"Forty Ladies in White marched through the Fifth avenue promenade in Miramar, Havana and dedicated the march to Jose Marti and Mohandas Gandhi." - Angel Moya, January 27, 2013
Both in 1998 and 2008 the Free Cuba Foundation organized gatherings and activities to reflect on the shared values and ideals of Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jose Marti. At first blush it appears that Marti would be the odd man out who died in battle on horseback in the 19th century fighting for Cuban independence, but then we read his words and the life that he lived and realize that he rejected hatred and saw violence as a last resort not to be entered into lightly.
An essay published in Spanish in the El Nuevo Herald by a La Salle student outlined the lives of the three men. It is in José Martí's writings that the reader finds a man who loved freedom, rejected hatred -even of one's enemy- and only embraced violent conflict as a last resort. One wonders if instead of riding into battle on horseback if he would've been the trailblazer of nonviolent resistance. What would have Cuba's political culture been like if as in the case of Havel the Cuban poet and writer would've lived to have been president and guide the new republic in the first years of its existence?
Its been said that when a friend betrayed him to the police José Martí sent him the following poem:
Cultivo una rosa blanca
En julio como en enero,
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca.
Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo,
Cardo ni ortiga cultivo,
Cultivo una rosa blanca.
It translates to English as follows:
I cultivate a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his hand frankly.
And for the cruel person who tears out
The heart with which I live,
I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns:
I cultivate a white rose.
The Season for Non-Violence spans the 64 days on the calendar between the martyrdom of Mohandas Gandhi on January 30, 1948 and Martin Luther King Jr.'s on April 4, 1968. For Cubans this period of time is also particularly impacting because one day earlier, January 29 marks the birth of Harold Cepero and in late February the anniversary of the birth of Oswaldo Paya, the deaths of Orlando Zapata Tamayo and four members of Brothers to the Rescue. All of these men are nonviolent martyrs who struggled for freedom with love and without hatred. Let us join in honoring them over these next 64 days.