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  Mala Lengua

Radio - journalist / community organizer
Radio Habana Cuba
Radio CMKS - Guantánamo

1. Introduction
2. Political and Physical-Antropological Analysis of the Island of Curaçao by José Martí
3. Martí and The Papiamento Language
4. Martí and His Impressions of the Misery of Men and Women of African Descent in Curaçao
5. Martí And The Jews Of Curaçao
6. Martí's Final Impressions Of Curaçao
7. Martí And The Phenotype: Mulatoes Of Curaçao
8. A Brief Comparative Study of the Martian Vision with Respect to Racism
9. Conclusion

Version en español

1. Introductiontop

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.

Many authors rush to declare the impeccability of José Martí on issues related to racism. They a priori deny that he was in any sense contaminated by racism. It iss not our intention either to per se track down signs of racism in this thinker, journalist, and social communicator. Yet we must confess that we were surprised by Martí’s article on his visit to Curaçao. And we would want to analyze some questions raised by him in his monographs.

Some colleague journalists tried to convince us that Martí most likely never visited Curaçao. They assume that he did just like some journalists tend to do. According to them he made a fictitious reproduction of the island based on information he received from others. As far as we are concerned, we sincerely hope that he never committed that professional fraud. There are also other versions which, a posteriori, try to clean his image, for example, by saying that it was not his intention to express himself in terms which could be interpreted as racist; or that it was something typical of the epoch he lived in, pretending that it was normal to think and express oneself in those terms. We reject these rationalizations. They are by no means convincing, especially when we have to analyze the attitude of personalities who lived throughout all epochs. Besides, all epochs are epochs, today is an epoch, yesterday was another epoch, tomorrow will be yet another epoch.

For us the dialogue is open and everyone can participate, with sincerity, frankness and honesty. The official historiography present his impressions, both in Spanish and French languages in pages 129-142, Volume (tomo) 19, "Obras Escogidas, of José Martí".

2. Political and Physical – Antropological Analysis of the Island of Curaçao by José Martítop

José Martí was on his way to Venezuela and the ship made a stop on the island of Curaçao in March 1881. He started to make the first mistake in his political conception of the island. He described it as follows:

"…those little wooden toys that in their leisure time cultivate and paint the countryside of the opaque Germany" In this statement Martí proves lack of precision in his knowledge of Western and European politics in relation to the Caribbean; Curaçao had nothing to do with Germany, but with Holland. Those two countries, Holland and Germany, share borders, but are independent countries. Holland maintained unilateral relations with its colonies in the Caribbean and imposed its own traditional esthetic construction styles. Dutch chauvinism satisfy itself by referring to their territories, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, as "The Dutch Caribbean".

In his second report, Martí describes the physical – anthropological scene of this Caribbean island and reveals his eminently eurocentric vision:

"At daybreak on the eighth day, the eyes opened before a precious and little city, a Dutch possession…" [Now he admits that this is a Dutch possession]. "There are nothing else than dirty streets in it, yellow houses, sick faces, shouting negro - women and shameless negroes, something like an eternal dispute between parrots; they curse, insult each other, threaten to kill each other, lift the oars in the air like wanting to burst each others’ head….The quarrels of the Curaçao negroes, that is the name of the city or I should say, island, [the capital is Willemstad] thunderclouds out of which never a lightning will flash. The city is filled with lazy Creole women, Dutch people who represent the metropolis, and rich Jews.

Martí seems to have a special consideration for the "Dutch people", who represent the "metropolis". How could he be quite sympathetic with the "lazy Creole women"! Do we have to understand that he means to say "lazy black women"? And talking about "rich Jews", is this a sign of admiration for that ethnic group?

Martí continues to expose his physical anthropological exercise on Curaçao in which the transparency of his euro-iberian-centric, as well as euro-supremacist vision persist. Let us have a look at the following words:

"That is Curaçao seen from far: a box of toy – houses…on the dock one can see a bunch of negros loitering …barefeet…black crowd of negros dressed with white coats…and the countryside women, the countryside women here are anemic mulatos, uneducated, covered with old rags, and smoke sardines on the riverbank".

