On many occasions, I had the opportunity to talk to Canton Navarro on Marti’s work and mainly on some moments of his life, which are not yet studied. During those talks, we exchanged diverse criteria and information, very useful to get deep into certain moments when life tested Marti, particularly during the fighting and in his poetic work. The depth of Marti’s articles for newspapers of that time also motivated us and brought us closer to his wisdom.
I once asked Canton: In your opinion, in what way has José Martí’s thought influenced the historical development of the Cuban nation, from the 19th century -when he lived – until this century?
– The thought of Marti was crucial, first, to organize and carry out the “necessary war” (1895-1898) for the independence of Cuba, and after its failure, to support the struggle for a truly free and democratic country, for which he gave his life. His political intellect and his human qualities made it possible for all men who loved freedom at that time to join a single Party. He founded that party which had a popular and advanced character. Also, Marti was considered the ideologist of the Cuban revolution.
As a witness of the social injustices and the creation of modern imperialism in the U.S., Marti became a supporter of the poor people’s sectors and became the first consciously anti-imperialist fighter for American independence. He discovered and reported on the power of the monopolies and greedy imperialist expansionism. He decided to create a republic for workers and stressed the need to integrate definitively in “our America,” to fight united by its development and happiness. Martí’s thoughts were very radical in many fields: political, social, economic, cultural, ethical….
I’m sure that a lot of proposals of historical research were left unfinished on the part of Jose Canton Navarro. On the last opportunity we met, our main topic of conversation was related to the poetry of our time, its strengths and weaknesses at a national level. He stared at me and said: “For me, Marti is the most rational person of all our history; so, he is eternal.”