shall be considered a rebel and judged accordingly.

    2nd.— The movement of provisions from the city and their transport by water or land, without permission from the local military authorities, is absolutely prohibited. Violators shall be judged and penalized as allies of the rebels.

    3rd.— Cattle in the surrounding area shall be taken to nearby towns; suitable protection will be made available for this purpose.

    4th.— At the end of eight days, which in each municipality shall be counted from the date of publication of this order as it appears in the heading, such rebels who chose to surrender will be under my [Weyler's] control in order to designate their future place of residence. It will be also to their advantage to come prepared to provide information about the enemy and if the surrender includes firearms, and if this is a group action, it will be to their benefit.

    5th.— The regulations of this edict apply only to the Province of Pinar del Río.

Weyler was harshly criticized on the Island and in Madrid for the severity of this military measure, which disrupted lives and brought misery to inoffensive rural colonials who in that province constituted the greatest number of inhabitants. But there remained some who did help the rebel cause. The edict was a military expedient, an effort to end all contact between the rebels and their sympathizers.

During the last days of October, when the rainy session eased, Weyler ordered continuous movement of troops from Maceo's mountain hideaway to the Linea. The Spaniard was convinced that Maceo could be flushed out and captured or killed. His officers, as ordered, communicated every move, every rumour, relating to Maceo. On the 1st of November, Maceo, noticeably depressed, a condition ascribed by his men to rumors of worsening disagreements among the revolution's civil and military leaders, left his Brujito farm retreat for another campsite in the Roble heights. There he received the packet of documents, letters, and newspapers. Among the letters was Máximo Gómez's request to Maceo to return to his side, its wording a deprecation of self, an appeal for help in combating the abuse of power which Gómez felt was victimizing him.

Maceo knew that he was the focus of military and political attention in Madrid, that the conduct of his campaign in Pinar del Río as reported on in the United States and commented on in Congress swayed that nation's public opinion in favor of the revolution, and that the visible progress toward independence came primarily from his own tenacious warfare. But these considerations he now had to set aside to determine if the revolution was disintegrating. He would have to find out for himself.

That fall in Madrid, Francisco Pi y Margall again presented to the nation a proposed plan of reform to end the war in Cuba. It offered autonomy to the islands (Cuba and Puerto Rico) in terms bordering on total independence; Spain would only expect favorable trade agreements and repayment of the islanders' national debts. Maceo rejected autonomy, but was not totally averse to the great Spanish realist's plan. Pi y Margall was one of Maceo's favorite political figures. Maceo wanted him as a negotiator when a treaty of peace giving independence was drafted. Yet, because conservatives on the mainland and in Cuba rejected any program that decreased Spain's power over the Island, the proposed plan for ending the war was shelved.

In the early days of November, Maceo went from camp to camp of the small commands he had established in the province issuing combat orders. He was preparing his escape from the Spanish cordon to answer the summons of the querulous Máximo Gómez and to try to mend the disintegrating relations of the rebels' military and civil commands in the eastern portion of the island.

He turned over his command to General Juan Rius Rivera, believing him to be the most capable military leader on his staff. Many other officers had made the trek with him from Sierra Maestra to Sierra de los Organos, distinguishing themselves as leaders and fighters, and many of them were black. Since Rius Rivera was white, it is specious to maintain that Maceo, the "Bronze Titan", fought only for the supremacy of the black race; instead, Maceo fought to deliver the Cuban people, black and white, from Spanish colonial domination.

Rius Rivera was not given command on the basis of rank; other rebel leaders might have felt equally entitled to the promotion except for the well-learned lesson of all men under Maceo's orders that he gave and took away rank as he felt circumstances deserved. On one occasion, he wrote to a colonel: "The republic gains no profit from decorative figures; and you are one of them". And, on another occasion, he adressed a general with the admonition: "Do not count on my going to direct the operation which I have made your responsibility".

Later in the month, on November 22nd, before he grappled with the swarm of Spanish troops attempting to prevent his escape from the province, he wrotee to forty-eight-year-old Manuel Sanguily, the Cuban rebel patriot of English-French descent, suggesting his return from New York to take the helm of the emerging republic:

I am convinced, therefore, that your contribution here would be of greater positive value than what you could offer out of the country, regardless of the official mission now entrusted to your talents. We need someone, an outstanding and prestigious personality, who at the same time would give strong impulse to the Revolution, preparing and leading it to a propitious and tranquil future, stripping our nation as of now from all its political and social defects, the heavy burden inherited from the vicious system of Spanish domination. You are needed to be among the men who give serious thought to the future of Cuba.

