Gandhi, Marti and Harold Cepero’s nonviolent legacy
“Under the pretext of defending freedom they are attacking it. Martí would say it like this: “The knife that is stabbed in the name of freedom is plunged into the chest of freedom”. They should think if at the bottom of this attitude there is a real respect for freedom, because to say freedom, to be free, is not to snatch the freedom of others.” – Harold Cepero Escalante, 2002
“Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood.” – Mohandas Gandhi
The end of January for nonviolent resisters inside and outside of Cuba has new added meaning. The birth of Cuban national founding father Jose Marti is on January 28, 1853; while Cuban nonviolent martyr Harold Cepero was born a day later on January 29, 1980; and finally Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948.
Both Marti and Gandhi had a profound influence on the Christian Liberation Movement youth leader Harold Cepero and one of its founders Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas. All of these men died violently, but only one, Jose Marti, advocated violence as the solution to a political problem: the question of Cuban independence.
Cuba’s republic was born out of a protracted war between Cubans and Spaniards that began in 1868 was waged for ten years lay simmering for 17 years only to explode again into a brutal conflict that was ended by the intervention of the United States in 1898 and a four year occupation that ended in 1902.
The nonviolent chapters of the struggle for independence have been largely buried while the martial exploits of its soldiers and general’s glorified. At the same time a political culture emerged that elevated revolutionary political violence as both legitimate and virtuous.
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