October 10, 1868, marked the beginning of Cuba's independence struggle. On this emblematic date, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, father of the homeland, on his sugar plantation La Demajagua, urged Cubans to rise up, and for the first time called for an end to slavery, inviting those he held to join the insurrection. This was the first day, as Fidel said, there is but one, and it was in the 19th century.

 Nonetheless, as different regions joined the struggle, disagreements emerged on the battlefield. With the uprising in Camagüey a month later, November 4 of 1868, two governments and two different flags existed in Free Cuba.

 Leaders in this region did not want to submit to the command of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, considering him dictatorial for demanding that his authority be respected, as the first to declare independence.

 Since the situation hurt the young insurrectional movement, as well as the prestige of the revolution internationally, it could not continue indefinitely.

 In April of 1869, the free people of Guáimaro were called to an assembly with representatives from the three departments in arms: Oriente, Las Villas and El Centro, as Camagüey was known at the time, to form a national government that would direct the entire Republic.

 Historians have documented that, despite the differences between leaders of the insurrection, their love for the homeland, and desire to win Cuba's independence at all costs, prevailed.

 This is how, six months into the war against Spanish colonialism, April19, 1869, with the signing of the Guáimaro Constitution, the homeland had law and the Liberation Army's order.

 Cuban researcher Lucilo Tejera Díaz - in an article published by ACN – notes that first constitution, negotiated and approved by a group of patriots in representation of the Cuban people, let the world know that the emancipation struggle was an urgent necessity and should be recognized.

 It demonstrated, moreover, the radical nature of the de facto process of abolishing slavery, since the Constitution asserted its legitimacy in the entire country, not only the insurgent territories.

 Although the implementation of the Guáimaro Constitution “was very limited, and in many cases a hindrance to the war of independence - given the interference of civilians in military affairs, indiscipline, and regionalism, that in the end led to the loss of the battle in that first liberation attempt - it did, yes, set the precedent for the future," he said.


 On March 24, 1895, Cubans again took up arms in what was called the Necessary War, to win their definitive independence from Spanish colonialism, which had been frustrated in the first attempt.

 The foundation of this new stage of the struggle was laid by the unity promoted by the Cuban Revolutionary Party, led by José Martí. However, with his death in battle just months later, May 19, disagreements emerged among the Mambises, putting at risk the effectiveness of different operations against the oppressor.

 Once again, expert Eduardo de Jesús Figueredo explained, in an article published by Radio Cadena Agramonte, it was necessary "to unite forces under a legal statute that supplied the tools for well-functioning actions directed toward overturning the Spanish colonial regime that disgraced our nation."

 The site chosen for the occasion was Jimaguayú, in the area "where on May 11, 1873, Major Ignacio Agramonte y Loynaz died, who bore the greatest share of responsibility for writing the Republic in Arms' first Constitution, born in Guáimaro, a few months after the Demajagua cry of liberty, in 1868."

 The Jimaguayú Constitution, approved September 16, 1895, created a platform to achieve the internal organization of the revolution. The most important part of the document was signed at this site in Camagüey, explained Figueredo, containing "adequate formulas to overcome contradictions in the civil-military command - that had caused so much damage in the Ten Years War - and adopted the appropriate ordering for war conditions."

 In Jimaguayú, the insurgents referred to the document drafted in Guáimaro, in 1869, to avoid repeating the same mistakes, for this reason, establishing a Government Council with administrative and legislative authority, while providing the military command with full autonomy, something that did not happen in the Ten Years War."

Also established in Article 24 was that "if the war against the Spanish colonial power is not won within two years, another Constituent Assembly must be convened."

 Thus, two years later, September 2, 1897, the Mambi Assembly was convoked with the goal of drafting a new Carta Magna and electing the Government Council that would lead the Republic in Arms for the next two years.


 In 1897, two years into the Necessary War, the struggle continued, and the Mambises were as determined as ever to win the island's independence.

Thus in accordance with the agreements reached in Jimaguayú, on October 10 of 1897, in the pasture La Yaya, 14 kilometers from Sibanicú and 53 kilometers from the city of Camagüey, 24 delegates, representing the insurgent army's six corps, met to sign a new constitution.

 La Yaya constituted a step back with respect to the preceding constitution, according to journalist Pedro García - in an article published in Bohemia magazine - since it determined that the Mambi government's secretary of war would be the highest ranking officer of the Liberation Army, which meant that the Commander in Chief would be under his orders.

 Thus reborn were "the contradictions between the Mambi military command and civil authorities, that had so damaged the war of 68," García wrote.

 The example of the Mambi constitutions continued to influence the years to come. With the United States military invasion during the War of Independence in 1898, the imminent victory of the Mambises over Spanish colonialism was frustrated. It was thus that representatives of the U.S. government on the island promoted the drafting of a Supreme Law for the “sovereign nation” that would allow Washington’s corridors of power to intervene in Cuba whenever they deemed appropriate.

 Although there was not much that could be done in the face of such humiliation, given the power exercised by the United States over the island at that time, the Mambises who had fought for the true independence and sovereignty of Cuba forcefully rejected the appendix to the Constitution of 1902, known as the Platt Amendment.

 The ideas of those Mambises were defended years later by the Cubans who drafted the most advanced Magna Carta of the Americas at the time: the 1940 Constitution, signed in Guáimaro on October 10 of that same year.

 According to lawyer, intellectual and politician Dr. Armando Hart, of course, "its most progressive measures were never implemented because the corrupted and subservient governments prevented it." However, "the subsequent struggle to enforce and respect it was the starting point of a process that would lead us to socialism."

 The next Constitution, signed years after the 1959 triumph of the Revolution, drew from that. As Pedro García explained in a Granma article, the Constitution of 1976, proclaimed on February 24 of that year, "was debated in each educational and work center, military unit, city block, farm and paddock; the people discussed the draft and made corrections and additions."

The democratic system in Cuba has not been a static process, but is in constant transformation due to its participatory nature, García noted.

 For this reason, Cuba today is the result of the perfecting of each Magna Carta over time, and its democratic system is a consequence of the priority interest of preserving achievements and perfecting them according to the historical moment.

 Taking as a reference this constitutional history, the Party Central Committee Fifth Plenum reported that studies are underway for a future reform of the Constitution, which should reflect the main economic, political and social transformations derived from the agreements of the 6th and 7th PCC Congresses, and the objectives of its First National Conference; and will reiterate the irrevocable nature of our socialism and the leading role of the Party in Cuban society. The reform will gather the experiences acquired during these years of Revolution, particularly in the organization and functioning of People’s Power bodies and the exercise of the fundamental rights of citizens.

 But after 150 years of Cuban constitutional history, the same interests of the first Mambises proclaimed in the hills will continue to be defended. The island’s independence and sovereignty remain the most cherished horizon.