On May 19, 1895, Cuba’s national hero José Martí died. Martí (1853-1895) was a writer, poet, philosopher, patriot and fighter for the birth and independence of the Cuban nation. His name is synonymous with the struggle of the Cuban people to defend the high road of civilization, the Cuban Revolution, Cuba’s independence and struggle to build a society in the service of the well-being of the people.
Fidel Castro best defined the most significant aspect of Martí’s contribution to the Cuban nation while writing from a prison cell before the Cuban Revolution. Of all Martí’s virtues, Castro wrote, it was his ability to unite all the Cuban people that enabled the Cuban people to win their independence, to build their nation and to stop the expansion of the United States in the hemisphere.
In the decades since the Cuban Revolution, ensuring the unity of the country and the unity of the people has remained fundamental because a nation divided could not preserve its independence, its nationhood or succeed in its nation-building project of a society of social justice and equality.
Posted below are excerpts of Martí’s famous essay Our America originally published on January 1, 1891.
– José Martí –
We can no longer be a people of leaves, living in the air, our foliage heavy with blooms and crackling or humming at the whim of the sun’s caress, or buffeted and tossed by the storms. The trees must form ranks to keep the giant with the seven-league boots from passing! It is the time of mobilization, of marching together, and we must go forward in close ranks, like silver in the veins of the Andes.
Republics have paid with oppression for the inability to recognize the true elements of their countries, to derive from them the right kind of government, and to govern accordingly. In a new nation a government means a creator.
To know one’s country and govern it with that knowledge is the only way to free it from tyranny. […] Let the world be grafted onto our republics, but the trunk must be our own […] The new Americans are on their feet, saluting each other from nation to nation, the eyes of the labourers shining with joy!
José Martí is commemorated by the Cuban people at the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, May 19, 2022. (Cubadebate)