Cuban Revolutionary Leader
Carlos Baliño was a unique Cuban revolutionary leader. His life spanned two centuries. He was born in 1848, the year that Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels issued the Communist Manifesto. This page is a selection of his writings, translated to English for the first time by Ana Portela, to bring his life and work work to the attention of a broader international audience.
Together with Jose Marti, he was a founder, in 1892, of the Cuban Revolutionary Party. He later became a founder of Cuba's earliest socialist political organizations. He actively supported the Russian Revolution of 1905. He rallied to support the Russian Revolution of 1917, and became a staunch advocate of its ideas. In 1925, he was one of the founding members of Cuba's first Communist Party, together with Julio Antonio Mella and Fabio Grobart and others.
This page is dedicated to this remarkable man and is an introduction to his life and work. In time I hope to provide additional writings by Carlos Baliño. Here you will find an essay he wrote on the Black struggle in the United States in 1922. An earlier article, written in 1889, THIS IS THE ROAD TO TAKE, discusses the concept of socialist agitation and makes special reference to the struggle against slavery in the United States.
We also have the obituary to him in the cigar workers union journal, to which he had frequently contributed. Then, a memorial lecture about Baliño by Blas Roca (Rafael Calderio) General Secretary of the Popular Socialist Party, the name which the pre-Revolutionary Communist Party took after its legalization in the late 1930s. It served as the principal introduction to an anthology of his writings published in 1976. Then, a series of quotations from Jose Marti about Baliño. Finally, a chronology of Baliño's most remarkable life.
Carlos Baliño, like Marti, spent long years in exile in the United States and was fully fluent in English. He wrote extensively in English and translated important political works from English into Spanish, as well as writing in the left and Communist press during his lifetime.
These texts come from an anthology of Baliño's writings, CARLOS BALIÑO: Documents and Articles,Published by the Instituto de Historia del Movimiento Comunista y de la Revolución Socialista de Cuba, 1976.
Edited and prepared for the web by Walter Lippmann, December 2004.
by Carlos Baliño, 1922
Men who hold a
fervent belief in human dignity in their hearts and who have lived for many
years in the United States, going deeply into the life and customs of that
country, have suffered a moral torture and bitter deception observing the
spectacle of the monstrous treatment inflicted by white men on those of a black
Among the whites of the South an abhorrent social moral principle was set down: "The black man has no rights that the white man is forced to respect".
The law of castes was included in this synthesis. The black person reduced to the condition of a pariah. Without a right to life, absolutely no rights and restricted to the wife, with nor authority over the children. At the same time that the arrogance and harshness of the white man was offensive, the debasement and servility of the Black man was upsetting. One felt ashamed of belonging to the human species.
For the Cuban it was a reason of legitimate pride to compare the social life of that people, considered a model of democracy, paragon of justice, the shining light that teaches the peoples to be free and happy, carrying this leprosy in the blood, this cancer in its bowels and the social life of our people where the races mixing and brought together in the workshops and countryside.
Sometimes we looked at a painting of Washington mounting a horse and his Black slave holding the stirrups for him and we thought: "Ah yes! Washington was a great liberator of whites, but our teachers, our Apostles, our warriors were liberators of blacks and whites.
In the workshops, the revolutionary clubs, expeditionary ships, in the field of our battle, in the forest, the colors and races are confused, joined by the sublime communion of heroism and martyrdom, the dying white man rests on the strong and generous chest of the black man, with dying eyes looking to the heavens of Cuba, as witness of that fraternity that they bequeathed to its people, sealed by the kiss of death and forever untouchable.
Here we do not have to feel indignant of a white man's arrogance and harshness, nor must we feel depressed by a debasement and servility of the black man.
But, my intention was to talk of the new American Negro.
The slave owners were not the only ones who relegated the Negro to the condition of a pariah. The whites of the exploited class, the wretched slaves of a salary, left behind in the march forward of the proletariats of the world, systematically excluded the man of dark skin form their unions, who often broke the strikes of those who unjustly ignored them.
Trying to find a light in these dark shadows, a tailor from Philadelphia, Uriah Stephens, gathered his colleagues, and those seven men, and those seven men, conscious of the power of suggestion of the secret societies for the Americans with their symbols and rites, organized the Knights of Labor order, with three degrees and a ritual chock full of teachings. In the door of the meeting houses, a sphere was hung signifying "universal organization" because here, regardless of nationality, sex or color.
Soon the Order spread throughout the American Union and for the first time, Blacks and Whites were intermixed in workers meetings.
When the great convention of Richmond was held, 800 delegates gathered representing the 800 000 members the Order had, by that time.
The author of this paper was the only Cuban delegate and represented the Knights of Labor from Florida.
An incident occurred there that is worthy of mentioning because it marked a new stage in the American workers movement. Representing the number 49 District Assembly of New York were seventy delegates, intelligent and advanced workers. Among them was the eloquent socialist, Victor Drury and only one Black man, a machinist named Frank Farrell. In the first hotel they requested accommodation they were told that they would gladly accept sixty nine white delegates but under no conditions would they accept the black man. After touring several hotels with the same results they all decided to stay and a poor little hotel of Blacks where they were rather uncomfortable because they could not accept the fact that the Black comrade had been barred.
Since then, the ill fated race prejudice between white and black workers in the United States has begun to disappear to the extent that there are only one or two unions that do not accept black workers. These are the unions of the railroads and soon, they must bow to the pressure of the other railroad unions and erase that hateful division.
