Happy May 20th to all of my Cuban friends



Back in 1902, Cuba became an independent country after 400 years as a Spanish colony (1492-1898) and the US occupation (1898-1902).

JM Sierra recalls the moment:

“May 20. Tomás Estrada Palma is sworn in as president, and the Cuban flag is finally allowed to fly over Havana.”

As one of those of us who grew up in the US, I always found May 20 as a great day to learn about Cuba.

My grandmother, who died in 1984, left Cuba and would share her stories often.    She was a young girl on May 20, 1902 and told me a lot about the day.   She remember flags all over and a great sense of optimism every where.

My parents also had their own stories, specially from their school activities.   I recall my mother telling me about the parade in Ciego de Avila.   Her family lived across Parque Marti.

My father had many tales of events in Sagua la Grande.     By the way, this is the first May 20th since my father died last December.   I miss chatting with him about this day.

I learned a lot of Cuba history hearing their memories of May 20.

May 20 is actually bittersweet for many of us.   We remember Independence Day 1902 but understand that Cuba is not free today.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

We remember Carlos Manuel de Cespedes (1819-74)



Let’s take a moment and remember Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, a Cuban patriot from the 19th century.   This is from a summary written by Juan Perez:

Born on April 18, 1819, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes is considered by many Cubans to be the “Father of the Nation”.

Céspedes, who owned a plantation in eastern Cuba, began the 10 Years’ War when he freed his slaves and asked others to join his armed resistance against Spain. He wanted independence for Cuba, which he announced through the Grito de Yara (Cry of Yara).

Guerilla warfare was practiced by the Cuban troops, whose numbers soon grew. Céspedes became the general in chief. His forces captured the city of Bayamo and made it their capital.

When Spanish troops were sent to take the city, the outnumbered Cuban troops left and burnt it to the ground. Céspedes’ birthplace was one of a few buildings that did not burn.

As the war went on, Céspedes’ major goal was to attain American recognition of the new Cuban government, though it was to be an unrealized goal. Céspedes ran a constitutional convention, which decided upon a representative government for Cuba and proposed the abolition of slavery.

Céspedes was deposed by other revolutionaries in 1873. A year later, he was apprehended by the Spanish and executed.

Eventually Spain reached a settlement with the revolutionaries, but broke many of its promises.

Céspedes also published Cuba’s first independent newspaper, the Cubano Libre (The Free Cuban).

It’s important for young Cubans to hear about men like Cespedes.


And they play baseball on “Viernes Santo”?


Posted this over at American Thinker this morning……it is a recollection of that first year in the US and Wisconsin…….

Our first encounter with Easter in the U.S. was indeed a cultural shock. My parents did not understand the bit about going to the beach for Easter.

My favorite recollection of our first Easter was hearing my mother’s reaction to a major league game on TV. She looked at me and said: “They play baseball on Good Friday?”

Have a wonderful Easter however you celebrate the holiday. To be honest, Easter brings me a lot of memories of my parents and grandparents.

P.S. Here is the full article:   READ!

Memories of “Semana Santa” in Cuba

Do any of you remember “Semana Santa” in Cuba?

As I recall, it was a very solemn week, from Monday to Easter Sunday. I recall that Good Friday (“Viernes Santo”) was a very quiet day with lots of time for mediation and prayer.

Click here for the Friday show with Carmencita Romanach, President, Operation Pedro Pan Group, Inc. & Carmen Valdivia, Member of Board of Directors, & Historic Committee Chair:

Click to listen here:




1898: The Maine explodes in Havana

uss maine

We remember the Maine:

At 9.40pm on the night of February 15th, 1898 the United States battleship Maine, riding quietly at anchor in Havana harbour, was suddenly blown up, apparently by a mine, in an explosion which tore her bottom out and sank her, killing 260 officers and men on board.

In the morning only twisted parts of the huge warship’s superstructure could be seen protruding above the water, while small boats moved about examining the damage.

The Maine was showing the US flag in Cuba.   At the time time, the Spanish regime was resisting an armed uprising by Cuban patriots.

The consequence of the explosion was the brief Spanish-American War of 1898.    Eventually, Cuba became an independent country in 1902.

P.S. In 1976, an investigation concluded that it was a fire rather than a Spanish mine or act of sabotage.

La Isla de Pinos, the other island of Cuba


For many of us, La Isla de Pinos is the place where many of our relatives spent time in Castro’s political prisons.   In the late 1960s, Castro changed the name to “La Isla de la Juventud” trying to turn the isolated island into some kind of indoctrination school for young minds.

Today, the small island is detached from Cuba and the rest of the world.

I found this article rather interesting and instructive.  It taught me a few things about the island and its complicated history:

“Some places are blessed by geography, with a deep harbor, mighty river or abundant natural resources.  Then there are places where geography is more of a curse. In the absence of any distinctive feature or economic purpose, they appear like a blank slate, inviting grandiose schemes and outsize ambitions.  Cuba’s Isla de la Juventud, the “Isle of Youth,” is one of those places.”

We often forget about La Isla de Pinos.  Yet, it sits there as another exhibit of the total and complete failure of  Castro’s policies.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.