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José Julián Martí y Pérez
1853 - 1895
"Cubano es más que blanco, más que mulato, más que negro."

José Martí is considered the father of his country, though he never really lived much in Cuba, having grown up mostly in the US. He was born in Havana of Spanish Valencian parents Mariano Martí Navarro and Leonor Pérez Cabrera. According to Eugene Godfried, then a reporter at Radio Havana, when he did come into Cuba for the 2nd War of Liberation in 1895, he refused to listen to what the black commander of the Liberation Army, Antonio Maceo, was telling him and went and got himself needlessly killed. Maceo told him he would do better coordinating international aid for the rebels out of New York as he did not have the skills needed to be a soldier.

Martí was somewhat ignored in Cuba until Radio Martí started broadcasting in 1983 under Reagan. Then some in the Cuban government decided to co-opt this phenomenon, forgetting that Martí was strongly anti-socialist, as revealed in his writings.The Miami Cubans apparently don't know this either, or they would use it to their advantage as Cuba is now awash in the glorification of Martí. Eugene Godfried had some direct language describing this glorification in 2003:

"As the 150th anniversary of the birth of José Martí was coming closer, the Cuban media overwhelmed the nation with a considerable increase in the promotion of the image of this independence fighter of Cuba. The official discourse uses a form and style which tends to mystify and extrapolate him and his ideas. Leonardo Griñán Peralta once before warned, precisely, about this type of action that already existed in Cuba. He said that writers and communicators made it a habit to please themselves by idolizing Martí, while they do not try to think and feel like him. Consequently, they do not take into account the environment and conditions which influenced the shaping of his personality as an integral human being. To extrapolate Martí, meaning, to convert him into a myth with untouchable theories, does not serve any good cause. Neither can future generations be thereby given reasonable models for their behaviour. The Martian ideas cannot and should not be transformed into a de facto religion. José Martí, just like all our great men, has to be touchable. We all have conciousness, weaknesses, and active human sensiblity." -- José Martí and Racism: His Visit to Curaçao, Eugene Godfried, 2003

Some AfroCubans, such as Leida Oquendo, have presented Martí as an antiracist, which is true, though that is not the whole story.as can be seen in Eugene Godfried's description of his visit to Curaçao, where he showed many of the prejudices of his era. However, his later extensive correspondence with Maceo did show a great respect he had for the leader, even as he and Maceo had major disagreement on how to conduct the War of Liberation, as Aline Helg details in her article "La Mejorana y la independencia cubana: Un choque de ideas y liderazgo entre José Martí y Antonio Maceo," Cuadernos de Historia Contemporánea, 1999, PDF, 2MB.

Martí was patriarchal, he conceived of the feminine as irrational and instinctive. His principal philosophical descendant in the 20th century, Enrique José Varona, thought men superior in intellect.

As Ivan Cesar Martinez argues in his book, The Open Wound, Martí  was well ahead of the contemporary White Cuban leadership, whose main thrust was to keep AfroCubans down at any price, including bringing in the US as a replacement hegemon for Spain in order to defend their position in society. Martí genuinely wanted to end the racial divisions in Cuban society. Perhaps his most famous saying is "Cubano es más que blanco, más que mulato, más que negro." - "A Cuban is more than white, more than mulatto, more than black." This was actually a saying he borrowed from Maceo who had said it 20 years earlier.

Placing "Cuban" over white and black is a noble ideal. It is squarely within the republican tradition inherited from France. And like the French, the Cubans use this ideal to repress expressions of ethnic identity in a way that can seem shocking to those coming from an Anglo tradition awash in ethnic politics. Yet this approach has proven more civilized, as can be seen in the tradition of lynchings continued into the extra-judicial police killings prevalent in the US which are completely absent from Cuba.

Revered on both sides of the Florida Straights by the Ibero-Spanish Cubans, Martí is now discussed to the exclusion of the man who really lead the Mambi Army to victory, Antonio Maceo, thereby perpetuating white supremacy in Cuban culture. The War of Independence was known at first as Maceo's War. It is only later generations who have made Marti the more important figure, starting with Cuban intellectuals in the 1910's and 1920's who gathered his writings and created the legend of Marti.  Up until the Revolution, the two were always depicted together. As one senior and widely respected AfroCuban scholar put it in hushed tones, "those of us in the older generation remember when schools and factories had portraits of both Maceo and Martí. After the Revolution, only the portrait of Martí remained."

