Title: Freedom Teaching
Subtitle: Anarchism and Education in Early Republican Cuba, 1898–1925
Topics: Cuba, education
Date: October 2003
Source: Retrieved 2020-07-06 from libcom.org

Many individuals say to me: “those ideas that you profess are very good, but, who straightens men out? Who is capable of convincing an egoist that he ought to give up his egoism?” To this one can answer: in the same way that a religious person has convinced him to sacrifice himself for religious beliefs, and in the same way that the patriot has taught him to die defending his flag. For men to be able to live in a state of anarchy, they must be educated and this is precisely the work that has been done by those generous people who have been educators throughout the ages. To them is owed the existence of synthetization. Without these athletes of thought, progress would be in its infancy.
—Julián Sánchez “¿Qué es la libertad?” [1]

Following independence from Spain in 1898, Cubans hoped to create a new independent, more egalitarian nation built on the dreams of numerous well-known revolutionaries like José Martí and Antonio Maceo as well as lesser known radicals like the anarchists Enrique Creci, Enrique Messonier, and Adrián del Valle. Like so many of their fellow residents on the island, though, the anarchists quickly grew disillusioned with independence. Their disillusionment rested on repeated U.S. military occupations, a business and commercial class that put individual profits over the well-being of all, a government that seemed to repress labor and the popular classes in order to curry favor with international and national investors, and educational systems that anarchists charged taught obedience and subservience instead of freedom.

Within this context, anarchists directed their revolutionary programs specifically to help workers and their families not only to live a better life in the present but also to prepare them for a social revolution sometime in the future. To accomplish this, they led strike activities, helped to create alternative health institutes, and championed the cause of a working class united across racial, national and gender lines. Yet, as Julián Sánchez made clear in the opening quotation, anarchists believed all of these efforts would be, if not useless, then at least less effective if the people were not educated. Consequently, anarchists saw education as an essential revolutionary tool to raise the consciousness of the popular classes. To this end, Cuba’s anarchists devoted considerable time and scarce resources to develop day schools for children during the first decades of independence from Spain when education was hotly debated across the island.

This article focuses on two distinct eras of Cuban anarchist education (1898–1912 and 1922–1925) within the context of Cuban education generally and the island’s anarchist movement specifically. First, anarchist schools were but one of many educational options for Cubans following independence from Spain. Like Cuban nationalists and proponents of public education, anarchists believed that religious schools, especially Catholic institutions, increasingly educated only the rich and thus countered ideals of equality and freedom from religion indoctrination. However, anarchists also disliked public schools, which they believed taught a blind form of “patriotic nationalism.” Anarchists believed that this patriotic education countered socialist working-class internationalism while stifling free, individual thought in children.

Second, the schools’ periodic successes (measured by growth in the numbers of students as well as the continuation of established schools and the opening of new ones) generally coincided with the ups and downs of the anarchist cause within the Cuban labor movement. From 1898 to 1912, with the Cuban working class divided and in disarray, anarchist educational experiments foundered due to a combination of personality conflicts, shortages of funds, lack of worker interest, and governmental repression. Over the next decade, anarchists and other labor radicals reorganized and focused their attention away from education. In the 1920s, the Cuban working class created the largest labor organizations on the island since the late nineteenth century. As before independence, anarchists occupied central leadership positions in these organizations, and they were able to make alliances with Marxist leaders. Better organization, larger membership, pan-sectarian alliances, and increased resources provided more funds to open schools across the island. Still, while the island’s labor organization was as strong as ever in the mid-1920s, and the schools created by anarchist-led groups and union organizations expanded, Cuba’s labor radicals could not escape the impending governmental crackdown against radicals and foreigners. By 1925, anarchist-based schools, now squarely adopted not only by anarchists but also socialists and communists in Cuba, came to an abrupt end with the presidential administration of Gerardo Machado, who pledged to crush worker militancy. The anarchist movement on the island would never recover from this wave of governmental repression, nor would the anarchist-based educational systems. However, their educational radicalism contributed a chapter to the island’s leftist heritage and built a monument to leftist, worker-based education to which later revolutionary generations owe a relatively unacknowledged debt.

Cuban Education After Independence

The state of education in 1898 was, by most contemporary accounts, dismal. Such assessments, made by Cuban liberals and North American occupiers alike, undoubtedly reflected a level of anti-Spanish bias designed to justify completely overhauling the educational system that lay in ruins following the war from 1895–1898. Whatever the bias, the system was in fact in total disarray and did not meet the standards expected for a new nation that was to be founded on liberal republican values. Following Spain’s defeat, US occupation authorities examined Spanish education on the island. They concluded that compulsory education rarely had been enforced due to insufficient public expenditures, insufficient numbers of schools, wealthy families choosing to send their children abroad, and Spanish Captain-General Valeriano Weyler closing most schools except in provincial capitals and garrisoned towns occupied by Spanish forces during the war.[2] The results were disastrous, as one North American traveller, James Williams Steele, noted even before the war. In his 1881 book Cuban Sketches, Steele wrote:

Noticing casually the system of education in Cuba, I have wondered what, besides mischief, might have been the themes of study in the ancient and famed universities of Salamanca and Cordova. Pursuing the theme, it has sometimes seemed to me that Church and State had undoubtedly combined to force a flimsy and inadequate system upon Cuba, the main purposes of which should be political and religious. If such is the case the plan is a manifest failure; they have never made of a Cuban schoolboy a Spaniard, or a very religious man. [3]

With a de-emphasis on the liberal arts and sciences, one wonders if these schools even made a Cuban a very educated man or woman.

From 1898–1902, U.S. occupiers completely overhauled the island’s educational system. US administrators appointed the respected Cuban intellectual Enrique José Varona as Secretary of Public Instruction. Varona and Commissioner of Public Schools Matthew E. Hanna redesigned Cuban public education to follow models in vogue in the United States at the turn-of-the-century. The new educational system stressed a mix of formal classroom instruction in the liberal arts as well as manual instruction. Manual instruction would help a child learn real-life skills, especially in agriculture.[4] But manual instruction also had a specific civics-oriented purpose that would be reinforced by creating the “School City,” a model first tested in New York City schools in 1897 by its creator Wilson L. Gill. The School City, chartered in Havana by Gill in the Spring 1901, aimed to teach the rights and obligations of living in a republican democracy. Gill and Hanna argued that to educate students without some specific training in republicanism would invite disaster for the society. In Cuba, students without this instruction in republicanism were believed to be especially at risk:

He [the student] lives in a democratic country, under a free flag, where he is told that the will of the people is supreme, but in the schoolroom he is surrounded by the influences of a monarchy, where authority is wielded with the rod and the will of the teacher is supreme. The impressions made on the mind of the child by constant association are indelible, and if in the schoolroom he lives in an atmosphere of republicanism, feels that he has certain duties towards his playmates and certain rights in his relations with them, and that he is a part of the government, as well as one of the governed, the foundations will have been laid for a good citizen when this boy of to-day becomes the man of to-morrow. [5]

Ultimately, U.S. reformers believed that education not only should teach trades, but also should be a key component to create democracy-loving Cubans.

Education, then, was central to post-independence political socialization whereby children were to develop their political values. This process to “republicanize” Cuban children not only emulated the United States model, but also it included teaching English in Cuban classrooms, sending nearly 3000 Cubans to the United States for teacher training, and introducing U.S. textbooks in Spanish translation—an important consequence of which was to emphasize U.S. history over Cuban history and privilege a decidedly U.S. interpretation of all history.[6] Just as the School City promoted acquisition of North American political and cultural values, language training would encourage further acculturation. Those gaining proficiency in English could look forward to individual mobility as trade relations were sure to intensify between the United States and Cuba. Ultimately, in the immediate post-independence years, public schools increasingly exposed Cuban children to a secular, liberal education. Throughout the first U.S. occupation, a rapidly expanding number of children learned the arts, civics and trades. While only 30,000 students attended classes in 1899, two years later 177,000 students enrolled in public education, with an average attendance of 138,000 of those students.[7]

However, this is not to say that Cuban education after independence was entirely an American construct. Beginning in 1909, the administration of President José Miguel Gómez began to implement new education laws that superseded those created during the U.S. military occupations of 1898–1902 and 1906–1909. For instance, these laws created daily and weekly curriculum guides and restructured the curriculum to meet the different needs of rural and urban students. By 1914, Enrique José Varona had become Cuba’s vice president, creating a climate of heightened expectations for educational reform. These partially were met by the new Secretary of Education and the Arts, Dr. Ezequiel García Enseñal, who further reformed the curriculum by emphasizing the need to stimulate children’s imagination, decrease the emphasis on rote memorization, raise the study of nature and natural history, and promote pride in one’s self, home and country.[8] Despite some fifteen years of educational reforms since independence, however, there were many shortcomings: education funds siphoned off via corruption, insufficient numbers of schools being built, overcrowding in the existing schools, too few books and resources, and an “unhygienic” school environment in which most schools lacked playgrounds, had no running water or bathroom facilities, were located too close to distracting factories, and were rarely surrounded by shade trees. The last two factors caused teachers to close windows and curtains, thus depriving the overcrowded classrooms of fresh air.[9]

