After fighting for the Spanish colonizers against the independence fighters in Venezuela, Narciso López moved from his native Caracas to Havana, Cuba. His involvement in anticolonial movements forced him to be banished. In 1849 he moved to New York City, where he continued to fight for the rights to be an independent Cuban.
The three blue stripes represent the three departments in which Cuba was divided at that time, the white purity of ideals, the light; the red triangle, originating from the French Revolution – and the three ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity: red for the blood and the courage.
The poet Miguel Teurbe Tolón designed the flag alongside López. Emilia Teurbe Tolón, Miguel's wife, sewed the first flag.