Parties are usually born in propitious moments, wrote José Martí, driven either by “a clever adventurer”, instigated by “a flaming breast that ignites a volatile passion in a hard to burn mob” or by “the drive of enlightened peoples” proclaiming their redemption. When on April 10, 1892, José Martí declared the Cuban Revolutionary Party (PRC) constituted, he underlined the purpose that motivated that event. The party arose to prevent by all means possible the emergence of war “as a personal enterprise that moves discontented rivals towards jealousy”.
The PRC was the culminating point of a process of searching for a viable organizational structure, based on the experiences of the factors that led to the failure of the Ten Years’ War, the Chiquita War and all the revolutionary projects conceived abroad during the period that followed the signing of the Zanjón Pact in 1878.
Martí insisted early on the need for the Revolution not to be presented as an interest of a determined group, neither the result of glorious desires of a military or civilian grouping, of a class or a race. The unity of the immigrants and of the Cuban revolutionaries inside and outside the Island was “a very complicated political problem”.
The historical period in which the Independent Movement was to emerge and develop the utmost prudence and foresight. The organization of the “generous and brief war” took place in the midst of the deployment of numerous internal and external forces that conspired, not only against the independence of Cuba from the Spanish colonialism but also against the success of the desired sovereign republic
This explains Martí’s warnings to Gonzalo de Quesada, after the International American Conference of 1889: “[…] In our land, Gonzalo, there is a more sinister plot than the one we know so far, and it is the iniquitous one of forcing the Island, of precipitating it to war, in order to have the pretext of intervening in it, and with the pretext of acting as mediator and guarantor, to keep it for themselves.
In a context marked, moreover, by the aggressive propaganda and autonomist plans, contrary to the armed struggle, as well as the division within the independence leadership and the patriotic emigration associations, the decisive events took place with a massive work of thought and action that had its culmination in the founding of the party. The action was to be imposed “To fight our adversaries we have to show we are superior to them. If the war falls into their hands, “if the last effort of the country is crushed, we would feel guilty for allowing this to happen.”
In the last quarter of 1891, a series of remarkable events took place in the organizational work of emigration. On November 25 of that year, Martí arrived in Tampa, invited by Néstor L. Carbonell, president of the Ignacio Agramonte Club. As a result of his unifying political work, masterfully synthesized in the content of his speeches “With all and for the good of all” and “The new pines”, the four resolutions were approved that established the creation of a revolutionary organization, not for electoral purposes, but based on the principle of unity “in a common republican and free action”.
More complex, however, was the task of approaching Marti’s project by the combative community of immigrants from Cayo Hueso, which had strengthened revolutionary clubs and institutions and a leadership that had been recognized and consolidated for decades. Nevertheless, on January 5, 1892, in a conclave that brought together the most select of the leadership of that locality, the Bases and the secret Statutes of the PRC were approved.
At this same meeting, a Recommending Commission was appointed, presided by Martí, in charge of the approval of the founding documents by the different organizations existing in Tampa, Key West, and New York. From this decision, the Master would write to the secretary of the Commission, Francisco María González, president of the Cuban Patriotic League of Key West: “In time I asked you to move the presidents to examine and ratify if they believe it to be appropriate the approved Bases and Statutes, and I would rather doubt myself than a patriotism of whose vigor and purity I had been, in unforgettable days, as so grateful as an unworthy object”.
The party’s bases, grouped into nine points, synthesized the programmatic guidelines on which the revolutionary leader had been working since the 1880s. The scope of his purposes was outlined in his first article: “The Cuban Revolutionary Party is constituted to achieve with the united efforts of all men of goodwill, the absolute independence of the Island of Cuba and promote and assist that of Puerto Rico”. But the revolution transcended in its objectives the mere independence of the Hispanic colony. Hence, the PRC was focused since the war itself on establishing the foundational bases of “a new people and sincere democracy”, with methods that would banish the authoritarian and bureaucratic practices of the colony, both politically and economically.
The Statutes, meanwhile, were secret and regulated the structure and functioning of the organization. At the base of the party were the independent associations with ample autonomy and the Council Bodies, made up of the presidents of the clubs in each locality, which in turn served as intermediaries between the associations and the Delegate. The collection of war and action funds, as well as their distribution, would be in charge of a treasurer
The publication of the Patria newspaper in New York, on March 14, 1892, was another transcendental step in the tasks of unification aimed at the formation of the party, it was a difficult process that took place amidst multiple misunderstandings, resentments and open confrontations to Marti’s political work inside and outside Cuba.
But the perseverance, conviction, and political acumen of the young revolutionary prevailed. He was immersed in the search for viable forms of organization to resume the armed struggle for independence, he lived and felt the realities of the countries he visits; he knocked on the doors of the poor, and at every step the sensitivity that led him to reaffirm himself as a radical revolutionary. It was his fight for independence that led him to understand the necessary articulation of national liberation with anti-imperialism. And the more he identified the dangers and envisioned the emerging forces in the overflowing American industrial capitalism in its transition to turn-of-the-century imperialism, the better he was able to understand the implications that the independence of Cuba and the Antilles represented for “our America.” In better conditions, he was able to comprehend the implications for “our America” of the independence of Cuba and the Antilles.
The greatness of the Master was based precisely on the fact that he knew how to understand the problems of his time and the historical tasks that implied giving a radical bias to the project of national liberation. Who was about to give his life for Cuba at the dawn of the 1895 revolution, knew that the great work involved implicitly reversing centuries-old structural deformations, founding a place among the ashes of slavery, and erecting an independent state on the balance of a world that showed clear imbalances. But first, it was necessary to organize, unite, clear personal and ideological obstacles, articulate and agree on opinions in the midst of the plural and divided universe of Cuban emigration and of the revolutionary components in the interior of the Island; a match was required.
On April 8th the constitution of the PCR was a reality, Martí was elected a delegate, and Benjamín Guerra was the treasurer. The organizational structure was consummated with the creation of the Council Bodies and the election of their presidents and secretaries. The conditions were created for the proclamation of the PRC on April 10, making it coincide with the date on which the first constitution of the Republic of Cuba in Arms was approved in 1869, and with it the organization capable of “bringing to the homeland the soul creator of its absent children”.