For those parents seeking an alternative to overcrowded public education, Cuba offered a plethora of private school options. For instance, in 1909 there were 316 private schools in Cuba, increasing to 606 by 1925.[10] The leaders in private education were religious organizations, with Catholic and Protestant schools generally receiving praise by U.S. officials and Cuban leaders for their levels of instruction and moral discipline.[11] The variety of private schools had similar curricula but different goals. For instance, Jason Yaremko shows how North America-based Protestant schools developed throughout the island, especially in eastern Cuba. Besides offering a traditional curriculum of arts and sciences, the schools’ ultimate goal was “a ‘Christian education’ oriented toward conversion and salvation” in which students were taught to be “‘good Christians’” and “‘useful citizens.’” To create useful citizens, Protestant schools taught ideals central to an expanding North American capitalist economy by training students from the lower classes to be workers, housekeepers, and secretaries while emphasizing skills for middle- and upper-class students that would help them to become foremen and managers of the expanding sugar interests.[12] Not only religious institutions offered education. Feminists played a key role too. While Cuba’s public school system was coeducational, Cuban feminists had long argued that girls and women needed special educational opportunities. For instance, as K. Lynn Stoner shows, María Luisa Dolz in the late 1800s was the “first woman to link educational reform with nationalism and feminism,” believing education of women was key to righting social injustices. While Dolz’s schools aimed at the upper class in Cuba, twentieth-century feminists would expand this notion to working-class women by creating night schools and free classes, hoping to educate women on how “to become men’s companions” and thus temper men’s inclination to violence.[13]

Consequently, in the first decades following independence, Cuba was awash in schools. The public schools were free, coeducational, racially integrated, and made great leaps forward after independence. Enrollment levels rose and some new school construction ensued. By the 1910s, educational theorists were promoting, if not actually implementing, innovative ideas about creative learning and the need for clean, safe, hygienic schools. Private schools competed for students, especially those from the more privileged classes who could afford tuition. In these schools, children could learn the basic arts and sciences, but for families seeking boys- or girls-only education with heavy doses of moral teaching, the Catholic schools were available, while those seeking more to align themselves with the growing export economy linked to North American capitalism found the Protestant schools to be an important option.

Anarchists and Cuba’s Post-Independence Educational System

Anarchists hated the Cuban school system after 1898. Even though the public schools were secular and tried to be pragmatic by teaching skills and trades, anarchists were never comfortable with larger political and ideological forces surrounding public education. They criticized everything from the conditions of schools to pedagogy to outright patriotic indoctrination. The anarchist Vicente Carreras complained that he often saw children leaving their schoolrooms with an almost savage joy, as though leaving captivity. And what did they do upon release from “captivity”? They would fling stones at old transients, place rocks on tram rails “for the thrill of seeing them derail,” and torment birds and animals. To Carreras, it was not the chil-dren’s fault but the larger social environment in which they were raised and schooled, especially “the false instruction they receive, the routines which they repeatedly faced.”[14]

While the claustrophobic conditions of the public schools raised their ire, anarchists reserved their sharpest attacks for what they perceived as questionable political education and patriotic indoctrination of students. In his 1906 article “La imbecilidad triunfante” (“Triumphant Stupidity”), Tomás S. Gutiérrez complained that recent public school graduates merely had gone through the motions of mimicking their teachers’ words about the government. When one asked these students about the “rights” and “obligations” they had supposedly studied, not a student could explain what a right or duty was. In essence, charged Gutiérrez, the public schools had created a mindless herd of youth.[15] The anarchists would claim that these non-thinking followers provided cannon fodder a few months later during the 1906 uprising between Liberal and Conservative Party followers. This conflict placed the country on the verge of full-scale civil war that initiated the second U.S. intervention, which lasted until 1909.

Following the U.S. withdrawal that year, officials throughout Cuba began to emphasize the link between “patriotism” and “education.” This was not entirely new on the island. In the first half of the nineteenth century, Cuban educational thinkers had linked nationalism and patriotism in education.[16] After 1909, both the Liberal government under Gómez and the Conservative government under Mario G. Menocal supported using the schools to develop a sense of Cuban identity in children. For instance, in 1910 the government decreed that at the beginning of every day, students should say a pledge of allegiance to the Cuban flag. A 1914 regulation from the Secretary of Public Instruction explicitly called for patriotic education in the classroom in order to develop “‘love of country’” and “‘to form habits in children that facilitate the carrying out of their political and civil duties.’” To accomplish this, students were taught to love flag and country, study Cuban history and Cuban poets, and sing the National Anthem.[17] The irony is that such “nationalist” educational sentiments occurred exactly as the island plunged ever deeper into economic dependency on the United States.

Anarchists wasted little time in attacking these patriotic reforms. For instance, in April 1909, M. Moros related a day’s lesson that his son had learned. According to Moros, the teacher told the children they should love the Cuban flag because it was a symbol of la patria and the children should respect the laws of the fatherland whether they were good or bad. Moros shamed teachers for creating and fostering what he saw as the artificial and unnatural sentiment of patriotism. He added that these self-proclaimed patriots professed that “la patria is territory where all individuals live under the same flag. I say that la patria is where all villains take refuge.”[18] The weekly newspaper ¡Tierra!, the leading mouthpiece for anarchists during the first decade of the century, regularly echoed these anti-patriotic sentiments in anonymously written columns. In September 1910, the paper decried the recent decision by the Secretary of Public Instruction to have schools regularly pledge and honor the Cuban flag. Referring to themselves as “antibanderistas,” the editors of the paper urged its readers to talk to their children and encourage them to reject paying allegiance to a “rag on the end of a pole” (trapo en la punta de un palo) that symbolized closed mindedness and divisiveness.[19]

Anarchists detested patriotic nationalism, seeing it as a way to artificially divide people who otherwise could be united around class interests. As was common in the global socialist and anarchist movements of the time, Cuban anarchists believed in socialist internationalism. They hoped to unite workers across all trades, skill levels, genders, races and nationalities to fight not only what they viewed as the surge and scourge of international capitalism but also those who would promote isolation and insular pride, i.e., nationalists. In the first decades following independence, anarchists had seen how “nationalist” elites regularly pitted Cuban workers against Spanish workers in order to break strikes, cause dissension in the island’s labor movement, and thus undermine a strong, united labor force that was ineffective in pushing for higher wages and better conditions. Thus, when anarchists saw young Cubans being taught “Cuban” pride and other patriotic notions, they viewed this as one more trick by the state to undermine international worker solidarity.[20]

As discussed earlier, the Catholic Church played a key role in colonial educational affairs in Cuba. The first U.S. occupation effectively ended outright Church interference in public affairs and likewise public schools. In fact, as Stoner points out, unmarried women were considered to be the best teachers in these new public schools. As she puts it, “Righteous women made appropriate replacements for the Religious who had been teachers....In a sense, mother nationalists replaced the Mother Church as the guardians of Cuba’s morality and the teachers of the young.”[21] However, after the U.S. concluded its first occupation, anarchists expressed alarm at efforts to weld the Church once again to public education. The Church had willing accomplices in the Department of Public Instruction. In his report to Provisional Governor Charles E. Magoon during the 1906–1909 U.S. occupation, Acting Secretary of Public Instruction Lincoln de Zayas worried about what he saw as the overall failure of Cuba’s public education system. He particularly lamented that many Cuban elite chose to send their own children to private schools. The Acting Secretary argued this was not about keeping their sons and daughters from being educated in the company of blacks or the poor. Rather, he found a religious explanation. Elite families, he wrote, considered teaching religion to their children to be of primary importance, so they crowded their children into private religious boarding and day schools on the island. Many in the elite objected to co-educational instruction as well, preferring that their daughters be sent to sex-segregated Catholic schools. What was Zayas’ proposed solution? Teach God in the classroom:

This is the cause which keeps the sons and daughters of our best families from public school: and unless something be done to introduce God, not within the limits of any sect, but in His grand and glorious concept of Our Father in Heaven, the public schools of Cuba will not attract the children of our most distinguished families.[22]

Zayas continued this theme in talks at the prominent Jesuit school of Belén in Havana.[23]

The anarchist Adrián del Valle edited the freethinking, anti-clericalist magazine El Audaz. In an April 1913 article “Los resultados de la enseñanza religiosa” (“Results of Religious Education”), an anonymous author offered “proof” on the effects of religious instruction in France. Ninety-five percent of criminals under 21 years of age had received religious instruction and 90% of these were Catholics, with 85% receiving religious instruction after their first communion. The author then alluded to the same results for Cuba if religious instruction were not curtailed. “It is an eloquent answer to those who insist on discrediting secular and rationalist education.”[24]

Not only did anarchists equate religious schools with subservience to Rome and increased crime, but also they alleged that religious education failed to teach courteous behavior. In one short, anecdotal story, the author told of a Jesuit teacher lecturing to an audience of women from well-to-do families. The Jesuit urged mothers to prevent their children from using obscenity. After the talk, one mother approached the Jesuit and told him that she had heard her children speak profane words; what could she do? The Jesuit responded by telling her to send them to a good Jesuit school like the Belén Academy in Havana for religious and spiritual education. With a confused expression, the mother looked at the priest and responded that her sons already attended Belén.[25]

When taken as a whole, Cuban anarchists implied that the same types of patriotic and Catholic forces that had ruled the island for over 400 years had not been removed at independence. They had merely been replaced by a more localized elite, which had no intention of creating a revolutionary democracy full of enlightened, free individuals. This was further proof, anarchists charged, that Cuba’s independence from Spain had been subverted. To this end, they claimed that new schools emphasizing individualized, rationalist instruction were necessary to break these forces’ hold on Cuba. Only through the free, individual pursuits of knowledge with the teacher serving as a guide could children come to see the truth and beauty of the anarchist ideal and thus Nature’s “true” harmonious plan for humanity. For inspiration they looked to the Spanish radical educator Francisco Ferrer Guardia and his Escuela Mod-erna, which operated in Barcelona from 1901–1906.

