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José Martí Biography | Poet

Photo of José Martí

José Martí was born in Havana, Cuba on January 28th 1853 and died in Los Dios, Cuba in1895. He is considered on the most important Latin American intellectuals for that time, and even now. From an early age he showed considerable talent for writing along with revolutionary poltics. His accomplishments were varied and were comprised of essays, letters, poems, lectures, a novel and even a children's magazine. In addition, he wrote for many Latin American and American newspapers, and even founded a newspaper called: La Patria Libre. La Patria Libre was in fact an integral instrument in his campaign for Cuban independence. After his death in 1895, a poem from the book "Versos Sencillos" also known as 'Simple Verses' was actually adapted to the song "Guantanamera" which has now become the most important and definitive patriotic song of Cuba. Some refer to him as the Apostle of the Cuban Revolution. Upon being first exiled from Cuba in 1871, he did return to Cuba to fight for its independence. Sadly, he died while on the battlefield.

Education was a stepping stone into larger arena

As previously mentioned, he was a talented writer from a very early age. This was evident by the fact that he had published many pomes by the time he was 15 years old. He was clearly gifted in writing and this with his political beliefs only added to his education as he strived for independence as well as educating himself and advocating for freedom from Spain on behalf of his fellow Cubans.

A brief bio of his life, works, trials and tribulations

José Martí was born to both poor and immigrant parents. Having showed a talent for writing, he had already published several poems by the time he was 15. By age 16, he had the leanings of a revolutionary in the making. This was evident in the fact that he fully supported to cut ties with Spain, which had held Cuba as one of its colonies at that time. In a direct response to this, he created a newspaper called 'La Patria Libre.' During this time, a conflict between Cuban nationalists and Spanish loyalists commenced and became known as the 'Ten Years' War.' The newspaper in which he founded advanced his cause as he wrote several poems, including 'Abdala' in which he wrote about his dream of liberation.

A short while later, he was arrested and sentenced to six years in a political prison for criticizing a pro-Spanish friend of his. But six months of hard labour and he was released and deported to Spain and not his native Cuba. While in Spain, he published 'Political Imprisonment in Cuba' which detailed the harsh treatment he had received while in the political prison. Also, while in pain, he furthered his education by studying law at Central University of Madrid and University of Saragossa. Martí's law degree was completed in 1874. One year later, he moved to Mexico where he tirelessly campaigned for Cuban independence. While in Mexico he contributed to several newspapers as well as getting involved in the artistic community of Mexico City. However, by 1877 he became disappointed and disenchanted with the government in Mexico and moved to Guatemala. While in Guatemala, he became a college professor at the Universidad Nacional teaching literature, history and philosophy. By 1878, a general amnesty was declared after the Ten Years' War ended and he returned back home to Cuba. He attempted to study law but was prevented from doing so by the government. Instead, he worked as a teacher. Shortly after, another uprising came about known as the 'Little War.' The 'Little War' was a compilation of farmers, slaves and other who had clashed with Spanish troops in Santiago Cuba. This saw Martí arrested and charged with conspiracy in the beginning of the rebellion. Once more, the revolutionary writer had no other option than to leave his beloved homeland.

By 1881, he found himself settled and living in New York City, where he wrote for several English and Spanish newspapers. He tackled a variety of subjects and was known as a skilled social and political commentator. In a famous essay, he wrote about his impressions of the United States, titled 'Our America' in which he advocated that other countries in Latin America learn from America yet maintain and sustain their culture as they established a new government. In addition, he worked as a diplomat for many Latin American counties. To include: Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina but of course he never forgot about his beloved Cuba the entire time he was living abroad.

A few years later, in 1892, Martí became a delegate of the Cuban Revolutionary Party. In this role, he found himself working diligently on plans for a revolution in his native country, Cuba. His ideas for a new Cuban government included the following- Martí sought to prevent any one class from taking total complete control of the country or having dominance. Further, he also wanted to overthrow the existing leadership so as to prevent the United States from intervening in the matter. This is ironic as he had always admired much about the United States, Martí had concerns that Cuba's northern neighbor would try to take over the island.

In his attempt to free Cuba, Martí joined forces with two nationalist generals from the Ten Years' War, Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo. He then raised money from Cuban exiles and political organizations to support their valiant and brave efforts. On January 31, 1895, Martí left New York City to make his way to Cuba. He and his fellow nationalist supporters arrived in Cuba on April 11 and began the fight for independence. Something he had always dreamed of. Sadly, he did not last long and was killed on the battlefield. He died on May 19 during some fighting in Dos Rios. After his death, his compatriots continued their war against the Spanish, and fought bitterly against them, but the country did not achieve its independence until years later.

How Marti was significant and his impact on Fidel Castro

Martí's significance is both palpable and legendary as evident through his life and writings. In fact, Martí served as an inspiration for revolutionaries around the world. This included Cuban leader, Fidel Castro who once called him an important and significant influence on his own revolution in Cuba decades later. Eventhough Martí once was sent into exile for his political activities, he is now considered a national hero in Cuba. 

José Julián Martí, Spanish novelist, was born at Orihuela (Valencia) about 1570. He graduated as bachelor of canon law at Valencia in 1591, and in 1598 took his degree as doctor of canon law; in the latter year he was appointed co-examiner in canon law at Valencia University, and held the post for six years. He died at Valencia, and was buried in the cathedral of that city on the 22nd of December 1604. Martí joined the Valencian Academia de los nocturnos, under the name of “Atrevimiento,” but is best known by another pseudonym, Mateo Luján de Sayavedra, under which he issued an apocryphal continuation (1602) of Alemán’s Guzmán de Alfarache (1599). Marti obtained access to Alemán’s unfinished manuscript, and stole some of his ideas; this dishonesty lends point to the sarcastic congratulations which Alemán, in the genuine sequel (1604) pays to his rival’s sallies: “I greatly envy them, and should be proud that they were mine.” Martí’s book is clever, but the circumstances in which it was produced account for its cold reception and afford presumption that the best scenes are not original.

It has been suggested that Martí is identical with Avellaneda, the writer of a spurious continuation (1614) to Don Quixote; but he died before the first part of Don Quixote was published (1605).

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