Mexico’s Solidarity Has Awakened Our People’s Deepest Gratitude

By Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez on September 16, 2021, Mexico City

Cuban President Diaz Canel, photo@GobiernoMx

Speech by President of the Republic of Cuba Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez at the civic-military parade on the occasion of the celebrations for the anniversary of the 211th anniversary of Grito de Dolores and the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence.

Dear Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of the United Mexican States:

Distinguished guests:

Dear Mexico:

Thank you for the opportunity you give us to bring Cuba’s grateful embrace to your beautiful patriotic celebrations for that Grito de Dolores that awakened so much libertarian eagerness in our region more than 200 years ago.

Among all the brothers that Our America has given us, Mexico counts, for many reasons, as one of the most dear to Cuba. That affection that unites our lands begins with the dazzle caused by its deep and diverse traces in the Literature and History of America:

“How beautiful is the land inhabited by the brave Aztecs”, it says in the “Teocalli de Cholula”, by the Cuban José María Heredia, opening a fascinating door to that Mundo Nuestro, much earlier than that of the terrible conquest that would begin centuries later, with unrestrained slaughter and destruction, the Spanish troops coming from Santiago de Cuba, under the command of Hernán Cortes.

But no one will tell us more about Mexico than José Martí. I quote excerpts from his memorable speech delivered at the evening in honor of this country at the Hispanic American Literary Society in 1891: “(…) today we gather to pay honor to the nation girded with palm trees and orange blossoms that rises, like a flourish of glory, to the blue sky, the free summits where the whistle of the railroad awakens, crowned with roses as yesterday, with the health of work on the cheek, the indomitable soul that sparkled in the embers in the ashes of Cuauhtémoc, that never extinguished. We salute a people that melts, in the crucible of its own metal, the civilizations that were cast upon it to destroy it!”.

Later, referring to this significant date we commemorate today, he says: “…Three hundred years later, a priest (…) summoned his village to war against the parents who denied the life of soul to their own children; it was the hour of the Sun, when the adobe huts of the poor Indians were shining through the mulberry trees; and never, although veiled a hundred times by blood, has the sun of Hidalgo stopped shining since then! They hung in iron cages the heads of the heroes; the heroes bit the dust of a bullet in the heart; but on September 16 of every year, at the hour of dawn, the President of the Republic of Mexico cheers, before the people, the free homeland, waving the flag of Dolores”. End of quote.

Due to its characteristics, the Mexican independence process, which began with the Grito de Dolores, led by Father Miguel Hidalgo on a day like today in 1810, and was consummated 11 years later with the entrance of the Trigarante Army in Mexico City, had a notorious component of social and indigenous demands that differentiated it from other processes that typified the independence era. Its impact was, without a doubt, extraordinary in the libertarian and anti-colonialist struggle in our region and particularly in Cuba.

It gathered ancestral aspirations of entire peoples that inhabited the territory, not only in Mexico, but also in Central and South America and the Antilles; it vindicated all poor Creole sectors -black whites and mestizos- submerged in misery, hunger and exploitation and opposed black slavery.

The broad popular presence had a decisive influence in its radicalization and in the realization of important social and political demands, which constituted an immense inspiration and encouragement for our independence movement.

There are many notable Cubans who left their blood and their names in the history of Mexico. The Cuban solidarity in Mexico’s confrontation with the Texan invasions of 1835-1836 and the American invasion of 1846-48 stands out especially. The following generals stand out: Pedro Ampudia, Juan Valentín Amador, Jerónimo Cardona, Manuel Fernández Castrillón, Antonio Gaona, Pedro Lemus and Anastasio Parrodi.

In March 1854, the Cubans Florencio Villareal and José María Pérez Hernández launched the historic Ayutla Plan, which was decisive in the rupture of the Mexican army and society with the dictatorial government of General Santa Anna.