Francisco Ferrer Guardia and the Escuela Moderna

Francisco Ferrer based his Escuela Moderna system on a larger eighteenth- and nineteenth-century trend in education rooted in the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Herbert Spencer, Leo Tolstoy, Peter Kropotkin, and others. Intellectually, Ferrer drew most heavily upon William Godwin’s 1793 attack against states and state-sponsored education in his “Enquiry Concerning Political Justice.” Godwin argued that governments used schools to create loyal followings, just as churches developed loyal parishioners and manufacturers developed obedient workers. State-run schools then, while professing to be “free,” were actually in the business to keep out ideas deemed threatening to the status quo. The traditional practice of “instruction” in schools facilitated this. Instruction meant lecturing and reinforcing the teacher’s opinions to students. Because the teacher was a functionary of the state, Godwin believed that the teacher disseminated state-sponsored ideas. Education, then, was really in the hands of the ruling class who controlled the state. This environment, Godwin concluded, stifled a student’s free inquiry to experiment, experience and discover, thus assuring that no new ideas would enter into the classroom and challenge the status quo.[26]

The state of Spanish education in 1901 was as dismal as in its former Caribbean colonies in 1898. Following the loss of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, Spain fell into turmoil. Within this turbulent environment there arose a growing debate about education. In 1901, only about 15,000 of 45,000 towns had a public school. Not only were these schools ill equipped, but also they were forced to teach and uphold Catholic dogma—a job made easier because Church officials supervised schools just as they had in Cuba before 1898.[27] After inheriting a sizeable amount of money from a student to whom he had taught Spanish, Ferrer traveled to Barcelona and opened the Escuela Moderna in 1901 to offer an educational alternative.[28] In fact, the Escuela Moderna presented the most radical challenge to educational orthodoxy during this contentious period of Spanish history. Within the curriculum, Ferrer created a school intended for both sexes and all social classes. Boys and girls together studied math, science and social studies to develop their mental attributes. They also learned about hygiene and enjoyed large amounts of free playtime to develop healthy bodies and explore their imaginations. The school itself rebuked hierarchy by incorporating a non-dog-matic curriculum devoid of strict discipline, tests or rewards.

Though “non-dogmatic,” political issues did creep into the rationalist curriculum. In his book La Escuela Moderna, Ferrer included sections of compositions from children ages 12–17, who would have had but a few years of rationalist education at most. One 12-year-old boy wrote, “Poor social organization assigns an unjust separation between men, so that there are two classes of men: those who work and those who don’t.” Another boy the same age wrote, “Aren’t the children of the bourgeoisie and the workers both made of flesh and bone? Then, why in society are they different?” A 13-year-old girl wrote, “Fanaticism is produced by the state of ignorance and backwardness in which women find themselves. Therefore, Catholics don’t want women to be instructed, since women are the Church’s primary sup-port.”[29] Thus, while rationalism was to be rooted in the scientific foundations of human and natural existence, an obvious amount of class-conscious political education found its way into the classroom.

Ferrer also urged that “play” and “education” be more closely intertwined. Allowing a child to engage in free play benefited the child because it created a greater sense of joy. A joyful child was not only likely to learn more, but a child could take this joy and apply it to living a happy existence. This had direct counter-cultural consequences, especially versus the Church:

The idea that life is a cross, a bothersome and weighty burden, which has to be tolerated until providence satiates itself with seeing us suffer, radically disappears. Life, we are told, is about enjoying life, living it. What torments and produces pain ought to be rejected as a mutilator of life.[30]

Thus, allowing children ample opportunities for free play and enjoyment would not only stimulate the body but also the human spirit to enjoy life in the here-and-now.

Ferrer saw another important lesson from free play. Children’s spontaneity in their play activities often led them to “play as” adults, whether pretending to build houses, tend gardens, be doctors, be teachers, etc. To Ferrer, this activity was more than imitating adults. Rather, it revealed that the instincts of children and adults were not that different. “Spontaneous play, which is the child’s preference, indicates his occupation or natural dispositions. The child plays as a man, and when he reaches adulthood he does seriously that which he enjoyed as a child.”[31] In essence, allowing for free, spontaneous activity permitted a child to develop his or her own interests and talents. Thus play itself was a useful preparation for life.

Another issue regarding freedom underlay the Escuela Moderna’s program. Students should not be coerced or disciplined by teachers, nor should students be rewarded or punished through examinations or grades. Discipline, reward and punishment created a hierarchy or even a “class” system within the schoolroom. In this environment the teacher served as authoritarian. Ferrer found this completely unacceptable, especially recalling how the Escuela Moderna was dedicated to teaching all sexes, races and social classes in order to undermine a stratified social order. In Ferrer’s school, students could come and go from the classroom as they saw fit. After all, they were free individuals. In addition, students could approach the chalkboard, read or engage in an activity of their choice if they felt compelled or just became bored with what they were doing. Free children had to have the liberty to enjoy themselves and find their own proclivities without being forced or disciplined by some overbearing, self-important teacher. The success of Ferrer’s initiatives can be seen in the rapid spread of schools, literature, and ultimately ruling-class repression. By 1904, 32 schools in Spain, including nine in Barcelona alone, received pamphlets and books printed by the Escuela Moderna publishing house.[32]

But this early success came to a sudden halt in June 1906 when a would-be assassin tried to kill the king. On June 15, in the midst of a crackdown on radicals, Spanish authorities closed the Escuela Moderna and Ferrer fled into exile. In April 1908 Ferrer returned to Barcelona and started the International League for Children’s Rational Education (Liga Internacional para la Educación Racional de la Infancia). The Liga coordinated establishment of rationalist schools in Europe and the Americas while publishing educational reviews in French, Italian and Spanish.[33]

But again politics and militarism intruded on Ferrer’s efforts. In 1909 Spain attempted to ignite a sense of nationalist, patriotic fervor by going to war against Morocco. Anarchists led the resistance to this war, prompting the government to unleash a wave of repression in the summer of 1909. In this repressive atmosphere, authorities arrested Ferrer, accusing him of fomenting massive popular resistance. He was found guilty and went before the firing squad on October 13, 1909.[34]

Ferrer’s efforts and his martyrdom actually stimulated the spread and development of anarchist, rationalist educational experiments throughout the Western Hemisphere, especially in the U.S., Argentina and Uruguay. One of the more vigorous of these movements arose during two distinct waves in Spain’s former colony, Cuba.

The Escuelas Racionalistas in Cuba to 1912

During the first thirty years after independence, anarchists struggled to create rationalist schools that would effectively challenge Cuba’s public and religious schools. The actual drive for worker-based, but not necessarily anarchist-based, education predated independence. In the 1850s and 1860s, elite-run cultural centers (liceos) offered classes and activities for workers, but the “lessons” did not have a revolutionary content. Beginning in 1865, lecturas appeared in cigar factories. The lectura read newspapers, political ideas, histories, and fiction aloud from an elevated platform while workers rolled cigars. The practice quickly spread from the Havana cigar factories to most of the large factories and workshops in Cuba and eventually to the cigar factories of Florida. In 1866, inspired by the success of the lectura, Havana-based artisans established the first evening school for workers. As anarchists came to dominate the labor movement in the 1880s, they too pushed for worker-based education. In the late 1880s, the Círculo de Trabajadores, the largest labor organization in Cuba, dominated the labor scene. Led by anarchists, the Círculo was anti-nationalist and anti-racist. These sentiments carried over into the Círculo’s early focus on education that included a library, a periodicals reading room open to the public, speakers, and a school. In 1889 the school taught over 100 men at night plus some 800 boys and girls during the day. This success led to the opening of new schools around the island.[35]

From 1899 to 1912 anarchists began dozens of schools on their own. Workers in the San Lázaro barrio of Havana initiated a school in the Spring 1899 and the first calls for a Social Studies Center (Centro de Estudios Sociales [CES]) and a Sociological Library (Biblioteca Sociológica) in Havana were heard in September 1900. In 1903 a CES was organized in Guanabacoa, across the bay from Havana. However, the major push for chil-dren’s rationalist schools began in 1905.[36]

In 1904 the royal Spanish priest Eduardo Martínez Balsalobre’s Conferencias sobre el socialismo revolucionario (Lectures on Revolutionary Socialism) was published in Havana with the Bishop of Havana’s seal of approval. Martínez explicitly criticized the anarchists for their supreme faith in reason, arguing that human reason was neither independent nor infallible and in trying times one of the greatest errors was to believe in the power of reason.[37] Rationalism itself, wrote Martínez, appeared to be little more than a school of thought that “had as its only mission the defense of the rights of reason.”[38]

Incensed by the circulation of Martínez’s writings, anarchists renewed their educational efforts. In a two-part column in January and February 1905, J. Fueyo, an early regular contributor to ¡Tierra!, recalled that several preschools (planteles) formerly functioned in Cuba, but these had mostly closed by 1905. Only “La Enseñanza” in the Havana barrio of San Lázaro still remained, led by the anarchist Jovino Villar. To remedy this situation, Fueyo called for the creation of more educational centers.[39] Villar answered this call in November 1905 by opening “Verdad,” a co-educational primary and secondary school. Located in the heart of working-class Havana on Calle Neptuno, “Verdad” offered elementary instruction for boys and girls, as well as special and short courses for girls only. The school provided older students with opportunities to learn trades and to become teachers. Besides offering courses in French, English, typewriting, telegraphy and music, “Verdad” also housed the only school in Cuba for educating the deaf, mute, and blind.[40]

