An Odd Kind of Tribute to the Flag

  1. A few months ago, amid a great fanfare of propaganda, the ashes of Emilia Teurbe Tolón were brought back and placed in a monument, built on land to the side of the main chapel in the Colombus cemetery, in the city of Havana. It was Teurbe Tolón who, in New York, towards the end of the first half of the 19th century, made the first Cuban flag, our national symbol since the Constitution of Guáimaro in 1869. Later she continued to work for the independence of Cuba. This tribute is well-deserved; it’s good to acknowledge our history.
  2. The odd thing about this recognition of the flag is that it was restricted to the person who made it, while the man who designed it, ordered it to be made, brought it to Cuba, unfurled it for the first time in Cárdenas, Matanzas (19-May-1850), fought for it, and died for it by the garrote in Havana (1-September-1851), was ignored. I refer to General Narciso López.
  3. Narciso López, of Venezuelan origin, who married in Cuba and lived there and in exile in the USA, has been a divisive figure in the history of Cuba. Both praised and criticised in the time of the Republic, depending on the political swings, during this extended period of more than 50 years he has been: either completely forgotten as a patriot or demonised as a supporter of annexation.
  4. The interesting thing about Narciso López is that, although he lived in a time in which the desire for independence was not supreme, but rather the demand for annexation and reform, he was not an annexationist, and no historian, of the right or the left, has been able to show that he was with any credible evidence.
  5. There is something which should not be forgotten: Narciso López, Venezuelan born, trained as a soldier in the Spanish army, he planned and fought for the independence of Cuba, (he was a pioneer in this, 20 years before Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and the Cubans took to the hills), he raised on Cuban soil, for the first time, the national ensign, and he gave his life for her bravely. He was a man of his time (1798-1851) and he deserves honour and glory, and to take his rightful place in the history of the Cuban nation.

Translated by: Jack Gibbard

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