CubaBrief: On this day in 1895 José Martí was killed: Remembering the death of a Cuban hero, and his modern counterparts continuing the struggle for a free Cuba.

José Julián Martí Pérez was killed 126 years ago today in battle against Spanish troops at the Battle of Dos Ríos, near the confluence of the rivers Contramaestre and Cauto, on May 19, 1895. He is buried in the Santa Efigenia Cemetery in Santiago de Cuba. Cubans the world over honor his memory and Cuban independence follows a day later. Seven years and one day after Martí’s death Cuba formally obtained its independence on May 20, 1902. Dr. Suchlicki in his essay “THE DEATH OF A HERO” describes him as Cuba’s greatest hero and most influential writer.

Screen Shot 2021-05-19 at 5.25.28 PM.png

Cubans across the ideological divide claim José Martí as their own. The claims of the dictatorship, led by the Castro family, that Martí is the intellectual author of their political project is ironic considering that the life and writings of this Cuban journalist, poet, and independence leader are the antithesis of the Castro regime.

Both his writings and actions taken by him in life point to a man who prized liberty, independence based in popular sovereignty, and freedom of speech, thought and association as fundamental to his sense of being. He was a prisoner of conscience, before Amnesty International coined the term, jailed for writing a disapproving letter to a classmate who joined the Spanish army.

Mary Karla Ares, independent journalist jailed since April 30, 2021

Mary Karla Ares, independent journalist jailed since April 30, 2021

Today, Cuban journalist Mary Karla Ares has been jailed since April 30, 2021 for covering a non-violent protest in Havana, Cuba on Obispo Street. The Committee to Protect Journalists on May 3, 2021 said “Cuban authorities must immediately release journalist Mary Karla Ares, drop the criminal investigation into her work, and allow the press to report freely.” Castro officials have ignored their request, and she remains jailed for filming a protest.

Under the Castro regime freedom of expression can end in prison for engaging in “enemy propaganda,” and freedom of thought can also lead you to prison for the crime of “dangerousness.” This is an affront to José Marti’s belief that “liberty is the right of every man to be honest, to think and to speak without hypocrisy.” Hypocrisy, under the Castro regime, is a currency for survival.

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas at the European Parliament on December 17, 2002

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas at the European Parliament on December 17, 2002

Cuba under the Castros is not the vision advanced by Cuba’s greatest hero. This tradition of freedom and respect for freedom of thought and speech exists among dissidents, and on more than one occasion cost the lives of other heroes to defend. One of his modern day counterparts is Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, who addressed the European Parliament on December 17, 2002:

“The first victory we can claim is that our hearts are free of hatred. Hence we say to those who persecute us and who try to dominate us: ‘You are my brother. I do not hate you, but you are not going to dominate me by fear. I do not wish to impose my truth, nor do I wish you to impose yours on me. We are going to seek the truth together.’”

They can also be found in the 27N and San Isidro movements, and the artists, journalists and intellectuals that peacefully gathered in front of the Ministry of Culture to read the works of José Martí on January 27, 2021, and were beaten up by the Castro dictatorship’s Minister of Culture, and arrested by the dictatorship’s political police.

This tradition also exists in the diaspora, and is found in entities such as Bacardi, with a history of public service that extends to the present day. Bacardi has donated $100,000 to to local relief agencies in India to mitigate the worsening pandemic there.

“As a family-owned company for nearly 160 years, we have always been committed to supporting our people and their communities,” says Vijay Subramaniam, Regional President of Bacardi in Africa, Middle East and Asia. “We know this moment is incredibly trying but if this past year and the pandemic have taught us anything it’s the power of coming together to overcome challenges. We are committed to helping the people and communities in India who have supported Bacardi for many years.”

The company has always been committed to building a strong culture and taking care of its people. In early 2020, 14 Bacardi sites across the globe, working with local partners, helped produce more than 400,000 gallons (1.5 million liters) of hand sanitizers, as demand exceeded supply. Across the sites, Bacardi harnessed its global production power, resources, and processes to supply the much-needed alcohol essential for the increased production of hand sanitizers.

Bacardi is synonymous with Martí and the Republican Cuba he inspired. Two generations of the Bacardi family fought for Cuban independence with one family member fighting alongside General Antonio Maceo. During the Republic the family not only had enlightened business practices but also engaged in civic activities that promoted a democratic culture.

Each time dictatorship arose in Cuba under Machado, Batista and Castro the Bacardis joined the democratic resistance. They recognized the work of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, and in 2017 that of his daughter, Rosa María Payá and have supported the Cuba Decide initiative to push for a democratic transition.

Bacardi’s story was told by NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten in his well-received book Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba, and is now in development to become a television series.

Today we remember and honor José Martí and his modern day counterparts risking all for Cuba to be free, and hope that their history will reach a wider audience to counter disinformation spread by the dictatorship.