This heartfelt letter establishes for all time that Maceo did not believe his own military prestige, or his considerable following, or his heroic stature, of which he must in some measure have been aware, entitled him to lead the colony out of subjugation into independence. He was admitting that his Patria in order to become a model republic needed more than a Maceo. As he saw it, Sanguily or a man of his background was indicated for that honor. the selection of Sanguily again ignored racial considerations; Sanguily was white.

On November 9th, the Governor of the Island and General of the Army, Valeriano Weyler, boarded the war vessel Legazpi, accompanied by his chief of staff and their battalions, departing from Havana and entering the port of Mariel. The public was given every detail of the noteworthy, unprecedented happening. General Arolas and the mayor of Mariel, on the morning of the 10th, received Weyler aboard the gunboat Reina Maria Cristina from whence he stepped on land, followed by generals, lieutenant generals, distinguished citizens, and press correspondents. General Weyler reviewed the troops which in formal formation lined an entire kilometer of highway. A listing of the troops accompanyiig him was given: they were the America, Castilla, La Reina, Barcelona, and Puerto Rico battalions. Six pieces of artillery were included, and 400 cavalry of the Principe regiment with their auxiliary guerrillas for a total of 6,000 men. Regiments stationed in the vicinity were also on hand. The public was informed that Weyler rode on a spirited horse in the center of this formidable column to begin an aggressive campaign to wipe out the rebel leader and his followers.

Weyler's attempts to lead his numerous battalions through the thickets and overgrown trails he needed to follow to engage the rebels in battle lasted a bare six days. He sent back reports on a series of bayonet charges, his men going up the mountain sides, giving assurance that they had dislodged the enemy from their positions.

The rebels under Maceo's command, buffeted by Spanish forces, retired further into the Rubi mountains. Maceo realized that the concentration of numerous enemy troops below him in the Rosario area meant that every risk would be taken to lead them up into rebel sanctuary protecting his principal headquarters camp on the old coffee estate. He knew, too, that General González-Muñoz would be chosen to make the attempt because he and his men had previously scaled the rugged inclines of the Rubi terrain. In anticipation of the action, early on the morning of the 10th, Maceo took the Chumbo hill path which would position him for battle. He left Rius Rivera on the Madama knoll to intercept the center of the enemy's column, knowing that the Spaniards right wing would undertake the conquest of the Rubi camp area. With 130 men from the force which had fought the day before, Maceo prepared to impede González-Muñoz's passage through the massed vegetation. The enemies met, the fight was bitter, ruthless. Every structure remaining on the old coffee estate was riddled with bullets and spattered with blood.

While his determined assistant, General González-Muñoz, challenged the rebels on the heights of Rubi, Weyler battled in the hills of Rosario through which he had led his six battalions, artillery brigade, and cavalry regiment to confront the small force of Rius Rivera, which Maceo had strategically placed in the Spanish leader's suspected path. After deciding that he had made a good defense of the Rubi site, Maceo retired his men and led them to Rius Rivera's lines, which had not been overrun by Weyler's large contingent of men. Finding that the Spaniards had been contained, and no longer fighting, Maceo, on impulse, decided to penetrate the encircling Spanish lines in the direction of the Linea, which he would have to cross if he were to heed Máximo Gómez's summons.

Maceo returned from his scouting expedition convinced that he could make the Linea crossing safely. He also found that Weyler had returned to Havana, after the embarassing and unpleasant experience of getting lost with his men in the mountain forests because of his lack of knowledgeable scouts.

The harassment of General Rius Rivera, whom Maceo had left with forces high in mountain top positions, would continue to repel the enemy effectively. The great number of casualties suffered by Weyler's forces would serve to discredit the latter. If Weyler did not learn to become more effective, Maceo predicted total failure for Weyler's efforts to crush the revolution. He added that his men, derisively, called Weyler's operations "the banana campaign" because it was known that a shriveled banana field had been charged by soldiers under Weyler's orders. In that letter of November 17 to Lacoste, Maceo commented on the presidential election in the United States, predicting good fortune for the rebel cause as he assumed the new president would follow a different approach from that of the "fatal, for us, conduct of the Spain-loving Mr. Cleveland"; he hoped for United States recognition of Cuban belligerency.

