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Antonio Maceo, "the Bronze Titan"
Entrepreneur, General

Born June 14, 1845, Antonio Maceo y Grajales became an entrepreneur and one of the greatest military commanders of the both the 1868 and the 1895 wars for independence. These wars were popularly known as "Maceo's War." His unmatched courage in combat and stalwart character were said to be Maceo's main assets in his meteoric military career. From a buck private he went up through the ranks to become second in command of the Liberation Army, also known by its Congo name, the Mambi Army.   Indeed, the Liberation Army was also known as Maceo's Army.  For a long time, he far eclipsed Jose Marti in importance, as Marti was abroad in exile and less well known in Cuba. 

The two most memorable episodes of Maceo's military life were the Baragua Protest, when he refused to surrender his weapons at the end of the Ten Years'War in 1878, and the East-to-West invasion he carried out 17 years later when a new war broke out in 1895.

The invasion is considered one of the most brilliant military feats of the 19th century. With a small army, Maceo unleashed the war throughout the island, using the machete as his main weapon. The invasion lasted three months and the insurgents fought all the way along 1,696 km.

When the final battle with the Spanish enemy was imminent, Maceo was killed in combat on December 7,1895. He was then 51 and had devoted 32 years of his life to the independence of Cuba. He had waged 900 combats, received 26 bullet wounds and had lost his father and several brothers in the war.

Maceo was also an entrepreneur and successful in his businesses. And he usually had a respectful ear in José Martí, his fellow martyr in the cause of independence.   Marti's letters to Maceo are always very reverent in tone, in contrast, say, to letters from various politicians to Frederick Douglass.  It is only later generations who have made Marti the more important figure, starting with Cuban intellectuals in the 1910's and 1920's who gathered his writings and created the legend of Marti.  Up until the Revolution, the two were always depicted together. As one senior - and widely respected - Cuban scholar put it in hushed tones, "those of us in the older generation remember when schools and factories had portraits of both Maceo and Marti. After the Revolution, only the portrait of Marti remained."

When Maceo's mother, Mariana Grajales Coello, learned of her son Antonio's death, she told his younger brother, "hurry up and grow up quickly, Cuba needs you!" She was in a line of great maroon women leaders in the Guantanamo area.

The Bakonfula

It is said that besides the overt command structure in the Mambi Army, there was a second one, Congo in origin, where Maceo was the Bakonfula (translated into Spanish as Mayordomo) and Quintin Bandera was the Tata Nkisi of the prenda that the Army took with them in the field. This prenda is now said to be with Quintin Bandera's family in Regla, Provincia Habana. Shortly after the war, in 1906, Quintin was assassinated and his aide de camp, Evaristo Estenoz, founded the Independents of Color in 1908 -- their centenary is celebrated in August, 2008.

It is also said that Marti pronounced his famous dictum, "More than white, more than black, we are Cubans" when he was vying with Maceo for control of the Mambi Army. He was aided in this by the Iberian contingent, who refused to think of Maceo as other than a heavyweight fighter, negating as best they could his active mind.

Maceo and Puerto Rico

In the memoirs of Antonio Maceo's doctor during the last  Cuban War of Independence in the 1890s, there is a passage about the Puerto Ricans who fought for Cuban independence, and the vision of Maceo to extend the struggle
to Puerto Rico:

“. . . muchos puertorriqueños han venido al campo insurrecto al conocer que en la base primera del  Partido Revolucionario Cubano se dice: 'El Partido Revolucionario Cubano se organiza para obtener por  medio de las armas la independencia de Cuba y auxiliar y fomentar la de Puerto Rico.'  Entonces el General [Antonio  Maceo] me dijo, en tono que demostraba profunda convicción y firmeza: 'Cuba, triunfadora en su empeño emancipador, no puede, por muchas razones, olvidar a la Isla hermana, Invadiremos a Puerto Rico y obtendremos su independencia'.” (p. 22).

Fernández-Mascaró, Guillermo. 1950. Ecos de la manigua (el Maceo que yo conocí). La Habana: P. Fernández. 24  pages.

Maceo and the Abakwá

According to Angel Guererro, in 1895, the year the Second War of Liberation began,  Antonio Maceo was betrayed in Havana, but the members of Bacoco Efo, an Abakwá potencia in Belen, of which Lino D'ou was a member, hid and protected him. Many Abakwá members fought in the Mambi Army and, for example, composed an elite corps in the Mambi Army from Matanzas.

