The Conspiracy Against the Spanish: El Grito de Yara in Cuba
Many Latin American countries conspired against the Spanish oppression in the 1800s and Cuba was no exception with the Grito de Yara. The Yara rallying cry was the beginning of the process towards Cuban Independence.
Although this first attempt to get freedom was disastrous, it gave birth to many other anticolonialist movements and served as inspiration for other Cubans to get involved in the fight against the Spanish.
The passage of the Grito de Yara in the History of Cuba had Carlos Manuel Céspedes as the main character. He was the great master of the “Good Faith” lodge, the general major in charge of the Cuban Liberation Army, and the first President of the Cuban Arms Republic (1869-1973).
In this post, you will learn about the causes, demands, initiation, history, and results of the Grito de Yara celebration, one of the biggest Cuban holidays.
Causes of the Grito de Yara in Cuba
The Spanish rule had an inflexible commercial and economic control over the island and surprised the Cubans by imposing high tariffs and taxes overnight. They were also extracting the island’s resources and using them to finance different projects that weren’t relevant to Cuba’s development or to the remuneration of its workers.
As it happened with many other colonies, the Spanish crown forbade Cubans to gather in non-work-related meetings in order to avoid conspiracies. For the same reason, there was no press freedom and it was impossible to create political parties or movements of any kind.
Additional to this, there was an irrefutable social class division mixed with racial prejudice and slavery.
When Was It? What Started It?
It all started on the night of October 9th in 1868, when Carlos Manuel de Céspedes—the Father of the Cuban Homeland—announced the Revolutionary Board Manifesto with all of the ideals and objectives of Cuban Independence in La Demajagua.
La Demajagua was a sugarmill property of Céspedes that sank in debt and unpayable mortgages. With this, the first of the three Cuban separatist wars started, the War of the Ten Years (La guerra de los diez años).
Céspedes clearly stated through the Manifesto that all men should be treated equally regardless of their birthplace or race. Thereby, securing the abolition of slavery. He took this idea from Father Varela—another forger of the Cuban nation—who was a remarkable writer, philosopher, teacher, politician, and priest.
History and Result of the Grito de Yara
Originally, The Revolutionary Committee chose December 24th to be the day of the rebellion, and Céspedes moved it up to October 14th. Unluckily for them, though, members of the Spanish army discovered the conspiracy and released a warrant to arrest Carlos Manuel on October 7th.
Céspedes called a patriotic meeting the next day and released the contents of the Manifesto. On the early morning of October 10, he and his rebels took up arms and proclaimed the Independence of Cuba, the abolition of slavery, and universality of suffrage.
Carlos Manuel’s intention was to take the city of Manzanillo—which had an important town square and was nearby La Demajagua—but the lack of martial training of the rebels, organization, and fire weapons made it impossible.
Therefore, they decided to move forward to Sierra de Naguas in order to increase their numbers (they were around 600 by then). But on their way there, the Spanish forces surprised them in the village of Yara, canceling the first uprising of the War of the 10 Years.
Although the Grito de Yara was individually catastrophic, it was the start of the anti-colonialist fight that lasted decades as a result. It also gave a voice to the Manifesto, which was silently released at first but, thanks to the Grito de Yara, the press picked it up and spread it.
Another important factor that the Grito de Yara revolution had against was the fact that Carlos Céspedes’ intention was to abolish slavery for good but that statement was not appealing to many landowners. Instead, he proposed the gradual process of abolishment and indemnisations. The ambiguity of his speech, in turn, weakened the movement as a whole.
On the other hand, most insurrectors belonged to the eastern side of Cuba. Why? Because the western part was economically successful and not many people from there wanted to join the cause. Additionally, warlordism, treason and lack of unity and resources were the determinants that doomed the independentist movement in Cuba.
Grito de Yara Holiday and Celebration
Monuments covered in flowers, traditional music, Cuban flags, and commemorative speeches are some of the things you will witness if you ever visit Cuba on October 10th. Cultural activities and celebrations happen nationwide for 10 days.
Cubans not only observe Cuba’s Independence during The Grito de Yara celebration but also remember the important figures of Cuban Culture such as Prima Ballerina Alicia Alonso, painter Alfredo Sosabravo, and singer Omara Portuondo.
Outside the Boston City Hall in the USA, Cubans celebrate by raising the Cuban flag while singing the National Anthem every year. Special intellectual invitees offer patriotic speeches of independence wrapping up this solemn event.
Let’s Go to Cuba! (¡Vámonos a Cuba!)
While learning history from books or the internet has its merit, nothing compares to traveling and seeing it for yourself. Cuba is abundant in beautiful places, historic sites, delicious food, powerful music, and hospitable people. Don’t miss the opportunity of visiting this island full of magic and stopping at Yara while you are there.
Prepare for this trip by learning Spanish by the hand of HSA. Our methodology involves practicing conversation skills in each lesson so that you feel comfortable speaking a new language in a new country. Make your travels easier, talk to Cubans, ask for directions and opinions, and make lifelong friends by enrolling in our Spanish programs along with the rest of our 24,000+ monthly active students who have trusted our ten years of expertise.
You can tailor your Spanish package with our certified and native Spanish teachers from Guatemala. Ask them to include Cuban Slang Words That Will Make You Sound Native! Sign up today for a free class and prepare for your trip to Cuba!
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