Martí had modest attention for the woman of African descent, called by him ‘negro woman’ and at times ‘mulata’, when he expresses the following:

"A group of talking parrots flying from one palm tree to the other, no voices, no sounds, no shouts could astonish and deafen like these particularly small creatures, who move around in their percale dresses inflated by the wind. Our esthetic eyes are not redeemed by their black color, as well as their full curved back, devastating eyes, the swollen sensual mouth, the high cheekbones, the round shoulders, the minute feet of the black woman of Africa"

It seems to us that through the black women of Curaçao, Martí, increased his consciousness and appreciation for África.

His physical – anthropological observations on the "black race" of Curaçao are unfortunate and provoke deep sentiments of doubt regarding his integrity. He projects a distorted vision of his neighbor who has another skin color.

3. Martí and The Papiamento Languagetop

After describing the geographical and architectural landscape as well as his astonishing anthropological analysis of the inhabitants of the Caribbean island, Martí roams the linguistic field.

He insists in his deprecatory (racist) judgements when he refers to the people of African descent of Curaçao. Furthermore, he makes erroneous statements on the origins of the language of that island, papiamento, and says:

"There they go, a degenerate race, a sick race, speaking rapidly, with the exuberant fluidity of the tropics, an ignoble language and a singular, incorrect and awful mixture of Castillian and the language of the Netherlands, a language which is complete in its name: Papiamento…"

As a sign and evidence that his criteria on the Papiamento language were no accident at all, he repeats in his report, with more emphasis, the following:

"Unless they are Dutch, who speak their mother tongue, the people of Curaçao, speak a horrible Spanish and a petty dialect, without strength nor grace, Papiamento, which is Spanish with Dutch endings; so they make from ‘sufrimiento’suffrimentol’, from ‘católicos’, ‘catholikanan’…"

How mistaken and imprudent was Martí! What is his mistake? What did he ignore of the organic structure of the Papiamento language and where does this non-European language come from?

It is absolutely true that Dutch is the "native tongue" of the Dutch -- Europeans, blue, green eyed, and blond hair. On this we don’t have any discrepancy with Martí. Still, he leaves us with the following question. Is Dutch a dignified language and Papiamento not?

Martí expresses that the inhabitants of Curaçao speak a bad Castillian. Why this linguistic chauvinism? It is known that standardized Castellian is the language of the elite in and around Madrid, the capital of Spain.

Martí ignored the genesis of Papiamento. This language is a fusion of Western African languages and Portuguese. Over the years it has received influences from Dutch, English, French and Spanish.

The examples exposed by Martí are not known as such in Papiamento. Therefore, sufrimiento would be s u f r i m e n t o/u and católicos could have had various forms in which it was written. For example, if it is the Santa Ana Church located in Otrabanda that we presume that Martí is referring to, most likely, because of the influence of the Roman Catholic priests and friars, one probably could have seen the writing "c a t h o l i c a", as an influence of the Dutch "catholiek"/ "katholiek".

We ignore who was the guide and translator of José Martí during his short stay on the island of Curaçao. It could also be that he himself did not search for precise information before expressing himself on such a delicate phenomenon like Papiamento.

Looking back at his linguistic criteria with regards to Papiamento, we are inclined to think on the influence that such a position could have on the study of languages, especially Creole languages in Cuba. His despising Papiamento as a non – European language implicitly disqualifies all Creole languages of the Caribbean. This elitist posture promotes linguistic chauvinism of European languages, such as Spanish, over Creole languages. Officially, Castillian language or Spanish is the vehicle language of the Cuban society.

