By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – Thinking about Cuba a song came to mind, from Cuba’s Republican era in the 20th century. I’m not sure who sings it but it said:
“Marti, he shouldn’t have died,
If Marti lived, one day
it would be another story
the Homeland would be saved
and Cuba would be happy.
I’m not a fanatic, I don’t believe in visionaries, but there’s no doubt that if Marti were alive, he would have made a substantial and positive contribution to Cuba’s history.
For whatever reason, we were the last ones to acquire consciousness about our own nationality. When the Viceroyalties of Nueva Espana, Peru and Nueva Granada ceased to exist after the independence struggles led by Bolivar, Sucre, San Martin, O Higgins, Hidalgo, Morelos and others, our Homeland continued to be a colony loyal to the Spanish crown.
The Ten Years’ War from 1868-1878 resulted in a colossal defeat even if it were a heroic deed, and this became clear with the famous Pact of Zanjon. Even so, I don’t believe there has ever been a case of such noble ideals in any other independence struggle, when wealthy landowners and slave owners were willing to give everything up, defraying the war with their own resources.
A case in point was Francisco Vicente Aguilera, who was probably the richest man in Cuba, and he spent his entire fortune until he sunk into poverty. However, it was autocratic leadership and internal divisions among the revolutionaries that stood in their way of victory.
After some skirmishes such as “the small war” and unsuccessful conspiracies, the figure of Jose Marti emerged like a giant. Writer, lawyer, teacher, philosopher, journalist, and so much more. A man of liberal political convictions, high ethics and powerful with words, who practiced the religion of freedom and an obsessive passion to see Cuba independent and democratic one day.
Marti’s appearance was in line with his ideas, black clothes and a band ring with the name of Cuba on it, made of the shackles when he was locked up in his early youth. Marti is considered to be one of the greatest and wisest men in the Americas, ever. His intelligence and political skill did the inconceivable.
He united the ‘68 war veterans, polished off their differences, educated them, prepared them for the war they would start in 1895, and he launched an entire independence movement to free the country from the Spanish’s yoke. Unfortunately, he was struck down and killed unnecessarily, which came from an extremist enthusiasm for freedom.
Then came controversial US intervention and the Republic was born before its time. On May 20th 1902, the three-colored flag with a solitary star was raised, but under the shadow of the Platt Amendment, which limited our national sovereignty and which we were luckily able to shake ourselves free of in the 1930s.
A Republic finally, but it was far from being perfect and independent. In other words, we were something like the US’ backyard.
A Republic with a second US intervention, corruption and two dictators. In spite of us being a country with prospects of developing. We received immigrants, we lived the most sublime democratic moment with the 1940 Constitution, the most progressive for its time. In the 1950s, we had managed to achieve some of the best human development and social progress indicators in Latin America, and even Spain according to data handled by the UN. Yet, we were still far from being a happy country. We suffered from a corrupt and defeatist dictatorship. A Revolution was launched to overthrow it.
What has the result been? Let’s take a look back over the past 61 years and ask ourselves, what did we have and what do we currently have? A country that is still hermetic, backward, which hasn’t made progress in decades. A country of millions of emigrants because people can’t see a future here. A land without democracy, seeped in an imported and totalitarian ideology, which has led to international conflicts, with an economy in crisis, where people suffer from shortages and hardship caused by two blockades.
A country where citizens are locked up or discriminated against because of their ideas and opinions, saturated with informers, opportunists and hypocritical cowards. Likewise, we have individuals who vandalize Marti busts because of their civic illiteracy, as a rebel act and sign of their anger with a system that has confused them by taking everything that was sacred. A country full of broken fragments, which I sometimes think even the Apostle couldn’t put back together again.