Chibas: His Thoughts and Conduct
The eighth month of the year constitutes an opportunity to reflect on the thought and actions of Eduardo Rene Chibas. Each August, his memory will always be present. August is the month in which he was born, made an attempt on his own life and the month of his physical disappearance. Born in Santiago and a lawyer by profession, he founded the first Student Directorate against Machado’s extension of power. He was co-founder of the Civic Union of Cuban Exiles in New York, and delegate to the Constituting Assembly in 1939. He was also founder of the Orthodox Party, candidate to the Presidency of the Republic in 1948 and was incarcerated in different occasions. He died in August 16, 1948, after making an attempt on his life on August 5.
Being convinced of the impossibility of progress in the nation without the appropriate civic conduct, he dedicated himself to combating political and administrative corruption. His political experience as a Senator and Speaker of the Partido Autentico (Authentic Party), brought him to the conclusion that “the Party’s fundamental ideas are of great importance, and so are the men who will put them into practice.” On October of 1944, he said: “When I came into power, I was called a millionaire and two years later, I came out of it poorer than when I first went in. Yet, those who said I was a millionaire who came into power without possessions or fortune, they enjoy today millions of pesos.” For him, the harmonic correspondence between conduct and ideas was precisely one of the things missing in the republic. That is why he distanced himself from the Authentic-ism and that is what made him found the Partido Ortodoxo (Orthodox Party) in 1947.
On another occasion he said: “You cannot build a nation on rotten foundations. Therefore, we must first cut down and destroy to drain the swamp and then build on a sound basis. That, he said, is what the Orthodox party is dealing with: “Shame Against Money!” These quotations, which express one and the same idea, are sufficient to substantiate the correlation between thought and action of the Orthodox leader and to understand the quixotic struggle he waged, armed with the word and pen against corrupt politicians and against the wave of crimes by the gangsters and their fans which shook the country.
Ethics, as a theory of conduct and component of culture, is a collective of values, present in all activity and therefore also in politics. Political ethics was an obsession for Chibas, who knew that wrongs, whether physical violence or verbal, and the use of the State as private property, was a manifestation of the fragile ethics in our present politics. For him, ethics was the main subject in politics included not only the members of his Party, but all citizens as well. His intention was to carry that ethical message to his people by denouncing political corruption.
Akin to his thoughts and action, he was determined to fight even to the point of offering his own life. Chibas was the extension of a family inheritance of absolute surrender to the country’s ideals. Referring to his ancestors he said: “I, like them, have given Cuba patrimony and peace. Less fortunate than my elders, I have not been able to offer my life.” And in another occasion: “In 1868, my family offered the country its fortune, peace and life.” His ancestors, the Agramontes, died for independence’s sake, and that, for Eduardo, was a predestination, an incubated concept throughout his life which demonstrates that there was not the existence of any accidental or unconscious act in him, but the effect of his conduct and character. That can only merit admiration and respect.
“El Ultimo Aldabonazo [the final blow] to the Cuban conscience” was the conclusion of the accusatory speeches against Aureliano Sanchez Arango, Minister of Education -regarding the acquisition of a residential area in Guatemala and the impossibility of presenting compelling proof to confirm it- was nothing more than a manifestation of the close relationship between conduct, thought and action of Eduardo Chibas.
The attempt against his own life was an immolation geared to lift the consciousness of the civil society about the seriousness of the corruption that was eroding the soul of the emerging nation. Its scheme was to demonstrate through a vivid example the impossibility of making essential social changes without the existence of a strong civic and democratic society, and also, to try do it through a personal lens.
Ethics is a dimension that at the threshold of time and geographical location, places man first, independently of his economic, political, ideological or religious culture. The first tribute to the person of Eduardo Chibas cannot be other than to fight against anything that may curtail the freedom of the Cuban people, and without which all that remain are mere statements. Cooperation, Equal Opportunities, Justice and Freedom come first as being moral and human, which emerge and develop in the civil society. That scope of associations is the foundation on which everyone can participate in the political, economic, social and cultural processes of their interests and rights to express their demands and citizenship participation.
Translated by David Fernandez