Photo: Cuban Flag
Today, all of Cuba is celebrating its 111-year old independence from Spain. Christopher Columbus arrives in 1492 that brought colonization by the Spaniards for over 400 years.
It was not until the conclusion of the Spanish-American War that Spanish rule left the island nation in 1898 even though most other Latin American countries had gained their freedom from Spain by 1825. The country officially become independent on May 20, 1902.
Cuba’s fight for independence was lead by the country’s national heros: Jose Marti, Maximo Gomez, Antonio Macio amongst others. Many U.S. Cubans do not celebrate Cuban Independence Day because of the communist rule of Fidel Castro and now his brother Raul Castro. In Cuba the day is celebrated with parades but is not a public holiday.
Cubans celebrate on October 10 as their “Dia de la Independencia” to commemorate when in 1868 the fight for independence started with the Ten Years’ War.
Since the U.S. and Cuba do not have diplomatic relations Cuban Independence Day is not formally recognized by the U.S. Government. Cuban-American Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) noted:
“Today marks the 111th Anniversary of Cuba’s independence from Spain but, sadly, Cubans in Cuba are not free. The people of Cuba are not free to assemble peacefully without facing repression at the hands of the Castro regime. They are not free to speak their minds without fear of incarceration. They are not free to claim their future at the ballot box. On this day, I stand with my Cuban brothers and sisters that long for the return of freedom, independence and democracy to their country.
It has been a great pleasure in recent months to meet with a number of brave human rights defenders from Cuba who yearn for real political and economic change on the island. Today, I commend them and Cuba’s growing opposition movement, which fights daily for their basic rights at great personal risk.”