Despite the fact that a significant number of kwéyòl speaking Haitian immigrants are living in this Caribbean nation of Cuba, still this language is not being studied in official institutions of mass education. We should mention the tireless initiatives of several organizations of residents and descendants of Haitians and personalities such as Guillermo Marcel and Olivia Labadí from Guantánamo, and Banzil Kwéyòl, led by its President, Hilario Batista, in Havana, who persist in teaching and promoting the kwéyol or Creole in Cuba. At the same time, the English Creole of the Caribbean is neither recognized nor studied. There are no radio nor television programs in this Creole languages. There are exceptions like the programs of Eugène Godfried and Ana Peralt on Radio Havana Cuba. Also, every Sunday, from 18.00 PM to 19.00 PM, Radio CMKS of Guantanamo airs a program produced and conducted by Eugène Godfried, "EL CARIBE QUE NOS UNE".

On the other hand, one can notice a growing interest in the search for the value of the non officially recognized Cuban Spanish Creole, or we could say, Cuban language. It has the influence of Indigenous as well as African languages -- Mande, Yoruba, Ekpe, Aladá, Bantú languages, etc. The Cuban language knows Indígenous terminologies such as maraca, guayo, yuca, among others, and also African chékéré, chébéré, aséré and many more.

4. Martí and His Impressions of the Misery of Men and Women of African Descent in Curaçaotop

Leaving the linguistic issue behind, Martí describes his impressions of the men and women of Curaçao:

"There go the men in ordinary costumes of the poor negroes of this earth, wide edged hats, blue or llama shirts, linen white trousers…" "...And during the daytime the public servants pass from one end to the other of Curaçao…" "...And the big bellied barefeet negro women, with massive kinky hair hidden under the handkerchief, which is white, blue, purple, red, and whose floating edges, like smiling in rebellion, beat the bush of wind; the naked bosom loose in form; the skirt immodestly high in front, like not to disturb the stout feet and from behind luxuriously long, in that vile obligation they always have in not having misery seem miserable..."

Where is his analysis and condemnation of Euro-Dutch colonialism? Are the oppressed people responsible for their poverty and misery?

He became aware that the Curaçao society is comprised of European, African and also Jewish immigrants. We invite you to look at his impressions on the latter social category.

5. Martí And The Jews Of Curaçaotop

Can one detect antisemitic sentiments in the following observations of José Martí?

"Now and then through the grate of yards which serve as vestibule to some of the most smiling houses, appear, as if cutting chunks of the yellow Egyptian sky, steel faces, arrogant semitic faces…."

Are these adjectives suggestive, as used by him? A little bit surprisingly, José Martí continues to tell us:

"….And the Jews there are well loved, because the people say that they give charity, the best of charity, the beautiful alms…"

The expression ‘the beautiful alms’ leaves a cloud of doubts behind regarding Martí’s views on Jews, and people of African descent. He implicitly emphasizes the denigration of Africans and ridicules the presumed sign of charity and generosity of the Jews of Curaçao. Is it perhaps strange or unacceptable that a non Jewish people could love Jews? Was Martí under the influence of the anti-Semitic prejudices and stereotypes which were dominant, especially, in Christian Spain, a country where he spent a good deal of his adolescent and juvenile formation? He could not understand why the Jews were rich in a society which abolished the system of enslavement of Africans on July 1st, 1863. Curaçao was a possession of the Reformist Dutch Protestants. That island was a refuge for Jews, who were persecuted by the Roman Catholic Inquisition. Protestant Holland gave them political asylum. There were persons among the Jewish community of Curaçao, such as, Mordechai Ricardo, among others, who years before were close friends of Simón Bolívar and who actively supported the liberation struggles of Gran Colombia. Finally, the Curaçao Jews, of Sephardic origin, expelled from Spain and Portugal, always had the habit of speaking Papiamento just like the people of African descent of that Caribbean island. They originated from the Iberian Peninsula, known by them in the Hebrew language as Sefarad, and also had their Palestinian roots, and they had historical links with Africa. The Dutch West India Company was responsible for involving them in the enterprise of slavery in Curaçao. This makes the intimate relationship between the Sephardic Jews and the people of African descent in Curaçao understandable.

