José Martí

(1853-1895)

WHO S/HE WAS:

José Martí was a Cuban poet, essayist and journalist who became a symbol for Cuba's bid for independence against Spain in the 19th century. Born in Havana to Spanish parents, his short life was dedicated to the promotion of liberty, political independence for Cuba and an intellectual independence for all Spanish Americans. Putting his ideology into practice, he died in action in February 1895, during the invasion of Cuba.

WHAT S/HE SAID:

It is my duty to prevent, through the independence of Cuba, the U.S.A. from spreading over the West Indies and falling with added weight upon other lands of Our America. All I have done up to now and shall do hereafter is to that end.... I know the Monster, because I have lived in its lair—and my weapon is only the slingshot of David.

WHY S/HE MATTERED:

Through his writings and political activity, Martí he became a symbol for Cuba's bid for independence against Spain in the 19th century, and is referred to as the "Apostle of Cuban Independence." He also wrote about the threat of Spanish and US expansionism into Cuba. Martí’s death was used as a cry for Cuban independence from Spain by both the Cuban revolutionaries and those Cubans previously reluctant to start a revolt.

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