But the American black workers has taken long to approach the organizations from which they had been barred. The legacy of slavery, the persecutions and ill treatment have made him mistrust the white comrade.
But the time will come for all those who were on knees to stand high.
An admirable woman, Mrs. Randall, an American, one of those chosen souls who only live in the heights of moral grandeur, in love with justice, consecrated to the service of human freedom and, coincidentally, of great fortune, spent a large part of her capital and energies to the abolitionist propaganda when, in the North of the American Union, a legion of apostles and self sacrificing agitators decided to down with blows that somber Bastille that was called slavery of the Black.
Mrs. Randall had the great satisfaction of seeing direct slavery abolished but the satisfaction was short lived because in a few years that noble woman understood that slavery had only changed in form, that direct slavery in the plantations had been substituted by indirect slavery in the workshops and mines, the slavery of the salary.
She was not disheartened with the pessimism that falls on the weaker persons. She thought that humanity would have to move to another stage and she quickly gave her cooperation to the socialist movement as soon as it began to take root in the United States. That cooperation has been and is invaluable.
As Mrs. Randall understood, the socialists were abolitionists of indirect slavery and that efficient support could be given by teaching the minds and awakening the conscience. She set aside a considerable part of her capital to set up a foundation to broadly cover the costs of a school of socialism. That is the origin of the "Randall School" that functions today in New York with a body of distinguished professors and has more than five thousand students. Many thousands of socialists have graduated from the Randall School to spread the idea of human redemption by all means, from the press to tribunes.
The American capitalists, through their faithful servants in the Government have begun a fierce campaign against the school that they view as "as an armed force with the claws of a lion opening the wings of the archangel" and threaten to destroy the social regime funded in the exploitation of man by man. Already some actions have been committed to weaken the rights granted by the constitution of that country.
As part of the faculty of that school are two brilliant Black men: Chandler Owen and A. Philip Randolph.
These two public champions in New York City publish a monthly journal entitled "The Messenger". The publication prints articles for people of color and its mission is to raise up the great mass of American blacks subjugated by a servile humiliation in which they have lived up to now. It calls on men of their race to fight decidedly against the lynching of blacks and not permit blacks to be killed like pigs, to sell their lives dearly; at the same time it calls on them to join the organized workers who accept them in their meetings and, above all, the join the socialist movement for the final redemption of all the oppressed and abused.
We quote the following paragraph from their brave publication:
WORKERS AND LYNCHINGS
"A Black workers organizer, from Bogalusa, state of Louisiana, was save by his white comrades from being lynched by a mob of white ruffians of the so-called "League of Loyalty". The black man had been actively organizing the workers in the timber felling to demand a raise in salary, a reduction of the work day and improved conditions of work. The owners pointed to him as an agitator who promoted racist uprisings. Three white workers lost their lives trying to save the live of a black comrade".
To avoid lengthening this article more, the brave journal of comrades Owen and Chandler, their commentaries will not be added at this moment.
The regenerating propaganda spreads like a new gospel among the worker masses that have been divided up to now by backward concerns. We feel a breath of fire that crosses the Atlantic that shakes and moves the multitudes deeply, who approaches and receives men of all races joining them to the invincible movement and prepares them for when the time comes for the supreme battle shoulder to shoulder for an ideal of freedom, fraternity and justice, for the socialist ideal.
Espartaco. Revista Ilustrada. Año 1, Havana, October 1922.
March 3, 1889
THIS IS THE ROAD TO TAKE
A new leader has just appeared in the journalistic arena of Key West whose title is La Tribuna del Trabajo that will dedicate its pages to the defense of the workers economic and social interests of that locality and will lend support, it claims, to the progressive march of all workers organizations in the world.
We wish our colleague a rich life and unable to resist the temptation, we copy the following article by our dear comrade, Carlos Baliño for whom and avoiding hurting his peculiar modesty, there is no other phrase to utter but: This is the road. It's the way to begin.
Here then is the article we referred to:
"To all measure of reform, to all progressive movement, to every step humanity takes, on the road to improvement there necessarily precedes a period of agitation. It is the job of the agitators, a scarce minority at the beginning, to plant in the spirits a discontent regarding the existing order and a wish to achieve a change of things. "It seems that approximately one thousand nine hundred ago, an agitator appeared in Judea, a vagabond, an eccentric. He strongly spoke out against the powerful of the earth; loved the low born, ate with the publicans and the sinners and beat the merchants out of the temple.
"The State and Church authorities came out against him; a gentleman who loved legality and order, called Judas Iscariot, handed him over for thirty silver pieces; this same miscreant who he loved called for his death; one of his disciples denied him three times - to avoid being in difficulties - and who at the end was nailed to the cross between two thieves. "The doctrine of that vagabond agitator produced a change in the ancient world. If he were to appear, today, among us to evict the merchants from the temple, the police would put him in shadows and the circumspect press would denounce him as a dangerous socialist.
"At the end of the last century, many agitators took advantage of the hunger of the people of Paris to pave the way for a revolution. They showed the masses the contrast of their misery with the insolent luxury of the aristocrats; they fanned the growing threatening wave of discontent until one day, the people tore down the Bastille and danced on its rubble; another day it overthrew the age old throne and another day beheaded the person who ruled by divine right.
"The great French revolution overthrew feudalism and emancipated the feudal serfs but it did not emancipate the serfs of the workshops; but thanks to this, the masses of Europe are not prohibited from reading, and reading they would get ready to abolish industrial slavery.
"Approximately half a century ago a small group of visionary men in the States of the North of the Union, gave no respite to the horrible institution of slavery. They planted discontent in their spirits regarding existing order and an institution safe guarded by the laws of the country.
