By Giordan Rodríguez Milanés
My José Martí is not made of stone. He cannot be offended with the blood of a pig or with any other kind. In any case, blood and sweat could only serve to further the glory he earned with his coherence in seeking the unity of Cubans for an independence that’s still in danger: the blood of those who, standing by their dreams and ideals, have seen it shed profusely for a sovereign nation, whose independence is upheld by the respect for the full dignity of men and women; the sweat of the humble, who, day after day, flex their muscles and use their intelligence for the purpose of honoring the Nation. This is a Nation which belongs to all who deserve it and respect it, as well as to all who dream it, honor it and defend it, even above their own individuality.
My José Martí walks the streets of Manzanillo and Cuba. He is not horrified by the sound systems which amplify vulgar music. In any case, he tries to use his genius to understand the phenomenon, and transform it from the establishment of beauty. He doesn’t try to demonize the social networks or those who –acting out of infection or ignorance– use them to spread anti-values and selfishness. I see him using the bridges that social networks provide to spread love, good faith and reconciliation. He is not deterred by obstructions, or by the hatreds configured by a task force, through the rages and frustrations of the merchants of dishonor.
My José Martí does not get carried away by the excluding trap of blacklists. He doesn’t consider the fellow countryman who makes them an enemy either, although I’m sure he would fight against that with the eloquence and forcefulness of facts, until the matter’s logical conclusion. He would always try to use arguments to engage in dialog with censors, and he would tirelessly seek to conciliate stances. No matter how hard the dogmatic and the extremist should try to offend and exclude my Martí, they would never be able to sweep him into becoming precisely what they would like him to be, not acting on behalf of the Nation, but using it as a pedestal for opportunism, manias and ambitions.
My José Martí is only uncompromising with himself. So much so that his only ‘mistake’ is to dismiss the danger he would be exposed to on a war horse, facing the discharge of Spanish rifles when the cause to which he devoted his life needs him most. This is a Martí unyielding with colonialism, but not with the Spaniard; unyielding with imperialism, but not with the American worker or businessman. This is a Martí who’s uncompromising with a traitor, but not with whoever makes a mistake or acts in a haste to do good to the Nation, or with those who believed the liberation of Cuba should be reached through another path.
And he couldn’t even be killed by that discharge of rifle-fire at Dos Ríos. Not that I would label him with one of those qualifiers, like ‘eternal’ or ‘undefeated’, more suitable for political affectation than for expressing respect for the life and work of great leaders; no. My Martí is alive, because I revisit him once and again, like someone who goes to the workbench of a wise father; like someone who goes to the copper linotype of my gradfather Wanchy, or to the spiritual line of my other grandfather, Gilberto; like someone who goes for guidance, to confront his doubts with an honest friend who doesn’t hesitate to offer his open hand, and brings criticism to my certainties. That’s the Martí I appropriate, with the conviction that other countrymen may have a diverse Martí, and that he doesn’t belong to me alone, or to the official discourse, or to the alternative narrative, but to each and every one of us.
By following Martí, or by trying to do so, I have said and I maintain that I’m willing to engage in dialog with those who have a differing vision of Martí, and even with those who have lost all vision by clinging to their ambitions and to convenience. I reiterate as much. All in the name of Cuba; that Cuba Martí fought for and loved, and the one each one of us fights for and loves; that Cuba without which we would have no Revolution, or mistakes or successes, or the aspiration of building socialism, or any other aspirations. Because without a Nation, all we have left is the detachment, the banishment of the soul. And nothing puts the nation more at risk than sectarianism and becoming entrenched against each other. Martí knows that, and demonstrates it with his work for reconciling and seeking unity among Cubans for the cause of independence from Spanish colonialism, and from the foreseen jaws of imperialism.
If Martí creates a Revolutionary Party, he doesn’t do so to turn it into a bunker from which an elite with power relations may try to put anyone who thinks differently about Cuba on the same level of shame and treachery. The Cuban Revolutionary Party is unique because all those who share its essence, nuances and all, are welcome; because all revolutionaries are welcome; and because for my Martí, anyone who, from personal freedom and integrity, forges the liberty of the Nation, and defends the full dignity of every individual who makes it up, is a revolutionary. That dignity also involves the right to express one’s opinion and to disagree, be it from the government or from the Party itself.
We truly need to be more like Martí.
(Translated from the original)