Marti was born in Havana in 1853. At seventeen he was exiled to Spain for his
opposition to colonial rule. There he published a pamphlet
exposing the horrors of political imprisonment in Cuba,
which he himself had experienced. Upon graduating from
the University of Saragossa, he established himself
in Mexico City, where he began his literary career.
objection to a regime installed by a military coup led him to depart
for Guatemala, but government abuses forced him to abandon that
country as well. In 1878 he returned to Cuba under a general amnesty,
but he conspired against the Spanish authorities and again was banished.
He fled exile in Spain and came to the United States. After a year
in New York he left for Venezuela, where he hoped to settle, but
yet another dictatorship forced him to depart. Marti went back to
New York where he lived from 1881 to 1895.
that year, he left to join the war for Cuban independence which
he had so painstakingly organized. There he died in one of its
first skirmishes. Jose Marti is considered one of the great
writers of the Hispanic world. His significance for the American
reader, however, stems from the universality and timelessness
of his thought. Marti devoted his life to ending colonial rule
in Cuba and to preventing the island from falling under the
control of any country (including the United States) whose political
ideologies were inimical to the principles he held. With those
goals, and with the conviction that the freedom of the Caribbean
was crucial to Latin American security and to the balance of
power in the world, he devoted his talents to the forging of
a nation. Thus, the scope of his work: he was a revolutionary,
a guide, and more importantly, a mentor.
vast experience and education enabled him to move comfortably in
the most diverse fields, which is what makes his teachings so rich
to us indeed. Insofar as Marti believed that freedom and justice
should be the cornerstones of any government, one has only to read
his work and learn of the struggle that he took up freely. He could
never accept the curtailment of the natural expansiveness of the
human spirit, for truly he believed that man's redemption would
come through love and unfettered reason. Therefore, his doctrines
are, and must be, at odds with the totalitarian dogma that has existed
in Cuba since its unfortunate demise.
of Marti's teachings contradict that political system which never
fails to demonstrate its intolerance towards individual freedom
and its love of its own materialistic empowerment. His writings
condemn all despotic regimes and the abridgment of human rights.
Furthermore, he goes on to denounce the lack of spirituality and
type of arrogance that we find in the current dictatorship. For
this reason, the publication of Marti's thoughts, in all its force,
is of the greatest importance today. His beliefs, which can guide
democracies and if heeded, offer them greater security, speak more
eloquently against the Cuban apostasy than all the accusations that
others might make.
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