History of Cuba 2 – Jose Marti 1853-1895 and the War of Independence


Jose Marti 1853-1895

Jose Marti is the national hero of Cuba, his revolutionary writings studied by every child in the country. In yet another attempt to insult the Cuban Revolution, the US radio and TV channels specially created to broadcast subversive and hostile propaganda into Cuba from Florida are called Radio and TV Marti.

* Jose Marti, political activist, poet, journalist and teacher, was born in Cuba. His father was Spanish and his mother was from the Canary islands. From a young age he was politically involved and came into conflict with the government, doing 6 years hard labour at 16 years old for anti-government activity, and then being deported to Spain.

* He spent time in the USA where he mobilised support for the Cuban revolution amongst Cuban exiles. He was against the annexation of Cuba to the US, being proposed in the 1880s mostly by middle class Cubans and supported by the USA. ‘In the USA, the causes of unity instead of coalescing, have become dispersed; humanity’s problems, instead of being solved, have been increased, democracy has been corrupted and indermined and has given birth to menacing poverty and hatred.’

* Jose Marti believed that the Cuban liberation struggle could only be built by the working class. During the 10 Year War, some leaders had relied on rich Cuban emigres and ignored the black working class. In the US, much of his work was based amongst the black Cuban tobacco workers who had emigrated to find work. He said, ‘There is no danger of war between the races in Cuba. Man means more than white man, mulatto or black man. The souls of white men and negroes have risen together from the battlefield where they have fought and died for Cuba.’

* He was instrumental in founding the Cuban Revolutionary Party in 1892, which was a broad-based movement. He fought for the unity of Latin America against US imperialism: ‘I have lived inside the monster and know its entrails’.

* In 1895, he, Maceo and Gomez launched an invasion of Cuba. Marti was shot and killed. An unfinished letter to a friend spoke of him risking his life to stop the US taking control of Cuba.

* From 1895 to 1898, the Cuban Liberation army fought against forces many times their size. They drove the Spanish to the most western point of Cuba. In retaliation, the Spanish built concentration camps and herded Cubans into them. Many died of malnutrition and dysentry.

* In 1889 Marti had written, ‘Once the US is in Cuba who will get her out?’. It was not until 60 years later that the Cuban Revolution got rid of US control of Cuba, overcame the racism against which Marti had battled all his life, and achieved the equality and social justice he had dreamed of.

Chronology of Marti’s life

* 1853 Born in Havana.
* Went to San Pablo college run by Cuban patriot Rafael Maria de Mendive, who was to become Marti’s mentor.
* 1871 Deported to Spain.
* 1873 1st Republic proclaimed in Spain. He attends Zaragoza University. Writes The Spanish Republic and The Cuban Revolution.
* 1874 Completes his BA in Law and Philosophy.
* 1875 Goes to Mexico where he is reunited with his family. Publishes Revista Universal.
* 1877 Returns to Cuba under a pseudonym. And from there to Guatemala. Takes a post as a professor of literature. Marries Carmen.
* 1878 Back to Cuba. Refused permission to work as a lawyer. Son born, Jose Francisco.
* 1879 Arrested for conspiracy. Deported to Spain, and from there went to the USA.
* 1880 In New York, he was made Interim President of the New York Cuban Revolutionary Committee. Publishes The Hour and The Sun. Daughter born called Maria Mantilla.
* 1881 Moves to Venezuela where he writes in La Opinion Nacional. Publishes Revista Venezolana. Forced to leave.
* 1882 Goes back to New York. Writes a poetry book Ismaelillo, and writes for La Nacion (Buenes Aires newspaper).
* 1884 Named Uruguayan Consul in New York, but leaves this to carry on with political work. He breaks with Gomez and Maceo.
* 1889 Disillusioned by the US. Writes articles defending Cuba against hostile articles in US press.
* Publishes La Edad de Oro, a magazine for children.
* 1890 Founds La Liga, an association for the promotion of Cuban and Puerto Rican Black.
* Named Argentinian and Paraguayan consul in New York.
* Named Uruguayan Representative to the International Monetary Conference in New York.
* 1891 Publishes Versos Sencillos.
* Gives up his consular posts to continue in the campaign against Imperialist Spain.
* In speeches to Cuban exiles he approves the formation of the Cuban Revolutionary Party.
* 1892 Founds a newspaper to promote the revolutionary cause, Patria.
* Tours US cities promoting the Cuban cause, then to Haiti, Santo Domingo (where he also sees Gomez) and Jamaica.
* 1893 Back to New York, from where he visits Costa Rica to see Maceo.
* 1894 Cuban tobacco workers strike in Key West.
* 1895 Cuban collaborator stops Fernandina Plan.
* 29 January, order given for the uprising to begin.
* 30 January, Marti sails for Cuba.
* 25 March, Manifesto of Montechristo proclaimed, outlining the aims of the Cuban insurrection.
* 11 April, the expedition reaches Cuba.
* 5 May, interview with Maceo stating his opposition to Marti’s plans for an assembly of delegates. Bitter words exchanged.
* 19 May, Marti killed in battle against the Spanish forces. It is said that Gomez ordered him to stay in the rearguard, but that he didn’t.

History of Cuba 2 – Jose Marti 1853-1895 and the War of Independence