Cuban Studies Institute, May 19, 2021

Cuba Insight

A publication of the Cuban Studies Institute

Screen Shot 2021-05-19 at 5.25.50 PM.png

THE DEATH OF A HERO
Jose Julián Martí y Perez (1853-1895)

*By Jaime Suchlicki

Cuba’s greatest hero and most influential writer. Revolutionary, poet, journalist, and the principal organizer of the Independence War of 1895-1898, he was the apostle of Cuba’s independence.Born in Havana, January 28, of a Valencian father and “isleño” mother, he spent his early years as an eager student. His environment and teachers aroused in him a devotion to the cause of freedom. He enrolled at the Instituto de Segunda Enseñanza but was soon arrested for political reasons. After serving several months of hard labor, he was deported to Spain in January 1871.

By then he was already receiving recognition as a writer. At the age of 15 he had composed several poems, and at 16 he published a newspaper, La Patria libre, and wrote a dramatic poem, Abdala. In Spain he resumed his studies and published an essay indicting Spanish oppression and the conditions in Cuban prisons, El Presidio político en Cuba. In 1874 he graduated in philosophy and law from the University of Zaragoza. After traveling in Europe, he worked as a journalist in Mexico, in 1875-1877, made a short visit to Cuba, and settled in Guatemala, teaching literature and philosophy. There he married Carmen Zayas Bazán, daughter of another Cuban exile and shortly afterwards published his first book, Guatemala. Unhappy with life under Guatemala’s liberal but autocratic President Barrios, he returned to Cuba, December 1878, hoping that the Peace of Zanjón would have improved conditions there. The authorities, however, soon discovered his revolutionary activities and again deported him to Spain. He escaped to France, and then moved to the United States and Venezuela.

Finally in 1881 he made New York his home, although he continued traveling in Latin America and writing on its problems. Writing a regular column for La Opinón nacional of Caracas and La Nación of Buenos Aires, he won recognition throughout Hispanic America. Not only his articles, but also his poetry and prose, precursors of modernismo, became popular. His poetry he reserved primarily for the expression of his innermost thoughts, his loves, and his increasing preoccupation with death. In 1882 his most significant poems recorded his tender feelings for his son and homeland, expressed in regular meter but in a style presaging modernismo, appeared in the collection Ismaelillo, named for his son. His best-known poems are his Versos sencillos(written about the same time but only published posthumously, which emphasize such themes as friendship, sincerity, love, justice, and freedom. Martí also won the hearts of many Latin American youngsters with his Edad de oro, a magazine especially devoted to children. His greatest contribution to Spanish American letters were his essays. Written in a high personal style, the Modernista renovation of language that characterized them marked the beginning of the new Hispanic American prose.

He realized very early that independence from Spain was the only solution for Cuba, and that this could only be achieved through a military victory obtained so rapidly as to preclude United States intervention. His fear of a military dictatorship after independence led to his 1884 break with Generals Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo. His withdrawal ended in 1887 and the three men then resumed working together, with Martí assuming political leadership. In 1892 he formed the Partido Revolucionario Cubano in New York and directed his efforts toward preparing a war against Spain. What distinguished Martí was his ability to organize and harmonize. His oratory inspired his listeners who admired his faith and sincerity, and his conviction in the ideas he was pursuing gained him respect and loyalty. His writings were not mere rhetorical exercises, but moral teachings aimed at making a better human being. His importance transcended Cuba. Like Simón Bolivar, he thought in terms of a continent and advocated the unity of Latin America. His writings and ideas had an impact throughout Latin America. When in 1895 he gave the order for the resumption of hostilities, he felt he could not remain behind in New York and landed in Cuba to lead the campaign. Shortly afterward, on May 19, he was killed in a skirmish at Dos Ríos.

https://cubanstudiesinstitute.us/principal/the-death-of-a-hero/

HotelierIndia.com, May 13, 2021

Bacardi donates $100,000 to support India COVID-19 efforts

Funding provided by Bacardi is earmarked to provide immediate assistance to local relief agencies working to mitigate the worsening impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

13 May 2021

Screen Shot 2021-05-19 at 5.25.58 PM.png

Bacardi announced a USD $100,000 contribution to help the country in its fight against the COVID-19 virus this week.

Funding provided by Bacardi is earmarked to provide immediate assistance to local relief agencies working to mitigate the worsening impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Additionally, the Bacardi team on the ground have provided funding for oxygen concentrators to be sent to a local NGO offering humanitarian aid to marginalized communities. To support its employees in-market, Bacardi offers free access to confidential counseling to ensure wellbeing is top of mind during these challenging times.

“As a family-owned company for nearly 160 years, we have always been committed to supporting our people and their communities,” says Vijay Subramaniam, Regional President of Bacardi in Africa, Middle East and Asia. “We know this moment is incredibly trying but if this past year and the pandemic have taught us anything it’s the power of coming together to overcome challenges. We are committed to helping the people and communities in India who have supported Bacardi for many years.”

