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      José Martí: An Idea On July 26

      By Lizbeth Labaniño Palmeiro

      There are events that are turning points in the social and political development of a people. They take place at a precise moment, given their necessity and importance.

      The actions of July 26, 1953, fulfill these considerations. At dawn, the Centenary Generation led, in the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba and Céspedes Barracks in Bayamo, the action that would open a new stage of combat against the oligarchy and imperialism and would highlight armed action as the main means of struggle.

      A new young and revolutionary leadership was emerging, heir to and committed to finding a solution to the country’s problems and eradicating dependence on the United States.

      The events of July 26, 1953, invite us to reflect on the presence of José Martí in that day, in Fidel and his comrades.

      The leader of the Centennial Generation, Fidel Castro, by pointing out that the intellectual author of the deed of July 26, 1953 was José Martí, took up again his ideal and with him he championed the last stage of those struggles for “the second independence” from imperialism, an unfinished historical task pointed out by our National Hero for the peoples of Our America.

      In this regard, the following words of Fidel illustrate the presence of Martí in what happened on that July 26, both morally and intellectually: “It seemed that the Apostle was going to die in the year of his centenary, that his memory would be extinguished forever, such was the affront! But he lives, he has not died, his people are rebellious, his people are worthy, his people are faithful to his memory; there are Cubans who have fallen defending his doctrines, and there are young people who in magnificent atonement came to die by his tomb, to give him their blood and their lives so that he may continue to live in the soul of the homeland. Cuba, what would become of you if you had let your Apostle die!”[1]

      Fidel adds in another passage: “I carry in my heart the doctrines of the Master and in my thoughts the noble ideas of all the men who have defended the freedom of our people”.

      The meaning of Martí for a generation of young people like that of 1953, has a special character, because it is not a simple mention of a hero, but the assumption of a thought, an ideology, to carry in the hearts the doctrines of a man who became an intellectual, ethical and political reference essential for the new stage of struggle that began after the blow of the tyrant Batista on March 10, 1952; and that had its gestation on July 26, 1953.

      The Marti’s thought of the 19th century existed to manifest to the Cuban population that it was viable to fight against the oppressive forces; hand in hand with the Cuban people a rebelliousness that would give the possibility of carrying out the liberating project, which above all values was highly pro-independence, anti-imperialist and sovereign.

      Given the historical context in which the Moncadistas found themselves, their concern and the sufficiently revolutionary and challenging attitude that led them to act was to be expected. For this reason Fidel points out that: “This is the decisive hour announced by Martí, the hour of the second Emancipation: and with this advance movement, unanimous and continental”.

      From that moment on, the impact of Martí’s legacy was visualized as a guide to the subsequent revolutionary government that led them to triumph in 1959.

      Fidel’s self-defense plea, History Will Absolve Me, was only the beginning of the use of recurring quotes by Jose Marti in writings, speeches, laws and expositions, which conditioned the revolutionary and political actions of the nation.It is not strange today to walk the streets of Havana and read iconic phrases of our apostle everywhere. Somehow he has even become part of our idiosyncrasy. It is not by chance, it is coherence and historical sense.

      It is Marti’s ideology, a legacy from one revolutionary struggle to another, where the people and their leaders are the sources that leads to those who make it possible for those mutilated projects to become a reality.

      About this character, Roberto Fernandez Retamar points out: “…it is not in a tense environment because of the wait for the revolution, but in an environment full of skepticism and detachment… translated in the difficult intellectual life, in which Fidel Castro is going to unleash one of the deepest revolutions in history, with his assault to the Moncada barracks, on July 26th, 1953. His intellectual support was not going to come from thinkers close to him but from José Martí. And this, which today seems to us the most natural thing in the world, this alone, to jump over the mediocrity of the environment and go to connect in a living way with the only great original thought that had been engendered in this land, was already a definition.”[2]

      Because of the depth of the reflections promoted, provided by that historic event, its starting point, presence and continuity, the validity of these events as a song of hope both nationally and internationally, where Marti’s ideology takes a fundamental role and is of necessary consultation in every political decision to be faced by the Cuban people.

      [1] Fidel Castro Ruz. History Will Absolve Me (digital edition)

      [2] Roberto Fernández Retamar: Towards a revolutionary intellectuality in Cuba; in Revista Casa de las Américas, editions 296-297, JulyDecember 2019, p. 27.

      Lizbeth Labañino Palmeiro is a professor in the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Havana, Psychological Advisor in the feminist podcast "Mujeres al Sur" and daughter of Ramon Labañino, one of our 5 Cuban heroes.

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