Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — Jose Marti’s greatness and talent are undeniable. He was a man of great standing, making us proud he was born in Cuba. And he was not only Cuban, he was a great Cuban, an avid patriot.
He was extremely gifted as a writer, a public speaker, a professor and a journalist. However, he only did these jobs, amongst others, to support himself or to express his true passions. His magnum opus, his main concern and his reason for living was to serve Cuba.
First to achieve Independence and then to form the Republic: “with everyone for everyone’s well-being”. His life was cut short and he died an early death, without being able to finish his work in progress. However, he left an enduring legacy behind. Since his death, not one Cuban has been able to reject Martí, going beyond his ideology.
The radical socialists in power claim to be martianos (followers of Martí); the extreme right exiled in Florida, sworn enemies of the aforementioned, say the same thing. Both sides take our Apostle’s writings and manipulate them in order to support their radical doctrines. But, Martí was not a radical thinker in any way: he had a great respect for and defended freedom, not imposition.
If we could classify Marti’s political stance within today’s political framework, I think he would more likely fit in with the center-left democrats. He firmly believed in representative democracy, however he loathed the central role money played; he approved of private economic interests, but he didn’t agree with plutocracy or the take-over by monopolies.
He undoubtedly admired Marx. He was familiar with his ideas regarding “scientific communism” but he never adopted them, in spite of being a man with a hunger and thirst for justice. He was not infected by the altruistic trend in vogue at the time because he found it too oppressive. He had, without doubt, an extraordinary mind. He criticised Marxism with unrivalled wit, especially the factors which would lead to its failure a century later.
But he did not do it out of fear of empowering the poor, nor for trivial reasons like the majority of his contemporary intellectuals, but rather for justice. He did not believe in justice which resulted from injustice. He regarded communism as something tyrannical, anti-natural and intrinsically linked to the loss of individual freedom. However, he was drawn to the socialist ideal and he left written proof of this in more than his letters addressed to his great friend Fermín Valdez, with whom he discussed these ideas.
Fidel, like many other young men of his generation, became revolutionary by reading Martí. Martí was his ideological guide and Fidel became concerned about social justice. Then he led the Revolution. In following Martí, he succeeded, but in order to remain in power, he exchanged his ideology and surrendered to Marxism.
You cannot be a Marxist and a martiano at the same time because they are contrary ideologies. Nor can you be a fan of neoliberal capitalism and a “money” democracy, and try to be a martiano. Martí deserves our respect and it is out of place to use his revered name so as to glorify or praise yourself in matters so distant from those which he once defended. Witnessing such disrespect reminds me of the biblical verse where Jesus expresses his hate for the market within the temple. If only we too could get rid of these practices.
The new Cuba, which we should build in the near future, already has a proven guide: Marti. We do not have to go to Russia, or to Germany, or even to the United States in search of an ideological mentor. We have our very own Maestro here at home, who has unfortunately been forgotten in spite of people saying his name every day.
He defended tolerance, freedom, true democracy and a “non-predatory” capitalism. He dreamt and fought for a free and prosperous Cuba “with everyone for everyone’s well-being”. Here, he envisioned black, white and mulato people living together in harmony, in a society which distinguishes people according to their virtues.
Today, peaceful living between different races in society is not a significant problem. In that respect, we have progressed and our Maestro would be happy to see this dream come true. However, he would be extremely sad to see our society divided yet again by hate and resentment. Ideological extremism and political intolerance have come to substitute racism. Marxist socialism, which he predicted would fail, spread on the one hand; whilst bullying money-centred capitalism, which he criticised so much, grew on the other.
Let us rescue our Maestro and return to his teachings, because it is only in this way that we can finally build the Cuba we so desperately need. Let us leave the resentment, hate and everything else which separates us behind. Tolerance and respect are the key to a better future.
If Marií was here now turning 63 instead of 163 years old, there is no doubt that he would be fighting for this new Cuba. Not as a communist, nor as an exiled extremist Cuban, but as a fighter for tolerance. Like Mandela, like Gandhi, like Juárez.
Cuba can change and all the possibilities to do this lie in our hands. Marti is our flag. Hate does not defeat hate, violence does not overcome violence: the exact opposite happens. This concept is fundamental for the Fidelistas just as it is for the anti-Fidelistas. Whoever announces, with a voice which can be heard by all, a Cuba free of these burdens, will win over the people.
“The motherland is an altar, not a platform.”; “society is not founded like how you order a encampment”, “the only dignified reason to take a country to war is to, once its over, restore public freedom”; every person has the right to be honoured”, “a person who hides his/her thoughts is not honourable”.
Let’s open our ears to our Maestro!