Martí’s thought did not perish when he fell. He, who chose to die for the poor of the earth, continues to speak to us in the present
Photo: Work by Ernesto Rancaño
When the bullets of Spanish soldiers pierced the body of José Martí, May 19, 1895, the revolution lost one of the most lucid minds on the American continent. He had been able to construct one of the most complete political projects in the history of the region and had witnessed the return to arms in the Cuban scrub, with the entire movement now led by the unifying force of a Party, aspiring not only to win independence for Cuba but a balanced world in which great powers could no longer establish lordly relations with poor countries and would be obliged to respect the will of peoples.
The death of Martí, received with respect by the leader of the Spanish troops, Jiménez Sandoval, certainly did not mean the end of the necessary war, since Generalissimo Maximo Gomez and the Titan of a thousand battles, General Antonio Maceo, were already leading the combat; but it would leave pending the emancipation of Puerto Rico, and the definitive independence of America -perhaps the most complex – which would require fighting the shadow cast by the imperial eagle already spreading from the Rio Bravo to Patagonia, including the arc of the Antilles, as part of the policy of plunder maintained by the U.S. government.
The early fall of the hero, when the war could have been won with two more bullets, opened the door to the claws reaching for the ripe fruit, to impose on Cuba an independence poisoned by military coercion and the ambitions of magnates to the North looking to line their pockets, with the consent of President Tomás de Estrada Palma and his political allies, who, in one of the most ignoble acts against the nation’s aspirations, accepted a frustrating appendix to the country’s new Constitution, the Platt Amendment, succumbing to the policy of the carrot or the stick.
This painful provincialism of which Martí warned in his essay Our America, as one of the obstacles that were frustrating real, definitive emancipation, made possible the return of imperial designs to nest in the region and the imposition of agonizing forms of governments that, since then, have characterized the political life of many of our peoples.
Countering the political thought of Bolivar and Marti – heroes who foresaw early on the future of the foreign policy followed by the giant to the North and called for Latin American unity – the forces of evil encouraged anarchy, disorder and ungovernability in this part of the hemisphere, despite the masses support of leaders ready to advance political projects to meet the pressing needs of the majority. These forces continue to prosper in the style of modern villagers who prefer to govern in the interests of financial oligarchies; lackeys included today in the camp of the vile who destroy and hate.
But Martí’s thought, a sure guide for the country we defend, did not perish when he fell. He, who chose to die on the side of the poor of the earth, continues to speak to us in the present.