Meanwhile Maceo continued to become visibly depressed after reading Máximo Gómez's summons and other letters from members of the government, who threatened to resign if their differences with the Dominican chief Gómez were not resolved and he were not restrained from acting independently of the council. At his distance from the controversy, Maceo could not judge whose position was more beneficial for his beloved Patria. It disturbed Maceo to read suggestions by those antagonized by Máximo Gómez and President Salvador Cisneros that he, Maceo, assume all power — military and governmental. If this were their judgement, Maceo believed it to be a grievous blow to the future republic. Maceo, thus, did not reply to any of the dissidents; he limited himself to writing that heartfelt letter of November 22 to Manuel Sanguily requesting that he come to the aid of the Republic as the only means of endowing the revolution with respected leadership.

Returning to his plans for escape, Maceo again explored the Linea and concluded that it would be impossible to slip through the continuous, closely-placed, manned fortifications extending from the Sierra de los Organos range down to Mariel Bay. While on these explorations, he was distressed to find enemy platoons engaged in mopping-up operations of small landowners who had refused to enter Spanish lines as ordered.

To the heights of Gobernadora mountain, which majestically shadows Mariel Bay, Maceo led a troop of men to rout a marching enemy column in what was to be his last battle in the Province of Pinar del Río. The battle, under a heavy downpour, resulted in a considerable loss of men. On that stromy day of December 3rd, in midst of heavy rains and powerful winds, Maceo pursued the retreating Spanish forces until they had gone far afield. Camp was established in the only remaining building in the devastated area, in which a pile of human skeletons was discovered. The men turned their backs on the stacks of bones and settled in for the night.

When the storm subsided, three men who had made use of the rebels' small boat located the camp. They brought another packet of letters, and assured Maceo that the crossing was possible in the fragile vessel which had so often slipped across the waters without being challenged. One of the couriers, a rebel officer who came directly from Máximo Gómez's headquarters, in the shadows of the gloomy camp, relayed messages from the old chief; repetitions of his previous statements. The correspondence was set aside to be read by daylight. On the next day, December 4th, the packet was opened. It contained a letter from General Rafael Portuondo, a man greatly respected by Maceo.

Portuondo outlined in detail the unpleasantness, the discord, the ill-will disrupting relations between the chief of the army and the president and their opposition. The writer made clear that the machinations directed against Máximo Gómez and President Salvador Cisneros de Betancourt were beyond his power to untangle, and that the worsening situation required Maceo's presence to extinguish the conflagration caused by the friction of personalities and ambitions, which would, if continued, destroy the revolution. Maceo after reading Portuondo's letter was visibly depressed and withdrew to walk alone. He later returned to say that whatever the cost he must leave immediately.

By mid-afternoon on the 4th, Maceo had selected the men who were to make the trip with him in the small boat, a perilous undertaking since they were a group large enough to require several crossings, increasing their chance of being caught. He assigned combat sectors to the remaining officers, convincing them, as they pleaded to be allowed to leave with him, that they served best by continuing to engage the Spaniards in that overrun province.

At 11 o'clock that night, Maceo decided to make the channel crossing. Accompanying him were General Miro, Brigadier Pedro Diaz; Colonel Alberto Nodarse; Lieutenant Colonels Manuel Piedra and Alfredo Justiz; Captains Nicolas Sauvanell and Ramon Penalvar; Lieutenenat Francisco Gómez y Toro, Máximo Gómez's son; and Lieutenant José Urbina. Also included were Dr. Máximo Zertucha, Colonel Charles Gordon, Captain Ramon Ahumada, three assistants to Maceo, an assistant to Miro, another attached to Diaz's staff, plus the three crewmembers. Fourteen men, including Maceo, picked up the boat, placed it on their shoulders, and walked in the mud to their new point of departure. The rest followed in single, silent file, carrying supplies, Maceo's saddle, and oars and a bailer.

The entrance to the channel was carefully explored in the rain, and, as it appeared safe, Maceo, four of his companions and the crew of three entered the boat and rowed toward a pier known as "Gerardo's", which jutted out from the surrounding Spanish fortifications. It belonged to Gerardo Llaneras, one of the crewmen. Two more trips were made to this pier, and another two to the wharf of José González, a Spaniard who was a partisan of the revolution. By three that morning, the four-hour perilous adventure had ended; the transportation of the rebels accomplished. Exhilirated by the success of the venture, the men grouped safely on the shore reacted by repeatedly congratulating each other, shaking hands, making comments: "Weyler has been outwitted"; "Arolas, commander of the territory, disgraced". They were quieted when their leader called out, "Silence; march!"

Maceo and his men made their way about a league distant to the Garro mill complex, where Perfecto Lacoste and his wife welcomed the weary warrior into their home. The influential Lacostes, appreciated and respected by Maceo, aided the rebel cause with money and personal services, somehow avoiding conflict with the Spanish authorities. Lacoste evaluated the state of public opinion, as he sensed it, particularly in the Havana area, where U.S. Consul Fitzhugh Lee at a recent public affair toasted Maceo for his defiance of the superior Spanish forces.

