José Martí on his 170th birth anniversary

Edited by Catherin López
2023-01-28 21:21:18



José Martí: 170 years of his birth

Havana, Jan 28 (RHC) National hero José Julián Martí Pérez was born in the humble Havana home of two Spanish emigrants, and his life, unintentionally, marked the course of the country's history.

Remarkable poet, orator, journalist, writer, teacher, translator, and diplomat, Martí has all the attributes to be considered the most universal of Cubans.

Guide and organizer of the War of Independence of 1895, he died on May 19, 189,5 in the battle of Dos Río, in the present municipality of Jiguaní, Granma province.

His life was short, but his work was great. He wrote for numerous Spanish-American and New York newspapers and magazines, chronicles, reports, essays, and practically all journalistic and literary genres, including art criticism.

Martí transcends the epoch for the value of his literary creation, ethical-revolutionary ideology, and Bolivarian vocation. He called Father to the Liberator Simón Bolívar and Mother to America, Our America, ″ I am America´s son, I owe myself to her ″, he declared.




On January 28, 185,3 he was born in Paula No. 41, on the second floor of that house, today with the name of mother Leonor Perez No. 314, a museum visited daily by hundreds of people, mostly children.

Leonor Pérez Cabrera (1828-1907), from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, arrived in Cuba with her family at the age of 15, around 1843. The Father,  Mariano Martí y Navarro (1815-1887), first sergeant of the Royal Artillery Corps, a native of Valencia, joined the corps in his hometown in the 1940s and 1850 went to Havana.

The two met at a party where they were on friendly terms and became sweethearts; they united their lives in February 1852.

They formed a large family; the humble home suffered misery and hardships. The couple had eight children, the eldest was the only boy.


Let us remember their names: José Julián, Leonor Petrona (Chata), Mariana Matilde (Ana), María del Carmen (La Valenciana), María del Pilar (Pilar), Rita Amelia (Amelia), Antonia Bruna and Dolores Eustaquia (Lolita).

Two of the girls died early, and the others grew up, married, and had children.

Pepe Martí grew up with few economic resources, under the loving gaze of his mother and the upright morals of his father; as a child, he helped the family and as an adolescent, he was shackled and suffered exile.

The sisters loved Pepe dearly and he loved them as one loves those who are far away but remain in the mind and heart.

It was a mistake to believe that Martí's relatives did not support him in his campaign for independence, said Raúl García Martí, one of his nephews, who published Biografía familiar (Havana, 1934).

On May 18, 1898, a beloved nephew of the hero, Alfredo García Martí (1872-1947), a dental surgeon who belonged to the Health Corps, in the Eastern Department, with the rank of lieutenant, joined the expedition of the steamship Florida.

Martí wanted his only son to be Cuban like him; on August 31, 1878, he arrived in Havana with his pregnant wife Carmen Zayas-Bazán; on November 12, José Francisco was born. It is the only photo of Martí smiling, he has the little one in his arms.

As young as his father was when he devoted himself to Cuba, José Francisco (1878-1945), Martí's beloved Ismaelillo, upon learning of his death in combat, abandoned his studies in Havana and traveled to the United States with the decision to follow in his footsteps.

From there he managed to return, at 18 years of age, in a Mambisa expedition that landed in Banes, Oriente, on March 21, 1897; he made the campaign with Baconao, the horse given by General José Maceo that Martí was riding when he died.

He had a brave performance in the capture of Las Tunas where he took charge of a cannon; he fought in Guisa, the siege of Santiago de Cuba, and other combats. Martí´s son was promoted to lieutenant on August 30, 1897, and captain on July 15, 1898.



In the neocolonial republic, the corrupt politicians forgot his example while the best of the youth raised their banners in the 1920s. (Julio Antonio Mella, Rubén Martínez Villena, together with patriotic forces).

The dictatorial regime of Fulgencio Batista tried to tarnish its centenary but on the night of January 27, 1953, the university and working-class youth of the capital celebrated the March of the Torches from the University Hill to the Fragua Martiana, near Havana's Malecon.

Among the crowd stood out several compact, disciplined blocks, led by Fidel Castro Ruz. Witnesses remember the voices chanting "Revolution".

José Luis Tasende and Abel Santamaría organized the blocs of hundreds of young revolutionary Martianos who marched in Havana on the eve of the centenary of his birth.

Many of them constituted the so-called Centennial Generation that on July 26, 1953, gave a turn to national history, with the assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Barracks, an event that restarted the Cuban Revolution, which triumphed on January 1, 1959, and today continues honoring José Martí.

*Cuban historian and journalist and contributor to Prensa Latina.


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