Maximo Gómez – Revolutionary. Generalismo of the Cuban War for Independence from Spain. Creator of The “Machete Charge”. The originator of guerilla warfare (chea). But most importantly–my great, great, great uncle!
Máximo Gómez was born in the small town of Baní, Dominican Republic on Nov. 18, 1836. The son of a lower-middle-class family, he entered a religious seminary, but his religious instruction was soon interrupted by a Haitian invasion of the Dominican Republic in the 1854. Rejecting the clerical career that his mother (a.k.a my great-great-great grandmother) desired for him, Gómez at age 16, joined the forces of Dominican patriots, where he fought bravely in the battle of Santomé in 1856 and in numerous subsequent battles. He later commanded Spanish reserve forces in Santo Domingo. He remained at his post as commander until the end of the Spanish domination in 1865, when he and his family moved to Santiago de Cuba.
While in Cuba, he started to conspire with Cuban revolutionaries, as a result of being unhappy with the treatment he and other Dominicans had received from Spain and horrified by the exploitation of the black slaves. Maximo Gómez joined the Cuban revolution against Spanish rule in 1868, rising quickly through the ranks to become second in command, then general and later commander of Oriente Province. During what is commonly referred to as “The Ten Years’ War”, he waged countless battles and excelled as a most gifted strategist and is credited as the teacher of a number of brilliant chiefs.
But he soon retired from the fight.
Gómez’s dismissal only increased his popularity. As candidates emerged for the presidential election of 1901, Gómez was the most popular figure. Yet the old general refused to be considered, claiming, “I would much rather liberate men than govern them.”
Old and sick, Gen. Gómez went on a speaking tour but could do little, for he died on June 17, 1905 in Havana.
As far as family history goes, I’ve been told of a story about my great-great grandma riding into town on a donkey with her mother to a government office to collect residuals from Maximo’s military services. Hmmm….I wonder who’s collecting that today?
I also know that there’s Maximo Gomez Park (a.k.a ‘domino park’) in Miami, and a statue of him in Havana. Also in Cuba is a home he lived in, a recently restored historical relic in Havana. The draft of the document proclaiming the independence of Cuba, known as “The Manifesto of Montecristi” was created there. I’ve also seen a host of stamps and photos (where, btw, I noticed that he, mi abuela y mi madre have the same EARS :-)). This man’s face is even on a banknote of ten pesos! I’m glad that a portion of my family history is preserved in such a way! I even hear there’s a park placed where his childhood home was in Bani, D.R., which means I have more access to my lineage! There is a bust of him, the Dominican and Cuban flags, and a mural with scenes depicting his life. WOW! I’m proud to say that we share the same blood. 🙂 Viva Maximo Gómez!