May 19, 1895: Cuba’s founding father Jose Martí is killed in a battle for liberation from Spain

As a child growing up in a Cuban American home, I heard countless stories of Jose Martí’s courage, read his writings and poetry, and learned 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.

The day was May 19, in 1895, and more than a century later, his legacy and inspiration to be free of tyranny remains alive among the Cuban people, both on the island and in exile. The 65 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. This is not the first time the Cuban people have fought tyranny.

Today, the legacy of Martí continues to live within the Cuban people. It was visible in martyrs such as Orlando Zapata Tamayo and Oswaldo Paya. It continues to live today in courageous dissidents such as Jose Daniel Ferrer, Maykel Osorbo, Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, and other brave Cubans who risk their lives to stand up to the oppression of the Castro dictatorship. And every day since January 1, 1959, the legacy of Martí 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.

2 thoughts on “May 19, 1895: Cuba’s founding father Jose Martí is killed in a battle for liberation from Spain”

  1. He was a highly aberrant Cuban. That may explain why, despite being revered, he was never truly followed. In other words, he was too far removed from typical Cubans, who obviously leave much to be desired.

  2. Are you going to revile every illustrious Spaniard who lived in or had a part in governing Cuba before the abolition of slavery?
    Are you really going down that road?

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