"These agitators came to mortally wound the interests created in the shadows of the constitution and the laws and the North that same North united its shouts of condemnation to the roar of ire spat by the slave owners of the South. That heroic group did not waver. The voices of Wendell Phillips and Theodore Parker were loud and clear and vibrant like an alarm bell; Garrison, jailed in the Libby prison accused of agitations, did the same as soon as he was on the streets; dragged by a rope by the streets of Boston for being an agitator; Harriet Beecher Stowe lifted with one hand the brilliant purple cloak that covered the republic and with the other she showed the moral cancer that ate at its entrails; Horace Greeley wielded his pen, that cut like a sword; and John Brown, the wackiest of all the agitators, went to the scaffolds to win over followers with the spectacle of his martyrdom.
"Slavery was abolished thanks to those agitators who planted discontent in the spirits.
"In our days a deeper agitation is being carried out, vaster, more transcendental than all that preceded it in history. It has to do with returning the heritage to the disinherited; of giving them possession of the patrimony that had been taken from them; of emancipating the workers and assuring them of a full enjoyment of the wealth it creates with his arms or his intelligence and the modern agitators plant discontent in the masses; showing them the injustice, the iniquity, that are the foundation to the present order of things.
"The degree to which worker's agitation has advanced is clearly explained by the eminent professor, Felix Adler in the following words: ´Europe is standing over a volcano, and it will be difficult for the United States escape this fate. If we do not begin a voluntary reform, we will be browbeaten in our common sense and sense of justice´.
"However, while Europe sits on a volcano and the muted roar is heard in the world presaging great social changes, there are places, uniquely located in the territory of the United States where a large part of the workers are not keenly aware of the social question and its immense importance, like the Egyptian mummy that sleeps the sleep of centuries the in graves of the Pharaoh.
"When the popular elections of Germany amazes and surprises the world with the magnitude of the socialist vote and Bismarck confesses to the world that a social revolution is approaching, speak of socialism to your work comrades, and they will answer with force: ´Ah, socialism is a very beautiful thing but will take about one to two thousand years to appear. In the mean time the poor will always be poor, And anyway, we have enough with political freedom´. Others are so shocked of socialism and of socialists, recalling those slave children in the plantations of the South who had been taught by their masters to fear abolition and by merely mentioning it they hid shivering in the cabins.
"Meanwhile progress will continue with or without us but instead of leaving it to blind fate and await being dragged by the force of the group, men of good will should join ranks and move forward and contribute with their effort to the emancipating propaganda and to the realization of our common ideal."
Fragment of a
delivered by Carlos Baliño
Thomasville, Georgia on April 10, 1892
"We come to found a new colony of émigrés in Thomasville and, setting up our tents on the beautiful hills of Georgia, our first thought must be for our captive and beloved homeland that waits for her sons to fulfill their sacred duty of redemption. Here, without submitting to neither pressure by anything and anyone, nor even the pressure of public opinion, with no pressure but the feeling of duty and dignity in our consciences. We must shoulder the task of redemption entrusted to all; we must organize in a patriotic club, join the Cuban Revolutionary Party and be prepared to answer the call of duty. We do not want to feel ashamed thinking that, while our exiled brothers embrace sacrifice, we deny it shielded by isolation and distance, as if leaving for others stronger to make a free and independent homeland for us."
The fall of the
Boletin del Cigarrero
Havana, July 1926
It is difficult to define the revolutionary figure of comrade Baliño, whose austerity, for sixty years dedicated to service in the ranks of the proletariat, placing him above all considerations and as comrades dominated by affection, we could pay homage filled with admiration and respect to this staunch revolutionary who on the 19th of this month went to his final resting place after fulfilling all the duties his conscience imposed on him.
EL BOLETIN DEL CIGARRERO, was his beloved tribunal through which his restless pen, vibrant in rebelliousness set down, in clear diction and precise guidance of the teacher who more than once witnessed proletariat success and steps forward, nurtured the Cuban workers movement with his rich and solid intelligence.
He was not only a writer of fluid prose, strong, offensive who knew how to mortify the oppressors of the fettered class but, also, a sweet poet, the inspired and tender poet, of lofty feeling who had the satisfaction and pride of the rebel of making his melodious notes vibrate in his incorruptible lire, feeling the pain, the virtues and restless soul of the oppressed.
The vacant post comrade Baliño leaves will be very difficult to fill; his activity was immense; his counsel is already missed; the proletariat has lost one of it best servants. We do not dare to speak of Baliño; even after his death we are not capable of dedicating praise that he would consider exaggerated; he was the modesty and merit incarnate in a superior man, enemy of receiving prizes or awards for what he considered was his duty, what had to be done, for the satisfaction of his conscience.
The proletariat of Cuba will always remember comrade Baliño; his kindhearted feelings, his deep admiration of the old fighters, were the ever fresh flowers, offers of love and affection that he placed on the tombs where a poet, a fair man, a rebel who lived only for the freedom of his class, rests, for whom he always had a fertile mind, his unselfish soul of a poet and his unselfish heart, that always beat like the strings of the lute for noble actions, for the concerns of the proletariat. One less rebel, an oak tumbles to the ground because of the years, but there is a symbol, a model of abnegation, an example of activity, of loyalty; an oak has fallen but the tomb remains for those who lost faith mid way can recover strength and learn to feel for an ideal, observing the life and examples of the man who lies there with the tranquility of the just. That modest tomb, simple, like the man who is buried there, will be our proletariat temple, and if sometime weakness makes us step back let us remember Carlos Baliño, remember his sixty years of service, a work that can now be given its full worth.