6. Martí’s Final Impressions Of Curaçaotop

Eloquently he says: "To think is to unchain. It is to sit back and see a band of birds flying between the bosom of the clouds. - A noble task - To think!"

Let us think and try to capture the different birds of ideas that our thinker let loose flying across the blue skies of Curaçao, when he says:

"The people are multi-colored, the land dry, the black Dutch women gossiping ...and when one turns the corner of a street one sees…blacks as damask iron in the workshops of Eibar, and…capricious masses, like colossal inkspots, groups of mourners, designing the niggerish ensemble...",

A funeral court of black skinned descendants of Africans in Curaçao impressed our narrator, José Martí. This process nurtured his consciousness and sensibility towards cultural diversity. He begins to understand himself better, that he, in the cultural sense, is different from the actors he observed in front of him in tropical Curaçao. He was confronted with essentially different values and norms as exhibited by the mourners of that funeral court, who caused him to look at life itself in a differentiated manner.

Martí exclaimed:

"Oh, how the powerful American soul is agitating, to me who comes from the smothering snow!… Here the woman begins to be tender, - the child to be brilliant, the man heroic and generous. When did it begin?..."

Martí finally noticed the differences between the world in which he developed himself for the major part of his life, especially the United States of America, where the eurocentric ethnographic manifestations were dominant and considered to be normal. On the other hand, he was, unexpectedly, exposed to another world of ethnographic and cultural expressions within the post-slavery society of Curaçao. A society comprised of Africans, Jews, Asians, and Europeans who openly expressed their folkloric values and norms.

Martí becomes emotional, and begins to speak in a differentiated sense about the multiethnic society of Curaçao, when he says:

"How good, how benevolent, how reliable, how saluting, how serviceable, how soft are the people! They confide the unknown, they greet and share with the stranger...".

We suppose that when he speaks of "the people" , he also refers to the people of African descent of Curaçao, religiously called by him "negroes".

7. Martí And The Phenotype: Mulatoes Of Curaçaotop

After having heard references and appraisals by Martí on the negroes of de Curaçao, he speaks of another phenotype: "the mulato".

Martí expresses:

"...and when I found the child we lost, with joy the good barefeet mulatos came out to give me the news!..."

What a difference in the way of judgement when he talks about "good mulatos"! When we reflect on the concept "mulato" we observe the following conclusions. European colonialism, in this case the Spaniards, introduced to the world a series of phenotypes which stem from the epoch of slavery. We will mention some: "white", "black", and a product of mixtures, "mulato", "mestizo", "cuarterón", "sambo", etc. Each phenotype is accompanied by prejudices which contain appraisals of "good" or "bad", "respectable" or "not respectable" and there are also codes of conduct for each category. For example, 1) white, European descendant, is good and acts in such and such a manner considered positive. 2) The black, the African descendant, is bad or inferior and his or her values and norms inherited from África are not appreciated and rejected. 3) The mulato, who is both descendant of European and African, is better than the "negro" in every sense, for being more "adelantado" i.e. "advanced", because of his light skin color, straight or half straight hair, and with somatic traits which are closer to those of the European master.

European colonialism habitually refers in simplistic and racist terms to human beings from Europe. They do not speak of the various nationalities and cultures like the Gauls, Iberians, Lusitanians, Goths, Anglosaxons, Batavians, Germans, Celts and others. When those immigrants arrive in the Caribbean or in other parts of the American Continent, they are converted into "whites with all hegemonic privileges". On the other hand, the Eurosupremacist system denominates African nacionalities such as Igbos, Nagos, Yorubas, Wolofs, Mande, Bakongo, Bámbara, etc, as "negroes", thus "bad" and "humiliated".

