The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Speech - Prime Minister Bishop
at Jose Marti Memorial,
28 January 1983,
Revolution Square, Havana, Cuba

Comrades,

On behalf of our Party, our government and our entire people I bring warm, comradely greetings to the Cuban internationalist community in Grenada, to the Cuban Communist Party, the Cuban Government and the heroic Cuban people on this historically significant observance of the 130th anniversary of the birth of the great Jose Marti.

For us it is an honour and pleasure to participate in this memorial ceremony dedicated to the father of independent Cuba, an exemplary national hero who like Antonio Maceo and Maximo Gomez before him gave his entire life to the cause of freeing Cuba from Spanish colonialism.

While it is the sovereign right of the Cuban people to cherish Jose Marti as their own son of the soil it can be said honestly and accurately without the slightest disagreement from the unselfish, Cuban people that Marti belongs not only to Cuba but to all of the Americas.

Today, in Grenada there is a growing awareness and appreciation of Marti's outstanding qualities and of his tremendous contributions to the struggle for freedom and justice in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The unity of the region's working masses that Marti so fervently called for in his time is today exemplified in the friendship, mutual solidarity and close working relations that exist between the fighting peoples of free Cuba and free Grenada.

Just as the Cuban leadership and people continuously recall Marti's teachings and examples for guidance and inspiration so too the Grenadian leadership and people regard this 19th Century hero as visionary, a beacon illuminating the path of genuine independence from imperialism that we must travel in the latter part of the 20th Century.

Marti lived, struggled, suffered and died for the ideals that we today practiced in reality by the Cuban Revolution. Marti was indeed the mentor of the Cuban Revolution and as we have said many times before if there was no Cuban Revolution in 1959 there would not have been a Grenadian Revolution in 1979. Therefore, comrades, it is logically correct to say that Jose Marti like our own Fedon and Butler and Marryshow and all our other national heroes was also a mentor of the glorious Grenadian Revolution.

As a prolific poet, playwright, journalist, editor and political organiser who wrote and spoke volumes on behalf of Cuban independence, Jose Marti came to be affectionately known as the "Apostle".

His epic poem "Abdala", written when he was only 15 praised the first Cuban Revolution of 1868 and its fighters for independence.

For this and for his criticism of fellow students who collaborated with the Spanish colonial oppressors, Marti was arrested and sentenced to hard labour while still a boy, Under these harsh and inhuman conditions the young Marti became half-blind and contracted a hernia, two handicaps that were to afflict him throughout his life.

But instead of breaking his resistance and resolve his stay in prison only served to strengthen his determination and will, and indomitable will of steel reflected in his unremitting opposition to Spanish colonialism and Yankee imperialism and in his ardent belief that the rights and dignity of a people are non-negotiable and cannot be compromised. To quote his own words:

"A People's right are to be taken, not requested, seized, not begged for".

Released from prison, Marti vas quickly banished from the land of his birth in 1871 and spent the next 24 years in exile living for varying periods in Spain, Mexico, Paris, Caracas and Now York always studying, writing, speaking and agitating.

Wherever he settled during that period his preoccupation was always to organize for the second war of independence for Cuba, which he later came to lead upon his return in 1895.

In those 24 years, Jose Marti magnificently symbolised the combination of political and academic education that we in Grenada have set ourselves as a national objective for 1983. He studied political economy, philosophy, law, history, geography and languages earning for himself university degrees and international recognition as an intellectual giant of our Americas. His academic achievements through hard work and discipline and his political consciousness lifted through study and practice are worthy of emulation by all patriotic Grenadians especially in this year of political and academic education.

Marti understood clearly that political and academic education was useless without application to reality, that political education must inevitably lead to political organization and that individual academic accomplishments must serve the collective welfare of the people and the nation. That is why Marti spent so much of his time and energy in exile organising the Cuban Revolutionary Party to lead the second and decisive war of independence against Spain.

That is also why Fidel Castro, the architect of today's socialist Revolution in Cuba, himself an outstanding intellectual inspired by Marti, organized a rally of the Cuban University Students Federation in 1953 not only to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Marti's birth but also to protest against exploitation and brutality of the dictatorships that ruled over Cuba at the time. This rally stimulated the famous attack on the Moncada barracks one year later by a small group of valiant freedom fighters many of whom went on to make the Revolution of 1979 and are today leading the Cuban people into a bright and beautiful future.

Marti's Revolutionary Party was the forerunner of the Cuban Communist Party of today. There is an unbreakable historical link and remarkable similarity between the objectives, the ideas, the struggles and the practice of both parties. Both expressed the genuine ideas and aspirations of the Cuban people. Both led the Cuban people to freedom.

Today, the spirit of Marti and his revolutionary party in very much alive in Fidel and his communist party. Today, when Fidel speaks to his Cuban compatriots massed in Havana's Revolution Plaza with the towering statue of Marti over his shoulder he speaks with the same eloquence, clarity and passion that characterised Marti's oratorical style and the Cuban working people are moved by his words in the same way as those all over the Americas whose hearts and consciences were touched by Marti's speeches.

