May 19, 1895: Cuba’s Apostle, José Martí, is killed in battle during the war for independence from Spain

On this day, May 19, in 1895, José Martí, the Apostle of Cuba and the man who inspired a nation to fight for its liberation from Spanish tyranny, was killed in battle. I grew up hearing endless stories of Martí’s courage, reading his writings, and learning of his selfless commitment to freedom in Cuba. I saw many variations of the image above, of José Martí being shot and killed by Spanish troops as he rode his white horse into battle. Legend has it he looked up into the sun right before he died, his last act of defiance against a tyrannical and murderous colonial master.

128 years later, his legacy and inspiration to be free of tyranny remains alive among the Cuban people. The 64 years of tyranny under the communist Castro dictatorship is only a fraction of the hundreds of years Cuba was ruled as a colony by Spain, who exploited the island and treated its citizens as human chattel to be used and abused.

Despite incessant attempts by the Castro regime to usurp Martí’s legacy and call it its own, the Cuban people have never fully bought into that heresy. Martí stood for freedom and democracy, and clearly stood and fought against tyranny and oppression. There is no doubt that if José Martí were alive today, he would climb upon his white horse and ride into battle against the Castro dictatorship.

Although it’s been over a century, the legacy of Martí continues to live within the Cuban people. It lived in martyrs such as Orlando Zapata Tamayo and Oswaldo Paya. It lives today in the brave Cubans on the island who risk their lives to stand up to the oppression of the Castro dictatorship. And every day since January 1, 1959, Martí legacy exposes the tyranny and despotism of a communist regime hellbent on subjugating the same people he gave his life for on the field of battle on May 19, 1895.

As a Cuban American born in the U.S., I was fortunate my parents taught me about José Martí, so his legacy can continue in me as well.

John Suarez has more on the anniversary of Martí’s death at Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.

1 thought on “May 19, 1895: Cuba’s Apostle, José Martí, is killed in battle during the war for independence from Spain”

  1. It was a pointless, useless death which only hurt Cuba’s future. He should have known better than to take such a risk, as he was never suited for direct involvement in military action. Of course, he was nothing like the Castro bastards, who were never military men either but made a career out of pretending to be.

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