As confirmed by the prestigious researcher René González Barrios, several of those men held key positions in Mexican political-military life and were governors or military commanders in important places in the country.

Two of them, Major Generals Anastasio Parrodi and Pedro Ampudia Grimarest were Ministers of War and Navy in the government of Benito Juarez during the Reform War.

In the Congress, the Government, the exile or the War at Juarez’s side there were always Cubans. Prominent compatriots such as General Domingo Goicuría y Cabrera and poets Juan Clemente Zenea and Pedro Santacilia, who was his son-in-law, secretary and agent of the Republic of Cuba in Arms before the Mexican government, praised his magnificent work.

In the war against the French, the brothers Manuel and Rafael de Quesada y Loynaz, general and colonel respectively, served the Mexican army; the colonels Luis Eduardo del Cristo, Rafael Bobadilla and Francisco León Tamayo Viedman; the doctor commander Rafael Argilagos Gimferrer and captain Félix Aguirre. All of them would return to Cuba at the beginning of the Ten Years’ War.

Mexico was the first country to recognize our armed struggle and to open its ports to ships flying the Lone Star flag. The Congress approved it, Juarez signed it and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, the President of the Republic in Arms, thanked it in a memorable letter to his Mexican counterpart and I quote:

“…highly satisfactory that Mexico was the first nation in America to have thus manifested its generous sympathies to the cause of independence and freedom of Cuba…”.

One of the main tasks that Pedro Santacilia would then fulfill, with Juarez’s consent, was to send to Cuba a select group of Mexican soldiers to contribute to the formation and training of the nascent Liberating Army. The Mexicans shone in the fields of Cuba and their prowess inspired the troops and all those who heard about them.

Once again, the Father of the Cuban Homeland left a record of that dedication in a letter to the “Benemérito de las Américas” (Meritorious of the Americas). Céspedes writes: “…some Mexican gentlemen have come here and have shed their generous blood on our soil and for our cause, and the whole country has shown its gratitude for their heroic action…”.

Two of those brave Mexican soldiers, veterans of the War of the Reform and the struggle against the French Empire, reached the rank of Brigadier General of the Cuban Liberation Army and were part of the cadre of its main chiefs: José Inclán Risco and Gabriel González Galbán.

Dear friends:

For that endearing memory that we share, we shudder and are inspired by these acts that revere history and we return again and again on every line written for Mexico by José Martí, who forever links our two nations in all his work, but especially in the letters to his great Mexican friend Manuel Mercado.

It is also to that soul friend to whom he leaves in an unfinished letter, his resounding political testament: the will consecrated to the objective of “preventing in time, with the independence of Cuba, the United States from spreading through the Antilles and falling, with that force more, on our lands of America”.

Years before, on his way to Veracruz, he wrote: “O beloved Mexico, O adored Mexico, see the dangers that surround you, hear the cry of a son of yours who was not born of you! To the North, an avaricious neighbor is curdling (…) You will be ordered: you will understand; you will be guided: I will have died, O Mexico for defending and loving you!”.

Here the young communist Julio Antonio Mella died for the Revolution, assassinated in a street of this same city where Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro would meet, years later, through his brother Raul.

It was here that the young people of the Centennial Generation trained and organized their expedition. Here they forged friendships and affections that still endure and were immortalized in a song that is like a hymn of those epic times: “La Lupe” by Juan Almeida Bosque.

From that Mexican period, among many others, the names of María Antonia González, Antonio del Conde, El Cuate, a key figure in the acquisition of the Granma yacht, Arsacio Venegas and Kid Medrano, professional wrestlers who gave physical training to the troops, Irma and Joaquina Vanegas, who offered their house as a camp, remain forever in Cuban history.

The passage of Fidel and his companions through Mexico left a deep impression on the future expeditionaries of the Granma and an accumulation of legends everywhere that are still spoken of with admiration and respect.

