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April Thursday

The abolition of slavery is at the root of Cuban Patriotism



On February 26, 1869, the Assembly of Representatives of Central Region decreed the abolition of slavery, an essential sign of revolutionary belligerence, under the advice of Ignacio Agramonte y Loynaz, a young lawyer and selfless fighter who excelled in combat.

It was in Sibanicú, a region declared free, that the historical pronouncement took place in support of the proclamation issued by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes on December 27, 1868 as president of the first Republic in Arms: "A free Cuba is incompatible with a slave-owning Cuba".

The proclamation of Sibanicú called for the categorical and unconditional abolition of slavery, albeit stating that the affected slave owners would be compensated in due course.

The founding fathers and heroes rightly agreed that they needed the support of many wealthy, powerful landowners who also owned slaves, mainly in the sugar-producing East. In these circumstances, Céspedes had said: "(...) the abolition of the Spanish institutions must and does include by necessity and by reasons of the highest justice that of slavery as the most iniquitous of all".

Both the proclamation and other provisions laid down by the Father of the Homeland ratified in the glorious Assembly of Guáimaro showed a striking convergence of thoughts about the creation of a new citizen endowed with duties and rights enshrined by the homeland that gave them freedom. It was not about charging a price for it: the newly freed slaves were invited to join the fight, a step to favor the development of social awareness well ahead of a time when individualism prevailed.

The advanced statements, claims and dreams of the Cuban patriots could not be fulfilled until the late 19th century, because the dependence on Spain lasted longer than expected and delayed the end of colonial injustice. Thus failed the attempts to abolish the abominable institution of slavery, but the very existence of the liberating armies in 1968, the Small War and the 1995 uprising were ironclad evidence of the democratization and spirit of equality inherent in the ideas and actions of the founders, whose ranks brimmed with black and mestizo men and women who fought as one with the whites, to the point that some of them became renowned military leaders.

Such were the humanist, just and avant-garde thoughts that contributed to forge the Cuban nation. The anti-slavery effort was never in vain, from the very first day.

 

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