1-2-53

After reading Haroldo Dilla’s excellent article in Cubaencuentro I feel compelled to say something on this 160th anniversary of the birth of José Martí.

The earliest memory I have of Martí is from 1953 when I was barely 6 years old and Bohemia magazine had his portrait on the cover.  I asked my father, “Who is this guy?” and that was when I got the most painful scolding of my entire life.

I’m not as fervent about Martí as my father would have wanted, but I still believe to this day that no other Cuban surpasses him. The officially-sponsored events about “the balance of the world” that quote him out of context to attack us, making him the intellectual author of so many atrocities, have not dented the respect I have for him. But much time has passed and we are in the 21st century, so it’s absurd to want to understand our world in the light of the 19th.

I have the impression that Our Martí would not have liked that they are using him for all the things they use him for, but I imagine him today with that smile just caught in a blurry photo, looking at us with his barely disguised superiority (“for the common people, their little bit of common music…”).

If your spirit is watching us you will have no choice but to feel sorry for us.