Up to this point, and continuing really since the Círculo de Trabajadores school from the previous century, the anarchist movement’s approach to education had been rather traditional. As Joan Casanovas points out regarding the Círculo school (and which is true for schools until 1906), “[t]he rather traditional educational system of the Círculo contrasts with the advanced pedagogical methods of the Spanish anarchist schools at the time.” This began to change in 1906. That year in Regla skilled tradesmen and the Ship Caulkers’ Guild (Gremio de Calafates) founded their own CES. The gremio had long been involved in radical activities. In 1890 members founded the “Flores de Mayo” Mutual Aid Society in memory of the executed Chicago Haymarket anarchists. “The Internationale” was first heard in Cuba in the calafates’ meetings. The CES school itself was the brainchild of Roberto Carballo, who was also known as El Curro (literally a person displaying a certain freedom of manners). Carballo was a calafate, who immigrated to Regla from the Canary Islands in 1875. Known as the “spirit and life of the CES” throughout its four-year existence to 1910, he even painted the portrait of Francisco Ferrer Guardia that would hang above the CES door.[41] In the spring of 1908, anarchists formed the group “Educación del Porvenir” in Regla in order to run a Ferrer school out of the CES. In May and June 1908, the group published a manifesto inserted in the leading anarchist newspapers of the day, ¡Tierra! and La Voz del Dependiente. The manifesto disparaged the government’s obligatory educational system. It described the teachers in the public school system as “teachers and men who aspire to be capitalists” because they taught only to make a living, and leveled criticisms against public and religious schools for undermining chil-dren’s intelligence through lessons on patriotism and through hymns and prayers. The manifesto called for rationalist schools modeled after Ferrer’s Escuela Moderna first to take root in Regla, and then to branch out across the island. Teachers trained in rationalist education would be brought in and all of the publications utilized in the Escuela Moderna and printed by its publishing division would be available at the same cost as in Spain.[42]

Later that year, Miguel Martínez Saavedra arrived in Regla from Spain. Ferrer personally selected Martínez to re-organize the Regla school under the auspices of the recently created Liga.[43] Martínez became the Liga’s foreign secretary, as well as the Regla school’s first full-fledged, rationally trained teacher. The school offered all the methods and programs of the Escuela Moderna in Barcelona, but a noted feature that seems to have appealed greatly to the predominantly working-class community of Regla was the school’s choir. Every Friday, under the direction of one of Martínez’s daughters, also a student, the choir paraded in front of the school on Calle Calixto García behind the Plaza del Mercado singing “The Inter-nationale.”[44] Dozens of children parading through the streets and singing the anthem of the international socialist movement directly challenged the patriotic drive to sing the National Anthem and worship the Cuban flag.

From 1908 to mid-1909, anarchists extended the success of the Regla school across the island. They made plans and raised money for schools in Matanzas, San Antonio de los Baños, Havana, and even Cobre in the eastern province of Oriente. In May 1909 Martínez left his teaching post at Regla, resigned his position as foreign secretary of the Liga, and established a night school in the western Havana suburb of Marianao where the anarchist group “Redención Social” had been struggling to found a school since the previous December. Sebastián Aguiar, a Spanish anarchist who had fought for Cuban independence, became the Liga’s foreign secretary.[45] Meanwhile, Ricardo Vera and Tomás Echeverría initiated a rationalist school for illiterate agricultural workers and their nearly 90 children at the “El Corralito” estate on the western end of Cuba in Pinar del Río.[46] Thus, in less than two years, anarchists developed a fragile, embryonic rationalist education system from one end of Cuba to the other.

However, a series of internal conflicts and shortage of funds ultimately undermined this initial wave of anarchist schools. By May 1909 controversy enveloped the Regla school. The anarchist weekly La Voz del Dependiente first alerted readers that something was amiss in Regla. The paper reported that books from the school were being replaced from the private collection of the new teacher Juan Pérez. If this and other rumors such as his dislike for teaching girls were true, then Pérez had to go, urged the paper.[47] Two weeks later, the paper again attacked Pérez for not being a rationalist teacher and for having exalted patriotism by praising both the Cuban and Argentine national flags in the classroom. In addition, La Voz del Dependiente accused Pérez of accepting the job while never intending to teach a rationalist curriculum, preferring instead to live off the contributions of workers while at the same time betraying those workers’ trust.

In response to attacks against its teacher, the new CES top officials Abelardo Saavedra and Francisco Sola defended their selection of Pérez as the Regla teacher and asserted that they knew what they were doing. The following week, Saavedra had a change of heart when he viciously attacked Pérez as an ex-dancer in a Havana café, and a man who had been expelled from several workers’ centers apparently for past collaboration with police. Reflecting the anarchist movement’s general belief that homosexuality was “un-natural” and a sign of degeneracy, Saavedra then called Pérez a lover “of sodomite practices, according to a comrade who caught him disgustingly living with a mulatto male.”[48] Pérez’s ouster temporarily quieted the storm.

Unfortunately, the real fireworks of personal conflicts were about to explode, and the timing could not have been worse. The 1909 revolt in Barcelona and Ferrer’s arrest were hot issues in the Cuban anarchist press and important topics at rallies. However, the tragic events in Spain that could have unified the anarchist movement and initiated a successful building of rationalist schools occurred just as new conflicts erupted among leading anarchist figures in Cuba. On October 5, 1909, only two weeks before the news of Ferrer’s martyrdom reached the island, Rebelión! published the article “Algo Injusto” (“Something Unjust”). The author reported that José Requeña, a frequent contributor to the paper and activist for “free unions” between men and women, was living with a public school teacher in Güira de Melena, a town just west of Havana. Upon discovering that their teacher lived with an anarchist, the town’s leading priest, mayor and several businessmen forced Requeña’s female companion from her job. The author questioned anarchists who would pay good, hard-earned money for people like Martínez, Pérez and “many others who come to Cuba to enrich themselves on the backs of workers, always shouting that we need our own education for our children.” These same men shout “solidarity,” but abandon a good woman victimized by clerical and bourgeois repression.[49]

Martínez tried to respond, but of the three weekly anarchist newspapers in Havana and Regla, only one, La Voz del Dependiente, would publish his letters. In a not-so-subtle jab at Saavedra and Sola, Martínez warned that the rationalist and anarchist movement was being endangered from within like a virus.[50] By printing the letters, La Voz del Dependiente asserted that it was not siding with Martínez specifically, but argued that in the name of free speech offended parties had the right to defend themselves in the press. The editorial group of ¡Tierra!, allied with Saavedra and Sola, was not impressed and broke relations with La Voz del Dependiente in January 1910.[51]

Unfortunately the conflicts grew deeper, more divisive, and more personal, resulting in the Regla school’s collapse by the late spring of 1910. Yet, despite the internecine divisions that brought down the school, anarchists remained committed to Ferrer’s dream. Other rationalist experiments emerged. On the eastern end of Cuba at El Cobre, anarchists were collecting funds to start a new school.[52] Workers organized the “Enseñanza Mútua” school at the corner of Calle 19 and Calle F in the Havana suburb of Vedado.[53] They also created new schools in Havana’s working-class suburbs. By January 1911, a school and supplies to teach 30 students had begun in Sagua la Grande. Even though the school’s organizational group “Sociedad Racionalista” had dissolved by April, the school continued to function and began to ask for monetary support.[54] In the Havana suburb of Cerro, members of ¡Tierra! and their allies formed the anarchist group “Agrupación Ferrer,” an organization to rival the Liga.[55] The group organized a CES in April 1911 with the aim of creating a new school.

The Cerro school was the most ambitious educational effort since the Regla school folded in 1910. Throughout 1911, funds were raised through individual donations, money collected at weekly meetings and cultural events, and by way of subscription. One of the by-laws of the Cerro CES included a ten-centavo weekly payment for members, part of which went to creating a school.[56] By June, ¡Tierra! had collected 145 pesos for the Cerro school. By October, the school was operating under the teaching of Antonio Juan Torres and J. F. Moncaleano, the latter a Colombian university professor who greatly admired Ferrer. They soon were educating forty boys and girls, three of whom were Moncaleano’s own children.[57] The school operated until the summer of 1912, when Moncaleano, feeling the urge to join the Mexican revolution, left his family in Cuba to start a rationalist school in the revolutionary state of Yucatán, Mexico.

Buttressed by financial support in the form of cash donations, Mon-caleano’s wife, Blanca, tried to keep the school operating, even offering summer school classes for anyone who wanted them and offering the building as a “boarding school” for students who lived too far away to commute back and forth. Blanca Moncaleano’s appearance in the anarchist educational world was new. In fact, contrary to the Cuban public school system where women dominated the classrooms, women occupied few spots in anarchist educational leadership in general and as teachers specifically. This possibly contributed to what some saw as lack of concern for the Güira de Melena teacher in 1909. Not until 1911, when Isabel Alvarez sat on a CES board in Cerro, when Blanca Moncaleano spoke and taught in the same school from 1911–1912, and when María Luisa García wrote a column on rationalist education in 1914, did women play important roles in the educational movement.[58] Women, however, regularly took part in public cultural events designed to raise money, propagandize for anarchism and anarchist schools, and educate audiences from the stage. This was particularly noted by U.S. intelligence officials on the island. For instance, during the 1906–09 U.S. occupation of the island, Captain John Furlong wrote to the U.S. Chiefof Staff and Governor Charles Magoon that the “meetings are being attended by women as well as men. The women bring their children and the meetings seem to be part of an educational system established by these anarchists.”[59]

Despite Blanca Moncaleano’s efforts, however, the Cerro school withered away, with ¡Tierra! even ceasing publication of the school’s financial accounts by late Summer 1912.[60] The failure of the Cerro school, which appears to have been the last rationalist school effort in this first wave of anarchist activity, came at an unfortunate time. In late May and throughout June 1912, white Cubans turned on black Cubans in what has become known as the “Race War of 1912.” Cuban authorities and white vigilantes violently turned on black groups supporting the outlawed Partido Independiente de Color. Racists used the opportunity to attack innocent blacks, so that by the end of the violence, death toll estimates reached as high as 6000 people. Anarchists watched in horror, but did and said little. On June 22, 1912, the anarchist Eugenio Leante published a column in ¡Tierra! lamenting the continuation of racism and questioning those (both black and white) who focused on issues of color. Racism in Cuba, Leante began, was caused “by our religious education” that had created “the dangerous prejudice” of thinking that whites were superior to blacks. This “religious” thinking was backed up by the popular pseudo-science of craniology that some used to say whites were superior to blacks because the latter had smaller brains. “This prejudice,” he continued, “will disappear when we educate our children in good sense and rational thinking, conscientiously teaching them anthropology, psychology and physiology.” Through such education, people would come to reject craniology and begin to recognize that blacks and whites were first and foremost human beings. Rationalist education, Leante believed, would be key to this, but unfortunately rationalist education was going into hiatus on the island right at this time.[61]

