The "Manifesto of Montecristi" also clarifies that the war of liberation was not against Spain itself, but against the colonial regime that existed on the island for more than three centuries. The Cuban fight for independence began with the Ten Years' War — , the first of three wars fought as Cuba attempted to free themselves from Spanish rule. The war was brought on by an economic crisis as well as the desire to end slavery. While the farmers in Cuba struggled to feed their families, the colonial administration continued to bring in profit from military ventures. In response, enraged farmers rose to fight. The uprising started October
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Without usurping the accent and declarations that are appropriate only to the majesty of a fully constituted republic, the elected representatives of the revolution that is reaffirmed today recognize and respect their duty to repeat before the patria, which must not be bloodied without reason or without just hope of triumph, the precise aims, born of good judgment and foreign to all thought of vengeance, for which the inextinguishable war that today in moving and prudent democracy leads all elements of Cuban society into combat was initiated and will reach its rational victory.
In the serene minds of those who represent it today and the responsible public revolution that elected them, this war is not the insane triumph of one Cuban party over another, or even the humiliation of a group of mistaken Cubans, but the solemn demonstration of the will of a country that endured far too much in the previous war to plunge lightly into a conflict that can end only in victory or the grave, without causes sufficiently profound to overcome human cowardice and its several disguises, and without a determination so estimable-for it is certified by death-that it must silence those less fortunate Cubans who do not have equal faith in the capacities of their nation or equal valor by which to emancipate it from its servitude.
This war is not a capricious attempt at an independence that would be more fearsome than useful-which only those who manifest the virtuous aim of conducting it to a more viable and certain independence can stave off or do away with, and which must not in truth tempt a people that cannot endure it-but the disciplined product of the resolve of solid men, who in the repose of experience have decided to face once more the dangers they well know, and of a cordial assembly of Cubans of the most diverse origins, all convinced that the virtues necessary for the maintenance of liberty are better acquired in the conquest of liberty than in abject dispiritedness.
This is not a war against the Spaniard, who, secure among his own children and in his deference to the patria they win for themselves, will enjoy, respected and even beloved, the liberty that will sweep away only those imprudent individuals who seek to block its path.
This war will not be a cradle of tyranny or of disorder, which is alien to the proven moderation of the Cuban spirit. Those who promoted it, and who can still raise their voices and speak, affirm in its name, before the patria, their freedom from all hatred, their fraternal indulgence toward timid or mistaken Cubans, their radical respect for the dignity of man, which is the catalyst of combat and the cement of the republic, and their certainty that this war can be conducted in a way that contains the redemption that inspires it, and the ongoing relations in which a people must live among others, alongside the reality of what war is.
They must express, as well, their categorical determination to respect, and to ensure that all respect, the neutral and honorable Spaniard during and after the war, and to be merciful toward the repentant, and inflexible only toward vice, crime, and inhumanity.
In the war that has just begun again in Cuba the revolution does not see cause for a jubilation that could commandeer an unreflecting heroism, but only the responsibilities that must preoccupy the founders of nations.
Cuba is embarking upon this war in the full certainty, unacceptable only to halfhearted, sedentary Cubans, of the ability of its sons to win a victory through the energy of the thoughtful and magnanimous revolution, and the ability of the Cuban people, developed during those ten early years of sublime fusion and in the modern practices of work and government, to save the patria at its origin from the trials and troubles that were necessary at the beginning of the century in the feudal or theoretical republics of Hispano-America, which were without communication and without preparation.
Inexcusable ignorance or perfidy it would be to remain unaware of the often glorious and now generally remedied causes for those American upheavals, which arose from the error of trying to adapt foreign models of uncertain dogma, related only to their place of origin, to the ingenious reality of countries that knew nothing of liberty except their own eagerness to attain it and the pride that they won while fighting for it.
The concentration of a merely literary culture in the capitals, the erroneous adherence of the republics to the lordly habits of the colony, the creation of rival caudillos as a consequence of the distrustful and inadequate treatment of remote areas, the rudimentary state of the only industry, which was farming or cattle herding, and the abandonment and distain of the fertile indigenous race amid the disputes between creed or locales that these causes for the upheavals in the nations of America carried on-these are in no way the problems of Cuban society.
Cuba returns to war with a democratic and educated people, zealously aware of its own rights and those of others, and with even the humblest of its populace far more educated than the masses of plainsmen or Indians by whom, at the voice of the supreme heroes of emancipation, the silent colonies of America were transformed from herds of cattle into nations. A free nation, where work is open to all, positioned at the very mouth of the rich and industrial universe, will without obstacle and with some advantage replace, after a war inspired by the purest self-sacrifice and carried out in keeping with it, the shameful nation where well-being is obtained only in exchange for an express or tacit complicity with the tyranny of the grasping foreigners who bleed and corrupt it.
We have no doubts about Cuba or its ability to obtain and govern its independence, we who, in the heroism of death and the silent foundation of the patria, see continually shining forth among the great and the humble its gifts of harmony and wisdom, which are only imperceptible to those who, living outside the real soul of their country, judge it, in their own arrogant concept of themselves, to possess no greater power of rebellion and creation than that which it timidly displays in the servitude of its colonial tasks.
