Posted on July 5, 2007

As Grenada relives the assassination of Maurice Bishop during this week’s court hearing to re-examine the sentences of those responsible for his assassination, here is a speech that Bishop gave at Revolutionary Square in Havana on January 28, 1983.  The occasion was the 130th celebration of Marti’s birth.

The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Speech
28 January 1983, Revolution Square, Havana, Cuba


On behalf of our Party, our government and our entire people I bring warm,
comradely greetings to the Cuban internationalist community in Grenada, to
the Cuban Communist Party, the Cuban Government and the heroic Cuban people
on this historically significant observance of the 130th anniversary of the
birth of the great Jose Marti.

For us it is an honour and pleasure to participate in this memorial ceremony
dedicated to the father of independent Cuba, an exemplary national hero who
like Antonio Maceo and Maximo Gomez before him gave his entire life to the
cause of freeing Cuba from Spanish colonialism.

While it is the sovereign right of the Cuban people to cherish Jose Marti as
their own son of the soil it can be said honestly and accurately without the
slightest disagreement from the unselfish, Cuban people that Marti belongs
not only to Cuba but to all of the Americas.

Today, in Grenada there is a growing awareness and appreciation of Marti’s
outstanding qualities and of his tremendous contributions to the struggle
for freedom and justice in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The unity of the region’s working masses that Marti so fervently called for
in his time is today exemplified in the friendship, mutual solidarity and
close working relations that exist between the fighting peoples of free Cuba
and free Grenada.

Just as the Cuban leadership and people continuously recall Marti’s
teachings and examples for guidance and inspiration so too the Grenadian
leadership and people regard this 19th Century hero as visionary, a beacon
illuminating the path of genuine independence from imperialism that we must
travel in the latter part of the 20th Century.

Marti lived, struggled, suffered and died for the ideals that we today
practiced in reality by the Cuban Revolution. Marti was indeed the mentor of
the Cuban Revolution and as we have said many times before if there was no
Cuban Revolution in 1959 there would not have been a Grenadian Revolution in
1979. Therefore, comrades, it is logically correct to say that Jose Marti
like our own Fedon and Butler and Marryshow and all our other national
heroes was also a mentor of the glorious Grenadian Revolution.

As a prolific poet, playwright, journalist, editor and political organiser
who wrote and spoke volumes on behalf of Cuban independence, Jose Marti came
to be affectionately known as the “Apostle”.

His epic poem “Abdala”, written when he was only 15 praised the first Cuban
Revolution of 1868 and its fighters for independence.

For this and for his criticism of fellow students who collaborated with the
Spanish colonial oppressors, Marti was arrested and sentenced to hard labour
while still a boy, Under these harsh and inhuman conditions the young Marti
became half-blind and contracted a hernia, two handicaps that were to
afflict him throughout his life.

But instead of breaking his resistance and resolve his stay in prison only
served to strengthen his determination and will, and indomitable will of
steel reflected in his unremitting opposition to Spanish colonialism and
Yankee imperialism and in his ardent belief that the rights and dignity of a
people are non-negotiable and cannot be compromised. To quote his own words:

“A People’s right are to be taken, not requested, seized, not begged

Released from prison, Marti vas quickly banished from the land of his birth
in 1871 and spent the next 24 years in exile living for varying periods in
Spain, Mexico, Paris, Caracas and Now York always studying, writing,
speaking and agitating.

Wherever he settled during that period his preoccupation was always to
organize for the second war of independence for Cuba, which he later came to
lead upon his return in 1895.

In those 24 years, Jose Marti magnificently symbolised the combination of
political and academic education that we in Grenada have set ourselves as a
national objective for 1983. He studied political economy, philosophy, law,
history, geography and languages earning for himself university degrees and
international recognition as an intellectual giant of our Americas. His
academic achievements through hard work and discipline and his political
consciousness lifted through study and practice are worthy of emulation by
all patriotic Grenadians especially in this year of political and academic

Marti understood clearly that political and academic education was useless
without application to reality, that political education must inevitably
lead to political organization and that individual academic accomplishments
must serve the collective welfare of the people and the nation. That is why
Marti spent so much of his time and energy in exile organising the Cuban
Revolutionary Party to lead the second and decisive war of independence
against Spain.

That is also why Fidel Castro, the architect of today’s socialist Revolution
in Cuba, himself an outstanding intellectual inspired by Marti, organized a
rally of the Cuban University Students Federation in 1953 not only to
commemorate the 100th anniversary of Marti’s birth but also to protest
against exploitation and brutality of the dictatorships that ruled over Cuba
at the time. This rally stimulated the famous attack on the Moncada barracks
one year later by a small group of valiant freedom fighters many of whom
went on to make the Revolution of 1979 and are today leading the Cuban
people into a bright and beautiful future.

Marti’s Revolutionary Party was the forerunner of the Cuban Communist Party
of today. There is an unbreakable historical link and remarkable similarity
between the objectives, the ideas, the struggles and the practice of both
parties. Both expressed the genuine ideas and aspirations of the Cuban
people. Both led the Cuban people to freedom.

Today, the spirit of Marti and his revolutionary party in very much alive in
Fidel and his communist party. Today, when Fidel speaks to his Cuban
compatriots massed in Havana’s Revolution Plaza with the towering statue of
Marti over his shoulder he speaks with the same eloquence, clarity and
passion that characterised Marti’s oratorical style and the Cuban working
people are moved by his words in the same way as those all over the Americas
whose hearts and consciences were touched by Marti’s speeches.