In the XIX century, Cuba knew ideologists, the mouthpieces of the slave owner elite, who openly advocated the extinction of the so called "black race". Félix Varela, on one occasion, wrote: "To be black is a sign of ignominia". José Antonio Saco considered the "black race" as "hopelessly barbaric," from which Cuba had to free itself by bringing in "whites" from Spain to substitute for them. Others were of the opinion that Cuba had to be "cleaned" of negroes by promoting the importation of white men from Spain in order to cross them with black women in Cuba. In this spectrum the concept of mulato was further cultivated, considered as more acceptable and with better physical and intellectual qualities than the so called negro. Some of those theoreticians developed the idea, on the other hand, that the "mulato" or the "mulata", are the ones who define or portray the Cuban nationality. In so doing they are rationalizing the violations and the genocidal tendencies towards the African nationality. This dynamic is still playing out today, when many Cubans in Miami consider themselves to be "white" and those left behind on the island as "black" or "mulato." 

Martí was born and gained conciousness in a unfavorable environment. From his origins and his belonging to the Spanish social category, thus non enslaved, it is quite logical to understand that those tendencies also touched him. That confirms itself when he speaks of good mulatos. What is the etymology of this denomination mulato? Not wanting to be simplistic, the noun "mula" before the diminutive –to- reminds us the crossings between a male horse and a female donkey. Mula means mule. The trade in enslaved Africans used to employ expressions which refer to enslaved Africans as animals. The same enslavement language, with its racist ideology, uses diminutives in a euphemistic form to soften its negative intentions, such as, –to, -ta, -tico, -tica, etc. So, we would not be surprised if the same historical tradition provided us the denomination mulato i.e. little mule.

Martí exposes here a differentiated eurocentric vision on the reality of Curaçao. Yet, we consider that the young journalist had matured his ideas and experiences acquired in the year 1881 in Curazao. That helped to condition his future vision of the African factor in the liberation struggles of Cuba, an indispensable element for the success of the War of Independence in 1895. This indispensable element had already been seen and underlined by José Antonio Aponte y Ubarra, the poet Plácido, and also Antonio Maceo y Grajales, Cubans of African descendent since the beginning and middle of the XIX century.

8. A Brief Comparative Study of the Martian Vision with Respect to Racismtop

Curazao and its people received José Martí’s visit when he was, we assume, in the process of evolving his ideological criteria on race, color, slavery, emancipation, etc. That is a dynamic process which we consider plausible in any human being who is liberating him or herself from ideas impregnated with supremacy and who despises the differences between human beings. In casu, ideas related to the phenomenon race, ethnic groups, creeds, etc.

As we already indicated, the historic period of the liberation struggles in Cuba was the appropriate moment for Martí to make some reflections on racial questions. He could look back at The Ten Year War (1868-1878) and the conspiracies which took place thereafter until the outbreak of the war in 1895. All those confrontations were directed by the plantation owner elite, therefore, slaveowners, and other commercial sectors, as well as bureaucrats of Ibero-Spanish descent. They clinged to purely racist ideologies and attitudes. Their contradictions with Spain had, essentially, an economic character and were not of a cultural nature. They refused to share profit with Spain. They were interested in snatching all benefits acquired by the exploitation of the humble. This also explains the illegal slave trade and why the abolition of slavery was delayed for so long, until 1886. The objectives in the fight had nothing in common with the so called cimarrones/maroons, the Indígenous, other Africans and Chinese, who throughout the colonization period battled for their independence and total liberation.

On the contrary, the socially dominant sectors participated in the destruction of the territories which were liberated by the exploited sectors, the ‘cimarrones/marroons’. Those territories were called "palenques". [See Eugène Godfried in Dialogue with Diego Bosch Ferrer, ‘Maroons’ and ‘Palenques’ in the Guantanamo Region of Cuba.]

Before continuing it is necessary to point out our dislike of the terminology "cimarrón", because, again, it reminds us of the dehumanizing and abominable practices of the slave trade period and the system of enslavement of people itself. Because "cimarrón" in the Portuguese and Spanish languages is an animal, for example, a goat or a sheep, that succeeds in escaping from the herd and in abandoning its shepherd. It seems to us more correct to speak of "men and women who liberated themselves and became independent from the eurocentric metropolis".

