Academic journal article Chasqui

Perez, Louis A, Jr., Ed. Jose Marti in the United States: The Florida Experience

Academic journal article Chasqui

Perez, Louis A, Jr., Ed. Jose Marti in the United States: The Florida Experience

Article excerpt

Tempe: Arizona State University Center for Latín American Studies, 1995. 114 pp. ISBN 0-87918-081-1

José Martí in the United States constitutes one of the most complete compilations of essays about José Martí's life and work in the United States during the years immediately preeeding the 1895 Independence War. It focuses especially on his stay in Florida as well as his nation-building campaign among tobacco and factory workers in that area of the United States.

From a formal viewpoint, the book is divided into a Preface and ten chapters. The first chapter is an introduction by Louis A. Pérez, Jr., an expert in Cuban history and a well-published author. From a viewpoint of its content, the book is basically divided into two main, colossal ideas.

The first is the dream of the Cuban communities in the United States as they envisioned their tole in creating and developing the nationhood of Cuba, its concepts and needs, its unity and passion for freedom. The second is the work and personality of José Martí, first called "The Apostle" of Cuban Independence, then, in later years and when religion was not officially favored, he was known as the Cuban "National Hero" or, as Jose Yglesias writes in Chapter X:

   The reason everyone comes to love José Martí is that without question he is 
   the person we all dream of being, the man that in our moments of optimista, 
   although the prospects may be disheartening and all common sense against 
   us, the man we believe we will yet become. We love him because he keeps 
   that vision of fulfill-ment alive in us--to be a whole man like him: a 
   brave uncomplaining young rebel though the jailing he suffered broke his 
   health, a loving father to his little son, a father to his nation (the very 
   idea of Cuba being a nation seems his), a great poet, a great journalist, a 
   superb prose stylist, an unexcelled organizer and teacher, an utterly 
   sincere and honest and forthright friend and correspondent, one of the few 
   major revolutionary leaders of modern times. (103) 

In his introduction, Pérez presents us with a brief biography of Martí, starting with his premature death on May 19, 1895 and following with his birth, his learning from the setback of the 1868-1878 Revolutionary War, his years in exile; and, through him, the radicalization of the Cuban revolutionary movement, without forgetting to criticize excessive military ascendancy in the separatist ranks:

   Cuban separatism evolved increasingly into a populist mass-based movement. 
   Martí's intellectual development, no less than ideological orientation of 
   Cuban separatista, came increasingly to reflect the issues and concerns 
   derived from collaboration with cigarworkers. More and more Martí occupied 
   himself with class questions: the future of property relationships and a 
   wide-range of social issues ... Martí expanded the scope of separatista to 
   incorporate the working class within its ranks. (5) 

In Chapter II Agnes I. Lugo-Ortiz develops Martí's founding of Patria, first the newspaper of Cubans in exile and later on the official organ of the Cuban Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionado Cubano) as well as the concept of El alma cubana (the Cuban Soul) by Martí. Particularly interesting in this chapter is the appearance of Martí's statement of purpose in Spanish in the first issue--a translation in English is provided as a note at the end of the chapter--thus providing the reader with that exquisite use of the Spanish language by the Cuban Hero:

   Es criminal quien ve ir al país a un conflicto que la provocación fomenta y 
   la desesperación favorece, y no prepara, o ayuda a preparar, el país para 
   el conflicto. Y el crimen es mayor cuando se conoce por la experiencia 
   previa, que el desorden de la preparación puede acarrear la derrota del 
   patriotismo más glorioso, o poner en la patria triunfante los gérmenesde la 
   disolución definitiva. … 
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