By Alberto S. Bustamante, M.D.

If we summarize the works of Martí, without hesitation we can say it was a "dream of freedom and democracy for Cuba, love between fellowman, dignity of the human being and their right to happiness. The day before he died, he wrote this in his diary: "Cuba's liberty for me will not be party or celebration but agony and duty." Regarding hate he wrote: "If I hated somebody, I would hate myself because of it."

The moral testament in the days before the war, "odio canijo ladra y no obra" (sickly hatred bards and does not act). His views of the Republic were clear when he states: "Politics is the art of preserving the well being of a country under the rule of justice and harmony of all its social elements. Where there is no justice there is no nation." The politics he refers to is virtuous politics; his entire thinking is dominated by ethics. In his own words, "The first law of the Republic should be the respect for the full dignity of men."

For José Martí, true glory is found in the fulfillment of our duties to our fatherland, of the love of the work, Martí indicates it is the root of the dignity of the person and of the collective liberty; the progress of humanity advances on the shoulders of the workers. Martí was able to foresee the failure of Marx whose theory throws men against one another through a war poisoned by the worst hatreds. The worker should not hate the capitalist, nor the capitalist the worker. Both should live in harmony.

To the materialism of Marx, Martí offers his spiritualism. The German philosopher denies private property, the Cuban defends it. Martí does not believe in dominated and subjugated races, for him there are no races and if there were, none has the right to impose itself upon the other. He condemns every type of dictatorship. In his ideology there is no room for the Leninist Marxist, he raises love over hatred, liberty over oppression, tolerance over fanaticism. The individual is above the State and the law is above force.

Martí's panoramic vision of Cuba from exile increased the mystification of his patriotic ideal. In 1879, he wrote to Manuel Mercado: "The first weakness and grave mistake of my life, my return to Cuba." In these words to Mercado, he confirms our own sentiment, that for those who have found their fatherland in exile or those who live within an oppressed fatherland the latter is much worse than exile…. It is in exile that Martí intensifies the mysticism for Cuba's liberty and where this become the essence of his life.

It is in exile today that we see the magnitude of Martí's ideals and struggles.

In 1884, George Orwell depicted the central role that the falsification of History, as outlined by Marx, played in the creation of the Stalinist state. "He who controls the present, controls the past; and whoever controls the past, controls the future. Having made history his servant, he can reduce all men to servitude."

Solzchenitzen, the most brilliant Russian writer and philosopher of the XX Century, dedicated his life to expose the totalitarian regimes with the same passion for his country, as Martí had for his in the XIX Century. Solzchenitzen's books are an enlightment at this historical moment for the Cuban people. Spiritualism, faith and religion prevailed over materialism. He returned to Russia in 1994, after being in exile in Vermont since 1978.

Communism in Cuba, as in Russia, tries to control the present, change our past history, traditions and eliminates our symbols. Falsifying the thoughts and doctrine of José Martí, as a symbolic architect of the 1959 revolution, they justify their abuses of power and violations of human rights. The knowledge young Cubans have about Martí is very poor and distant from reality. Falsifying history is one sure way totalitarian governments justify seizing power and imposing political systems alien to a nation's history or traditions.

Carlos Ripoll wrote an article with details on this subject in 1996, copies will be available at the symposium tomorrow. Professor Ripoll is the top Martí Scholar; Professor Emeritus of the City University of New York, now retired living in Coral Gables, Miami.

With the collapse of world communism and the bankruptcy of the Cuban totalitarian system, the systematic adulteration of Cuban history has intensified, parallel to the oppression, lack of human rights and the speculation and sell out of our heritage and Cuban patrimony. From a general perspective this goes along with the disintegration of a system. We have to join forces to reach our goals of freedom and democracy for Cuba. These goals we seek are the exact same ideals, hopes, and fears that in the XIX Century became the dream of José Martí.

Thank you,
Alberto S. Bustamante, M.D.

Mr Bustamante is Founder and Member of the Board of Directors of the Cuban Cultural Heritage

Presentation at the First Latin American Symposium on Historic Studies on "The Dream of José Martí, October 9-10, 2003, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.

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