And there is another fear from which cowardice, disguised as prudence, may wish to profit just now: the senseless and, in Cuba, always unjustified fear of the black race.
The revolution, with all its martyrs and generous subordinate warriors, denies indignantly, as the long experience of those in exile and those on the island during the truce denies, the slanderous notion of a threat by the Negro race, which has been wickedly employed to the benefit of those who profit from the Spanish regime to stir up fear of the revolution.
There are already Cubans in Cuba, of one color or another, who have forgotten forever-through the emancipating war and the work they carry on together-the hatred by which slavery may have divided them.
And if vile demagogues are born to the race, or avid souls whose own impatience incites that of their race, or in whom pity for their own people is transformed into injustice toward others, then out of their gratitude and prudence and love for the patria, out of their conviction of the need to disprove by a manifest demonstration of the intelligence and virtue of the black Cuban the still prevailing opinion of his incapacity for those two qualities, and in their possession of all the reality of human rights and the consolation and strength of their esteem for whatever element of justice and generosity there is in the white Cubans, the black race itself will expatriate the black menace in Cuba without a single white hand having to be raised to the task.
The revolution knows this and proclaims it; those in exile proclaim it as well. The Cuban black has no schools of wrath there, and in the war not a single black was punished for arrogance or insubordination. Upon the shoulders of the black man, the republic, which he has never attacked, moved in safety. Only those who hate the black see hatred in the black, and those who traffic in such unjust fears do so in order to subjugate the hands that could be raised to expel the corrupting occupier from Cuban soil.
From the Spanish inhabitants of Cuba, the revolution, which neither flatters nor fears, hopes to receive, instead of the dishonorable wrath of the first war, such affectionate neutrality or truthful assistance as to make the war shorter, its disasters lesser, and the peace in which fathers and sons must live together easier and friendlier.
We Cubans are starting the war, and Cubans and Spaniards will finish it together. If they do not mistreat us, we will not mistreat them. If the show respect, we will respect them.
The blade is answered with the blade, and friendship is answered with friendship. And by what right would the Spaniards hate us, when we Cubans do not hate them?
The forms the revolution takes will provide no pretext for reproach to the vigilant cowards, fully aware of its selflessness, who in the formal errors or scant republicanism of the nascent country might have found some reason for which to deny it the blood they owe it. Pure patriotism will have no cause to fear for the dignity and future fate of the patria. In its initiatory war, a country must find a manner of government that can satisfy both the mature and cautious intelligence of its literate sons and the necessary conditions for the assistance and respect of its other peoples, and that does not hinder but enables the full development and rapid conclusion of the war that was calamitously necessary to the public happiness.
From its origin, the patria must be constituted in viable forms, forms born of itself, so that a government without reality or sanction does not lead it into biases or tyranny. The war, healthy and vigorous from the start, which Cuba begins again today, with all the advantages of its experience and victory at last guaranteed to the unyielding resolve and lofty efforts of its unfading heroes, whose memory is always blessed, is not merely a pious longing to give full life to the nation that, beneath the immoral occupation of an inept master, is crumbling and losing its great strength both within the suffocating patria and scattered abroad in exile.
This war is not an inadequate drive to conquer Cuba, for political independence would have no right to ask Cubans for their help if it did not bring with it the hope of creating one patria more for freedom of thought, equality of treatment, and peaceful labor.
The war of independence in Cuba, the knot that binds the sheaf of islands where shortly the commerce of the continents must pass through, is a far-reaching human event and a timely service that the judicious heroism of the Antilles lends to the stability and just interaction of the American nations and to the still unsteady equilibrium of the world. It honors and moves us to think that when a warrior for independence falls on Cuban soil, perhaps abandoned by the heedless or indifferent peoples for whom he sacrifices himself, he falls for the greater good of mankind, for the confirmation of a moral republicanism in America, and for the creation of a free archipelago through which the respectful nations will pour a wealth that must, at its passage, spill over into the crossroads of the world.
Hardly can it be believed that with such martyrs and such a future there could be Cubans who would bind Cuba to the corrupt and provincial monarchy of Spain and its sluggish, vice-ridden wretchedness! Today, as we proclaim from the threshold of the earth, in veneration of the spirit and doctrines that produce and animate the wholehearted and humanitarian war for which the people of Cuba unite once more, invincible and indivisible, it is fitting that we evoke, as guides and helpers to our people, the magnanimous founders whose labor the grateful country takes up once again, and the honor that must prevent Cubans from wounding by word or deed those who gave their lives for them.
And thus, making this declaration in the name of the patria and deposing before her and her free faculty of constitution the identical labor of two generations, the Delegate of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, created to organize and support the current war, and the Commander in Chief elected by all the active members of the Liberating army, in their shared responsibility to those they represent and in demonstration of the unity and solidity of the Cuban revolution, sign this declaration together.
Document #13: “Montecristi Manifesto,” by José Martí and Máximo Gómez (1895)
Manifesto of Montecristi - An Intro
Manifesto of Montecristi