Comrades, the spirit of Marti and his party are in our midst today embodied in the newly elected local committee of the Cuban Communist Party which will over the next year supervise the work of your party among the Cuban internationalist community in Grenada.

I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the newly elected committee members and to applaud the outgoing committee for its valuable work in 1942, particularly the recent establishment of the Ramon Quintana School at Calliste which will provide political and academic education to the Cuban internationalist workers in our country. Your decision to name this school and our government's decision to name the Stone crushing and Asphalt plant after Ramon Quintana, Cuban internationalist worker who died one year ago in a tragic accident at the airport site, guarantees that his outstanding example will never be forgotten.

For Ramon Quintana lived and worked in the tradition of Jose Marti. His courage, his selflessness, his sacrifice, his love of family and country bore the indelible stamp of Marti. Like Marti who perished on the battleground of Cuban freedom, Ramon lost his life on the free ground of Grenada while clearing away the rocks for the runway of our freedom. Like Marti the 19th century internationalist perished not only for the /who emancipation of Cuba but for the ultimate to liberation of all the Americas, Quintana, the 20th Century internationalist died while giving voluntary service to the Grenada Revolution.

Therefore to all the hard working Cuban and Grenadian comrades on this monumental project, who work together day and night and whose working class unity grows stronger every day, I wish to say: Always remember Ramon Quintana, always be inspired by his sacrifice and in his spirit push forward vigorously in the months ahead to ensure that our new international airport is completed in early 1984.

Comrades, as we remember Jose Marti today we must not lose sight of the growing danger posed to the revolutionary process by United States imperialism and the threat to world peace created by the massive imperialist arms buildup.

At this very moment US imperialism is launching new attacks on the people of our Americas, Marti's Americas. The United States is today busily preparing its puppet armies in the dictatorial regimes of Honduras and Guatemala to wage aggression against free and revolutionary Nicaragua. Counter-revolutionary bandits continue to be trained in Florida. The people of El Salvador continue to fight bitterly for their liberation while the people of Cuba and Grenada hold firmly to their cherished freedom in the face of mounting imperialist aggression.

One hundred years ago Jose Marti, the great Cuban visionary accurately predicted today's alarming situation in Latin America and the Caribbean.

During this period of exile from Cuba, Marti spent 14 years in the United States and wrote scores of articles about all aspects of life in the US for leading newspapers and magazines all over Latin America, No one before him and few since were able to interpret life in the USA to so many people of the Americas.

He wrote about the United States at a time when that society was being transformed from competitive capitalism into monopoly capitalism, when it was entering the imperialist stage of its development.

America in the 1880's had become a vast land of stark contrasts, of rampant poverty amidst enormous wealth, a land of millionaires known as robber barons amassed huge profits from /who the exploitation of workers paid 50 cents for 12 hours of back-breaking labour per day.

The masters of capital, banking, industry and commerce were also the masters of political life in the US. Big business dominated government. But the 1880's were also years of great workers' struggles. Nation wide strikes and numerous labour disputes constituted the American working people's response to this massive exploitation by the wealthy capitalists.

Marti observed and reported these changes. He was appalled by the unscrupulous amassing of riches and the political corruption he saw all about him and in his writings be condemned what he called "the cult of wealth". He saw clearly the danger posed to the economic and political independence of Latin America by expansionist US imperialism and he warned that the underdeveloped countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, rich in raw materials and natural resources, would remain poor if they allowed their wealth to be exploited by US imperialism.

Words that are strikingly relevant and instructive to our time Marti said in 1891: "The nation eager to die sells to a single nation and the one eager to save itself sells to more than one. A country's excessive influence over the commerce of another becomes political influence".

Comrades it is evident that Jose Marti's thoughts and insights still burn bright a century later for he was a man not only of his time but of ours too.

So as we honour on this 130th anniversary of his birth /him let us not think of him as a dead hero but as a leader whose spirit lives on, close to the people, by their side every day speaking to them with words that can never grow old, with brilliant ant thoughts that reside not in museums but in our workplaces, our fields, our schools and our battlegrounds.

Permit me, comrades, to leave my final words to Cde. Guevara, another hero of our Americas whose memory and example lives daily in the hearts and minds of millions all over the .world and who once said of Jose Marti:

"Don't be afraid to approach him, don't think you are approaching a god, rather a man greater than others, wiser and more sacrificing than others. You bring him back to life a little whenever you think about him and quite a bit whenever you act as he wanted you to act".

Long Live the memory of Jose Marti
Long Live the memory of Ramon Quintana Long Live the Cuban Revolution
Long Live the Grenadian Revolution
Long Live the unity, friendship and solidarity of the Cuban and Grenadian peoples.
Forward Ever, Backward Never.


Jose Marti wrote beautiful poems. One of them -

UNA BLANCA ROSA

I grow a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his frank hand

Cultivo una rosa blanca
Enjulio como en enero,
para el amigo sincero
que me da su mano france

And for the cruel one who tears out
The heart with which I live,
Neither thorn nor thistle do I grow;
I grow the white rose.

Y para el cruel que me arranca
el corazón con que vivo,
cordo ni ortiga cultivo;
cultivo la rosa blanca


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