Subversive Historian – 05/18/09

The Death of Jose Marti

Back in the day on May 19th, 1895, the Cuban poet and revolutionary Jose Marti died trying to liberate his beloved island from Spanish colonialism. Born in Havana in 1853, Marti quickly realized his talents for writing and put them in service of the anti-colonial struggle. At just the age of sixteen, his passionate voice took sides in the Ten Years’ War against the Spanish as he was convicted of treason and sedition as a result. After Marti’s sentenced was reduced, he was exiled from Cuba in what was to be a common condition throughout his life. Between stays in Spain, Mexico, Guatemala, and finally the United States, the poet was only able to revisit his homeland but for a few times, the last of which being a fateful invasion attempt to liberate Cuba from the yoke of Spanish colonialism. A year prior to Marti’s demise, he pondered his own mortality in the poem, “A Morir,” saying “I wish to leave the world/ By its natural door/ Do not put me in the dark/ To die like a traitor/ I am good, and like a good thing/ I will die with my face to the sun.”

And so it was written…


2 responses to “Subversive Historian – 05/18/09

  1. It is often amazing how Marti’s legacy seems to fit both the Cuban people and Cuban exiles in the US. It was today, May 20, in 1902 that Cuba “gained independence” from Spain. Marti’s legacy was subverted to commemorate that day in 1985 when the US government backed “Radio Marti.” (I have a piece on my site today)

    I also love when people mention the poetry. Often, and for good reasons, it is his actions that he is remembered for. Great job.

  2. I can’t imagine that Marti – if living today – would be wholly or even partly compatible with politics of the Cuban exile community. On the other hand, I think he wouldn’t have any qualms about pointing out the shortcomings of the Cuban Revolution either.

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