Ultimately, a combination of internal conflicts and insufficient funds undermined the initial wave of rationalist schools in Cuba. Above all, the constant struggle to get money may have been the movement’s Achilles heel. The schools were financed by subscriptions, money raised at cultural events, periodic donations from individuals and small groups, and small tuition payments paid by children’s parents.[62] Whereas anarchist schools in places like Argentina had large labor organizations like FORA to help back their schools, no such sweeping labor organizations existed in early republican Cuba.[63] Yet another factor played into the financial instability of rationalist schools: a plethora of demands for contributions. From 1910 to 1912, anarchists in Cuba were besieged by requests to fund a number of local and international concerns. Not only did sympathizers send money for schools, but also they made donations to fund three anarchist newspapers publishing more or less simultaneously at this time in Cuba: Rebelión!, La Voz del Dependiente (and its successor El Dependiente), and ¡Tierra!. Supporters also sent contributions to help families of deported radicals as well as the wives and children of those revolutionaries like Moncaleano who voluntarily went abroad while leaving families behind. Finally, this period marked the beginning of the Mexican Revolution. Anarchists throughout the island regularly contributed funds to be sent to Mexico to finance various revolutionary projects.

Consequently, there were potentially substantial sources of revenue from supporters. Had there been no Mexican Revolution or wave of deportations, or even more than one weekly newspaper, then perhaps those responsible for creating and running the schools would have been more successful in raising funds. Still, while the anarchists’ internal divisions and constant financial dilemmas weakened the drive to establish schools, the conflicts and problems also illustrated how important education was to the anarchists. To these men and women, issues of finance as well as the personal character of teachers and movement operatives mattered a great deal. It might be argued that the anarchists were more interested in name-calling and petty squabbles; however, it makes more sense to remember that the squabbles derived from a heightened passion to establish an appropriately correct rationalist school system. While the anarchists’ divisions helped to undercut the educational movement, the passion that drove these people toward conflict with each other was the same passion that motivated their repeated efforts to create the escuelas racionalistas in the first place.

The Resurgence of Anarchism and Rationalist Schools in the 1920s

Governmental repression during the first years of World War I stymied anarchist agitation. With this decline came a corresponding dearth of educational activity. However, by 1917 the anarchist movement began to recover. Anarchists came to dominate a resurrected labor movement and used their positions in that movement to renew rationalist education.[64] Central to this expansion was a growing alliance between anarchists and other leftists in the 1920s. This alliance first became obvious in 1922 with the widely distributed pamphlet Tácticas en uso y tácticas a seguir. Written by the anarchist printer Antonio Penichet, the 45-page pamphlet highlighted and explained different strategies that Cuban revolutionaries might employ. The final strategy discussed by Penichet, and arguably the most important considering its placement, concerned the development of rationalist schools. Penichet argued that, more than ever before, workers had to create schools that served workers’ interests and not the interests of the Church or the state. “While we do not have our own schools, we will continue to see our future obstructed. We must save our children from becoming social debris. We must save the future with our cause.”[65] Without the schools, Penichet believed, the future was lost.

While the pamphlet up-dated traditional anarchist discourse concerning education and Ferrer’s educational philosophy, it is significant that Penichet chose the old, respected socialist Carlos Baliño to write a prologue for the pamphlet. From before independence, Baliño had flirted with the whole spectrum of socialism. First he was an anarchist, then a reformist socialist and by the 1920s a committed Marxist. Baliño, who with University of Havana student Julio Antonio Mella would found the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) three years later in 1925, wrote how he greatly respected Penichet and considered him a comrade and friend.[66] The formal linking of Baliño and Penichet laid the foundation for close ties between anarchists and communists in the development of Cuban rationalist education in the 1920s.[67]

In August 1922, anarchist labor leader José Peña Vilaboa noted that the recently formed Workers’ Federation of Havana (FOH), the largest labor organization on the island and one in which anarchists held a commanding presence, led the way in uniting Cuban working-class organizations. For Peña Vilaboa, education remained central to creating a strong social movement: “The Federation’s most basic objective and which will soon be obtained is Rationalist Education—fundamental to our emancipatory endeav-ors.”[68] A year in the making, the FOH inaugurated its rationalist school and library in the Havana Workers Center on October 4, 1922. José Miguel Pérez, the future first general secretary of the PCC, served as the school’s teacher with Carlos Baliño filling in as a substitute teacher.[69] The school opened with eleven students, two of whom were the children of FOH head and anarchist leader Alfredo López. Two other girls in the initial class were daughters of FOH Financial Secretary and anarchist Alejandro Barreiro.[70]

Supporters hoped that the school would be the first in a series scheduled to open throughout Havana. In particular, these rationalist advocates thought that the timing was right. Public education had made few inroads into Cuba’s unschooled population since independence. Upon first glance Table 1 seems to illustrate a general improvement in Cuba’s public schools. Yet, while the figures reflect a gross doubling of the number of teachers and enrolled students from 1901–1922, the percentage of children aged 5–17 actually attending school remained relatively stagnant. Furthermore, in 1920 President Menocal vetoed pay raises for public school teachers, only discouraging more people from becoming teachers.[71] Such moves, according to anarchists, forced teachers to take on second jobs just to survive, thus making it difficult for teachers to properly dedicate themselves to teaching children.[72] To top this, public school classroom sizes remained unimaginably large. From 1920 to 1924, Cuba’s public classrooms averaged 108 students each, with a student-teacher ratio of 60 to 1. This ratio had barely improved from the 61 to 1 figure from 1901–1902.[73] Consequently, educational conditions in public schools were as poor as at independence.

Number of Teachers Number of Students Enrolled Percentage of Students Attending School
1901 3000 177,000 na
1907 3649 122,214 31.6%
1919 5743 335,000 31.2%
1922 6075 344,331 35.0%

[Chart constructed from the following sources: Matthew Hanna. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Public Schools, June 1901, 184–185; Cuba: Population, History and Resources, 122–123; León Primelles. Crónica Cubana, 1919–1922. Havana (1957), 104–105 and 567.]

The lingering inadequacy of public education throughout the 1910s had bolstered the popularity of private (mostly religious) education. Private schools remained a source of bitter contention in Cuba as nationalists, like the school inspector Ismael Clark in 1915, argued that private schools maintained poor educational standards, perpetuated class and racial differences, and undermined nationalist sentiments critical to developing a citizenry rooted in civic virtues. Because the island’s elite were most likely to send their children to such schools, nationalists argued that the elite, as Laurie Johnston puts it, “developed a low level of patriotism” that fostered Cuba’s dependence on foreign business and accepted the penetration of foreign cultural influences.[74] Proposed legislation in 1915 would have forced private schools to come under state inspection, use only state-approved texts, be directed by Cuban-born individuals, teach civics and Cuban history, and fly the Cuban flag. The measure failed largely because most of Cuba’s politicians had received private education themselves, and they continued to send their own children to private schools.[75] Ironically for anarchists, the elite preference for private education, which led to the rejection of tough new regulations for private schools, would ultimately protect future private rationalist school experiments.

Nationalist objection to private education partially revolved around antireligious, in particular, anti-Catholic sentiments. Seen as a holdover of colonial rule, many viewed Catholic education as fostering a sense of anti nationalism.[76] Anarchists and supporters of rationalist education, while condemning the public schools in the 1920s, built on this larger anti-clericalism in the national education debates. Throughout 1922–1924, advocates for rationalist schools described both public and private education as anti rational because they taught children to worship “gods,” one represented by the flag and the other by the cross. In its coverage of the inaugural founding of the FOH school, Nueva Luz described the school as a reaction to the growth in private religious education. The rationalist school “is necessary to prepare the worker and to save the worker’s child from the clutches of religion,” asserted the writer.[77] An anonymous columnist in the same issue urged readers to send money and lend support for a rationalist school to save workers’ children because all Cuban children, according to the writer, were being beseeched by religious groups to send money to help fund new priests and missionaries.[78] Referring to the growth of Protestant schools, another writer urged the expansion of rationalist schools to counter those of “Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, etc.”[79] In fact, left-wing anti-religious sentiment became especially prominent in the anarchist press at the same time that Nueva Luz’s editors, linked to the FOH, regularly promoted rationalist education. Nearly every issue included cartoons lampooning the Catholic clergy for its purported corruption and sexual peccadilloes.[80]

Consequently, anarchists found themselves in a unique position in the Cuban educational debates of the 1910s and 1920s. They agreed with nationalists on the need to counter religious education, seeing such schools as fostering class divisions. While the nationalists also criticized religious schools for their anti nationalism, anarchists criticized them for what they saw as anti-human, mystical dogma. Yet, rationalist school supporters continued to condemn the government’s public education system. To anarchists, public schools failed in pedagogy, erred by emphasizing unwavering patriotism, and condemned primarily working-class children to overcrowded and under-funded classrooms. In fact, true to the anti-patriotic sentiments imbedded in rationalist education, rationalist schools during the 1920s would neither display nor have their students pledge allegiance to the Cuban flag. Continuing their fierce hatred of patriotism, supporters regularly reminded readers why one should not honor the Cuban flag. For instance, in September 1923, one writer in Nueva Luz lamented that public school children were being forced to worship a piece of cloth “that only serves to divide humanity,” especially Cubans, and that such worship was inhuman and immoral.[81] Such a symbol and its reverence would have no place among the anarchists.