Let us return to our reflections on Martí. He was surrounded by those elements who dominated the leadership of the independence movement during those years, starting with the Ten Years War. His own participation was most significant as from the period after the Small War, which excluded the eastern part of Cuba and Antonio Maceo. The elitist leaders then eliminated the eastern zone which was comprised of Africans and Indigenous forces. Martí had to deal with all those questions, which in their roots are racist. The racial theme continued to be enforced within the liberation movement in the post abolition period. Undoubtedly, serious discrepancies were provoked between prominent members of the leadership and the true followers of the Protest of Baraguá of 1878 under the leadership of the illustrious Antonio Maceo. On many occasions, Maceo stressed: "I belong to that race (African E.G.)…", when motivating his strong condemnation of the ideas and actions of the dominant elite that governed the island then. In Baraguá Maceo made it absolute clear to the Spanish elite and its puppets in Cuba, that there will be no independence without the total abolition of slavery.

Leonardo Griñán Peralta again is right when he points out that Martí soon perceived that racism would disunite what he wanted to see united by the time the independence struggle in his native Cuba had to be put in motion. And before founding the Cuban Revolutionary Party, because of moral conviction and, thereafter, because of political convenience, he always tried to put an end to the despotism of the negrophobes and also to the suspicions of the negrophiles; it means that he dedicated himself to developing his anti-racial positions.

Still Martí, often times, took the equidistant positions. He spoke of the existence of two racisms in Cuba. Two racisms? Why? Which were they? Could it be that fighting against the trade of enslaved Indigenous, Africans, and Chinese is vulgarly speaking, racist? Or are those declarations simply defense mechanisms of the colonial system itself? We cannot serve both God and the devil, neither should Martí.

In this debate we are concerned with the issue of political convenience as mentioned above and we discover a contradiction in the following statement which pretends to uphold a position of, precisely, equidistance.

Martí once expressed: "More than white, more than black, we are Cubans". Here he prioritizes the need for the new nationality to be created and leaves the racial conflicts between descendants of Europeans and Africans untouched. He does not offer any solution and avoids it. Of course, it is unconceivable that Martí with that judgement was talking neither directly nor indirectly to Antonio Maceo, those of African descent, the Indígenous, Chinese, other Asians, the humble Europeans who always acted in solidarity. All those who in Baraguá, in 1878, already said, "no independence without the total abolition of slavery". He only could have talked to the plantation owners, business people and bureaucrats of the Euro-Iberocentric elite. On another occasion he exposes when talking to that latter social category: "it is necessary to count with what cannot be suppressed", and that "what cannot be changed has to be taken as it is". Together with Leonardo Griñán Peralta we indicate that hereby Martí is stating that in Cuba the blacks could not be eliminated nor could the mixing of races. Now the following question arises. Did José Martí also contemplate once the possibility of demographic extermination of descendants of Africans, called ‘blacks’ by him and others? Otherwise, what are the justifications for the aforementioned expressions?

In these statements, our colleague does not firmly condemn the ominous tendencies which existed both in theory and practice in Cuba regarding the racial question, but he sought an intermediate way when dealing with the phenomenon. In the process of desiring to be ‘the leader’ of the independence revolution, he did not polemicize with the dominant sectors on the question of racism. Of course it was clear in his mind that the unity of the distinct ethnic groups was inevitable for the triumph of the national liberation process.

9. Conclusiontop

José Martí’s visit to Curaçao, the Dutch Antilles, made us meditate profoundly, for the second time, on the life of two historical personalities of the independence struggles against Spain: José Martí and Simón Bolívar. With both men, there are delicate interrogatives related to the problem of racism. We had to deal with the persistent question whether or not those great men in their thought and actions were racist. The two cases, Bolívar and Martí, had to do with Curaçao.

