On March 15th, 1878 as a strong protest against the Zanjon Pact, the General Antonio Maceo made one of the most patriotic acts of the History of Cuba: The Baragua Protest. Maceo personally met with the Spanish General Captain Arsenio Martínez Campos. From there the General Mambi stood and rejected all kinds of negotiations with Spain. With this heroic act Maceo transformed Zanjon´s capitulation of a fecund truce. It should also be noted that this act is written in history as one of the most glorious pages of the Cuban independence struggles.
The Spanish officer accompanied by his General Staff intended to pacify the insurgency with the Zanjón Pact, which excluded the independence of Cuba and the freedom of the slaves, which was decisive in the decision taken by Maceo, (also called the Bronze Titan) and his followers to continue the war.
Between the hammocks tied to some trees, Maceo made official his refusal to lay down his arms before the General in Chief of the Spanish Army and made it very clear that he knew perfectly well the true intentions of Martinez Campo by offering him peace, almost a decade after the beginning of the war of the Ten Year War (1868-1878).
“We do not understand each other”, said the Cuban in response to the Spaniard’s last words. That brave and firm gesture of Antonio Maceo and his troops against the Zanjón Pact, is the flag of struggle of all generations of Cubans by right of heroism. It means courage, decorum and fidelity to the homeland.
Baragua Protest and its future significance
Both Fidel Castro and Che Guevara thought so as well. Prominent reference is given to Maceo in Fidel’s classic courtroom speech, “History Will Absolve Me.” Can anyone doubt that the “Titan of Bronze” was on Che’s mind as he fought in Santa Clara? Camilo Cienfuegos, another hero of the Cuban Revolution, intently studied Maceo’s East to West Campaign in preparation for the action that he was commissioned to undertake.
Maceo said to Máximo Gómez on Oct. 13, 1885, “Whoever tries to take power over Cuba will only get the dust of its soil, drenched in blood, if he doesn’t perish in the struggle.”
After the participation of Cubans in Africa to support liberation movements in some countries, which had asked Cuba for help, Fidel Castro admiringly declared: “The blood of Africa flows abundantly in our veins. We are brothers and sisters of the people of Africa, and we are ready to fight at their side.” The avalanche of Cuban support in this effort showed that this was by no means insincere bluster. Could the legacy of Antonio Maceo have been on Fidel’s mind, too, when he said this? The noble deeds speak for themselves.
In the speech commemorating the centenary of the event, on March 15, 1878, Fidel Castro, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, said that “with the Baragua Protest reached its highest point, reached its climax, reached its summit, the patriotic and revolutionary spirit of our people; and that the flags of the Homeland and of the Revolution, of the true Revolution, with independence and social justice, were placed in their highest place”.
The Baragua Protest meant the decision of Maceo and his followers to die in the battle field or achieve freedom; the new generations of Cubans maintain that struggle spirit to keep the independence and the freedom got, with the determination of Homeland or Death, to face the soft coup orchestrated by anti-Cuban maffia of Miami to provoke social instability in Cuba. The ideals of the Titan of Bonze are as alive as on March 15, 1878.