Rationalist schools quickly spread after 1922. Schools opened in Cárdenas in western Cuba, Caibarién in central Cuba, and Banes in eastern Cuba.[82] Over one hundred people attended the Banes school opening on July 1, 1923, after nearly six months of planning by the various labor groups. Ultimately organized by the Banes Workers Union and its “Education and Publicity Committee,” the school began with 74 children and 80 adults in day and night classes respectively—an impressive figure considering that anarchists traditionally found their strength in the central and western provinces. Because their classroom held only 25 desks with three chairs each, the school was literally full from the start, and the Committee made appeals throughout the community and surrounding sugar centrales for financial support to expand. Such help came in the form of donations collected in small amounts. For instance, workers on the Central “Cieneguita” sent five pesos to the school at one time that fall.[83] In September 1923, in the port city of Cárdenas, the Unión de Obreros Industriales, which was one of the few links to the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Cuba, organized a rationalist school. The school grew over the next year, ultimately moving into its own building and being supported by a workers’ theatre group.[84] The anarchist-led Sindicato Fabril opened a second Havana school in the Puentes Grandes neighborhood.[85] Still the longest-running and most successful was the FOH school in Havana. While only eleven students began in October 1922, by February 1923 there were 55 attending the day school and 72 adults attending the night schools. A month later day school attendance climbed to 76 children.[86]

The FOH school looked like many public schools in several ways. Desks in rows, a chalkboard, the teacher’s podium at the front of the classroom and bookshelves surrounding the room gave the rationalist school a physical likeness to its public school counterparts. Even the curriculum had certain similarities. Children attended classes for two hours in the morning and two hours after lunch. They studied arithmetic, geography, grammar, history, natural history, spelling, and basic science. Yet, the rationalist school complemented these topics in ways that distinguished it from the public school system. Teachers set aside time for students to explore their artistic inclinations through drawing. In addition, two class periods per week taught physiology and hygiene since rationalists believed that formal education was a means to teach healthy lifestyles to children, who would hopefully take those lessons home to their parents. Teachers devoted Saturday mornings to educational lectures or trips to either workshops or the countryside. Educators believed that trips to workshops exposed children to the work environment that they would some day enter. Perhaps the visit would awaken an innate interest in a certain trade or heighten awareness of abysmal working conditions. Teachers designed journeys to the countryside to allow students time to frolic freely in Nature. While playing in and exploring the natural world, teachers hoped students would, on their own, come to understand and appreciate what anarchists considered the cooperative natural order that existed outside of the competitive and corrupting influences of the bour-geois-constructed, vice-filled industrial city.[87] In short, education was key to creating future revolutionary generations, a sentiment that Antonio Penichet expressed a few years earlier in his novel La vida de un pernicioso. The novel concludes with the main character lying on his death bed, urging his fellow workers and activists to start a school for children, which they do, calling it “El Porvenir” (The Future).[88]

Yet, before schools could create these future revolutionary generations, qualified teachers had to be found. This was not just an anarchist dilemma. Finding appropriately trained teachers, willing to work for low pay, was a common problem throughout Cuba and had been since independence. After 1909, the government had created teachers examinations, but not until 1916 were there teachers schools and special correspondence courses for teachers. Still, most highly qualified people went into other, better paying fields.[89] Of course, rationalist education had its own unique educational foundations, and not just any type of teacher would suffice. Taking their cue from problems during the first wave of anarchist schools, supporters urged school councils to be particularly cautious about whom they hired to teach.[90] Soledad Gustavo noted that after teaching several years in a co-educational academy, she had deduced that the greatest influence of the teacher was as a role model to students. To this end Gustavo proposed founding a school to train teachers in rationalist education.[91]

Vicente Canoura, the first manager of Nueva Luz and author of several pieces on education, echoed the caution regarding teachers. He questioned whether there were enough qualified teachers to fill the number of rationalist schools springing up around the island. After all, he warned, not just anyone could hop up to the podium or stroll inside a classroom and instruct in rationalism. One had to be trained to know how to recognize individual learning patterns and create appropriate individualized learning programs. While supporters did not immediately solve these problems in Cuban schools, all concerned were pleased with the selections of Alberta Mejías Sánchez and Ramón César in the Banes school as well as the FOH’s selection of José Miguel Pérez as that school’s teacher. Pérez had taught in private schools in Cuba after he emigrated from the Canary Islands in 1920. However, his activism in social struggles in Spain and his association with radical working-class elements in Havana eased the minds of those who questioned a private school educator in the rationalist schools.[92] Still, other anarchists who apparently lacked formal training nevertheless served in teaching roles at the FOH school, including the longtime Afro-Cuban anarchist Rafael Serra.[93]

The larger question of pedagogy arose in other less formal but still important educational forums as well. Creating and running schools not only was expensive and time consuming but also reached limited audiences. To expand and promote their messages while at the same time complementing the schools, anarchists used their movement culture, especially social gatherings (veladas), both as fund-raisers and as venues to “teach” people outside of the schoolhouse walls. Women and children recited most of the poetry and sang most of the songs at the veladas, while other women and children sat in the front rows. It was common for young children, frequently sons and daughters of anarchists, to recite revolutionary poems they had learned by heart. Some radicals believed it was crucial that children serve in the veladas. The children’s presence and participation illustrated that future generations were being prepared for the coming struggles. Also, by participating these children gained the sense of a larger social purpose in their lives. However, Zoilo Menéndez, a frequent writer on educational issues for Nueva Luz, criticized this practice on two pedagogical grounds. First, the processes of rote memorization and recitation were antithetical to the rationalist belief of experience over memorization. Second, Menéndez suggested that memorization for recitation was akin to what religions and political parties did. They taught doctrine to children before the children had developed sufficient mental and emotional faculties to understand the issues. In other words, fanaticism was being taught before one’s reason could be devel-oped.[94] Few took Menéndez’s criticisms to heart as children remained prominent in the veladas.

Besides pedagogical concerns and the need to find qualified teachers, rationalist education supporters had to fund the schools, which were to be free to students. Supporters resorted to old ways of financing the bulk of many schools’ expenses: worker donations. Yet, unlike funding concerns from the earlier era of 1908–1912 when rationalist schools primarily were financed on the backs of small, scattered anarchist groups, by the 1920s rationalist education had become a more “mainstream” idea in Cuban labor radicalism and thus the schools drew on a wider resource base for donations. For instance, individuals frequently sent between 50 centavos and five pesos to Nueva Luz, which distributed the money to the schools. Some unions, like the Havana Electric Workers Union, decided to take the money that they would normally spend semi-annually on pamphlets and send it to the schools instead.[95] Other groups of workers in places like the Cieneguita sugar mill in Abreus, or Havana, or Ciego de Avila appointed delegates to collect larger amounts of funds from throughout an individual workplace and then send the funds to schools.[96] And, like the earlier era, veladas were held as fundraisers.[97] It was the FOH school in Havana, though, that benefited most from the increased efforts of pan-sectarian organizing. The FOH had the benefit of drawing funds from the various labor unions under its umbrella.[98] For instance, unions and individuals federated with the FOH paid the school’s utility bills and the salaries of three teachers at the school (Pérez, José Peña Vilaboa, and Eloisa Barreiro—the latter the wife of the prominent labor leader Alejandro Barreiro and whose children were part of the FOH school’s first class).[99] Still, like in the earlier era, anarchists and other radicals on the island found a large list of worthy causes toward which to send their money, especially political prisoners in the United States (Sacco and Vanzetti, Enrique Flores Magón) and Cuba, as well as sending money to Havana to keep Nueva Luz in print. Thus, securing enough funding for schools remained a persistent worry.

Whatever optimism existed within anarchist circles came crashing down with the presidential election of Gerardo Machado in 1924. Promising to clamp down on an insurgent labor movement, Machado unleashed a wave of repression on anarchists and communists just as a new nationwide labor movement sought to expand rationalist education. In February 1925, labor leaders, including the most prominent anarchists of the day, held a national workers’ congress in Cienfuegos. Like earlier workers’ conferences, education was a key plank in the platform. Antonio Penichet headed the congress’ Education Commission, which called on workers to create a Worker Education Commission in every Cuban town, even if no organized unions yet existed. Each commission was charged with purchasing workers’ newspapers for the community, creating rationalist schools, collecting small monthly dues to print propaganda and educational pamphlets, organizing popular universities, identifying people who could give public talks, and encouraging the use of phonographs, cinema and other communications technology to educate people.[100]

However, before these efforts could bear much fruit, the Machado government began its efforts to destroy the strengthening workers movement. In August 1925, Machado closed the Sindicato de la Industrial Fabril and arrested its anarchist leader Margarito Iglesias. The closure cut off a major financial contributor to the FOH and thus the schools.[101] In September, the anarchist railroad union leader Enrique Varona was jailed and then murdered. In October 1925, anarchist labor leader and head of the FOH Alfredo López was arrested and not released from jail until January 1926. In the meantime, anarchists fled the island to Florida and Mexico. In July 1926, López was kidnapped; his remains not discovered until seven years later.[102] This wave of repression, aimed particularly against anarchists and their allies, resulted in the abandonment of the schools. In fact, this abandonment was precipitated by one of the government’s first repressive measures. In August 1925, Pérez, the FOH school teacher, was deported as a “pernicious foreigner.” In response, students from the FOH school issued a manifesto. They noted how they had become accustomed to assaults on workers, but taking aim at teachers was something new. This was reminiscent of Spanish repression during the war for independence. “Just as our parents tell us of the horrors committed by [General] Weyler, with his kidnappings, concentration camp policies, crimes and oppressions, we will tell our own children of the crimes committed against us.”[103] Once again, from the anarchist worldview, independence had brought little progress. Pérez’s deportation symbolized the government’s larger crackdown against radical labor. The repression first unleashed in 1925 brought about the collapse of the rationalist education movement just as it was reaching the height of its success.


