José Martí, Cuban Patriot

By Richard Butler Gray | Go to book overview
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Introduction

To CUBANS the National Hero of the freedom movement that led to the Spanish-American War is José Martí, a figure who is relatively unknown in the United States. Although Martí died three years before the War took place, his compatriots have given him the major share of the credit in the organization and the arming of the Revolution. In fact, he may be considered by some to be the most important person in the history of Cuba, at least to judge by the extent of the homage paid to him. As the National Hero he has burst the bonds of mortality to achieve an afterlife in the thought, expressions, and public manifestations of a great number of Cubans.

Yet to North Americans the Cuban struggle for freedom in 1898 is usually characterized by three incidents: the sinking of the "Maine," the message to Garcia, and the charge of Theodore Roosevelt up San Juan Hill in Santiago province. This is incomprehensible to Cubans who are proud of their long history of resistance to Spanish colonial domination. Correctly enough they refer to the conflict as the "Hispanic-Cuban-American War."

The complaint is often made by North Americans that they will never understand Cubans, and many Cubans respond with a similar statement about their northern neighbors, sometimes adding humorously that Yankees are completely mad. José Martí, during the fifteen years that he was a journalist in the United States ( 1880-95), often wrote about the lack of understanding between North Americans and Latin Americans. The articles that he sent to newspapers in many Central and South American countries about life in the United States, partly in an attempt to alleviate these differences, have frequently

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