The workers of Cuba and specially the communists have lost one of their best militants.
An oak has fallen but the new buds are yet to be seen …
Havana, July 1926
IN REMEMBRANCE OF CARLOS BALIÑO
By Blas Roca
Speech delivered by Blas Roca in homage to the memory of Carlos Baliño on
the 97th anniversary of his birth, held in Guanajay on February 13, 1943.
Today, Guanajay is celebrating a great event of historical vindication. On a day such as this a great man was born on February 13, 1848, ignored by history but whose memory should be remembered by all the Cubans, all patriots, by all people who love freedom and progress.
On February 13, 1848, Carlos Benigno Baliño was born in the villa of Guanajay. There he lived his early years; here he played and grew; here he did his first writings and published his first poems; here he forged his character; her he first became conscious of justice, of freedom and of human progress.
His father, Carlos J. Baliño, an architect and engineer, settled in Guanajay for many years. He was a patriot and showed the road to his son. Cuban by birth, from an early age he learned to love the liberty of his country and to fight for it; and he was deported to the island of Fernando Poo (Bioko) by the Spanish government, accused of conspiring for the independence of Cuba.
BALIÑO, THE WRITER
Dolores López, is a magnificent example of womanhood. Her first son, Carlos
Baliño, as often happens was his mother's favorite. A loving woman, full of
admiration for her son who she watched grow noble and generous, intelligent and
strong, she has left for us many of his first steps in life, devotedly keeping
the Guanajay newspapers that published his first articles. and that, today,
yellowed and falling to pieces, reached us through her children.
The first writings by Baliño, poetry or prose, are really noteworthy. His first literary writings, even in the environment when the were written, even with the narrowness of the newspapers that were his framework, reveal his passion for justice, his love of freedom and progress, the kindness of his soul. In Guanajay, in the time of Carlos Baliño, at least three newspapers were published: El Alacrán, El Fénix and La Crítica. In all Carlos Baliño was a constant collaborator.
I want to read some paragraphs of an article published in El Fénix of Guanajay on November of 1866 when Carlos Baliño was only 18 years old, to show you, in these few words, the brilliance of his literary style, the high concept of justice in his mind:
Gold! Gold! Vile goal! Exclaims a sentimental romanticist! Vile metal, gold, he? Poor gold that offends no one. I believe that what is vile is not the metal but the man who sells himself for the metal.
But they call it vile because the poor thing cannot defend itself. If it could talk, How many curious stories it would tell to defend itself! A.D. Eustaquio is asked why he has taken his son from school so early. Because he has reached a point, he answers, where if he continue in School he will more than me and I don't think that children should know more than their fathers.
D. Eustaquio is right.
D. Eustaquio reasons like a blockhead.
If the next generation manages to know more than the past generation , Where would we end up?
The horses of the carriage of progress would bolt and, good-bye tranquility, good-bye sweet status quo!
D. Eustaquio is a man of solid principles. He has never dug in an American plough, nor any foreign machinery in the land he inherited from his grandparents.
He and his sons and the sons of his sons will continue in the footsteps of their ancestors.
And Zorilla, if he returns to Cuba would celebrate in a legend his deep love of traditions.
Carlos Baliño wrote this when he was only 18 years old, revealing in these short paragraphs his clear intelligence, solid culture, but more than that, his love for progress, his criticism of everything that was treasonable to the true concept of a free man.
HIS WORK AND STRUGGLE
his love for Cuba, the influence of his father, who he followed, instilled the
watchfulness of the Spanish Government, the persecution and, finally, in 1869,
he has to depart from the port of Matanzas, strongly pursued and ends up in New
Orleans, in exile, to search for a field of greater freedom from which to
continue his battle for the progress of the country and of man.
In New Orleans, recently graduated architecture with honors, he has to work in an assembly line. Later he moves to Tampa and learns the tobacco trade but doesn't stay in that job for long; he rolls slowly and doesn't earn enough to live on and learns the craft of choosing leaves, a job that shows off his abilities and deeply takes root in the habits of his lifetime.
He doesn't stop his struggle in the workshop but goes at it more intensely and consciously. As a worker he organizes his comrades to confront the ambitious bosses who impose miserable conditions of existence. Tireless battler, a day doesn't go by that a newspaper or magazine publishes one of his vibrant and clear articles, influencing conscience in the minds of his compatriots, planting the seed that is growing and flowering today in his homeland and in the world.
The persecution of the bosses does not let him live calmly in Tampa and must constantly move; fired from every workshop where he organized the struggle; he travels most of the southern states of the United States with the woman who would be his companion for the rest of his life and the mother of his children, Dolores del Corral, to whom he dedicates the most inspired and beautiful verses that he wrote in his youth.
Thus, he learns in
the struggle, the history of humanity and learns the theory of Marxism.
Convinced and firmly, he becomes a socialist much before Cuba is independent and
much before that there were the possibility of organizing a Socialist Party of
the workers in Cuba.
He is not satisfied with dreaming of the socialist ideal; he is not satisfied of dreaming of the day the workers will be free of all oppressions and exploitation. He know he has a commitment to Cuba; he knows he has a commitment to his father who died as a result of the persecutions of Spanish colonialism. He knows he has a commitment to the people that saw him born. He knows that this struggle is, above all, for the independence of his homeland and devotes all his energies to the goal of independence without forgetting to increase his knowledge of Marxism and influencing, with his socialist faith, the Cuban and American workers with whom he makes contact.
