Front Door to Cuba

The Cuban Revolutionary Party

Jose Marti portrait

Published in Patria, New York, April 3 1892

And the first thing to be said is that the Cuban independents, and the Puerto Ricans who love them as brothers, would abominate the word "party" if it merely meant a group or a sect or a redoubt where certain creoles defended themselves from others. But the Cubans who have understood that in order to defeat a divided adversary the only thing needed is to unite-those Cubans use the word "party" as meaning that they are joining forces in a well-organized effort, and with a frank set of rules and a common purpose.

By "adversary" the free Cubans do not mean the Cuban who lives in agony under a regime he cannot shake, or the established foreigner who loves and desires freedom, or the timid Creole who will vindicate himself for today's laxity with tomorrows patriotism. They mean the foreign government that stifles and corrupts the country's forces, and the colonial constitution that would prevent the peaceful practice of independence in the free fatherland. The adversary is the foreign government which, in the name of Spain, denies the rights of men to the sons of Spaniards, and stirs up hatred between fathers and sons; which impoverishes a portion of its dominions-the Antilles-to pay the debts of the entire nation, and to pay for the war that soaked with blood the country it provokes by its injustice. The adversary is the foreign government which, due to the continuous incursion of vicious and rapacious officeholders, is rotting a nation of people now forced to seek in immorality the sustenance they can no longer find in work; the government that permits in the important cities, and with the delinquent permission of creoles eager to preserve their own security, the practice of freedoms which, in the true countryside and in the lesser cities, it punishes with the lash, stealthy exile or a dagger in the night. And the back that does not feel this-do not call it a Cuban back! No brother of the chastised can honorably sit down at the table of the castigator; should he do so, he would be dishonored! The adversary is the colonial constitution which might revive the germs of discord in independence itself, by regions and colors, for this discord is an integral part of the Republic and might perpetuate a pettifogging primacy in a country that must immediately enter into the work and balance of its true capacities. The Cuban Revolutionary Party must fight that alien government and the colonial constitution not with the lost magic of names, but with positive and magnanimous spirit and with sure and rapid methods.

Parties usually spring up at propitious moments, sometimes from an executive board of halfhearted wills manipulated by a shrewd adventurer, sometimes from a conclave of interests more dragged along and grumbling than spontaneous and unanimous, sometimes from an ardent soul who inflames a phlegmatic mob with volatile passion, sometimes from the stubborn ambition of a man born for the flattery and complicity by which the word asserts itself. It could be merely a paper party written by faith and erased by the invisible hands of indifference. It could be the fervent and hasty work of a busybody who, in the confused ignorance of danger to his homeland, assembles some followers, their timid hearts sworn to sterile weariness. But the Cuban Revolutionary Party, born with great responsibilities at the moment of the country's decomposition, did not spring up out of a passing zeal, or from vociferous and incompetent desire, or from dreadful ambition; it was the result of the enterprise of an instructed nation proclaiming, even before the Republic and through that very Party, its redemption from the wrongs that have deformed republican life from the outset. It was born as one, from everywhere at the same time. And whoever believes that it was perishable or extinguishable, either from within or without, is mistaken. That which a group covets, dies. That which an entire people desires, endures. The Cuban Revolutionary Party is the Cuban people.

The Party's formation could not have been hastened without risking its success for lack of maturity, nor could its organization have been delayed without fatal danger to its honor at the very moment when public opinion was receptive to it and division on the island was making it necessary. It could not have been formed sooner, I say, because of lack of maturity. A watchful genius, when in accord with the people's spirit, can assemble the forces which, without vigorous impetus, might vanish in sluggish discontent or ephemeral sparks. But this same genius, who is useful and right only when he directs and accelerates the human soul, will probe in vain for the attainment of the political ideal, which must be the just composition of the true national factors, until these factors are no longer in process of adjustment. The unwary genius would harm rather than help the national effort if his attack disturbed those elements which had not yet achieved harmony. The genius of one period in history lies in attacking; the genius of another lies in waiting, which is far better.

The war in Cuba died as a result of internal and external causes. And from the beginning of the truce it was as laudable and necessary to strive for the correction of those incidental causes that tarnished and laid waste the unquenchable spirit of independence, as it was senseless to have claimed that the jealousies and suspicions that were able to do more after years of work than in a decade of glorious union, could have disappeared in a day. Neither time nor the law of man admits reduction, and a wave takes a while to wash a sluggish object from the beach. In Canadian military diversions, which after 14 years are finally making a timid attempt at a realistic policy, the Cuban heroes (together merely through expediency with those who served them as a revolutionary passport) when they met divinely beautiful death, or wore upon their hats the black band of the matador, or celebrated the glories of the infantry in the mother country-those Cuban heroes were taking some cognizance of Cuba. In polite journeys to the midnight country, they spent all the time they could in harassing their hosts, in case the journeys were unprofitable; and years passed in demanding English laws from a policy of cant, and in pricking the punctilio of verbose professors. But during this interval which should no to have been troubled, for with complete freedom its inefficiency might have been better tested, some lively elements shone both within the country and abroad-elements that should lift those amiable guests of the Plaza de Armas right out of their seats, astonished and respectful. The war left a residue of factors, to increase or decrease, that for personal rather than national reasons-and because of the discouragement of waiting for some energetic assistance from the poorly directed community abroad-surrendered the flag to the enemy. And when the enemy went out to look for it, it confessed its fear of seeing it fly atop El Morro before a year had passed.