Comrades, the spirit of Marti and his party are in our midst today embodied
in the newly elected local committee of the Cuban Communist Party which will
over the next year supervise the work of your party among the Cuban
internationalist community in Grenada.

I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the newly elected committee
members and to applaud the outgoing committee for its valuable work in 1942,
particularly the recent establishment of the Ramon Quintana School at
Calliste which will provide political and academic education to the Cuban
internationalist workers in our country. Your decision to name this school
and our government’s decision to name the Stone crushing and Asphalt plant
after Ramon Quintana, Cuban internationalist worker who died one year ago in
a tragic accident at the airport site, guarantees that his outstanding
example will never be forgotten.

For Ramon Quintana lived and worked in the tradition of Jose Marti. His
courage, his selflessness, his sacrifice, his love of family and country
bore the indelible stamp of Marti. Like Marti who perished on the
battleground of Cuban freedom, Ramon lost his life on the free ground of
Grenada while clearing away the rocks for the runway of our freedom. Like
Marti the 19th century internationalist perished not only for the /who
emancipation of Cuba but for the ultimate to liberation of all the Americas,
Quintana, the 20th Century internationalist died while giving voluntary
service to the Grenada Revolution.

Therefore to all the hard working Cuban and Grenadian comrades on this
monumental project, who work together day and night and whose working class
unity grows stronger every day, I wish to say: Always remember Ramon
Quintana, always be inspired by his sacrifice and in his spirit push forward
vigorously in the months ahead to ensure that our new international airport
is completed in early 1984.

Comrades, as we remember Jose Marti today we must not lose sight of the
growing danger posed to the revolutionary process by United States
imperialism and the threat to world peace created by the massive imperialist
arms buildup.

At this very moment US imperialism is launching new attacks on the people of
our Americas, Marti’s Americas. The United States is today busily preparing
its puppet armies in the dictatorial regimes of Honduras and Guatemala to
wage aggression against free and revolutionary Nicaragua.

ry bandits continue to be trained in Florida. The people
of El Salvador continue to fight bitterly for their liberation while the
people of Cuba and Grenada hold firmly to their cherished freedom in the
face of mounting imperialist aggression.

One hundred years ago Jose Marti, the great Cuban visionary accurately
predicted today’s alarming situation in Latin America and the Caribbean.

During this period of exile from Cuba, Marti spent 14 years in the United
States and wrote scores of articles about all aspects of life in the US for
leading newspapers and magazines all over Latin America, No one before him
and few since were able to interpret life in the USA to so many people of
the Americas.

He wrote about the United States at a time when that society was being
transformed from competitive capitalism into monopoly capitalism, when it
was entering the imperialist stage of its development.

America in the 1880’s had become a vast land of stark contrasts, of rampant
poverty amidst enormous wealth, a land of millionaires known as robber
barons amassed huge profits from /who the exploitation of workers paid 50
cents for 12 hours of back-breaking labour per day.

The masters of capital, banking, industry and commerce were also the masters
of political life in the US. Big business dominated government. But the
1880’s were also years of great workers’ struggles. Nation wide strikes and
numerous labour disputes constituted the American working people’s response
to this massive exploitation by the wealthy capitalists.

Marti observed and reported these changes. He was appalled by the
unscrupulous amassing of riches and the political corruption he saw all
about him and in his writings be condemned what he called “the cult of
wealth”. He saw clearly the danger posed to the economic and political
independence of Latin America by expansionist US imperialism and he warned
that the underdeveloped countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, rich
in raw materials and natural resources, would remain poor if they allowed
their wealth to be exploited by US imperialism.

Words that are strikingly relevant and instructive to our time Marti said in
1891: “The nation eager to die sells to a single nation and the one eager to
save itself sells to more than one. A country’s excessive influence over the
commerce of another becomes political influence”.

Comrades it is evident that Jose Marti’s thoughts and insights still burn
bright a century later for he was a man not only of his time but of ours

So as we honour on this 130th anniversary of his birth /him let us not think
of him as a dead hero but as a leader whose spirit lives on, close to the
people, by their side every day speaking to them with words that can never
grow old, with brilliant ant thoughts that reside not in museums but in our
workplaces, our fields, our schools and our battlegrounds.

Permit me, comrades, to leave my final words to Cde. Guevara, another hero
of our Americas whose memory and example lives daily in the hearts and minds
of millions all over the .world and who once said of Jose Marti:

“Don’t be afraid to approach him, don’t think you are approaching a god,
rather a man greater than others, wiser and more sacrificing than others.
You bring him back to life a little whenever you think about him and quite a
bit whenever you act as he wanted you to act”.

Long Live the memory of Jose Marti
Long Live the memory of Ramon Quintana Long Live the Cuban Revolution
Long Live the Grenadian Revolution
Long Live the unity, friendship and solidarity of the Cuban and Grenadian
Forward Ever, Backward Never.

Jose Marti wrote beautiful poems. One of them –


I grow a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his frank hand

Cultivo una rosa blanca
Enjulio como en enero,
para el amigo sincero
que me da su mano france

And for the cruel one who tears out
The heart with which I live,
Neither thorn nor thistle do I grow;
I grow the white rose.

Y para el cruel que me arranca
el corazón con que vivo,
cordo ni ortiga cultivo;
cultivo la rosa blanca

Posted in: Cuba