While generally small and short-lived, the rationalist schools illustrate several important processes at work on the island in the decades following independence from Spain. First, an examination of the schools expands our knowledge of leftist politics in Republican Cuba before the founding of the Cuban Communist Party in 1925. Educational initiatives reveal how anarchists challenged the state and the Church not only in the workplace and the streets but also in the meeting halls and the classrooms. Second, the anarchist conflict with the Cuban educational system reveals how one inadequately studied segment on the margins of the population pursued a vision for Cuba that fell squarely outside the bounds of official notions. While government officials struggled to educate the population with high doses of moral and civics training, anarchist education emphasized freedom of thought, the sciences, and rejection of patriotic overtures like flag saluting, pledging allegiance, and singing the National Anthem. Third, just as anarchists condemned public education, they likewise spoke out vehemently against religious education, taking part in a long-running debate in the larger society about the role of private, especially religious, schools and what they meant to a democratic Cuba. Finally, for all of their words and deeds to create an alternative educational system that would offer a new vision of Cuba’s future, anarchist education supporters ran into the same problems as the public schools. They had both too few resources and a shortage of qualified teachers. Yet, the schools, first developed by anarchists and then adopted by Cuban leftists in general, must be regarded as nearly forgotten monuments to Cuba’s leftist heritage that emphasized education for revolutionary change decades before the rise of Communist mass educational reforms after 1959.

In the decades following the 1959 socialist revolution in Cuba, supporters trumpeted education as one of the government’s great success stories. This top-down implementation of educational reforms thus became a key component of Cuban socialism. Yet, the role of leftist education in pre-1959 Cuba is less well known. Anarchists played a central role in tying together educational methods and early twentieth-century socialist values. They brought these methods to Cuban socialism from the working-class fringes of Cuban society, not the privileged position of state control. As such these educational experiments from the margins provide a unique perspective into the larger dimensions of Cuban education and culture in the first thirty years following independence from Spain. Beyond this, rationalist schools, first introduced by and always central to the program of anarchists, reveal much about the history of anarchism on the island and how dedicated anarchists were to promoting a cause that would benefit children and workers in the present while preparing them for a future social revolution. Finally, anarchist education provides important new insight into the revolutionary culture of Cuba’s leftist tradition before 1959 and a critical early phase of that tradition in which socialists of all varieties worked together to promote an alternative form of education to challenge the state and the Church.

[1] Nueva Luz, January 22, 1925, p. 7.

[2] Edward Fitchen. “Primary Education in Colonial Cuba: Spanish Tool for Retaining «La Isla Siempre Leal?»”, Caribbean Studies 14,1 (April 1974), pp. 115–118.

[3] See a selection of Steele’s account in Louis A. Pérez, Jr., ed. Slaves, Sugar, & Colonial Society: Travel Accounts of Cuba, 1801–1899 (Wilmington DE: Scholarly Resources, 1992), p. 202.

[4] Enrique José Varona, “Report of the Secretary of Public Instruction for the six months ending June 30, 1901,” United States War Department, Civil Report of Brigadier General Leonard Wood, Military Governor of Cuba (Washington, D.C.: U.S. War Department, 1901), vol. 7, pp. 7–8.

[5] Matthew E. Hanna, “Annual Report of the commissioner of Public Schools, June 1901,” ibid., vol. 7, 128. Louis Pérez argues, probably correctly, that such noble-sounding republican sentiments had their insidious undertones, however. While Cubans like Varona may have been involved in reorganizing the educational system, U.S. policy makers in Washington believed an educational system was being devised not merely to teach Cubans how to be good republicans. Instead, the system was being designed to acculturate Cubans to U.S. political and cultural values. In this regard the educational system was part of a larger restructuring of the political and economic orientation of the country that would lead, if not to outright annexation of the island by the United States, then to “‘annexation by acclamation’.” See Louis A. Pérez, Jr., “The Imperial Design: Politics and Pedagogy in Occupied Cuba, 1899–1902,” Cuban Studies 12,2 (July 1982), p. 6.

[6] Louis A. Pérez, Jr., “The Imperial Design,” p. 9. A teacher shortage at independence prompted U.S. officials to recruit teachers from throughout the island. The recruiters focused especially on youth from elite families who were most sympathetic to the U.S. occupation. From 1900–1901, 1500 Cuban teachers went to summer school at Harvard University (where their “decidedly superior class” status was recognized by the U.S. press) to study English, U.S. and Spanish-American History, physical geography and special courses of which manual training was popular. Education officials turned to U.S. publishers to supply readers, along with grammar, math, science, and history texts, that were then translated into Spanish. See Sylvester Baxter, “The Cuban Teachers at Harvard University,” The Outlook, 65:14 (August 4, 1900), p. 780; and Hanna, “Annual Report of the Commissioner of Public Schools, June 1901,” pp. 34–35.

[7] 7 Hanna, “Annual Report of the Commissioner of Public Schools,” pp. 184–185.

[8] Perla A. Cartaya and José A. Joanes Pando, Raíces de la escuela primaria pública cubana, 19021925 (Havana: Editorial Pueblo y Educación, 1996), pp. 13, 16, 27–29.

[9] Cartaya and Joanes Pando, Raices, pp. 15–18.

[10] Alejandro de la Fuente, A Nation for All: Race, Inequality, and Politics in Twentieth-Century Cuba (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001), pp. 143–146.

[11] Charles E. Magoon, Provisional Governor, “Report of Department of Public Instruction,” Report of Provisional Administration from October 13th, 1906 to December 1st, 1907 (Havana: Republic of Cuba, 1908), p. 342

[12] Jason Yaremko, U.S. Protestant Missions in Cuba: From Independence to Castro (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000), pp. 64–75.

[13] K. Lynn Stoner, From the House to the Street: The Cuban Woman’s Movement for Legal Reform, 1898–1940 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991), pp. 36, 133–135.

[14] Rebelión!, December 14, 1908, p. 2. Boring routines may have been as much the fault of the economics of teaching as it was pedagogy. Teachers were so poorly paid that most needed second jobs to survive, leaving little time for creative, innovative instruction. See Nueva Luz, September 14, 1922, p. 1.

[15] ¡Tierra!, June 30, 1906, p. 1.

[16] Cartaya and Joanes Pando, Raíces, pp. 4–5.

[17] Cartaya and Joanes Pando, Raices, pp. 21, 30; and Laurie Johnston, “Education in Cuba Libre, 1898–1959,” History Today 45,8 (August 1995), p. 28.

[18] ¡Tierra!, April 3, 1909, p. 1. Italics in the original.

[19] ¡Tierra!, September 24, 1910, p. 1.

[20] For a fuller discussion of the conflict between the anarchists’ internationalist vision for Cuba and the nationalist backlash they regularly faced, see Kirwin Shaffer, “‘Cuba para todos’: Anarchist Internationalism and the Cultural Politics of Cuban Independence, 1898–1925,” Cuban Studies, 31 (2000), pp. 45–75.

[21] Stoner, From the House to the Streets, p. 35.

[22] See Charles E. Magoon, Provisional Governor, “Report of Department of Public Instruction,” Report of Provisional Administration from October 13th, 1906 to December 1st, 1907 (Havana: Republic of Cuba, 1908), p. 328.

[23] Rebelión!, July 3, 1909, p. 2.

[24] El Audaz, April 15, 1913, p. 12. Responding to a Diario de la Marina column by Nicolás Rivero who called for a resurgence of Christian and spiritual education to accompany all learning, El Audaz columnist “Ana Clorhidrico” recalled a March 30, 1905 open letter to the President of Cuba. In the letter, the writer warned of Rivero as the man with “toda la refinada malicia de un jesuíta de sotana corta” who would, if he had his way, enslave the Cuban conscience “a favor del fraile y del cura españoles para hacer de ese modo irrisorio el triunfo de la Revolución,” and that Rivero was not even a good Cuban because he preferred to educate, not citizens, but servants “para mayor abominación, siervos de un extranjero.” See El Audaz, May 15, 1913, pp. 1–2.

[25] Nueva Luz, June 7, 1923, p. 6.

[26] William Godwin, “Enquiry Concerning Political Justice,” Patterns of Anarchy, eds. Leonard I. Krimerman and Lewis Perry (Garden City, NY, 1966), pp. 434–435. For an excellent overview of Godwin and other intellectual precursors of Ferrer, see Paul Avrich, The Modern School Movement: Anarchism and Education in the United States (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), pp. 1–33.

[27] Avrich, The Modern School Movement, p. 6.

[28] Avrich, The Modern School Movement, pp. 4–6. See also L. Portet’s prologue to Francisco Ferrer Guardia, La Escuela Moderna (Barcelona: Tusquets Editor, 1976), pp. 24–28.

[29] Ferrer Guardia, La Escuela Moderna, pp. 189–199. See also Angel Cappelletti, Francisco Ferrer y la pedagogía libertaria (Mexico City: Editores Mexicanos Unidos, 1980), pp. 35–41.

[30] Ferrer Guardia, La Escuela Moderna, p. 112.

[31] Ferrer Guardia, La Escuela Moderna, pp. 113–114.

[32] Ferrer Guardia, La Escuela Moderna, pp. 113–114, and Angel Cappelletti, Francisco Ferrer y la pedagogía libertaria, pp. 67–68.

[33] Ferrer Guardia, La Escuela Moderna, pp. 186–187.

[34] Avrich, The Modern School Movement, pp. 23–24; Angel Cappelletti, Francisco Ferrer, pp. 86–90. Authorities had accused Ferrer’s friend Mateo Morral of the assassination attempt. On June 4, 1906 they used this friendship as a pretext to arrest Ferrer for inciting Morral. Eleven days later, with Ferrer in jail, the Escuela Moderna was closed. A year passed until Ferrer was acquitted and released on June 12, 1907, at which time he toured Europe before returning to Barcelona to reopen the publishing house, though authorities refused to allow the school to reopen.

