That Martí is for Cubans the ideal of good is essential to Dr. Eduardo Torres-Cuevas, director of the Martí Program office. Referring to the acts of vandalism that occurred on January 1 in Havana involving busts of the Apostle of Cuban Independence, he explains his views on these reprehensible events.
"A bust has not been attacked, an image has been attacked, the soul of Cuba has been attacked, which is what Martí is," he states, explaining that it was no accident that Fidel Castro named him as the intellectual author of the Moncada assault in 1953.
His words weave together the fundamental reasoning. For 60 years, he explains, Martí has been "living" daily with our children, with our young people, with our researchers, with our workers. What would the U.S. people say if George Washington were attacked? What would Mexicans say if Benito Juarez were attacked, he asks, to illustrate how much such behavior can hurt.
When acts of this kind take place, it is not a revolution that is attacked, but a people. “They are attacking the very essence that gives our people their nature and greatness. Precisely what represents the purest of ideals with which a nation is forged," he insists, and his comments continue to emphasize this line of thinking.
All Cubans, since we were born, have seen the image of Martí, who we assume as a spiritual father, as a moral father, he states, and reaffirms that it was not necessary to convoke anyone to express their indignation, which is perceived and deeply felt by everyone who considers themselves Cuban, because the "the very reason of a people” has been offended.
In Dr. Torres-Cuevas’ opinion, the enemies of Cuba who encourage these acts have made a huge mistake. "They have helped us become more aware of what unites us, of what we are, of what values we have as a people, those that identify us.
“Even for those who are not so clear about this,” he insists, “They have realized what Cuba is and what can happen when there is no love, when one wants to destroy, and what can happen to us if we are not capable of defending what unites us.”
Torres-Cuevas notes how important it is to be Cuban, "It is the consciousness and the will to be so. And the consciousness of being Cuban is knowing how we are distinguished," including virtues and defects, fighting the former and cultivating the latter. That, in his opinion, is the secret behind the popular response, that is, "greater identification with what we are and, above all, the will to defend what we are.”
In an aside, he recalled an old argument between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries, that of to whom Martí "belonged." Even today's counter-revolutionaries are harmed by these events, since "they lose the Cuban identity they want to exhibit.
"No one can think of our Cuba, or the Cuba they want to construct - or destroy - if not based on Cuban language," he states, and when symbols of this kind are attacked, not only revolutionary sentiment, but all patriotic sentiment is being destroyed. And there is an aggravating factor. If this is the expression of what awaits us, if their wishes were to come true, then it really is the destruction of everything constructed, from the 18th century to date.” And Torres-Cuevas quotes Varela, José de la Luz, Mendive...
"For us, the Cuban Revolution is the culmination of a process and Martí is the language that provides the basis for that culmination. That is what we have defended. But this is a denial of everything, our spirit, our culture," he declares, and asserts that these acts of vandalism demand a response demonstrating the decency of character we are constructing.
Dr. Torres-Cuevas speaks about what must be done for the Apostle and refers to our daily work. He asks that we use language that reaches everyone, even the less enlightened, some of whom have forgotten history. To do so, Martí clubs and schools must work hard and creatively. He proposes a national campaign to beautify all areas featuring a bust of Martí. "Culture has a thousand ways of expressing itself," and we must work on feeling. Because children start with what is emotionally important to them.”
At another moment, he recalls that it is in primary school, with his own verses, that all Cubans begin to love Martí, reading and studying his Simple Verses, "and we began to feel that love and to make it rational. This feeling and thinking of Martí was born in primary school as a feeling and is expressed in maturity as thought. And that is what, I think, gives us great strength as a nation."
We must study Martí, but in an intelligent way. Let us look at his works in terms of those things that strengthen us. What is Our America to Martí, what is Homeland, what is Humanity, independence? If we work in this direction, we are sowing seeds and strengthening the Cuban nation’s thinking.
This analogy between Martí and the good, defended by the Cuban people, is what forges something we need very much in this era: ethics, decency, the way we behave. And Martí is fundamental to instilling these ideas.
- The two men, who defaced busts of José Martí on January 1 in Havana, were arrested by Cuban authorities.
- The disgraceful acts involved covering busts of our National Hero with pig's blood.
- Well-known elements of the anti-Cuban right wing in Miami expressed approval of these acts, while a great wave of condemnation was generated on social media.
- The Cuban people are organizing acts of atonement at monuments to Martí across the country.