We will never forget that thanks to the support of many Mexican friends, the Granma yacht set sail from Tuxpan, Veracruz, on November 25, 1956. Seven days later, on December 2, the newborn Rebel Army descended from that historic vessel to liberate Cuba.

Nor do we forget that only a few months after the historic triumph of the Revolution in 1959, General Lázaro Cárdenas visited us. His willingness to stand by our people after the mercenary invasion of Playa Giron in 1961, marked the character of our relations.

Faithful to its best traditions, Mexico was the only Latin American country that did not break off relations with revolutionary Cuba when we were expelled from the OAS by imperial mandate.

Throughout the years, we have never broken what history has indissolubly united. Our two countries have honored their sovereign policies, regardless of the closeness or distance between governments. A very Mexican principle prevails: respect for the rights of others is peace.

There is unquestionable merit in those who have dedicated life and energy, heart and soul, to nurture that brotherhood with the tenderness of peoples. I pay tribute here to the sustained, invariable, passionate and firm solidarity that we always find in this land, which all Cubans must love as our own.

It was said by the Cuban Apostle, who also drew with his colorful prose a faithful portrait of this generous people when he affirmed: “As from the root of the land comes to the Mexican that character of his, shrewd and stately, attached to the country he adores, where by the double work of the magnificent Nature and the brilliant touch of the legend and the epic, the order of the real and the romantic feeling come together in their rare measure”.

From those words until today, the common heritage raised by an infinite list of prestigious intellectuals and artists of both nations has not ceased to grow. We are united by literature, cinema, visual arts, bolero and mambo.

It could be said that the significant cultural exchange between Mexico and Cuba reaches all manifestations of culture in its broadest sense, since the relationship is no less influential in sports, especially baseball and boxing, where the connection is so natural and deep that at times the exact origin of works and events is lost and we must conclude that it comes from both.


For those and other reasons that do not fit in a necessarily brief speech, it is a great honor to participate in the military parade commemorating the beginning of the struggle for Mexico’s independence and to express our feelings before your government and your people.

I do so conscious that it is recognition of the historical ties and brotherhood existing between Mexico and Cuba, a genuine token of appreciation, affection and respect that I deeply appreciate on behalf of my people.

The decision to invite us has an immeasurably greater value, at a time when we are suffering the onslaught of a multidimensional war, with a criminal blockade, opportunistically intensified, with more than 240 measures, in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic that has such dramatic costs for everyone, but particularly for the less developed countries.

We are facing, in parallel, an aggressive campaign of hate, disinformation, manipulation and lies, mounted on the most diverse and influential digital platforms, which ignores all ethical limits.

Under the fire of that total war, Mexico’s solidarity with Cuba has awakened in our people a greater admiration and the deepest gratitude.

Allow me to tell you, Mr. President, that Cuba will always remember your expressions of support, your permanent demand for the lifting of the blockade and for the annual United Nations vote to be converted into concrete deeds, something that your country has fulfilled in an exemplary manner towards our people.

We are deeply grateful for the aid received in medical supplies and food to alleviate the combined effects of the economic harassment and the pandemic.

Sisters and brothers:

In the face of the complex epidemiological situation facing the world, solidarity and cooperation among our peoples takes on greater significance.

For this reason, our health professionals and technicians did not hesitate to accompany the Mexican people whenever necessary. And we will do it again whenever they need it.

We recognize the excellent work carried out by Mexico at the head of the Pro Tempore Presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, a mechanism of genuine Latin American and Caribbean vocation aimed at defending the unity in the diversity of Our America, in the face of the neoliberal recolonization project that is trying to be imposed on us.

As expressed by Fidel in a Cuban-Mexican Friendship Act held on August 2, 1980: “We will bear nothing against Mexico! We will feel it as our own, we will know how to be faithful to the friendship forged by centuries of history and beautiful common principles!

Long live Mexico!

Long live the friendship between Cuba and Mexico!

Source: Cubadebate, unofficial translation by Resumen Latinoamericano – English