Political and literary figure of Cuba and Latin America
Military leader of Cuban insurgent army
19th century revolutionary activist, dedicated political theorist, prolific writer, poet, journalist, and convincing orator
“The figure on whom the burden of proving that an independent Cuba would be a black and white nation, at ease with itself, was Jose Marti, a hero of both Cuban and Latin American history” (Gott, p83).
In order to understand Marti one needs to know him not only as a political man but as a poet. His life was intertwined with his literary pursuits. He wanted his writings created rigorous literary criticism during his time but now young Cuban intellectuals and writers are slowly beginning to give way and reappraisal. Marti is the only bona fide poet amongst other writers and poets; he figures securely in the canon of Latin American literature on his own merits as poet, orator, essayist, and chronicler. His strength was also in journalism. He had no peer as an orator in an age when oratory was a highly respected literary genre. As a political organizer, he had no equal either. He was charged with idealism, sympathy for downtrodden, and a pan-American that has found many followers. His political program was hortative than practical and fit to encourage Cubans to battle yet not detailed enough to run a country in peacetime. His death brought unity and closure to all of his endeavors by eliminating the frail physical vessel that contained them and by giving them transcendental meaning on an ideal literary plane.
Fuera Del Mundo
Fuera del mundo que batalla y luce
Sin recordar a su infeliz cautivo,
A un trabajo servil sujeto vivo
Que a la muerte temprano me conduce.
Mas hay junto a mi mesa una ventana
Por donde entra la luz; y no daría
Este rincón de la ventana mía
¡Por la mayor esplendidez humana!—
Another area in which he excelled in was in his production of children’s literature with a view to the development of better citizens for his imagined Cuban republic. His writings consisted of spiritualism, mystical nationalism, and compassion for the poor and abused. His idea of a free Cuba was ruled by love and justice, free of prejudice, and oppression.
“Yet Marti’s immolation was in the name not just of freedom but of his country’s independence and birth as a nation in a war that he had himself feverishly planned. He set an unsurpassable standard for future poets, who would work rebelliousness into their verse but were not quite ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. In Latin America, Marti represents an idealized fusion of politics and poetry.”
His writings and views greatly influenced Cuba and societies commodities such as money. Havana’s airport is named after Marti, as the national library and countless other buildings and institutions, and his face appears on bills and on coins. A museum exists in every town and a white plaster bust outside every school room.
Within his writings the love of Cuba and love of death drove him inexorably to the place where two motherlands- Cuba and the night came together and a moment where all would acquire a meaning too transcendental to express with mere words. Death sealed life and poetry as a unit.
(Example: War Diaries/ Diarios de Campana)
His writing gave Cubans a sense of centeredness and a significance that they have not lost against the Spanish. His writings reflect the early Cuban life.
I Dream Awake
Day and night
I always dream with open eyes
And on top of the foaming waves
Of the wide turbulent sea,
And on the rolling
And merrily riding on the gentle neck
Of a mighty lion,
Monarch of my heart,
I always see a floating child
Who is calling me!
Born in Havana in 1853 A child of Spanish immigrants. He was killed in Cuba at the age of 42 in May of 1895. He worked for Latin America’s independence struggle against Spain and lived for much of his life as an exile in the United States. “I know the Monster, because I have lived in its lair- an my weapon is only the slingshot of David.” These were almost his last words and what he most remembered for.
As he has prophesied:
"Don't in darkness let me lie
With traitors to come undone:
I am good, and as the good die,
I will die face to the sun!"
January 1869, he helped publish a newspaper Patria Libre. It printed his romantic comments on the rebel cause at the young age of 16. He was identified as subversive so he was arrested on charges of criticizing a friend and was sentenced to 6 years in prison. In February 1871, he was exiled to Spain where he studied philosophy and law at the University of Madrid.
After studying he traveled to Europe then established himself in Mexico (where his parents were living in exile). Here is where he also saw the inequalities and mistreatment between the indigenous people and the Spanish. He was outspoken of racial equality for both whites and blacks! Due to the Pact of Zanjon of 1878, he was able to return to Cuba. This pact included an amnesty for political exiles. He then joined the Cuban Revolutionary Committee where he later becomes the president of this committee and it was based in New York. He was then charged with conspiracy during the preparation for the Guerra Chiquita in 1879, so he was once again exile and was sent to Spain. That did not stop him so he went to New York for the next 15 years of his life. He worked closely with other Cuban exiles on plans to re-launch the independence war. All of his political instincts favored a civilian leadership. Being exiled from his country did not stop him from speaking up for injustices. He was the consul of Uruguay, a regular commentator on the American affairs for La Nacion, the daily paper of Buenos Aires, established the Liga de Instruccion ( a training school for the revolutionary cadres of the future), and in 1892 established the Cuban Revolutionary Party (an independence movement to be financed by its individual supporters). The party envisaged a brief and generous war. Towards the end of his life he abandoned his work as a journalist, gave up his newspaper columns, and relinquished his consular posts in order to work full time in organizing a secret revolutionary war.
Yo Soy Un Hombre Sincero
A sincere man am I
Yo soy un hombre sincero