Fighting for independence, he organizes Cuban clubs that would support, in 95, the revolutionary work of Martí. With him, he forms the Cuban Revolutionary Party in 1892 in Key West as a precise instrument for organizing the necessary war that would bring us freedom and independence, with the sacrifice of the Cuban people. As a curiosity I would like to include a certification given by Manuel Patricio Delgado who was the Secretary of the Agency of the Cuban Revolutionary Party in Florida. It goes as follows:
Manuel Patricio Delgado, Secretary of what was the Agency of the Cuban Revolutionary Party in Key West, in the state of Florida.
I hereby certify that I knew Carlos Benigno Baliño in the above mentioned locality during the years prior to the founding of the Cuban Revolutionary Party; that said Carlos Baliño was one of the Cuban patriots and proven who, meeting with the citizen José Martí on the 5th and 6th of January of 1892, agreed and approved the Bases for the Cuban Revolutionary Party; that on March seventeen of that year and in a meeting held above the "San Carlos" Institute, the agreements of the previous preparatory junta were definitively approved and appearing in this act and as founding member of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, the citizen Carlos B. Baliño who, in a session on April 8 of the mentioned year, citizen José Martí was elected as Delegate and citizen Benjamín Guerra as treasurer of the Cuban Revolutionary Party and in the said election and as President of the Club "Francisco Vicente Aguilera" Carlos Baliño took part approving his credentials as President that in the session held by the Council of Presidents of Key West on May 1st of 1892 and due to the illness of citizen José Dolores Poyo, President of the Council and by agreement of the majority of Presidents, Carlos Baliño was designated in that Council of Presidents held on May 15 to occupy the post of Secretary pro tempore, the above mentioned Baliño.
He was also a member of the "Patria y Libertad" Club ascribed to the Cuban Revolutionary Party, I also certify that on August 31 of the same year and in session of the body of Councils of Presidents, a project of the Finance Committee was submitted to a Committee in which citizen Carlos B. Baliño was present as President of the "Francisco Vicente Aguilera" Club. I also certify that citizen Carlos Baliño was named President of the Council of Key West in a session of July 17 of the year mentioned so profusely, a post he occupies during the absence from the locality of José D. Poyo, more precisely, until the 31st of the same month, where the latter occupied the Presidency, said that on the following month of August or September , citizen Carlos Baliño was leaving for Tampa; that in said locality he communicated with the President of the Body of the Council of Key West requesting that the Club "Francisco Vicente Aguilera" not be dissolved; a communication that was sent to the Treasurer and Secretary of the mentioned Club. That the information set down I have taken from the Book of Acts of the Local Council of the Presidents of Key West of the Cuban Revolutionary Party in my possession.
To be delivered to the citizen Fidelia Baliño y del Corral, I issue the present document in Arroyo Naranjo, Havana on the twentieth day of April of nineteen twenty eight.
Manuel Patricio Delgado.
FRIEND OF MARTI
with a scarce mention of the events and words of Martí who calls Carlos Baliño
"the Cuban with a heart of gold", are sufficient to demonstrate the
enormous patriotic work he did while in exile. Martí, in a memorable article,
highlights the personality of Carlos Baliño, his work through the clubs, his
patriotic words calling the Cubans to action and battle, his vast support of the
fight being prepared in our soil.
Néstor Carbonell, on occasion of his death in 1926, wrote the following words that summarize the patriotic work of Carlos Baliño:
"Friend of Martí, revolutionary émigré, he was one of the signers in 1892 of the document of constitution of the Revolutionary Party in Key West. There in the sands of Florida, nest of builder and self sacrificing patriotism, there he worked, during the propaganda phase and last war to raise the beloved and reviled country from the colonial quagmire. He never faltered nor complained, nor did he show tiredness in the quiet work of knitting the soul of the country, penny by penny, shoulder to shoulder. Because he was a knitter. Writer and orator, his clear word, his pondered statements, were listened to with enthusiasm and respect. More than an association, more than a Club, placed in his pure hands the banner; in his hands never extended to ask for charity or change the privileges he bestowed. Many speeches and articles of patriotic propaganda form the collection of newspapers of those times where, to give himself to the homeland, was the only wish that maintained the spirit of the Cuban émigrés. If he had disappeared then, a banner would be draped on his coffin, over the body of a soldier killed in the battlefield.
SOCIALIST WORKERS PARTY OF CUBA
This is the patriotic work of Carlos Baliño. With the independence he returns to Cuba. After the failure of the attempts of Diego Vicente Tejera of organizing a workers party, in 1905 Baliño founds the Club of Socialist Propaganda. The organizers of the Workers Party that exists since 1904 believe that the Cuban workers are not prepared to accept a socialist program and simply work towards immediate reforms and claims. Carlos Baliño works tirelessly. His vibrant pen writes constant articles and letters begin to arrive at the Organizing Committee of the Workers Party, from the fields and villages requesting the organization to adopt a socialist program. Finally, Carlos Baliño prepared the socialist program that is adopted by the Workers Party in December of 1905 and the name changed to the Socialist Workers Party of Cuba, the first in our country on just bases of revolutionary Marxism with the fundamental orientation of Carlos Baliño.
It is interesting to recall now the writings of Carlos Baliño. The words are pertinent to these times. In 1905 our workers movement was not developed in any way. We only had the embryos of the movement that grows today. And, however, at that time, Carlos Baliño with a solid Marxist culture could concentrate in a few words the entire program of complete liberation of the workers, the program that would free man from the slavery of a salary, the program that assures for each worker jobs, for each campesino land, for each citizen justice and freedom.
