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José Martí

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José Julian Martí y Perez (January 28, 1853 - May 19, 1895) was a leader of the Cuban independence movement as well as an esteemed poet and writer. He is often considered Cuba's greatest hero.

Jose Marti was born in Havana, Cuba, then a colony of Spain. He came to dislike Spanish rule of his homeland at a young age, as well as developing a hatred of the institution of slavery which was still practiced in Cuba. At 16 years old Marti was sentenced to 6 years of hard labor in the quarries for his political activity. After this he was sentenced to exhile; he went to Spain where he studied law and at the same time wrote articles on the wrongs of Spanish rule in Cuba.

After some time in France he secretly returned to Cuba under an assumed name in 1877, but was unable to obtain any employment there. Marti then got a job as professor of history & literature in Guatemala City, then in 1890 moved to New York City serving as joint council there for Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina. There he mobilized the Cuban exile community to revolution and independence from Spain, while lobbying to oppose USA annexation of Cuba which some USA politicians desired.

In 1894 he left with plans to land in Cuba to fight for the revolution, but was intercepted in Florida.

On March 25, 1895, Jose Marti published the Manifesto of Montecristi, proclaiming Cuban independence, an end to all legal distinctions between the races, friendship with Spaniards who did not oppose independence, and war with all who stood in the way of independence.

On April 11, 1895 Marti succeeded in landing in Cuba with a force of rebel exiles, who hooked up with Cuban rebel General Maximo Gomez y Baez[?]. He was killed in battle with Spanish troops at Dos Rios, Cuba[?]. Jose Marti was buried in Havana.

His most famous work was one of his final poems which was later put to a popular tune as the song, Guantanamera, which has come to be seen as the signature song of Cuba.

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