October 18 in the frame of the Day of Spiritual Accord, at 14:00 (GMT + 6), Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) will host an International conference themed: "Strengthening interfaith and interethnic harmony as an answer to modern world challenges ".
Professor Armando Cristóbal Pérez, Cuba Doctor of Political Sciences Vice-president of the Cuban Society of Philosophical Research Havana Culture as a fortress of the Cuban people’s nationality and spirituality In every historically-formed community, nationality emerges from a unique ethnical, social and cultural process. In this process, a nation evolves and builds its own State by creating its own economic and political systems. That was so until the 15th century, when the modern State was built in Western Europe and another process spread out. Politicians were who decided what, when and how, while creators were forced to shape, strengthen and develop the spiritual character of their nationality in that context. Or they revolted.
I shall remind you that, in the 15th century, Cuba was one of the first countries in the Americas where a heterogeneous and increasing number of troops coming from Europe arrived for conquest and colonization. At that time, the archipelago was inhabited by numerous and diverse human groups living in a tribal phase. And, in less than a century, their communities were decimated, although their biological inheritance underlies disseminated among our population and some of their identity traits are the spiritual coat of arms of our common, mythical and real origin.
Between the 16th and the 18th centuries, Cuba’s demographic development was culturally and spiritually enriched with the incorporation of more than half a million people from other regions of the world, mostly Africans who were brought as slaves. The 19th century was a crucial moment. Their diverse contradictions were the context of our national and spiritual integration. This process – that had gradually begun earlier thanks to transculturation and popular miscegenation and that had been exacerbated by the confrontation between those people born in the island and the overseas rulers - became political. The so-called “criollos”– white, black and mestizo people - the matrix for the present Cuban population, demanded their self-determination.
The clumsy and inhuman treatment of the Spanish metropolis prevented the island from attaining its autonomy. In 1868, after several revolts of slaves and “criollos”, the war of independence broke out. The most representative white “criollos”, formed according to modern ideas, decided to set their slaves free. Those slaves joined the troops. And thus, former white settlers of European ancestry, their former Black slaves of African origin, free men of any origin and background, and their families, joined together to struggle against the opprobrious foreign colonial domination. During these struggles the new nationality matured and its spiritual culture developed. And, under the guidance of the independence leaders, our people built a nation and a political society, authenticated as a republic – in the midst of the war – through constitutionalism.
It was José Martí who culminated that stage. He was the son of a humble housewife and a modest soldier, both of Spanish origin. Since his childhood, he was endowed with a special spirituality and intelligence. In his adolescence, due to his ideas, he was incarcerated and martyrized in prison. He was a distinguished writer in his parents’ language, a language that he contributed to transform into a modern instrument of all Spanish-speaking people. As a lawyer, during his exile he was capable of challenging the Spanish Republicans who denied freedom to their last colony. Opposed to any discrimination based on gender, race or social class discrimination, José Martí was a connoisseur of his time and he exposed and denounced the imperialist designs of the USA – a country where he lived for almost fifteen years – over the rest of the Latin American countries. In appreciating the role of the Cuban culture as a defence of our nationality in all its spirituality, it is essential to have a deep knowledge of José Martí, the author of the famous apothegms: “To be cultured is the only way of being free” and “Homeland is humanity”.
But Martí and his talent were a supreme autochthonous flower born from the tree of sciences, arts and the social, economic, ethical, aesthetic and spiritual thinking sown in the soil already fertilized by a mestizo and popular nationality in interaction with the universal environment. Martí was killed in a battle and his work and his thinking – that were part of the culture that he forged – became a defence of this nationality oppressed under the domination of the new US empire. A peace treaty was signed in Paris without the presence of the Cuban representatives. The Republic was proclaimed in 1902 in order to establish an imperial protectorate through that unrequested foreign mediation.
It took the Cuban nationality three decades to overcome the frustration caused by that foreign occupation and its honourable and effective reaction was a splendid cultural, ethical and spiritual rebirth and its universal expansion. Martí’s culture defended, encouraged, enlightened and exacerbated the spirituality of the popular forces to recover our full sovereignty and overthrow two tyrants until achieving a new national development with the revolutionary process – that started in 1953 and triumphed in 1959 -, accompanied by the most valuable cultural groups and creators organized in their own associations.
This has allowed the establishment of public policies and new institutions that channel the development of the spiritual culture: from the eradication of illiteracy in just one year to the creation of schools and courses on music, drama, visual arts and dance; the formation of art instructors for the growing amateur art movement; the establishment of a film industry and a group of publishing houses that did not exist before; the publication of new newspapers and magazines; the setting up of new radio and television stations and the rescue and restoration of material and immaterial traditional cultural values.
In the field of thinking and literature, the formation of a new mass of readers and the possibility of publishing their works were a far-reaching change. Alejo Carpentier, the famous Cuban writer, summarized it by saying: “The times of solitude (…) are over (…), the times of solidarity have come”. This is why Fidel Castro has said that José Martí is the intellectual mastermind of the Cuban Revolution. Today the Cuban culture is the shield and the sword of our nationality, our nation and our Revolution.