Che Guevara and Antonio Maceo: Joined by history and action

Che and Maceo

When talking about the history of Cuba it is necessary to referr to approach Antonio Maceo Grajales and Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, heroes of the island. Two men who, despite having lived in different times, fought tirelessly against all forms of colonialism, sacrificing even the most precious thing: family and their own existence. Maceo and Che, as they are commonly called, constitute a paradigm for all people who aspire or fight for the consolidation of their sovereignty.

Antonio Maceo Grajales was born on June 14, 1845 in the city of Santiago de Cuba. During his childhood and youth he attended his first studies, acquiring an elementary culture, he assumed the administration of the farm belonging to his family and dedicated himself to the commercialization of agricultural products. Two days after the uprising of October 10, 1868, he joined the Ten Years’ War (1868-1878). His bravery, courage, courage, discipline and gifts as a military strategist made it possible for him to reach the rank of Major General and occupy important positions within the command structure of the Liberation Army in the Eastern region, all this in spite of the existing racial and class prejudices within the pro-independence side.

On March 15, 1878 Antonio Maceo carried out the Protest of Baragua, where he made known to the Spanish military high command his opposition to the Pact of Zanjon – document that proposed the establishment of peace without contemplating the independence of Cuba, nor the total abolition of slavery – and his decision to continue the fight. Nevertheless, the oriental general could not avoid the failure of the Ten Years’ War. During the period of the Fecund Truce (1878-1895) he remained, for the most part, abroad, settling in different nations of the American continent. Throughout those years he joined or organized several unsuccessful attempts to put an end to Spanish colonialism in the Greater Antilles. In 1893 he joined José Martí’s revolutionary project and returned to Cuba in early 1895, in an expedition led by Flor Crombet.

During the Necessary War (1895-1898), Antonio Maceo occupied the position of Lieutenant of the Liberation Army and took command of the Invading Column, which departed from Mangos de Baraguá (Oriente) and reached Mantua (Pinar del Rio), carrying out the feat of extending the struggle to all of Cuba. Throughout this feat, the oriental general, once again, showed his virtues as a military officer and guarantor of the order and discipline of the mambises troops. He fell in combat on December 7, 1896 in San Pedro, Havana. Thus ended the life of the Bronze Titan, who participated in more than 600 combats and received 26 war wounds.

Meanwhile, Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was also born on June 14, but in 1928 in Rosario, Argentina. Throughout his childhood and youth, he was in regular contact with the rural environment and pursued different studies until he obtained his medical degree. During those years, he also traveled to several Latin American countries and came into contact with different progressive figures and forces of the continent. Once in Mexico, he met Fidel Castro and quickly became sympathetic to the cause of the 26th of July Revolutionary Movement. The young Argentinean was part of the 82 expeditionaries of the Granma yacht that disembarked in Cuba and was one of the survivors of the Alegría de Pío combat, December 5, 1956.

Once the insurrectional struggle against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista began, Ernesto Guevara showed his qualities for guerrilla warfare, which led him to be appointed commander and given the command of troops, at the head of which he carried out several combats in the eastern region. Later on, he took command of the Invading Column number 8, Ciro Redondo and carried out the feat of, in only 47 days and under constant enemy siege, moving from the Sierra Maestra (Oriente) to the Escambray massifs (Las Villas), where he established agreements of coordinated action with the anti-Batista guerrilla forces existing in the center of the Island and developed a successful campaign in the region that culminated with the capture of the City of Santa Clara, on January 1st, 1959.

After the military defeat of the Batista dictatorship, Fidel Castro called for a General Revolutionary Strike and ordered Ernesto Guevara to march to Havana, who arrived in the capital on January 3, 1959 and occupied the San Carlos de La Cabaña Fortress. Subsequently, he assumed different responsibilities in the leadership of the country, such as: president of the National Bank of Cuba, military chief of the Western region, Minister of Industries, among others. In the mid-sixties he moved abroad to promote the guerrilla struggle in the Congo and Bolivia, where he was assassinated on October 9, 1967, becoming a symbol of international revolutionary struggle worthy of a Heroic Guerrilla.

The points in common between these two great men are multiple.The well-to-do social origin, the strict family education combined with studies and the contact with the rural environment contributed to the formation of a character and physical condition.The trips through the American continent made possible the structuring of a Latin Americanist system of thought that in the case of Antonio Maceo is centered more in the Antillean context and in Ernesto Guevara transcends to the internationalism. Both figures are worthy exponents of the intransigence and revolutionary radicalism, immortalized through the expression of the Bronze Titan during the Baraguá Protest: “You keep that document, we don’t want to know about it” and of the documentary material where the Heroic Guerrilla expresses: “To imperialism, not even a little bit like that”.

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Maceo and Ché, two great freedom fighters

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