Restauran casa natal de Antonio Maceo
Escrito por José Antonio Torres
viernes, 30 de octubre de 2009
Tomado de Sierra Maestra

La restauración del Museo Casa Natal de Antonio Maceo figura dentro de las acciones dirigidas a rescatar el patrimonio cultural de la Ciudad Héroe, y conmemorar el aniversario 113 de la caída en combate del artífice de la Protesta de Baraguá.

Fuerzas combinadas de la Oficina del Conservador de la Ciudad, el Centro Provincial de Patrimonio y la Oficina de Monumentos y Sitios Históricos reacondicionan el inmueble, que atesora amplia información sobre la familia Maceo-Grajales.

Yunaida Verdecia, directora del museo, señaló que la reparación incluye la parte estructural y la ampliación de las oficinas, pues el montaje de las cuatro salas de la instalación, se realizará atendiendo a la importancia de los documentos que muestran.


Fernández-Mascaró, Guillermo. 1950. Ecos de la manigua (el Maceo que yo conocí). La Habana: P. Fernández. 24 pages.

Foner, Philip S. 1977. Antonio Maceo: The "Bronze Titan" of Cuba's Struggle for Independence. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Franco, José Luciano. 1975. Antonio Maceo: apuntes para una historia de su vida. Tomo 1. La Habana: Editorial e ciencias sociales.

Maceo, Antonio. 1998/ 1952. Antonio Maceo, Ideología política, cartas y otros documentos. Vol. 1 (1870-1894), Vol. 2 (1895-1896). La Habana: Editorial de ciencias sociales. [original, 1952].

Che Guevara Speaks. "Tribute to Antonio Maceo." Ernesto Che Guevara. Recorded in Havana, December 7, 1962. Produced by Barbara Dane, released by Paredon Records in 1973 (P-1017). Released by Smithsonian CD, 2000-07-28.

"La Mejorana y la independencia cubana: Un choque de ideas y liderazgo entre José Martí y Antonio Maceo". Cuadernos de Historia Contemporánea, 1999, vol. 21, pp. 227-257. PDF, 2MB, Universidad Complutense Madrid, de Aline Helg


La Protesta de Baraguá

Antonio Maceo y Grajales: A “Titán” for all Races  3/1/2007 Islas: by Kenya C. Dworkin y Méndez.  Islas is funded by NED.

RegiRadio: Antonio Maceo World Recoginition (English)
Antonio Maceo unites ideas and action demanding independence and the total abolition of slavery in cuba during the protest of Baragua in 1878. The world recognizes those ideas -- a letter of the American Antislavery Society of april 17th of that year is evidence of that. Maceo predicted that the plantocracy would turn to the Americans for help in keeping AfroCubans in their place - and he said that was the only circumstance in which he would join forces with the Spaniards.

ANTONIO MACEO descendiente de africanos en Cuba ha demostrado brillantez en ideas, vision y accion a favor de la liberacion de los pueblos esclavizados y oprimidos. Esto ha quedado claro en la Protesta de Baragua cuando habia rehusado claudicar ante las posiciones discriminatorias del representante militar del poder colonial en 1878. El mundo admira a Antonio Maceo con beneplacito y esperanza. La carta de 17 de abril de la sociedad antiesclavista americana lo evidencia.

El "Código de Maceo", Tisingal, Armando Vargas Araya, 6/25/06. El bolivariano Maceo, su codigo militar.

Dialogue In Santiago De Cuba With Joel Mourlot Mercaderes On Antonio Maceo Y Grajales “Freedom Worker” by Eugène Godfried, 11/04

Dialogo En Santiago De Cuba Con Joel Mourlot Mercaderes: Antonio Maceo y Grajales, de Eugène Godfried, 11/04

La Protesta de Baragua: Culture and Popular Music Have the Last Word -- They Say What the Official Culture Can’t, 8/3/04, by Eugène Godfried

Cuban History Time Line

Antonio Maceo's birthplace

Antonio Maceo Timeline

Casal and Maceo: Art, War and Race in Colonial Havana

Centro de Estudios Antonio Maceo

III International Workshop: LOS MACEO; MEN FROM THE CARIBBEAN, 6/3-7/7/00

1   Ascendencia paterna de Antonio Maceo  
2   Ascendencia paterna de Antonio Maceo (parte II)  
3   Ascendencia paterna de Antonio Maceo (parte III)
4    Ascendencia paterna de Antonio Maceo (notas)  

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