[35] Joan Casanovas, Bread, or Bullets! Urban Labor and Spanish Colonialism in Cuba, 1850–1898. (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998), pp. 72–73, 84–85 and 162–163.

[36] See El Nuevo Ideal, June 30, 1899, p. 2; and September 15, 1900, p. 2 respectively. The Guanabacoa school and a 1905 effort between anarchists and café workers in Havana to form a CES apparently failed after only a few months.

[37] Eduardo Martínez Balsalobre, Conferencias sobre el socialismo revolucionario, (Havana: La Moderna Poesia, 1904), pp. 37–40.

[38] Martínez Balsalobre, Conferencias, p. 1.

[39] ¡Tierra!, January 28, 1905, p. 2; and February 4, 1905, p. 3.

[40] ¡Tierra!, February 7, 1906, p. 2.

[41] Eduardo Gómez Luaces, Monografía histórica del movimiento obrero en Regla (1833–1958). This unpublished manuscript is housed in the Museo Municipal de Regla. Pages are not numbered.

[42] ¡Tierra!, May 23, 1908, p. 3; May 30, 1908, p. 3; La Voz del Dependiente, June 16, 1908 (insert).

[43] La Voz del Dependiente, October 8, 1908 (insert); ¡Tierra!, October 31, 1908, p. 3. In October 1908 “Educación del Porvenir” dissolved itself in order to form the Cuban section of the Liga. The Liga attempted to organize rationalist groups throughout the island, with each group sending a delegate to the section’s office in Havana. The Liga secretary would collect monthly dues of twenty centavos from each member of Liga-associated groups to be used for starting more schools.

[44] Gómez Luaces, Monografía histórica del movimiento obrero en Regla.

[45] ¡Tierra!, November 21, 1908, p. 1; March 13, 1909, p. 4; La Voz del Dependiente, May 13, 1909,

[46] Rebelión!, April 8, 1909, p. 3.

[47] La Voz del Dependiente, June 24, 1909, p. 3.

[48] Rebelión!, July 16, 1909, pp. 2–3.

[49] Rebelión!, October 5, 1909, p. 2.

[50] La Voz del Dependiente, October 28, 1909, p. 3; and November 18, 1909, p. 3.

[51] La Voz del Dependiente, November 18, 1909, p. 3; ¡Tierra!, January 15, 1910, p. 1.

[52] ¡Tierra!, September 3, 1910, p. 3; October 29, 1910, p. 4.

[53] ¡Tierra!, March 26, 1910, p. 4; La Voz del Dependiente, March 3, 1910, p. 2 and September 3, 1910, p. 3.

[54] La Voz del Dependiente, January 20, 1911, p. 3; April 22, 1011, p. 4; June 6, 1911, p. 3.

[55] ¡Tierra!, October 22, 1910, p. 2.

[56] Bases y Reglamento. Centro de Estudios Sociales del Cerro. Havana: Imprenta de Castro, 1911.

[57] ¡Tierra!, October 21, 1911, p. 2.

[58] For brief references to these women, see ¡Tierra!, July 18, 1911, p. 3; October 14, 1911, p. 2; October 22, 1914, p. 2.

[59] “Memo for the Chief of Staff from John W. Furlong, Captain, General Staff, Chief, Military Information Division, January 3, 1908,” Records of the Provisional Government, Record Group 199, National Archives, Washington, DC.

[60] ¡Tierra!, June 8, 1912, p. 3; January 14, 1913, p. 2.

[61] ¡Tierra!, June 22, 1912, p. 1.

[62] To gather a picture of school finances, one need look no further than the back pages of most issues of ¡Tierra!, which regularly published weekly collections. For the 1911–1912 Cerro CES school, for example, see ¡Tierra!, November 18, 1911, p. 4; November 18, 1911, p. 4; December 2, 1911, p. 3; February 17, 1912, p. 4; March 7, 1912, p. 3; April 6, 1912, p. 4. The figures illustrate how after rent and teachers’ salaries, there was little left to buy supplies. The Cerro school did run surpluses in its first months, but by April 1912, slight deficits caught up with the school.

[63] See Dora Barrancos, Anarquismo, educación y costumbres en la Argentina de principios de siglo (Buenos Aires: Editorial Contrapunto, 1990).

[64] I address the recovery of anarchism within the labor movement after World War I in my article “‘Cuba para todos’:” pp. 45–75.

[65] Antonio Penichet, Tácticas en uso y tácticas a seguir (Havana: El Ideal, 1922), p. 45.

[66] Penichet, Tácticas en uso, 3.

[67] As with relations between anarchists and communists throughout the world after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, not all anarchists were comfortable with this alliance. In particular, anarcho-syndi-calists who published the newspaper El Progreso, the anarchist and anti-Marxist Acción Libertaria, as well as anarcho-naturists like the leading anarchist literary figure on the island, Adrián del Valle, questioned this linkage and cooperated only loosely with non-anarchists.

[68] Nueva Luz, August 17, 1922, p. 6. The association “Cultura” initiated efforts to resurrect rationalist education in Cuba by trying to construct a school in January 1921, though the efforts seem to have failed. See Educación Obrera, January 15, 1921, p. 2.

[69] Nueva Luz, September 7, 1922, p. 8; Nueva Luz, November 2, 1922, p. 1.

[70] Nueva Luz, October 12, 1922, p. 2.

[71] León Primelles, Crónica Cubana, 1919–1922, 2 vols. (Havana: Editorial Lex, 1957), p. 269.

[72] Nueva Luz, September 14, 1922, p. 1.

[73] Alejandro de la Fuente, A Nation for All: Race, Inequality, and Politics in Twentieth-Century Cuba (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), p. 144.

[74] Laurie Johnston, “Cuban Nationalism and Responses to Private Education in Cuba, 1902–1958,” Ideologues and Ideologies in Latin America, ed. Will Fowler (Westport, CN: Greenwood Publishing, 1997), pp. 30–31.

[75] Johnston, “Cuban Nationalism,” p. 33; Yaremko, U.S. Protestant Missions in Cuba, p. 72.

[76] Johnston, “Cuban Nationalism,” pp. 30–31.

[77] Nueva Luz, October 19, 1922, p. 1.

[78] Nueva Luz, October 19, 1922, p. 2.

[79] Nueva Luz, January 25, 1923, p. 1.

[80] For a particularly illuminating front-page visual, see Nueva Luz, February 15, 1923, p. 1.

[81] Nueva Luz, September 16, 1923, p. 2.

[82] Ôlga Cabrera, Los que viven por sus manos (Havana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 1985), p. 248; Nueva Luz, November 16, 1922, p. 6; September 16, 1923, p. 6.

[83] Nueva Luz, January 4, 1923, p. 8; and July 19, 1923, pp. 1 and 3.

[84] Nueva Luz, September 30, 1924.

[85] Nueva Luz, March 15, 1923 p. 6.

[86] Nueva Luz, February 8, 1923, p. 6; and March 15, 1923, p. 7.

[87] Nueva Luz, November 2, 1922, p. 7.

[88] Antonio Penichet was a leading anarchist figure in Cuba in the late 1910s and 1920s. A typographer by trade, Penichet became a leading anarchist fiction writer in the 1910s. He helped found the anarchist newspaper Nueva Luz in 1922. Penichet also headed the Education Committee of the National Confederation of Cuban Workers, building on his emphasis in education through his Nueva Luz columns. In 1938, Penichet contributed a chapter entitled “El proceso social” for a general history of Cuba, Curso de introducción a la historia de Cuba (Havana: Municipio de la Habana, 1938). The chapter was essentially a basic history of anarchism on the island. Later, Penichet served as director of the National Library. In that capacity, he helped initiate an island-wide educational reform movement in 1941 to protect the island’s liberal and democratic aspects from fascist and Vatican encroachments. See Por la escuela cubana en Cuba Libre. Trabajos, acuerdos y adhesiones de una campaña cívica y cultural (Havana: Cárdenas y compañia, 1941), pp. 11–19.

[89] Cartaya and Joanes Pando, Raíces, p. 53.

[90] Nueva Luz, January 25, 1923, p. 6.

[91] Nueva Luz, February 22, 1923, p. 2.

[92] Nueva Luz, May 3, 1923, p. 3; and Cabrera, Los que viven por sus manos, p. 247.

[93] Nueva Luz, March 4, 1924.

[94] Nueva Luz, December 28, 1922, p. 7.

[95] Nueva Luz, December 21, 1922, p. 8.

[96] Nueva Luz, February 1, 1923, p. 5; February 22, 1923, p. 8; and May 24, 1923, p. 1.

[97] See Nueva Luz, December 21, 1922, p. 8; and February 25, 1924, p. 6 for examples.

[98] These included unions representing trolley workers, cigarette makers, printers, construction workers, painters, confectioners, and others whose contributions were specifically dedicated to the school.

[99] Nueva Luz, April 24, 1925, p. 7.

[100] Nueva Luz, March 25, 1925, pp. 4–6.

[101] During the period from October 1, 1923 to the end of December 1924, the Sindicato gave $1,133.95 to the FOH out of a total $6,280.93 of total contributions from all sources, i.e., nearly 20%. See Nueva Luz, April 24, 1925, p. 7.

[102] Frank Fernández, El anarquismo en Cuba (Madrid: Fundación de Estudios Libertarios Anselmo Lorenzo, 2000), pp. 64–65.

[103] From “Manifiesto” published in Nueva Luz, September 5, 1925. See also “Nueva Protesta de la Federación Obrera de la Habana” from September 2, 1925, in Mirta Rosell, ed., Luchas obreras contra Machado (Havana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 1973), pp. 83–84.