Firstly, Bolívar remained historically committed to the death sentence of Curaçao-born General Carlos Manuel Piar, of African descent. Piar was a man of great influence among the Indigenous, Africans, and people of various descent living in the Guayanas. He succeeded together with his men and women of war in forcing the Spaniards to capitulate in Angostura, on July 18 of the year 1816. The royalists were then expelled. Shortly before these occurrences, Bolívar, in Barcelona, adopted the title of Supreme Head of the Republic and Capitan General of Arms of Venezuela and New Granada. When Bolívar arrived at Angostura to meet with the victorious Carlos Manuel Piar, conflicts arose between Bolívar and Piar on strategies. Bolívar acused Piar of waging a race or color war. Bolívar decided to install a Counsel of War, similar to a Court Martial, presided over by Admiral Pedro Luis Brión, also from Curaçao and of Flemish – Dutch descent and Catholic. That Court Martial sentenced General Carlos Manuel Piar to death by fire squad on October 16th , 1817.

Since the beginning of the dispute, Bolívar,referred to General Carlos Manuel Piar, known as the Liberator of the East, which includes all the territory east of the river Orinoco in the Guayanas, as "the monster", and demanded his "destruction". During the trial and accusation, Bolívar published a "Manifesto" on August 5th. , 1817, attacking Piar: "Who are the authors of this revolution, aren’t they the whites, the very rich, the aristocracy, and the militia chiefs?" On the 17th of October, 1817, he addressed the soldiers again by means of a "Proclamation". After early in the morning of that same day, Piar was shot to death by a firing squad under the command of the War Council presided over by his fellow countryman, Pedro Luis Brión, with the objective of justifying Bolivar’s decision. Bolívar indicated that the racial problem was already solved. "Are you not equal, independent, happy, and respected? Can Piar offer you benefits? Bolívar, himself responded: NO, NO, NO".

Bolívar was tremendously mistaken, the racial problem is far from being solved in his national territory. There are plenty examples to illustrate this in another work. At any rate, we can assert here that these occurrences and postures taken by Bolívar put into doubt the impartiality of the Court Martial installed by him and presided over by Admiral Pedro Luis Brión. Besides, it is said that Piar insisted that Bolívar’s opposition to him was motivated by racist reasons. He hated him because of his dark skin and his great success gained as a leader in Guayana, the eastern part of Venezuela. And, as a matter of logic, in Curaçao, the Netherland Antilles, there exists up until the present date an unfavorable atmosphere towards Bolívar. However, on the other hand, in a general sense, one continues to respect and admire the contributions to the liberation struggles of the man from Caracas, who also lived in Curaçao and Bonaire in exile in 1815. Here we rest with our preliminary observations on the Liberator Bolívar, regarding the debate on the subject of racism.

Years later, Martí made a written assault on the Papiamento language, automatically hitting the heart of the people of African descent, creators of this authentic means of human communication. In the same way, the descriptions and adjectives used by him with regards to this social category leave no doubt at all.

Studying, analyzing, and considering our history with the necessary strictness is a virtue. It is our constant duty to demystify whenever we have to do that in order to avoid being sanctioned by future generations, due to lack of transparency in our objectivity, thought and action.


Eugène Edward Godfried y Presilia 
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Journalist/Community organizer/ Guantánamo,
Caribean specialist/ author Cuba
Radio Habana Cuba
Radio CMKS, Guantánamo

All the opinions expressed in this article are the responsibility of the author, E.G.


We have consulted the following literature which we can recommend:

Psicografía de José Martí - Leonardo Griñán Peralta

Obras completas, Tomo 19,– José Martí

Los Prejuicios Raciales y sus mecanismos de reproducción María Magdalena Pérez Alvarez
(artículos en revista Tema, La Habana)


Idearium Maceísta – Armando Vargas Araya
Editorial Juricentro, Costa Rica.

History of the Jews in Curaçao

Voice of a slave – Dr.Frank Martinus Arion, Curaçao

Descubrir a Dios en el Caribe – Dr. Armando Lampe, Aruba

A little matter of genocide - Dr. Ward Churchill

Abolicion y Azucar -


José Martí on AfroCubaWeb


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