Here are the
important words of this eminent son of Guanajay:
Considering the unfairness of this society that divides its members in unequal and antagonistic classes; one, that owns all is the dominant class and the other, that owns nothing is the dominated class.
Considering that the victim of economic exploitation is the proletariat, is the main cause of this slavery that transforms into social impoverishment, intellectual degradation and political dependence.
Considering that the unfair privileges of the haves is guaranteed by the political Power to the detriment and damages of the have-nots.
And, since need, reason and justice demand the disappearance of inequality and antagonisms between social classes, transforming the social status from which they come.
Therefore, this cannot be obtained until the private or corporate property of the means of production, that are the lands, mines, machines, factories, transportation, capital, etc. becomes the common property of the entire society.
Therefore, to tear down the obstacles opposed to the welfare of the proletariat class, political power is an important factor that the bourgeoisie uses for its own purposes to drown out the aspirations of the workers.
The Workers Party of Cuba aspires that:
The possession of political Power by the working class. The conversion of individual and corporate property in collective or common property. That the society be organized on the bases of an economic federation, guaranteeing all its members the full value of their work, as well as the right to use the tools of work and that special scientific general education be granted to individuals of both sexes. The society is responsible to satisfy the needs of all those that, because of age or illness, cannot work. And, a final point is the complete emancipation of the proletariat abolishing social classes and have only one were the workers are the beneficiaries of the fruits of their work, free, honest, intelligent and equal.
THE ORGANIZING COMMITTEE
From the Socialist Workers Party, Carlos Baliño directs important battles of the Cuban workers. He is at the front in a strike and protest. He is in the workshop, calling on the workers; he is read in the newspapers, bulletins, manifestoes, magazines, pamphlets for the workers.
In his hands, he observes in pain how disorganization is the result of so much effort and harshly chastises the workers who do not understand the need to organize and of the union. In a brilliant article entitled: "To the Pharisee workers" using this word to describe those who through fear or cowardice, through irresponsibility or convenience, fall into the hands of the ambitious bosses, become scabs, break up the organizations and behave as new Cains against their own brothers, the workers.
1917- The war lasts three years. Everywhere there is terror and persecution against the workers by the government leaders a strengthening of their imperialist system and a greater oppression of the workers as an offshoot of the war.
November 1917. The Russian Revolution lights the world and Carlos Baliño, already an older man, but young and strong as his early years, is filled with enthusiasm and optimism and salutes the working heroes of the old Czarist regime and becomes an enthusiastic propagandist of the Soviet Revolution.
At that time he writes the verses below:
They are not frightened by the horrific destruction. They face saintly and fecund pain, and accept the disasters of war in their mission of transforming the world.
They with their enormous sacrifice will bring blessed peace to reign on the transformed world that beats in the womb of the future.
Encouraging the blessed rebellions and raising up hose who live on their knees will put a picket in each hand and will tear down the last Bastilles.
Now the last bastions beat down exploitation, cause of the war; and man will live in peace when Social justice reigns in the world.
These words still have meaning now. The peoples do not fear a war with the beating beast, the worse exploiters of the world, in their last bastions because they have faith an assurance that, with their sacrifice and blood, they are paving a future for the world, they are achieving for humanity a lasting and just peace that can only be based on social justice, on the safety of the peoples to live free from fear, from impoverishment, from oppression and from exploitation.
When the communist groups are organized in Cuba, Carlos Baliño forms the first ones. A genuine Marxist, he has seen in the road paved by the Bolsheviks the route of the peoples and works in reorganizing the dispersed socialist cadres, leading them into Communist Associations.
In 1925, with Mella, Peña Vilaboa and others he is one of the organizers and guides of the Communist Party, the party that, since then, developed in our country, that has become the great Socialist Popular Party that recalls the memory of Carlos Baliño to pay him the homage he deserves for his struggle and his history.
During early 1926, at almost 80 years of age, tired from the long struggle, weakened by a painful disease, he takes to the bed from which he will only leave for the tomb. At his bedside the Communists prepare the process against the budding dictatorship of Machado. At his bed with untold cruelty, the Examining Magistrate reads the charges against him and orders his reclusion in jail. He does not expect to go to jail. The day prior to his imprisonment, on June 18, he breathes his last breath and the great man that was Carlos Baliño has died. Dignity and modesty are the two outstanding features of his character. All who knew him speak of Carlos Baliño as a good man. Old, with a gray beard, thick moustache, kind face reflect the deepness of his soul, the deepness of his character. He was a man who lived to do good, to plant fraternity, to fight with generous souls against all injustice, to fight for freedom, for well being, for the progress of all men.
As a child he wrote against the slavery of Blacks. As a child, he rose up against slavery in his country. As a man he goes into exile, works towards independence and when achieved he does not rest nor demand recognition. Always accustomed to be behind the scenes, not to be mentioned, he is embarrassed when he is applauded and continues with his fecund and great task of educating men, of educating the workers, of organizing and uniting them, to give them a program, outlines the route of their life.
That was Carlos Baliño. The sons of Guanajay can be proud that there, in this historical villa, this great man was born and grew up. In the hymn of the Socialist Popular Party, our hymn, our flag is called up. The flag of Carlos Baliño/The flag of Mella and Rubén [Martinez Villena].
Baliño shows the way with his life. We must follow him.
