A brief presentation of José Martí
Por: Dr. Rodolfo Sarracino

Rodolfo_SaccracinoAs you may know, José Martí is Cuba´s national hero. He was born in Havana on January 28, 1853 in a modest Spanish family. From childhood he was gifted with an exceptional sensibility for social justice. His family, teachers and friends perceived in him unusual literary creative powers. He was endowed with qualities we would like all men and women, and indeed our sons and daughters to have. That is why we are doing our best to preseve for future generations the enormous wealth of knowledge, the treasure of documents that he bequeathed us; his overwhelming literary and political achievements, his twenty-eight volumes of essays, articles, poetry, drama, letters and novels, forerunners of modernism, thought to be by the greatest writers and critics of his time and ours among the best written in the Spansh language.

Very early in his youth his sense of solidarity led him to criticize the Spanish colonial regime in Cuba. The few words about the social and political wrongs in Cuba he had written to a friend found their way into a colonial court that sentenced him to six years of hard labor in chains when he was scarcely sixteen years of age. The following year, his sentence commuted, young Martí was deported to the Isle of Pines (today the Isle of Youth) and later to Spain, bearing the scars of prison for the rest of his life. From 1871 to 1874, he studied, first in the Faculty of Law of the Central University of Madrid, and later at the University of Saragossa, where he graduatred in Law and Philosophy. He then traveled to Mexico where he lived from 1875 to 1876. In Mexico he became an accomplished journalist, distinguished lecturer and secondary school professor. After the coup staged by General Porfirio Díaz, of whom he was highly critical, he could no longer stay in Mexico. From 1877 to 1878 he lived in Guatemala. He was employed there as a secondary school teacher and university professor. Once more he clashed with the local government and had to leave. He then decided to return to Cuba. And again he was deported to Spain for his involvement in a new attempt to revive the the Ten Year War (1868-1878). He was losing time in Madrid, so he left for New York, lived there for a few months with his wife, a Cuban lady of a well to do family that he had met and married in Mexico, mother of his only son, and finally settled in Venezuela. This time he was employed as a journalist for the Venezuelan paper La Opinión Nacional and as editor of the Venezuelan review La Revista Venezolana. Once more he was a university professor of Philosophy. His revolutonary views were not shared by Presdent General Antonio Guzmán Blanco, so he was invited to leave the country. By this time he had a clear idea of the kind of government he did not want for a future independent Cuba.

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