José Julián Martí Pérez was born on January 28, 1853. Today, Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez tweeted: a melancholy but accurate reflection on his birthday: "Today is the 158th anniversary of the birth of Jose Marti & the Cuba he dreamed of appears farther away than ever..."
Dedicated to prisoners of conscience in Cuba and around the world:
Wall Flower written by and performed by Peter Gabriel
Cuba in 2011 under the Castro brothers may even farther away from the Cuba of the poet patriot's dreams in 1869. Consider what happened today, January 28, 2011 as reported by the Associated Press:
[Guillermo] Farinas and the other dissidents had sought to place a wreath at a monument to Cuban independence leader Jose Marti on the 158th anniversary of his birthday. "About 20 of them went out to place the wreath," Farinas' mother, Alicia Hernandez, told The Associated Press. "They had only gone two blocks when they took them away." Earlier Friday, Farinas told the AP he would ignore the warning.
"They told us they wouldn't let us assemble in groups of more than three people," Farinas said. "If they want to detain me, that's their problem."
|Alejandrina Garcia on hunger strike|
On the same day a courageous woman put her life on the line to saver her husband, a prisoner of conscience rotting in prison since March 18, 2003 for his ideals:
Also Friday, the wife of imprisoned dissident Diosdado Gonzalez announced the start of a hunger strike demanding his release. Alejandrina Garcia, one of the founding members of the "Ladies in White" opposition group, said in a phone interview from her home in Matanzas that she would only drink water until her husband is out of prison. Cuba promised to free all 52 remaining opposition figures from a 2003 crackdown on dissent, following a July deal with the Roman Catholic Church. Just 11 remain behind bars, including Gonzalez.Church officials have said they are optimistic the government will soon make good on its promise, but there has been little word on the men's fate since the passing of a November deadline by which all were supposed to be out. The last 11 dissidents have refused to accept exile in Spain, as most of the others did, the apparent reason for the delay.
Cuba today is the antithesis of the dream shared by José Martí and the founders of the Cuban Republic yet the courage of men like Diosdado and the other 10 refusing exile and remaining in prison along with courageous women such as Alejandrina Garcia risking all for the freedom of a loved one. They bring to mind two reflections from the martyred founder of Cuba:
"When there are many men without decorum, there are always others who themselves possess the decorum of many men. These are the ones who rebel with terrible strength against those who rob nations of their liberty, which is to rob men of their decorum. Embodied in those men are thousands of men, a whole people, human dignity."- José Martí
Alejandrina Garcia, one of the founding members of the "Ladies in White" opposition group, sits in her home in Matanzas, Cuba, Friday, Jan. 28, 2011. Garcia began a hunger strike demanding the immediate release of her husband Diosdado Gonzalez. Although Cuba promised to free all 52 remaining opposition figures from a 2003 crackdown on dissent, following a July deal with the Roman Catholic Church, 11 remain behind bars, including Gonzalez. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
"The struggles waged by nations are weak only when they lack support in the hearts of their women. But when women are moved and lend help, when women, who are by nature calm and controlled, give encouragement and applause, when virtuous and knowledgeable women grace the endeavor with their sweet love, then it is invincible." - José Martí
*Apologies to Peter Gabriel for being inspired and paraphrasing a lyric.