Monday, May 19, 2008

On the 113th Anniversary of the Apostle's Death

Today, May 19th, marks the 113th anniversary of José Martí's death but never has he been more alive than today or more indispensable for our country's future. He is the reliquary of our country's aspirations for freedom and the agent of its regeneration now as then. Men live only a finite time on earth; but the greatest men transcend the days of man and become immortal because they embody in themselves and in their work timeless ideals which are forever relevant and vital. Such was Martí to our people and all the peoples of the Americas, indeed, to everyone anywhere who has ever bothered to acquaint himself with his life and writings. As Martí said, "I believe that man has a duty to do good even after death. Therefore, I write." If we had heeded his words and followed his example, we would have been spared the great calamity that befell us as a people. The last 50 years have only reinforced his central place in our national cosmology and the necessity of rebuilding our country along the lines that he laid out.

A popular song of the 1940s lamented that Martí should never have died because he alone could have returned dignity and probity to our national life. There is precisely where we erred as a people: the fatalism of believing that only a resurrected Martí, and not his teachings alive in all of us, could save us. Maybe these last 50 years were an unavoidable expiation for ever thinking that we had found a substitute for Martí in the vilest man that was ever born in our country. There is no substitute for Martí and we will forever err if we expect there to be one. Martí does not need a subtitute because he has never left us. It is our duty as individuals and as a nation to honor his memory by showing ourselves to be worthy of his legacy. The only way to do so is to assimilate and apply his teachings. Therein we will find also the way to our country's redemption.

Also of interest:

May 19, 1895: Death of José Martí at Dos Ríos

A Selection of Quotations by José Martí (Translated from the Spanish)

15 comments:

Charlie Bravo said...

Great tribute.

Agustin Farinas said...

MAT,
excellent posting. As is usual with your postings other than those concerned with our Miami "friends", this is reading material worth a lecture more than once to really appreciate it. As Charlie said: Is a great tribute to this honorable Cuban who brought so many honors to our nation and led by example to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice anyone can make: give his own life for his country.

When I read the base comments about Marti made by one of our "favorite" ghostly harebrained person who happens to comments here on the RCAB, it made my blood boil in anger. Thank God we have these civic lessons postings from you to compensate for those despicable comments. Congratulations.

Vana said...

Acepto el duro exilio, the first stanza is hard to swallow, specially.
O si otros desertaron debiendo resistir.

Sometimes I feel like a traitor who ran for her life as the poem says, may God have mercy for our souls.

Lucky was Hugo who endured the tyranny of Napoleon the 3rd for only 19 years, we have endured it for almost 50 and still no end in sight.

Manuel a beautiful tribute to one of the greatest man that ever lived, the gratest in my heart for he is one of us, if only he would have kept on writing instead of grabbing the gun that cost him his life at the hands of the Spaniards, if only is the only thing we can ask ourselves, what Cuba would have been had he lived, if only...

Ms Calabaza said...

MaT,
Beautiful! Please let me know if you find an English translation of Manach's Marti biography.

Mamey said...

MAT: There are solidly anti-Castro Cubans who are so mixed up that they don't even want to read Marti. How's that for decades of propaganda from the robotlution. Que Viva Marti!

Vana said...

Manuel where are you?

Vana said...

I cannot believe that all of the anonimi who assault this awsome blog everyday have nothing to say about Marti and the horrible way he gave his life for us, where are they? you the anonimi where are you? have you nothing to say about the apostle? are you so jaded about living in the good ole' USA?

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Vana:

It is indeed very telling that some of our most vociferous commenters, anonymous or not, have nothing to say today about Martí. I should like to think that even they have enough respect for the Apostle not to engage in the usual degradation or trivialization of all things Cuban. But perhaps you are right and they adjure not from a sense of shame but because they really have nothing to say when the subject is beyond their ken.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

mamey:

Castro has indeed endeavored over the last 49 years to co-op Martí as a symbol of his anti-Cuban Revolution. The most pervasive assault on his memory is the misrepresentation of Martí as the "Intellectual Author of Moncada." Historically speaking, it makes far more sense to call Caligula that. Castro's revolution is more closely patterned on the mad emperor's depravations rather than on the democratic republic which Martí envisioned and died for. No doubt some Cubans may have been influenced by the propaganda and resent Martí for something that every word he ever wrote condemns. I am hopeful, however, that most can see beyond this ruse and look to Martí for inspiration in the struggle against all limits on man's right to "think and speak without hypocrisy," which was Martí's definition of freedom.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Agustín:

I thank-you for your kind remarks. I do try to put into practice Martí's invocation to respect all opinions but to leave none unanswered that would restrict or extinguish that right. Freedom of speech has a tendency to attract all kinds to the public square. The answer, of course, is always more speech, not less. Although there is no guarantee that sense will always triumph by a show of hands, it is certain that tyranny will prevail without it. I am certain that voices of reason such as your own will always have the advantage over those that rely on lies to divide and conquer us.

Vana said...

Manuel:

Ahh there you are, I'm feeling disgusted with all who comment here, except the true blue like Agustin, Charlie mamey and miss calabaza, the way Marti gave his life for us, wasn't giving your life enough! if only we all lived by his teachings we would be so much better as persons, I know I am because of him, he shames me.

Fulano de Cal said...

Yes, a good tribute. Thanks.

It burns me up to see photos of buildings with pictures of Fidel or Che hanging next to a picture of Marti. I would like to write a caption below them saying "immorality versus morality."

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

fulano de cal:

All our national heroes have been debased by the Revolution. Castro buried Blas Roca next to Maceo. Raúl is likely to bury Castro in the same urn as Martí. It is not only for the living but even for our glorious dead that Cuba must be wrested from their impious hands.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Vana:

One thing I am sure of: whenever this nightmare ends the Cuban people will indeed honor the memory and reclaim the legacy of José Martí and all our prohombres.

Fulano de Cal said...

Buried together with Marti? The thought of that makes my head spin.