In the Boletin del Cigarrero, [the cigar-workers union] in July of 1926, these words were written regarding the death of Carlos Baliño:
The vacant post that comrade Baliño leaves will be very difficult to fill; his activities were many; his advice is missed; the proletariat has lost one of its best guides. We dare not speak of Baliño, not even after his death are we able to dedicate praise that he considered exaggerated; he was modesty itself and value in a superior man, an enemy of awards or applause for what he considered a duty, what had to be done, for the satisfaction of his revolutionary conscience.
One less rebel, an oak felled by the years; but there is a symbol, a model of self sacrifice, an example of activity and loyalty; an oak has fallen but there is a tomb for those who lost faith a mid point to recover their force and begin to feel an ideal, observing the life and examples of he who sleeps in the tranquility of the just. That modest tomb, simple, like the one who rests there will be the proletariat temple and, if at one time we falter, let us remember Carlos Baliño, remember his seventy years of service, a work that now can be appreciated in all its value.
The workers of Cuba, and specially the communists, have lost one of its best militants.
An oak has fallen but hundreds more oaks are growing. That Baliño, from there, from the depth of his tomb, be assured that we continue loyal to his teachings, that the seed he planted was not lost, that we are here like germinated beans of his preaching, children of his doctrine, to continue the battle until Cuba is truly free, until our people are free from exploitation and all impoverishment, until there are no more oppressors to exploit the workers and oppress the campesinos, until our Cuba is a Socialist Society where he who does not work, does not eat.
José Martí on Carlos Baliño
"And El Yara
has not reappeared? And that proud Proletarian? I love Baliño who is round of
mind and heart …"
-- From a letter to Angel Peláez [January, 1892].
"Rains and winds received our settlers, like a warning that they had no full right to foreign freedoms, those who have not done all they can for their own; but this does not refer to the Cubans of Thomasville because receiving a free column in their generous city newspaper for our purpose, the first phrase written in the new city, is by this golden Cuban, the tall- standing Baliño…"
-- Patria, New York, April 10, 1892.
"Noble literature, of thought, has been written this October 10 and the best. Since we cannot mention everyone, we chose, for his generosity of life and enviable authority of orator, the fervent speech by our General Carlos Roloff, who is a main personage in our things and hearts; and for the opportune idea and beautiful eloquence, for the republican pride of opening the home to all real emotion and sincere word, we place the sentence of a Cuban, who bares the pains of humanity on his beautiful soul and could only err in the impatience to redeem them - Carlos Baliño. "
-- Patria, New York, November 7, 1892.
"Vibrations and groans of pain for man, many Cuban souls in the "Enrique Roig" club. Cuba has sons there, say it aloud, who don't surrender, neither for charity of for lack of interest, of for culture, or for eloquence, any other Cuban. In Cuba, we have the seeds of a homeland. We have new roots to put in place of rotting roots. We have energetic love in place of energetic hatred. The excessive will be pruned because there is much native wisdom and because man always gets accustomed to the truth; but the new will rise up from thousands of fountains and the Cubans who mistrust their people today, will embrace them tomorrow, surprised. in the "Enrique Roig" club. Segade presides. Baliño reasons. Izaguirre is enthusiastic, all, as Baliño said one memorable night "they raise so high the flag of Cuba, that whatever the anger that rumbles around the feet of the passions of man, never let the flag be touched by human mire"."
-- Patria, New York, January 14, 1895.
"Some Cubans, cowardly, tell the boss everything that is done, so that the boss does not fear, for the boss to live safely, in his uniform of blue stripes and red cuffs; other Cubans, perhaps less prepared for the knowledge of republican virtue, deny, in the temple, the white and blue of the "Knights of Light" who, due to the ignorance of their people and their own incapacity believe and reveal that the Cuban has no virtue of abnegation and the indispensable respectful treatment to their republic. - Marcos Gutierrez, who is a scholar, presiding the "Diez de Abril". Carlos Baliño, the golden pen and tongue is vice president".
-- Patria, New York, January 14, 1895.
In new peoples everything depends on the taking off. Man is more fiery and takes on the nobility or vileness of the pattern into which he falls when he takes new peoples. The mold must be firm and virtuous to have a good peoples. Honor should be fashionable: and shamelessness unfashionable. The home and conduct must be clean. Is Cuban and Cuba is in each offspring: and there is honor of Cuba in everything he does. He has been seen like the mother idea, the cress become a hero and the thief in glory. Get rid of the men that are not! The true fortune for Thomasville and for Cuba is to have men like Carlos Baliño, who knows how to reconcile fiery freedom with the height that sanctions and assures, that suffers, anguished, of all the pains of man".
-- Patria, New York, April 10 1895.
A CHRONOLOGY OF HIS LIFE
Published by the Instituto de History del Movimiento Comunista
de la Revolución Socialista de Cuba. 1976
1848 - Carlos Benigno Baliño is born on February 13. His parents are Carlos José Baliño and Dolores López.
1865 - He enrolls in the Escuela Preparatory Profesoral de La Habana.
- In this year he begins to collaborate with newspapers in Guan jay with verses and articles. Already his advanced thinking is observed.
1868 - He enrolls in the Escuela Profesional de Dibujo, Pintura, Escultura y Grabado de San Alejandro.
1869 - He emigrates to the United States for patriotic reasons where he meets up with his father who has escaped the incarceration imposed on him by the Spanish colonial government in the Isle of Fernando Poo.
- He begins to work as a tobacco picker in several factories in Florida. Later he will do other work in the same field of tobacco.
1870 - He is residing in New Orleans.
