#soscuba - The Cuban Freedom Fighters' New Weapon of Peace

#soscuba is the hashtag that not only rocked my world but is currently rocking the social media airwaves and growing increasing momentum every hour.  What started as an effort to set the record straight on the current protests for freedom occurring in Cuba has become an #sos call for #peace, #freedom and #liberty. This #SOSCUBA call to awareness has also become a weapon of peace for the unarmed people of Cuba right now; the very same people who are growing braver, more fearless, and more hopeful by the minute  

So why are so many people hashtagging #soscuba right now?  Because of the many millions if not billions of Cubans and Cuban-Americans that have been impacted by the atrocities and crimes committed by the Castro regime since 1958 - for over 62 years!  But the Cuban people's pursuit for freedom and independence started long before Castro marched down the Sierra Maestra mountains in 1958.  The fact remains that the Cuban people - or the Mambises - have been crying out for freedom and fighting for independence for almost their entire existence; let's see how many years it's been exactly. 

Though Cuba's first war against officially started in 1868, documented efforts by Cubans to cease from the Spanish Crown and live freely started long before that; between 1809-10 a western seperatist rebelion group emerged from the Cuban Creole aristocracy and one of its members drafted Cuba's very first Constitution, official declaring it a sovereign state. But they didn't win their independence from Spain until 1902.  They had fight for independence for at least  90 years. Now add those 90 years to the 62 years of the current Communist regime and one can accurately say that the Cuban people have been fighting and crying for freedom for the better part of 150 years! Of course there were more cries during the 57-year republic period in between as it was marked with political upheavals and economic strife, socialist dictators, and the occasional coup d'état; but I will leave that count unaccounted in my tally.  

Now let's go back to the beginning - 1511 is the year when Cuba was first established as a Governorate of Cuba. Cuba's existence dates back 510 years!  So for over 350 years the Cuban people were ruled by a Crown. But who were these Cuban people really? Very few of them, if any, are of the indigenous Taíno and Guanahatabey peoples of the Island who were killed by the Spanish violently or by way of illnesses brought over from Europe. In fact, no one born in Cuba through out its existence has any native Cuban DNA since the Spanish wiped them all off the island. We, the Cuban people, are a mosaic of the world's DNA. Though many of us are predominately either Iberian or West African, but we are also Italian, German, Irish, Jewish, Canary Islander, North African, Chinese, and Viking even, among others.  Cuba was the first melting pot in the new world bound entirely by water.  We are also the Spaniards born on Cuban soil that were sent to the British strongholds during the American Revolutionary War to help Americans win their Independence. We are even those traces of Spanish DNA that show up in many multigenerational Americans.  

The Cuban people have been fighting for freedom for so long, they even named themselves after their fight for independence back in 1868.  The Cubans are the Mambises - the freedom fighters. The name was first given to the insurgents led by the defected Spanish Officer, Juan Ethninius Mamby, in the Dominican fight for independence of 1844 - referring to them as "the men of Mamby" or "Mambies."  When those same Spanish soldiers were assigned to fight the insurgents in Cuba 22 years later in Cuba's first war of independence of 1868, the derogatory Spanish slur "Mambises" was proudly adopted by the Cuban opposition.   

On my my recent visit to St. Augustine, Florida; I was reminded of the long and intricate entanglement between Cuba's and America's history.  At the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the story of a Spanish woman, Antonia Avero, is simply and impressionably told at the exhibit.  I witnessed a crowd of impressed women of different generations gather as one read her story out loud. 'Wow! She was a property owner and a business owner!" She fled Spanish Florida to Cuba when the British took over. She immediately reminded me of my grandmother Mercedes in early Miami who too was an entrepreneur and the most dominant matriarchal figure in my very large Cuban-American family.  Her resemblance to my Cuban people had me internalizing some questions.  How many of my Cuban ancestors had stories similar to Avero that remain untold?  The Cuban story is an untold story of America - one often mischaracterized in textbooks by the adjective "Spanish."    

Cuba's Freedom Fighters - The Mambises - have had enough!  They have been living without freedom and independence for approximately 450 years!  They are tired of crying and fighting and still finding themselves in the same fight generation after generation. 

In these photos that my brother took on his secretive trip to Cuba in 2005 (a trip that kicked-off with a 2 hour interrogation at the Cuban airport), the cries for PEACE “Paz” are clear on this painted bus and the words Peace, LOVE (and Crabs?) on the tie-dye T-Shirt.  When will the Cuban people finally be allowed to rest from their pursuit for independence? When will the cries for freedom of the Mambises finally stop?  When will the tears and the blood of my people finally stop falling to the ground?  The time is now! #soscuba . The original Cuban call to freedom has always been "Patria y Libertad" - not the perverse version that Castro created (Patria o Muerte) to brainwash the minds of the Cuban people.   Patria y Vida for Cuba!  Country and Life!  #sosocuba #patriayvida  Ya se acabo!


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