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International Socialist Review, Winter 1962


Arthur Phelps

Jose Marti: A Professional Revolutionist


From International Socialist Review, Vol.23 No.1, Winter 1962, pp.24-25.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Jose Marti – Epic Chronicler of the United States in the Eighties
by Manuel Pedro Gonzales
Center on Studies of Marti, P.O. Box 6386, Havana. 1961. 79 pp. (Copyright 1953 by the University of North Carolina Press.)

Jose Marti spent a large part of his adult life in the United States. He wrote of its leaders, artists and scoundrels, of its industrialists and its working class. Out of a 70-volume edition of his Complete Works, 17 are given to the articles written about the US.

“Unfortunately,” says the author of the present work, “practically nothing of what Marti wrote is available in English translation. It is hoped that on the occasion of his centennial commemoration (1953), this deficiency will be remedied.”

The deficiency is even more notable now that the continuators of Jose Marti are the leaders of the Cuban Revolution and nation. This little book gives us a hint as to how helpful a knowledge of Marti would be in understanding the evolution of his Fidelist apostles.

Born in 1853 of poor Spanish parents, Marti was sentenced to exile in Spain at the age of 17 and remained in exile virtually thereafter for his persistence in organizing the overthrow of Spanish rule in Cuba and Puerto Rico and his implacable intolerance of all oppression. A poet, a journalist, critical observer of the arts and culture in many lands and tongues, Jose Marti was above all a politician: to be more exact, a spokesman for the revolutionary forces of all Latin America and the organizer of the Cuban Revolutionary Party which sparked and led the revolution in Cuba from 1895 to 1898.

From the date of his first exile in 1870 to 1880, he spent four years in Spain, the rest of the time in Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela, with brief interludes in Cuba, England, France and New York. From 1881 to 1895, he resided in the US.

The main theme presented in this book shows Marti in the US organizing revolution in Cuba, while the US ruling class was embarking upon the creation of a new system: Imperialism! And the first target was to be Cuba.

Marti gave much to his people in terms of his knowledge of the United States – its leaders, culture and its political development. But most of all he gave Latin America an advance warning. In 1889, he wrote: “What is apparent is that the nature of the North American government is gradually changing in its fundamental reality. Under the traditional labels of Republican and Democrat, with no innovation other than the contingent circumstances of place and character, the republic is becoming plutocratic and imperialistic.”

Gonzalez reports two cases when Marti frustrated the immediate ambitions of the US Government: first in 1891, as delegate of Uruguay to the Pan American Monetary Congress he led the Latin American opposition to the US-proposed silver monetary standard; second, in 1895, at the moment when it looked likely that Spain would cede Cuba to the US, Marti convinced his Party to launch an all-out struggle for independence, thus presenting the US with a fait-accompli.

This small book tempts the reader to go much deeper into the genesis of American imperialism and of the 50-year battle Latin Americans have put up to regain their continent. Jose Marti was among those who initiated that struggle. He more eloquently than any other could say: “I know the monster because I have lived in its lair, and my sling is that of David.”

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