The Prime Minister was speaking at a military ceremony in Havana, Cuba on Sunday, December 7 to mark the 118th Anniversary of the death in combat of Lt. General Antonio Maceo and his aide Panchito Gomez Toro. Maceo, a hero of the 19th century Cuban War of Independence, lived in exile in Jamaica. Prime Minister Simpson Miller is also attending the Fifth Summit meeting between Cuba and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on December 8 as part of efforts to improve trade, investment and other areas of cooperation among the countries.
“Today, it is not on the fields of battle, but on the plains of dialogue and respectful, constructive engagement, that we must forge new understanding. It is not through war, but rather through love, that we advance the progress of the people of Cuba and the Caribbean,” Prime Minister Simpson Miller told her audience, which included Cuban President Raul Castro Ruz and several Heads of Government and other officials of the member countries of CARICOM.
She noted that that it was not by accident that Jamaica enjoys a special relationship with Cuba. In addition to Cuba’s proximity as Jamaica´s closest geographic neighbour and the institutional relations that have been established between the two countries, Prime Minister Simpson Miller noted that they shared a common history and connection through the movement of people and families across both islands.
The Prime Minister pointed out that between 1850 and 1930, Cuba was one of the most important destinations for migrant Jamaicans many of whom worked on the Cuban sugar and tobacco plantations. Likewise, she said, Jamaica welcomed Cubans, including tobacco farmers of the late 19thcentury, who started Jamaica’s Tobacco industry.
Of great importance, she added, is the fact that Jamaica was also a safe shelter for those revolutionaries who sought freedom, justice, brotherhood and peace. Those freedom fighters, she reminded, included Venezuela´s Simon Bolivar and two of Cuba’s revolutionary heroes, Lieutenant General Antonio Maceo and Seńor Jose Marti, who lived in Jamaica and remain integral to Jamaica´s own history. Maceo’s mother, Mariana, also lived in Jamaica and died in Kingston in 1873. The Garvey Maceo High School in Clarendon, a gift from the Cuban
Government and people, is also named in honour of both Antonio Maceo and Jamaica´s first National Hero, Marcus Garvey.
Saluting freedom fighters in shaping the history and securing the independence of the Republic of Cuba, Prime Minister Simpson Miller said they laid the foundation for Cuba’s current selfless contributions to countries, people and causes all over the world.
“We stand with Cuba with a message from Jamaica’s musical icon Bob Marley who sang: Get up, Stand up, Stand up for your rights, Get up, Stand up, don’t give up the fight,” she said.
Antonio Maceo died in combat, in Punta Brava in Cuba on 7th December 1895, along with his aide Panchito Gomez Toro. A monument of Maceo, which was a gift from Cuba, stands at National Heroes Park in Kingston. “It is a testament to the high esteem in which this Cuban revolutionary is held by the Government and people of Jamaica. The monument serves as a fitting tribute and representation of Jamaica’s respect for, and solidarity with, the hardworking, resilient and proud people of Cuba,” Mrs. Simpson Miller told her Cuban audience.
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