Story Behind the Anthem
The Cuban national anthem was written by Pedro “Perucho” Figueredo, a general in the Ten Year War, in the dawn of August 14, 1867. The music was composed by Manuel Muñoz Cedeño on May 8, 1868. It is known as Himno de Bayamo or La Bayamesa because it was first performed during the Battle of Bayamo on October 18, 1868.
Three days later when the Cubans took the city of Bayamo from the Spaniards, the triumphant people surrounded Perucho and asked him for the lyrics to the anthem. With a pencil and paper he took from his pocket as he sat on his horse, he wrote them down. Copies were passed around, and the crowd sang the anthem for the very first time.
In 1870, Perucho was taken prisoner by the Spanish and condemned to death. As he stood to be executed by the firing squad, he shouted the words from his anthem: Morir por la Patria es vivir (To die for the country is to live).
The national anthem was officially adopted in 1940. It consists of six verses, but only the first two are sung.