The general discussion which followed the private conference explored the value of effecting a surprise appearance in a city or town near the capital which would establish Maceo's presence in Weyler's domain, and discredit his "impassable" encirclement. Rebels in sufficient numbers would then converge on the selected site to protect Maceo's entrance. Lacoste assured his listeners that Weyler's prestige was at an all time low, and that the shock which could be anticipated would force the Autonomists out into the open to endorse Cuba's right to total independence. Many of the men identified with the Autonomist Party had secretly contributed to the rebel's war chest, Lacoste added. The sixty-two men gathered there agreed that the plan of a surprise show should be carried out and the details were discussed.

On the night of the 6th, they left their hosts and bivouacked in a demolished mill complex. After a short stay, Maceo decided to continue on to San Pedro de Hernández, to the camp of a rebel band under Colonel Sanchez Figueras, which had been chosen for him as his new headquarters. The march began before dawn on the tragic day, December 7, 1896. Some movement was noted in the forts of Hoyo Colorado township by Maceo's rear guard. After crossing the inundated areas surrounding the extensive Pastora Lagoon, Maceo and his men entered the San Pedro de Hernández camp in Punta Brava, the site selected for Maceo's headquarters. Some 450 men came together in answer to Maceo's summons. Some of the units were better equipped than others, an indication of the disparity of individual commands. Maceo responded to the greetings of the new arrivals with warmth and affection.

The site at San Pedro was a rustic farm area, not a war camp. Maceo's disappointment was obvious. It offered no security, no free passage. The area had at some distance a natural stone fence and another side a barbed wire fence which contained cattle in the past, enclosed by a large gate. A solid hedge divided the land, and provided spiney hooks to entangle trespassers who attempted to scale this wild pineapple plant. Since none of these obstacles could be cleared by mounted men, it was a thoughtless choice, devoid of the basic needs of a camp for a leader who expected to engage the enemy.

Discussions of future actions which would depend on the results of the planned surprise appearance in Marianao continued around the resting Maceo. That Weyler had returned to Pinar del Río Province and was still there was a clear indication that Maceo's escape remained undisclosed and unknown. Thus, Maceo's sudden appearance in Marianao would make the Captain-General appear ridiculous for chasing a prey that had moved into his own backyard.

Suddenly, the hum of conversation was interrupted when Baldomero Acosta and Juan Delgado rushed in, shouting, "Shots are being fired! Shots are being fired into San Pedro!" A Spanish column under General Cirujeda, whose command constantly patrolled the area, had located the camp following the many trails of hoof marks left by the rebels' horses converging on San Pedro. Maceo attempted to lift himself from his hammock, but had to ask for the hand of an assistant to aid him. He voiced self-criticism for the laxity which made the intrusion of the enemy possible. A hail of projectiles struck trees and the supports of his tent as Maceo saddled his horse, mounted, and called for a bugler to sound a machete charge against the intruding army. No bugler responded.

Maceo angrily shouted orders to his disorganized men. Surprise gave the Spaniards the upper hand. What for them began as a routine action to flush out insurgents turned into a three hour devastating rout, culminating in the death of the enemy leader, Maceo. Maceo gave furious battle until a shot in the scorching rifle volley tumbled him from his horse. Another shot hit him as he lay on the ground. Attempts by his men to recover his body failed when intensive fire caused them to retreat. Among the many other rebel casualties was Francisco Gómez. The vanquished rebels returned in the night and recovered Maceo's and young Gómez's bodies, which, though stripped of personal belongings by the Spaniards , had gone unrecognized. With great secrecy, burial took place on a nearby farm.

Confirmation of the Cuban freedom fighter's death was delayed for three days. As soon as the news reached Weyler, he left Pinar del Río and returned to his palace in Havana. Spaniards in Cuba and in the homeland rejoiced; church bells rang out. For the delirious celebrants, the elimination of the "Bronze Titan" foretold the end of the revolution. For the rebels, plunged in despair, the strongest arm, the most resolute among them, was plucked from their march to sovereignty. The most constant anticolonialist fighter in the struggle for the independence of Cuba no longer lived; the dream of a free Cuba had come to an end.

Part 1 Part 2 — Part 3

Per gentile concessione di Free Cuba Foundation (WEB: Copyright 1980 by Magdalen M. Pando. All rights reserved. Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 79-93001, ISBN 0-9603846

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