The company has always been committed to building a strong culture and taking care of its people. In early 2020, 14 Bacardi sites across the globe, working with local partners, helped produce more than 400,000 gallons (1.5 million liters) of hand sanitizers, as demand exceeded supply. Across the sites, Bacardi harnessed its global production power, resources, and processes to supply the much-needed alcohol essential for the increased production of hand sanitizers.

India was among the countries that received donations of hand sanitizers, produced with the help of Bacardi, for distribution to local organizations and emergency responders.

https://www.hotelierindia.com/products/14795-bacardi-donates-100000-to-support-india-covid-19-efforts

Committee to Protect Journalists, May 3, 2021

Cuban journalist Mary Karla Ares detained over protest coverage

May 3, 2021 4:53 PM EDT

Cuban journalist Mary Karla Ares has been detained for several days over her coverage of a Havana protest. (Photo: ICLEP)

Cuban journalist Mary Karla Ares has been detained for several days over her coverage of a Havana protest. (Photo: ICLEP)

Miami, May 3, 2021 — Cuban authorities must immediately release journalist Mary Karla Ares, drop the criminal investigation into her work, and allow the press to report freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On April 30, at about 2 p.m., agents with the Cuban Revolutionary Police and the Political Police arrested Ares, a reporter for the community newspaper Amanecer Habanero, in Havana and took her to a police station in the Havana Playa municipality, according to news reports and Normando Hernández, general manager for the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and the Press (ICLEP), a local press freedom organization, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app.

Ares remains in that police station as of today, and authorities are investigating her for criminal “public disorder” over her coverage of recent protests, according to those sources. Ares has not had access to a lawyer or her family since she was arrested, Hernández told CPJ.

“Today, while the world celebrates World Press Freedom Day, Cuban authorities are keeping a journalist in detention and investigating her for the mere act of covering a protest,” said CPJ Central and South America Senior Researcher Ana Cristina Núñez. “Authorities must immediately release Mary Karla Ares, drop the criminal investigation into her work, and ensure that she and all other Cuban journalists can work freely.”  

Police arrested Ares while she was reporting live on Facebook, covering police breaking up a demonstration in support of Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who has been on hunger strike in protest of authorities’ confiscation of his artwork and the lack of free expression in the country, according to news reportsa report by ICLEP, and Ares’ video, which was streamed on her personal Facebook account, where she frequently posts reporting and commentary about political issues in Cuba.

If charged and convicted of public disorder, Ares could face up to one year in prison, according to the Cuban penal code.

CPJ emailed the Cuban National Revolutionary Police and the Ministry of Interior for comment, but did not receive any replies.

Amanecer Habanero is one of seven free newspapers published in the country by ICLEP, according to its website. Cuban authorities have recently raided ICLEP newspapers’ offices and are suspected to have restricted the internet access of its staff members, as CPJ has documented.

https://cpj.org/2021/05/cuban-journalist-mary-karla-ares-detained-over-protest-coverage/

Deadline, April 23, 2021

Bacardi Family & 1950s Cuba To Get TV Series Close-Up From ‘The Newsroom’ Writer Ian Reichbach & MiLu Entertainment

By Andreas Wiseman

Screen Shot 2021-05-19 at 5.26.14 PM.png

Bacardi And The Long Fight For Cuba, Penguin Putnam Inc

EXCLUSIVE: Los Angeles-based producer MiLu Entertainment and Ian Reichbach, one of the lead writers on The Newsroom, are developing a TV series based on the Bacardi family’s experiences in 1950s Cuba.

Reichbach is adapting NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten’s well-received book Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba, which fuses the story of the Bacardi family’s famous rum business with Cuba’s tumultuous experience over the last 150 years, including Cuba’s fight for freedom, its tortured relationship with America, and the rise of Fidel Castro.

Andre L III of MiLu Entertainment is producing the bilingual English-Spanish series with 6GEN Films, which consists of Bacardi family members Mari Aixalá, Pepin R. Argamasilla and Juan Bergaz Pessino of Bergaz Productions.

“It’s time to tell the untold story of the Bacardi family,” said Andre L III of MiLu. “Authenticity and passion are the key to great storytelling and it has been a privilege to collaborate with the foremost authorities on the history of the most iconic Cuban family.”

Reichbach is a regular collaborator with Aaron Sorkin, having served as a writer and executive story editor on The Newsroom, and a researcher on movies including Charlie Wilson’s WarMoneyballThe Social Network and The Trial Of The Chicago 7.

MiLu Entertainment’s slate includes features Aleppo with Olivia Munn attached (and Bergaz Productions aboard as an exec producer), Alex Pettyfer pic The Phantom of Belgrade, and The Thicket which has Noomi Rapace, Peter Dinklage, Sophia Lillis and Charlie Plummer attached.

https://deadline.com/2021/04/bacardi-family-tv-series-cuba-newsroom-writer-1234742313/