157 Years Since the Birth of the Most Universal of all Cubans

It was José de la Luz y Caballero who popularized this phrase of Socrates among Cubans: Where did we come from, who are we, and where are we going?

I was 17 years old when I was sent to La Cabaña prison for the crime of “concealment” (I had knowledge of my family’s illegal departure from the country). I assumed that my future was destroyed, in addition to the shame before my friends and their families for my incarceration. At that age I knew depression. My family had been dispersed throughout the prisons of Havana. My sister in Western Women’s Prison, my brother in the Combinado del Este, my sister’s husband in Valle Grande. My mother moved with a back pack from one end of the city to the other. She never recovered her smile.

Thanks to reading about the life of the Apostle, I understood where I came from and I accepted my fate: José Martí was imprisoned at my age, and the reason, by the strange coincidences and ironies of life, was for writing a letter to Carlos de Castro y Castro, in which he accused him of treason for not supporting the cause of the Cubans.

From the prison I intensified my study and discovered what until that moment was to me unthinkable, that my vocation was literature, and I vowed to devote my life to it whatever the cost. And if my writing could serve any purpose, let it be devoted to the people I come from. Emphasize and scream about their hardships, sorrows, anxieties and conflicts. This has been my duty, an insignificant effort, when compared to the work of José Martí.

Abdala Extract, 1869

(…) Love, mother, and the homeland,
It is not ridiculous to love the earth
Nor the grass that our plants trample
But the invincible hatred against the oppressor
It is the eternal rancor of the one who is attacked (…)

In his Complete Works, among many sayings, after studying and gaining full knowledge of the approaches of Marx and Engels, we can read his definition: “Socialism is the upper stage of slavery.”

In those readings I learned about his Masonic militancy, a doctrine in which I had been raised by my mother, and that she received from her ancestors. I swore that when I obtained freedom I also would be.

The day before going into the battle that claimed his life, May 18, 1895, from the camp of Dos Rios, the Master wrote what would be his last letter to his friend Manuel Mercado.  It was considered his political testament, where he did not rule out that every day he was about to give his life for his country.

Since then I learned that in the life of José Martí we have the greatest school to guide our own lives, especially in these times when opportunism and corruption are the Cubans’ best weapons for survival.

Image: Lauzan

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