Tampa residents commemorate anniversary of death of Jose Marti
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05/19/11 Seán Kinane
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Al Arteaga stands at the base of the Jose Marti statue in Ybor City.


photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

On this day in 1895, Cuban revolutionary José Martí died in battle against the Spaniards. Today on a tiny chunk of Cuban soil in Ybor City, a small group of Tampa residents of Cuban descent commemorated the anniversary. 89-year-old Al Arteaga of Cuba Vive Tampa Bay brought flowers to the Friends of José Martí Park.

"Jose Marti was a man who was from the youngest years joined the liberty of Cuba from the Spanish. The Spanish occupied Cuba since the 1700's."

Tell us about this park. What's Jose Marti Park in Ybor City?

"The reason Jose Marti Park is over here is because always Tampa has been related with the Cuban immigrants because he was in Cuba because he was against the Spanish who put him in jail. And then, I believe, they sent him to Spain and in Spain they let him go with the assurance that he was not going to come to Cuba. So he traveled to Tampa, Key West, New York, and other cities to collect help; money, ammunition, men, to go back to Cuba in a sailboat and fight for the independence of Cuba from Spain. And, like I said, there a day like today he went on one of those trips in a sailboat to fight with the Mambisa's over there. Mambisa's, they had only machetes, Spanish got rifles and Marti got killed in one of the battles Maximo Gomez was having against the Spanish on Orienta Province."

One question I really wanted to ask you about was this park. Is this part of Cuba?

"Yes, I'm glad you asked me that. This property used to belong, some way or another. A lady, a black lady, Cuban lady and a ... the name is over there, I forgot. They had a little shed type and Jose Marti who was in those years in the 1800's, late 1800's used to come over here and stay in their house. They used to guard him because there was a lot of people wanted to kill him because there was a lot of Spanish and even Cubans were involved with the Spanish, they want to kill him. That property was two lots. It was given to the Cuban government, I think it was in the 50's, as a gift. This property belongs to the Cuban state."

Previous WMNF news coverage of Cuba

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