Jose Julian Marti y Perez was born to Mariano Marti y Navarro and Leonor Perez y Cabrera on January 28, 1853. He was baptized as a Roman Catholic on February 12th. He was born a citizen of Spain. His father was a first sergeant in the Spanish Royal Artillery. Jose had seven sisters. Two died as children1. At age nine, Jose was a clerk for his father, who at that time was a policeman. This was Jose’s first witnessing of the mistreatment of slaves. At this point, he desired the freedom of slaves. 2 Rafael Maria de Mendive was very instrumental in Jose’s future.
He paid for his education when Jose’s father wanted him to give up school and get a job. Mendive was a teacher and Valdes Dominguez, a life long friend of Jose’s, was as devoted to education as he. They were classmates and received the highest grades possible. However, he and Valdes’ jousting landed them in prison. They joked with some soldiers that took offense and later came back and searched the premises. A letter written by Valdes and Jose had them arrested. They were accused of treason. He was given the greater sentence (six years) because he claimed to have written the entire letter.
He was shackled at the waist and ankles and had to endure hard labor at a stone quarry in 18711. They both were ill at the time and faculty members felt their health improve by a change of scenery. 1Richard Butler Gray, Jose Marti, Cuban Patriot, (Florida, University of Florida Press, 1962). 2Robin Kadison Berson, Young Heroes in World History,(Westwood, CT, Greenwood Press, 1999). A few years later he returned to Mexico and discovered his favorite sister, Ana, died. Four years later, Marti spoke of Cuban Independence in the presence of the Spanish governor.
Six years later, he was rearrested. He began writing letters to newspapers about freeing Cuba from Spanish reign. After Marti and Valdez were freed, they signed off on 27 de noviembre, a document that frowned upon the shooting of eight medical students. He was detained for conspiracy and yet deported once again. He went to New York in 1880 and joined the Cuban Revolutionary Committee. He was appointed interim head and at this point began organizing for the war. Under this role, he gave permission for the little war (La Guerra Chiquita), which lost momentum after a year.
Two years later (1882) Jose wrote to General Maximo Gomez, one of the leaders of the ten year war, asking for support in the liberation of Cuba. He also wrote General Antonio Maceo, inquiring of his opinion of starting a revolution. In 1884 he was named Vice Consul of Uruguay and months later met with the generals to discuss war efforts. 3 His father died three years later. An executive committee for the war was formed that same year by Jose.
When the war began, Spanish forces in Cuba were approximately 80,000. A quarter of these soldiers were enlisted and the rest were Spanish and Cuban volunteers.
Rich land owners enrolled their slaves for this service. He was killed in 1895 in the war. He was survived by his son Cesar Romero, an actor and an alleged daughter, Maria Mantilla. 1 1Richard Butler Gray, Jose Marti, Cuban Patriot, (Florida, University of Florida Press, 1962). 3Joel Mathis, Jose Julian Marti y Perez, (1853-1895), <http://www. spanamwar. com/Marti. htm> These policies implemented by Marti did not go unnoticed. His death was not in vain. In fact, Fidel Castro utilized these tactics for eventual freedom of Cuba in 1959.
The Montecristi Manifesto was the policy for the war for independence. It outlined several points. The first point was that the war was to be for every nationality and race. It was critical to be victorious. Next, Spanish that did not interfere or object should not be held accountable in Cuba. They should not be killed or taken as prisoners. Lastly, this war should bring financial stability and/or growth to Cuba. 4 It was more so a philosophy that Marti held; his vision of man. He formed La Liga with Rafael Serra, a Cuban Negro exile, to help slaves.
This was a learning center to strengthen black Cuban exiles. He was very devoted to it and taught class there every Thursday. 3 He felt that freedom was justice for all. Jose was a very profound leader and visionary with impeccable oratory skills. He had all of the makings of a great leader. He was a visionary and his imagination came to fruition. There are numerous statues, libraries and the like named after him and with that being said it is no question that Marti was indeed a prominent leader in the independence of Cuba.
He may not have been alive to witness it, but his spirit gripped the souls and hearts of those who fought so long for such a feat. He was fair and just and helped create a freedom that may not have been realized had he not organized this regime. Jose was terrified of the United States taking over Cuba. Cuba had sugar and the US wanted to own it. 3Joel Mathis, Jose Julian Marti y Perez, (1853-1895), <http://www. spanamwar. com/Marti. htm> 4Jerry Sierra, The War for Cuban Independence, <http://www. historyofcuba. com/history/scaw/scaw1. htm> This is a commodity that made freeing of this island a little more difficult.
Supporters of the war efforts were running out of funds and it was making it impossible to continue the fight. Yet the fight continued. The war had the spirit of Marti. He lost his sister, father and his life for this war effort. He loved life and freedom for others and never became stagnant despite his personal misery. He was a writer that definitely lived by ‘the show must go on’ mentality until his final curtain call. He convinced Cubans to give up one days pay for the war effort and whole-heartedly believed they could govern themselves.
He was a very fair man and sought cohesion. In fact, he postponed war efforts when Maceo and Gomez disagreed. 6 He practiced the concept of unity in his every day life. He united every walk of life for this cause and understood how critical unity was to success. He was well-loved and respected. The reason everyone comes to love Jose Marti is that without question he is the person we all dream of being, the man that in our moments of optimista, although the prospects may be disheartening and all common sense against us, the man we believe we will yet become.
We love him because he keeps that vision of fulfill-ment alive in us–to be a whole man like him: a brave uncomplaining young rebel though the jailing he suffered broke his health, a loving father to his little son, a father to his nation (the very idea of Cuba being a nation seems his), a great poet, a great journalist, a superb prose stylist, an unexcelled organizer and teacher, an utterly sincere and honest and forthright friend and correspondent, one of the few major revolutionary leaders of modern times.
The exiles were instrumental in further developing his political views as moving around to differing socio-economic and philosophical lifestyles lead him to a vision that came to be realized. Marti had a goal. He accomplished it. He has been posthumously recognized for his efforts and he died for his cause. Is that not enough to make him a hero? 5 Pablo Medina, “The Tampa Cubans and the Culture of Exile,” The Antioch Review, Vol 62, Fall 2004 6 Hannah Caller, History of Cuba, Jose Marti, 1853-1895 and The War of Independence, <http://www.
rcgfrfi. easynet. co. uk/ratb/cuba/history2. htm> 7 Eduardo Gonzalez, ”Perez, Luis A, Jr. , Ed, Jose Marti In The United States; The Florida Experience’” Arizona State University Center for Latin American Studies, 1995.
Richard Butler Gray, Jose Marti, Cuban Patriot (Florida, University of Florida Press, 1962). Joel Mathis, Jose Julian Marti y Perez, (1853-1895), <http://www. spanamwar. com/Marti. htm> Jerry Sierra, The War for Cuban Independence, <http://www. historyofcuba. com/history/scaw/scaw1.htm>
Pablo Medina, “The Tampa Cubans and the Culture of Exile,” The Antioch Review, Vol 62, Fall 2004 Hannah Caller, History of Cuba, Jose Marti, 1853-1895 and The War of Independence, <http://www. rcgfrfi. easynet. co. uk/ratb/cuba/history2. htm> Robin Kadison Berson, Young Heroes in World History,(Westwood, CT, Greenwood Press, 1999). Eduardo Gonzalez, ”Perez, Luis A, Jr. , Ed, Jose Marti In The United States; The Florida Experience’” Arizona State University Center for Latin American Studies, 1995.