José Martí and Camagüey: their two great loves (+ Photos)

By Lázaro David Najarro Pujol

January, 2021.- The National Hero of Cuba, José Martí Pérez, although he never visited the former Villa de Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe, today Camagüey, always maintained close ties with the City of Tinajones and especially with the patriot Ignacio Agramonte Loynaz (1841-1873), among other personalities.

Martí appreciated from Agramonte (Major General of the Cuban Liberation Army known as El Mayor), his sense of ethics: “And that one from Camagüey, that diamond with the soul of a kiss? He was as if where men have hearts, he had the star ”.

In an investigation carried out by the 2017 National Prize for Literature, Luis Álvarez Álvarez [1] reaffirms that Martí had multiple ties with the city and with personalities from the region (more than 100).

Neither could Francisca Margarita Amalia Simoni Argilagos, the wife of Agramonte, born on June 10, 1842 in Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe, be the eldest of the two descendants of the marriage formed by the doctor José Ramón Simoni and Manuela. Argilagos.

Of the brave patriot José Martí (born in Havana on January 28, and who fell in combat on May 19, 1895, in Dos Ríos), wrote on June 25, 1892 in the newspaper Patria, organ of the Cuban Revolutionary Party :

«For the dignity and strength of his life; for his rare intelligence and his modesty and great culture; because of the tender and moving affection with which he accompanies and guides his two children, the hero’s children, in the world, he respects the country and admires Mrs. Amalia Simoni, the widow of Ignacio Agramonte».

Of the Bayardo’s wife, Amalia Simoni also said: “Perhaps there is no more beautiful romance than that of that warrior, who was returning from his glories to rest, in the house of palms, with his girlfriend and his son!” .

Martí referred to Amalia in an article published in El Economista Americano in New York: “… the sovereign beauty of women, epic and simple, of the land of Camagüey.”

The Doctor in Philological Sciences Luis Álvarez considered that no other province contributed so much wood so special to Martí’s formation since his childhood as Camagüey.

He explained that the Cuban patriot had two great friends: Manuel Mercado (Mexico) and Fermín Valdés-Domínguez y Quintanó, (Guatemalan father and Cuban mother who lived in Camagüey, a family that influenced his interest in that central-eastern Cuban town that he never knew (Mercedes Quintanó, Fermín’s mother, spoke wonders of her hometown).

He explained that Martí’s two great loves were precisely from the princely town: the actress Eloisa Agüero de Osorio (she had a secret romance and of whom she wrote in June 1875: “She was born in Camagüey, the land of Cuba where all women are brunette and all eyes are beautiful), and María del Carmen de Zayas-Bazán e Hidalgo, with the latter he married José Martí on December 20, 1877 and had their son José Francisco Martí on November 22, 1878. A Saying of the Master “feeling loved strengthens and sweetens.”

José Francisco Martí, the “Ismaelillo” lived his childhood and adolescence in the house located at the current Antonio Luaces Street No. 109, in the capital of Camagüey.

The Luis Álvarez National Prize for Literature affirmed that José Martí, without having visited Port-au-Prince: «teaches us today to know the fruitful past of this city and to revive many of the women and men who lived there. The Port-au-Prince that can be seen in Marti’s texts, is an image shaped by its long and varied contacts with the people, and not with the specific geographic environment of the region [2].

«The people from Camagüey that Martí portrays are human beings endowed with exceptional moral stature, capable of sacrifice, oblivious to lies, devoted to the great work of building a homeland free from colonial subjugation and the blind caudillistas.

«In good accounts, what does the Port-au-Prince contribute to Martí, who was never able to visit him or integrate himself into his tangible daily palpitation, not even for a short period of time, as if it happened to him in Havana? The Port-au-Prince seen in his writings is an appreciation of his interrelationship with the region through its human factors.

In the year in which we Cubans celebrate the 168th anniversary of the birth of the Apostle of Cuban Independence, José Martí Pérez, his thought has an extraordinary validity.

José Martí’s references to the old Villa de Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe are included in his Complete Works. [3]

[1] In the Camagüey investigation and Marti’s work, Álvarez refers to more than one hundred and twenty people from Camagüey mentioned by Martí in his Complete Works. He also delighted Salvador Cisneros Betancourt, Eduardo Agramonte Piña, Carlos J. Finlay, Juan Arango, Ramón Agüero, among others. (Photos by the author).

[2] Atiénzar Rivero, Enrique: Special symbol that unites Martí with Camagüey.

[3] Complete Works. Volume 5. Page 251.


Complete works. Volume 1. Page 69

Complete works. Volume 5. Page 121

Complete works. Volume 6. Page 417

Complete works. Volume 8. Page 117

Complete works. Volume 4. Page 362

Complete works. Volume 4. Page 361

Complete works. Volume 22. Page 214

Complete works. Volume 4. Page 382

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