Saturday, March 15, 2008

José Marti, Cuban Revolutionary Party, January 5, 1892


José Martí, born in 1853 in La Habana, Cuba, was a poet, a revolutionary and is known as Cuba's National Hero. He was sentenced to 6 years of hard labor at the age of 16 for his political activity and later was exiled to Spain. He also lived in the United States where he was able to mobilize support for the Cuban revolution among Cuban exiles. He was a founder of the Cuban Revolutionary Party and spoke out against U.S. imperialism in Latin America. In 1895, he was shot and killed during an invasion of Cuba, giving his life to help make Cuba free. His dream was realized, but not until after his death. In 1898, Spain gave up control of Cuba as a provision of the Treaty of Peace of Paris between the United States and Spain, ending the Spanish-American War. The Cuban Republic was instituted in 1902, but did not return to home rule until 1909.
The day before he died, Martí said in a letter that it was his duty “to prevent, by the independence of Cuba, the United States from spreading over the West Indies and falling, with that added weight, upon other lands of our America. All I have done up to now, and shall do hereafter, is to that end… I have lived inside the monster and know its insides.”
As a student of Spanish literature, I have read Martí's poetry and see him as more than just another revolutionary fighting for his country. He, like Cuban exiles today, longed to see a "Cuba Libre" - a free Cuba. His longing for his homeland is seen and felt in his poem "Dos patrias" (Two Homelands) from his collection of poems, "Flores de destierro" (Flowers of Exile), written during his exile, and his identity as a son of Cuba is clear in the poem "Soy un hombre sincero" from the collection, "Versos sencillos".
Interesting note: an adaptation of this poem was set to music in 1929, called "Guantanamera", and due to Martí's status as National Hero, became an unofficial Cuban anthem. It was made popular in the United States later in the 20th century by The Sandpipers.


A. Mattson said...

A great post, good use of links.

Marti is a key figure in Cuban and American history. During his exile in the U.S. he managed to stir up American public opinion with the help of the American newspapers. Using tales of Spanish atrocities committed in Cuba, Marti stirred the emotions of American readers and emerged the great patriot of the Cuban rebellion. He was also a great writer as you have shared with us. He was truly one of the most eloquent statesman of the late 19th century.

Lorena Glover said...

Interestingly, he is not mentioned in our textbook, "America", unless I missed something! He definitely deserves a place in an American history book.

A. Mattson said...

He should be mentioned. I guess I just assumed that he would be in there or perhaps he was included in an earlier edition. You can't learn about the Spanish American war without learning about Marti.