The Antonio Maceo Brigade: 30 years of work

In 1977, after having left their homeland when they were children, a group of 55 young Cubans returned to Cuba as part of the Antonio Maceo Brigade.

Andrés Gómez

The Antonio Maceo Brigade will celebrate its thirty years of work at the Cuban emigration in the United States. Thirty years of a hard struggle against the political forces that represent the worst of mankind—the leaders of the Cuban counterrevolution—who have the most reactionary, violent and immoral conceptions of the individual, society and life in general. I know it might sound immodest, because I’m part of the Brigade, but it has done an exemplary job during these three decades.

It was on the 21st of December of 1977 when a group of 55 young Cubans returned to their homeland, after having left Cuba with their families as children during the 1960s and the 1970s, when their parents rejected the Cuban revolutionary process. Of the Cubans who left the country after 1959, we were the first to be invited by the revolutionary government to return to the homeland.

It was a momentous reunion for us. Some of us, not everybody, were consistent—radically consistent—with the historical legacy of our people. Others decided otherwise. But that reunion left an everlasting mark on all of us.

Making such decision took a lot of determination and courage from us. We were young, but we were aware of the implications of our resolution. Although there were Cubans inside the Cuban emigration in the United States—for example, those comrades who were members of the venerable House of the Americas of New York—who supported the Cuban revolutionary process even before 1959, we were the ones who destroyed the monolithic image of the then Cuban counterrevolutionary exile.

That counterrevolutionary exile was a much more controlled regime, and its repressive forces (the terrorists) were more organized and active than the regime—and its repressive methods—that the ultra-reactionary sector in Miami and outside Miami has imposed on us nowadays.

The life of the best of us, the brave comrade and member of our Brigade, Carlos Muñiz Varela, was the price that terrorist sector made us pay for our determination to break away with a dark and submissive past. That young revolutionary nobleman was premeditatedly murdered in April of 1979 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His devotion to the just causes of the two countries he served—Puerto Rico, where he grew up, and Cuba, where he was born—has been an example to all of us who have followed those same ideals. The fact that his murder has remained unpunished is a clear evidence and a permanent accusation of the bloody co-operation between the different U.S. administrations and the terrorists of the Cuban counterrevolution.

That First Contingent of the Antonio Maceo Brigade was a historic milestone in the relations between the nation and those Cubans who had decided to leave the Island for different reasons. Those 55 young Cubans added a human component to what had been a rough process of separation of the Cuban family. It made us all understand such migratory process, for the sake of all, in its human dimension.

Many years have passed since then; a lifetime has passed. Our emigrants have changed a lot. From that moment on, most Cubans who have decided to emigrate have done it for the typical reasons of any contemporary migration, and not for the political and ideological ones that prevailed during the 1960?s and the 1970?s.

Therefore, the current relations between the nation and its emigrants are quite different and much more satisfactory, as opposed to the ones prevailing 30 years ago. The fact that there is a better understanding in Cuba, both by its government and its people, of the need of this reconciliation, has been mainly possible thanks to the 30 years of work of the Antonio Maceo Brigade.

But that’s not quite all. The Brigade has contributed to developing a more pluralist and participative political environment in Miami as regards to the Cuban affairs. It has also been able to reintegrate into the patriotic legacy of our people, and it has had the honour and the privilege to defend, against all odds, the sovereignty, the liberties and the revolutionary process of the Cuban people from the very same place where its enemies reign. Those are the biggest merits of the Antonio Maceo Brigade during these 30 years of a long and unfinished work.

The author is a Cuban national residing in Miami. He is the director of the Areítodigital publication. This article was translated by Vidal Viera and first published by Cubanow digital magazine.

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