1889 - Does collaborative work in the La Tribuna del Trabajo, a newspaper that begins publishing that year in Key West.
1891 - Leaves Key West and settles in Tampa.
1892 - Participates in the inauguration of the Cuban Lyceum of Key West with José Martí.
- Takes part, also with Martí, in the founding of the Cuban Revolutionary Party. Signs the bases and Act of Constitution of the party.
- Delivers an important speech on October 10 in commemoration of the Grito de Yara. Martí publishes the speech in Patria newspaper.
1893 - He is in Thomasville.
- Presides over the Leopoldo Turía Club of Revolutionary Emigrés and participates in the activities of other clubs.
1894 - Meets with other émigré workers in Ocala, Florida, to found the municipality of Martí City.
- Sends an important letter to Rafael Serra in which he denounces the threat against Cuba by US imperialism and announces his adherence to socialism.
1895 - Speaks in several events in Key West and other localities calling for support of the fight for independence in Cuba.
1896 - Translates and writes the prologue of the work of H. Davis, The New Slavery, denouncing the threat of US imperialism against Cuba.
1897 - Collaborates in The New Republic, a weekly journal published in Tampa under the direction of Pablo Rousseau.
- Offers conferences on socialism in the Cuban revolutionary émigré clubs.
- Resides and works in Jacksonville.
1902 - Returns to Cuba.
- Collaborates in the daily El Mundo as well as in the El Proletario newspaper and other worker's papers.
- Supports the the Apprentices Strike
1903 - Founds the Club de Propaganda Socialista de la Isla de Cuba (Socialist Propaganda Club of the Island of Cuba) and organization designed to study and spread Marxism.
1904 - Exchanges opinions with leaders of the Partido Obrero (Worker's Party), founded by a group of workers in Havana on January 31. He calls on them not to settle with the Programa Minimo de la II Internacional and adopt the Programa Maximo.
- Collaborates with the La Voz Obrera, organ of the Worker's Party.
1905 - Publishes an important pamphlet, Verdades Socialistas, first exposition of this magnitude written in Cuba on Marxist socialism.
- Writes a document entitled Bases Fundamentales (Principal Bases) that is taken up by the Worker's Party. These bases set down the objectives that stipulate the socialization of the means of production, the taking of political power by the proletariat and the struggle for a classless society.
- In September the Club of Socialist Propaganda and the Worker's Party join to form the Socialist Worker's Party.
- Baliño is elected to the leadership.
1906 - He participates in the events of May 1st in Matanzas where there is a strong nucleus of the Socialist Worker's Party.
- He becomes a member of the Central Committee of the Cuban Socialist Party when the organization is created in November through the fusion of the Socialist Worker's Party and the Agrupacion Socialist Internacional (International Socialist Group).
1907 -Visits many places in the interior of the country calling for support of the workers who are on strike in the La Moneda Strike.
- He is in Manzanillo with Agustín Martín Veloz (Martinillo), founder of the Socialist Party in that region highlighting the outstanding figure of Marxism in our º country during the first republican decades.
1909 - Writes his well known letter to the President of the Havana Socialist Group, Benigno Miranda, announcing his resignation as a member of the group because it had taken another attitude that favors discrimination of native workers.
1911 - Supports the Strike of the Sewer System, an important movement of the construction workers of the capital.
1917 - Writes his article entitled En Marcha hacia la Vida y la Libertad (On the march towards Life and Liberty) paying tribute to the Russian Revolution.
1918 - As of this year he writes articles and poems commemorating the Great Socialist October Revolution and calls for the solidarity of Cuban workers and people to the first worker's and farmer's state.
- Asks for membership in the National Association of Cuban Revolutionary Émigrés and is admitted the following year.
1921 - Translates and writes the prologue to the book by Scott Nearing, The American Empire, denouncing imperialism.
1922 - Under his leadership, in July, the Socialist Group of Havana agrees to identify itself with the Socialist Revolution of October and adherence to the Communist International. On August 11 Baliño signs, with José Villasuso, a worker's leader and socialist, an important Declaration of Principles of the Group that broadly explains these agreements.
- He collaborates with the journal, Espartaco, that intends to be the organ of diffusion of socialist thought.
- He collaborates with the Bulletin of Tobacco Rollers and other worker's publications.
1923 - On March 18 he founds the Communist Group of Havana, first Marxist-Leninist organization helping it to found similar groups in other localities in the country and prepares conditions to celebrate the founding of the first Cuban Communist Party.
- He works and collaborates with the journal Juventud, founded by Julio Antonio Mella.
1924 - Founds and heads the Lucha de Clases (Class Struggle) the first Cuban Marxist- Leninist paper, first organ of the Havana Communist Group and later of the Cuban Communist Party.
1925 - On July 14 he participates, together with Mella, in the founding of the Cuban Section of the Anti-imperialist league.
- On August 16,with Mella and a group of prestigious worker's and revolutionary leaders he participates in the constituent congress of the Cuban Communist Party. Baliño is elected a member of the Central Committee.
1926 - On July 18, amidst the brutal repression by Machado against the Party leadership, Baliño dies in Havana at the age of 78.
José Martí, Obras Completas, Tomo 1, p. 298; Tomo II pags. 185, 199, 201, 291; Tomo V, p.68. Editora Nacional de Cuba, Havana, 1965.
Source for this webpage:
CARLOS BALIÑO, Documents and articles
Institute of the History of the Communist Movement
and the Socialist Revolution of Cuba
Published by: Depto. de Orientación Revolucionaria
del Comité Central del Partido Comunista de Cuba
La Habana, 1976