Antonio Guiteras: «…to die for the Homeland is to live».
Although the northern city of Philadelphia saw his birth at the dawn of the 20th century, Antonio Guiteras Holmes succumbed to the unjust embrace of death in the Athens of Cuba on the fateful May 8th 1935, when the freshness of his 29 years was still reflected in his face.
From an early age he was influenced by the patriotic stories of his uncle José Ramón Guiteras and his great-uncle John Walsh, who became important defenders of the independence of Cuba and Ireland, respectively, as well as by the teachings and admiration for Marti’s work that his father, Calixto Guiteras, instilled in him.
Once in Cuba, the young Guiteras developed a remarkable academic life alongside the revolutionary actions of the student body, and in 1927 he obtained his PhD in Pharmacy at the University of Havana, from where he did not hesitate to join the University Student Directorate to repudiate the dictatorship of the then president Gerardo Machado.
His vast revolutionary trajectory included important events such as his links with veterans of the War of Necessity and young anti-Machado activists like Julio Antonio Mella, with whom he developed a great friendship, as well as founding the Revolutionary Union, an organisation whose «Manifesto to the Cuban people» represented a call for the unity of the nation with armed struggle as the main way to overthrow the dictatorship.
After Machado’s flight, he not only opposed US mediation and interference in Cuba, but called on the island to consolidate its revolution. He later became Secretary of the Interior, War and Navy during the provisional presidency of Ramón Grau San Martín. From this post he took measures of great popular encouragement and, in keeping with his position, he included revolutionaries in the armed forces and appointed Cuba’s first two women mayors.
Unfortunately, this period, known as the Government of the Hundred Days, had one of its main and most active detractors in Fulgencio Batista, who brought about its downfall on January 15th , 1934.
Then, the Young Cuba was born, organization that sadly turned out to be its last revolutionary forge. With an eminently Martian programme, centred on the gradual construction of a socialist and anti-imperialist state on the basis of armed insurrection, this organisation led an enormous rebellious trajectory to finally materialise the destiny dreamt by CéspeThen, when he freed his slaves in 1868.
Mexico would be the new place for Antonio to visit to get ammunition, new revolutionary sympathisers and restart the libertarian struggle on the island. However, the denunciation of a traitor put Batista on his guard and the blue of the Matanzas beach El Morrillo languished before the crimson that the bodies of Guiteras and his comrade, the Venezuelan communist and internationalist Carlos Aponte, bravely exhaled when, in an unequal skirmish, both heroes were riddled with bullets.
Once again a country suffered under the cruel lash of injustice. Once again the life of a young man, a hero, was cruelly taken from us. Once again the spilled blood was reborn in caguairans and once again, death for the Homeland became life.
Written by Yadiel Barbón Salgado.