FIDEL: The Historical Significance of Jose Marti’s Death

Posted on May 19, 2010


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The Historical Significance of Jose Marti´s Death

Reflections by comrade Fidel

Leaving aside the problems afflicting human beings today, our Homeland had the privilege of
being the cradle of one of the most extraordinary thinkers born in this hemisphere: Jose Marti.

Tomorrow, May 19th, will be 115th anniversary of his glorious death.

It would not be possible to appreciate the scope of his greatness without bearing in mind that
the drama of his life was written with such extraordinary personalities as Antonio Maceo, an
everlasting symbol of revolutionary firmness and the protagonist of the Baragua Protest, and
Maximo Gomez, a Dominican internationalist and a teacher of Cuban combatants in the two wars
of independence in which they took part. The Cuban Revolution, that for more than half a
century has endured the battering of the most powerful empire that ever existed, was the
result of the teachings of those predecessors.

Despite the fact that four days of entries to Marti’s diary have remained out of reach to
historians, what is reflected in the rest of that carefully written personal diary and other
documents belonging to him suffices to know the details of what happened. Just like in the
Greek tragedies, it was a discrepancy among giants.

On the eve of his death in combat he wrote to his dear friend Manuel Mercado: “…Every day now
I am in danger of giving my life for my country and my duty –since I understand it and have
the spirit to carry it out—in order to prevent, by the timely independence of Cuba, the United
States from extending its hold across the Antilles and falling with all the greater force on
the lands of our America. All I have done up to now and I will do is for that. It has had to
be done in silence, and indirectly, for there are things that must be concealed in order t o
be attained: proclaiming them for what they are would give rise to obstacles too formidable to
be overcome.”  

When Marti wrote these lapidary words, Marx had already written The Communist Manifesto in
1848, that is, 47 tears before Marti’s death, and Darwin had published his book on The Origin
of Species in 1859, just to mention the two works that, in my view, have most influenced the
history of mankind.

Marx was so extraordinarily selfless that perhaps his most important scientific work, The
Capital, would have never been published if Frederic Engels had not collected and ordered the
materials to which the author devoted his entire life. Engels did not only do that but was
also the author of a work entitled Introduction to the Dialectics of Nature, where he
anticipated the moment when the energy of the sun was depleted.

Man did not know then how to release the energy contained in the matter which Einstein
described in his famous formula nor did he have the computers capable of performing billions
of operations per second and of collecting and transmitting the billions of reactions per
second that occur in the cells of the tens of pairs of chromosomes equally contributed by
mother and father, a genetic and reproductive phenomenon that I learned about only after the
victory of the Revolution, as I was looking for the best characteristics to be used in the
production of food of animal origin in the conditions of our climate, which can be applied to
plants subjected to the same heredity laws.

The incomplete education that the people with more resources received in school, --mostly
private schools which were considered the best education centers-- made us illiterates with a
little higher level than those who could neither read nor write or who attended public schools.

On the other hand, the first country in the world that attempted to implement Marx ideas was
Russia, the least industrialized in Europe.

Lenin, who established the First International, believed that there was not any organization
in the world more loyal to Marx’s ideas than the Bolshevik fraction of the Social Democrat
Workers’ Party of Russia. Although a large part of that immense country lived in semi feudal
conditions, its working class was very active and extremely combative. 

Lenin was a restless critic of chauvinism in the books he wrote as of 1915.  In his work
Imperialism, Higher Stage of Capitalism written in April 1917, --months before the Bolshevik
fraction of that Party seized power from the Menshevik fraction-- he showed that he was the
first to understand the role to be played by the countries subjected to colonialism such as
China and other very important nations in various regions of the world.

At the same time, Lenin’s courage and audacity showed in his acceptance of the armored train
that, for reasons of tactical convenience, the German army offered him to travel from
Switzerland to the proximity of Petrograd. Due to this action his enemies, both inside and
outside the Menshevik fraction of the Social Democrat Workers’ Party of Russia, would soon
accuse him of being a German spy. But if he had not used the famous train, the end of the war
would have found him in distant and neutral Switzerland thus missing the optimal adequate

Somehow, chance would have it that, thanks to their personal qualities, two sons of Spain
would end up playing a prominent role in the Spanish-American War: the chief of the Spanish
troops in the fortification of El Viso, which defended the access to Santiago from the heights
of El Caney, an officer who fought until he was mortally wounded and who caused more than
three hundred casualties among the Rough Riders –tough American riders organized by then
Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and who were forced by the hasty landing to leave their
ardent horses behind—, and the Admiral who, following the stupid orders of the Spanish
government, set sail from the Santiago de Cuba bay carrying on board the Marine Corps, a
selective force, and left with his squadron the only way he could, that is, parading his
ships, one by one, in the narrow access in front of the powerful Yankee fleet, which displayed
its armored ships with its powerful cannons to shoot against the much slower and weak Spanish
ships. As it was only logical, the Spanish ships with their combat troops and marines were
sunk in the deep waters of the Bartlett Trench. Only one of them could make it to a few meters
from the border of the abyss. The survivors of that force fell captive of the United States

Martinez Campos was arrogant and vindictive. As he was full of hatred for his failed attempt
at pacifying the island like in 1871, he supported the vile and rancorous policy of the
Spanish government. Valeriano Weyler was his replacement in command of Cuba; this man, in
cooperation with those who sent the warship Maine looking for a justification for an
intervention in Cuba, decreed the concentration of the population, an action that brought
great suffering to the Cuban people and served as a pretext to the United States for the
imposition of its first economic blockade, which caused a great shortage of food and the death
of countless people.

Thus were facilitated the Paris negotiations where Spain renounced every right of sovereignty
and property over Cuba after over 400 years of occupation in the name of the King of Spain,
since mid October 1492, when Christopher Columbus said: “This is the most beautiful land that
human eyes ever saw.”     

The Spanish version of the battle that decided the fate of Santiago de Cuba is more widely
known; and, undoubtedly there were shows of heroism. This is clear from the number of officers
and soldiers involved and the ranks of the former. They all defended the city in the most
disadvantageous situation thus honoring the fighting traditions of the Spaniards who had
defended their country from Napoleon Bonaparte’s experienced troops in 1808 or the Spanish
Republic from the Nazi fascist attack in 1936.

An additional disgrace fell on the Norwegian committee that awards the Nobel Prize when in the
year 1906 it looked for ridiculous pretexts to grant that honor to Theodore Roosevelt, who was
elected President of the United States twice, in 1901 and 1905. His true involvement in the
battles of Santiago de Cuba leading the Rough Riders was not even clear, and there could have
been much legend in the publicity he later received.

I can only bear witness to the way in which the heroic city fell in the hands of the Rebel
Army on January 1st, 1959.

Then, Marti’s ideas triumphed in our country!

Fidel Castro Ruz

May 18, 2010

6:12 PM
Posted in: Cuba, Imperialism, US