Marti on a white horse, leading the army
José Martí leading the Mambi Army, all by himself on a white horse
José Martí liderando los Mambises, solo y sobre un caballo blanco

-- Andy Petit, 11/6/12

 Linkstop/Enlaces

José Martí in Wikipedia

Los imaginarios de la droga, orientalismo y sexo en el poema “Haschisch” de José Martí  5/1/2011 Habana Elegante

José Martí y el Racismo: Su Visita a Curazao, Eugene Godfried

José Martí: apuntes sobre su antirracismo militante  5/17/2008 La Jiribilla: por Leyda Oquendo

"La Mejorana y la independencia cubana: Un choque de ideas y liderazgo entre José Martí y Antonio Maceo". Cuadernos de Historia Contemporánea, 1999, vol. 21, pp. 227-257. PDF, 2MB, Universidad Complutense Madrid, de Aline Helg 

Martí and Socialismtop

Pensamientos de José Martí
Sobre la socialismo y el comunismo

De Hubert Jerez Mariño, El cantar de Martí, Plantation, Jerez Publishing Inc., 1999, pp.284-285.

“La soluciones socialistas, nacidas de los males europeos, no tienen nada que curar en la selva del Amazonas.”

“El funcionarismo autocrático abusará de la plebe cansada y trabajadora. Lamentable será y general, la servidumbre.”

“Asociaciones socialistas envían sus azuzadores profesionales.”

“Un pensador, Herbert Spencer, señala el riesgo que ciertos pueblos modernos corren de caer en un degradante socialismo.”

“Los crímenes no aprovechan a la libertad, ni cuadran a estatuas blancas, manos rojas.”

“De ser siervo de sí mismo, pasaría el hombre a ser siervo del Estado. De ser esclavo de los capitalistas, como se les llama ahora, iría a ser esclavo de los funcionarios. Esclavo es el que trabaja para otro que tiene dominio sobre él.”

From http://www.autentico.org/oa09037.php:

"That future slavery", said Marti, "is socialism"

"All the power which would be gradually acquired by the caste of public officials, bound by their need to remain in a priviledged and lucrative position , would be gradually lost by the people, who lack the same reasons for complicity in hopes and profits to confront the public officials fettered together by their common interests. As all public needs would eventually be fullfilled by the State, the officials would then acquire the enormous influence which by nature falls upon those who distribute any right or benefit.The man who now wants the State to take care of him so as not to have to take care of himself would have to work in the proportion, for the time and in the occupation that te State would see fit to assign to him, as the State, on whom all the duties would befall, would be endowed with all the necessary powers to implement the means to fullfill the work involved. From being its own servant , man would then become a slave of the State. From being a slave of capitalists, as they are now called, he would become a slave of the public officials. A slave is a man wo works for another who holds control of him, and in that socialist system the community would dominate man, who would then render all his work to the community. And as public officials are human beings and, therefore, abusive, proud and ambitious, and would wield great power in that organization, abetted by all those who would take advantage or would hope to take advantage of the abuses, and by those vile forces that always prowl among the oppressed, the terror, prestige or cunning of those who rule, this system of official distribution of common labor would in a short time suffer from the grief, violence, thefts and distortions that the spirit of individuality , the austerity and the daring of genius and the williness of vice soon and fatally create in any human organization ... Autocracy will abuse the common people, exhausted and hard working. Regrettably, generalized slavery will be the result."


Martí Sobre el Socialismo

"Todo el poder que iría adquiriendo la casta de funcionarios, ligados por la necesidad de mantenerse en una ocupación privilegiada y pingue,lo iría perdiendo el pueblo que no tiene las mismas razones de complicidad en esperanza y provechos, para hacer frente a los funcionarios enlazados por intereses comunes. Como todas las necesidades públicas vendrían a ser satisfechas por el estado, adquirirían los funcionarios entonces la influencia enorme que naturalmente viene a los que distribuyen algun derecho o beneficio. El hombre que quiere ahora que el estado cuide de el para no tener que cuidar el de si, tendría que trabajar entonces en la medida, por el tiempo y en la labor que puduiese el estado asignarle, puesto que a éste, sobre quien caerían todos los deberes, se darían naturalmente todas las facilidades necesarias para recabar los medios de cumplir aquellas.

De ser siervo de si mismo, pasaría el hombre a ser siervo del estado. De ser esclavo de los capitalistas, como se llama ahora, iría a ser esclavo de los funcionarios. Esclavo es todo aquel que trabaja para otro que tiene dominio sobre el, y en ese sistema socialista dominaria la comunidad del hombre, que a la comunidad entregaría todo su trabajo. Y como los funcionarios son seres humanos y por tanto abusadores, soberbios y ambiciosos, y en esa organización tendrían gran poder, apoyadas por todos los que aprovechan o esperaron aprovechar de los abusos, y por aquellas fuerzas viles que siempre compra entre los oprimidos, el terror, prestigio o habilidad de los que mandan, este sistema de distribución oficial del trabajo comun llegaría a sufrir en poco tiempo de los quebrantos, violencias, hurtos y tergiversaciones que el espíritu de individualidad, la autoridad y osadía del genio y las astucias del vicio originan pronta y fatalmente en toda organización humana...El funcionario autocrático, abusará de la plebe, cansada y trabajadora. Lamentablemente será, y generá la servidumbre."


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