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Mariana Grajales (1815 - 1893)

Updated: May 14

Mother of Cuba

Mariana Grajales Cuello de Maceo played a pivotal role in the Cuban independence movement during a time of colonial oppression. The daughter of Dominican parents, Mariana was born in 1808 and grew up in eastern Cuba where she emerged as a fearless leader, defying societal norms to actively contribute to the fight against Spanish rule. Mariana's dedication was not limited to the sidelines; she took an active role in supporting and participating in the Independence revolution.

Family of Revolutionaries:

In 1851, she married Venezuelan Marcos Maceo and had nine children, not including four from a previous marriage. Mariana and her husband taught their kids self-defense, and two of them later became generals in Cuba's Liberation Army. In 1868, two days into the war of independence against the Spanish, Cuban rebels came to the Maceo home seeking support. Without hesitation Mariana and Marcos Maceo agreed to help in the fight against the Spanish. Mariana's commitment was deeply rooted in her family's legacy of revolutionaries. Her husband, children, and siblings formed a formidable force, collectively challenging the status quo. Mariana's leadership went beyond familial ties, earning her the well-deserved title of the "Mother of the Cuban Nation." Her contributions became a source of inspiration for those fighting for freedom, instilling a sense of purpose and unity among the revolutionary forces.

Mariana's son Antonio Maceo known as "Titan of Bronze"

The Hospital and Healing Touch:

Beyond the battlefield, Mariana Grajales showcased her compassionate side by establishing a hospital. This initiative was a testament to her belief in the holistic well-being of her people. The hospital provided a sanctuary for the wounded, a place where care and healing transcended the scars of war.

Mariana's vision for the hospital was not merely medical; it was a symbol of hope and resilience. In a time of conflict, she understood the importance of addressing both physical and emotional wounds. The hospital became a beacon of compassion, embodying Mariana's commitment to the welfare of her fellow Cubans.


Despite losing her husband and some of her sons in battle, Mariana never stopped serving her people and fighting for a free Cuba. Facing death warrants on her serving sons and losing all her property, she went into exile in Jamaica in 1878, continuing her work for Cuban independence by forming patriotic associations among exiled Cubans. Mariana never returned to Cuba and passed away in Kingston, Jamaica, on November 23, 1893, at 78.

In 1957, Havana mayor Justo Luis Pozo del Puerto honored her with the title "Mother of Cuba" for her patriotism. Mariana and her sons were further commemorated with the dedication of the Mariana Grajales Airport and Antonio Maceo Airport.

Achievements and Legacy:

Mariana's fearless leadership, both on the battlefield and in humanitarian endeavors, made her an important figure in the struggle for an independent Cuba free from slavery. She not only fought for liberty but also nurtured a space of healing and care. The legacy of Mariana Grajales serves as a source of inspiration for generations to come. Her contributions to the Cuban independence movement and the establishment of a hospital reflect a multifaceted leader – one who recognized the importance of freedom and the healing power of compassion. As we celebrate her achievements, we honor a woman whose impact went beyond the battlefield, shaping the destiny of a nation with courage, resilience, and a compassionate heart.

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