The heroic countryside, tired of external ineptitude and upset by external intrigue, should not have been given the chance to entertain agrarian idleness in the civilian or military disputes raised by a prolonged and dispersed exercise of authority. A stationary army crumbles. The enthusiast abroad made futile sacrifices in blood and jewels to those who showed less impatience than the ones who came to them for guidance. It was a struggle between colonial hearts, introduced to liberty by surprise, and free hearts; the worm devoured the eagle. Left from the war were combatants scornful of the incompetent communities abroad; leaders out of words or with little to say until the weight of the defeat once again united them in a desire to rise out of it; and the harebrained Cubans living away from the island, suspicious among themselves and so discontented with their learned leaders, returned to the red and yellow flag much too soon, that they saw salvation only in those who wanted to go back to Cuba as riflemen. And a genuine science of government, which was not to be found, consisted in stopping the lively and virile militia from scorning those learned leaders-contemptible when they curb the spirit of the brave with their dreadful arrogance, and saintly when they rescue courage from the grave danger of offending freedom. A genuine science of government consisted in uniting, by means of a pure and continuous nobility, the Cubans abroad whom, with the abuse or obsolescence of authority or a silent desire for that science of government, the war left like malleable wax in the hand of the provocative spy, or of the renegade who would prevent the others from returning to the faith, or of the jealous man who stands in the way of whatever greatness he cannot lead, or of the ambitious one who profits from discord and isolation. A genuine science of government consisted in restoring to the Cubans living abroad their lost faith in the counsels of the mind; in protecting the heroes from their own impatience, and the homeland from the partial invasions fomented by its enemies; in preventing among the emigrants the class war which the apathetic politicians, for lack of foresight and justice, have permitted to flare up on the island; in renewing the soul of Yara for the time when the disorganized land will again hold out its arms to its children; in saving the inevitable Republic from the wrongs that appeared in the first war; in uniting the suspicious militia, the Cubans abroad who must give it an opportunity, and the spirit of the country.

The strength of this labor was to be seen when the island's disorderly anguish and the emigrants' ability to organize for the island's salvation became a single effort. If when the policy of repression crumbles-like the cowardly obstacle it is-the leaking water could find no channel to carry the flow of this new power, the subtle labor would have been futile, either because of the hopeless scarcity of the work materials, or the laziness and incompetence of the workers. If when the danger appeared the emigrants had stood up to defy it, had stood up in strength and confidence, the labor would not have been futile.

And in just one day they did rise to the task, following no other voice or command but that of their unified spirit! Some today, others immediately thereafter, and then still others-all of them arguing the prime importance of enthusiasm-are proclaiming, with the fire that burns only when one is going to win, their determination to follow the personification of freedom and go to the war without hatred, thereby achieving an industrious and just Republic. In the presence of the flag that shelters within its folds the idea's master craftsman and the battle hero, these people are proclaiming their power of fusing heart and will in the determination to put into their lives all that has been vainly striving for peace, work and decency. They are not declaring war by wearing the frown of the conquistador, but with their arms held out to their brothers. Thus, from 12 years of silent and ceaseless effort, and purified by trials, the Cuban Revolutionary Party came into being.

It is a great national effort originating spontaneously. It is, with no personal hand other than the hand that pours the molten metal into the mold, the revelation of all that is wise and generous in the Cuban soul. It is, without the impropriety of solicitude or the distribution of intrigue, the visible and moving union of all who have learned to purify their passions in a dedicated love of freedom. It is the magnificent proof that when the country that perishes in useless sacrifice is impelled to useful sacrifice, the farseeing Cuban neither permits nor disregards those dangers in which a passion for names or persons disturbs or bleeds the emerging republics. It is the gentle impetus of heroic love where inspired hearts, under the guidance of a strong and just mind, return to the days of the dawn of our redemption, the lessons learned. It is the visible result of the wisdom and justice of 12 laborious years. And if its methods conform to its origins and purposes, and if it applies itself wholeheartedly and to the full extend of its power, it will bring salvation. It will fail to bring salvation and perish only if it distorts and diminishes its sublime spirit.

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