- PAGES FROM THE HOSTOS DIARY!
Madrid, May 30, 1869, daytime
Since I always give in to the constant interruptions brought by the need to observe present events, I have not examined in time the events which constitute the last ten years of my life and have let one and the other merge. Yesterday I paused to write to my father. His letter dated May 4 answered a previous one I had written in which I straightforwardly posed the problem of my active political life.
I had written him that he must be prepared to see me face all the consequences of the mission for justice and freedom which I have tried to carry out on our country’s behalf. Hoping to receive paternal blessing and approval of the goal I plan to attain and the duty I will perform, I discussed my present situation in Spain and my need to go to New York and probably to Cuba, and from there take up arms and personally try to achieve independence.
The noble old man answered with his heart. He was fearful and hesitant.
In order to calm him, I have reasoned out the resolutions dictated by my human conscience and my duties as a citizen:
“Point of departure: the feeling for justice which has clarified my experience and become the idea or the will for justice. My patriotism has been the direct consequence of this feeling-will-idea that motivates it, and by serving my country, more than serving the feeling for the homeland I serve a passion for justice. Justice, by making me witness the development of the revolution on the Peninsula and the inconsistent injustices committed by it in the Antilles, has vividly-enlightened my conscience as a citizen, and has sent me to complete the work which I began here in such painful solitude, with such secret anguish, and such unappreciated dedication. I have gone too far to turn back. Moved by feelings that were above all personal interests, I came to oppose not only the inconsistencies of the revolution, the insensitivity of its government; and the defection of former defenders of the Antilles in both the Legislature and the press, but I even came to defy public opinion and the spirit and vices of the Iberian people. Thus I cannot stay here without drawing the indignation of those who were guided and drawn by my writings or without renouncing my conscience, my dignity, and my principles before those who, contrary to their own manifestations, expect me to carry my
ideas through to their final consequences. The commitments rising from my ideal are above any other commitments I have freely made to individuals. Justice is violated in the Antilles. It is stubbornly violated by the continuation of slavery, annoyingly violated by economic measures, savagely violated by the horrible repression that exists in Cuba and which will exist in Puerto Rico It is senselessly violated in Cuba when the fulfillment of its modest wishes is indefinitely postponed, when promises are made that never materialize, and when the mockery made of the Island’s need for justice and freedom is disguised as law. And when they argue that the country is passive and unwilling to follow me? I answer that all peoples are passive before revolution. And they say ingratitude awaits me? I say ingratitude is an inevitable vice for which people today cannot be held responsible, because in order to be grateful, they must first understand they have been done a service. The societies we know, especially the emerging societies, lead a [illegible ], emotional life and are little inclined to obey reason or let it guide them in shaping their opinions on persons and events. It is not fair to blame the people for their passivity and their ingratitude, since both are manifestations of he need for revolution. They are not, nor should they be, anything but incentives for the development of any society or national life. And since this incentive always calls for sacrifices, it is natural, perhaps even necessary, that conservative forces offer resistance. Thus, just as there is no order, protection of interests, or permanent interests that are not naturally and necessarily grounded in freedom, justice, and dignity, no revolution should fail to answer to the development of these moral forces in society. If a revolution fails to respond immediately to this need, the people will be ungrateful to the leaders of that revolution; for fear that it will not respond, they will be passive. . Passivity is a vice, a product of the apathy of despotism; ingratitude is a vice of ignorance, also the prod
uct of despotism. Despotism can only be defeated through revolution; therefore a revolution is more necessary the greater the people’s passivity toward it is and the greater their ingratitude is expected to be after it. By demonstrating the need for revolution and the personal obligation to support it or take up arms to start it, I have also demonstrated its inevitability. Even if it were not necessary in itself, the Spanish government’s conduct and the peninsular revolution’s relations with the Antilles make it inevitable. If a revolution proclaims its own right to freedom from despotism, then what right does it have to demand submission from others? If Spain frees herself from despotism at home, why does she demand submission to her national despotism? The right to independence is virtually proclaimed by revolution. If Spain were not arrogant and apathetic-two vices that are evident throughout its colonial history-she would have, by declaring them both independent, appeased the revolution in Cuba and prevented it in Puerto Rico. Why is public sentiment inflamed by the mere idea of independence? Because Iberian arrogance (what they call pride) cannot conceive that a people under domination could refuse a bequest as generous and noble as Spanish nationality. Why don’t the government and the Constituent Assembly dare to guide public sentiment, preventing the atrocities in Cuba and not consenting to the political atrocities in Puerto Rico? Because both of them are committed to the apathetic presumption that they will defeat with weapons in hand those who with weapons are repelling them.”
These are the poorly developed arguments which intellectual laziness keeps me from developing further, and which I want to record so that they are not lost to this laziness.
The Herald article had moved me so deeply; in it I saw a statement of the aims of the federal government and the wishes of the American people so clearly; those aims and wishes are so contrary to my thinking; expressing them at a time when Cuba is encountering more and more enemies and indifference seemed so crude to me; I fear for the dignity of the dear Antillean revolution so much; I see it being so compromised by the hesitant attitude of the revolution’s representatives here; the danger of falling out of Spanish hands and into North American hands is so evident; the selling of the poor island seems to be so unjust a solution; the abyss between my fervor and the coolness of others is so immense; I am so fearful that the movement’s sole motivation may be a hatred for Spain, so afraid of a revolution based only on hatred, that I would prefer to stand back and stoically watch things happen rather than be an accomplice in the disgraceful act of that sale, which seems to be the inclination of Cuba’s official representatives in the press and in diplomatic circles in New York and Washington, even though they deny it.
I had thought it wise to proceed with great caution, and so I attentively read and sincerely applauded the article in which P. skillfully and cleverly responded to the Herald correspondent. But his response left outstanding points unresolved and evaded the offensive suggestion of a sale with deft intentions contrary to the aims of the Antillean revolution. I had managed to express some of my ideas in the short article criticizing the American government, and at that point proposed to directly attack the question of the sale. P. was opposed, arguing first of all that
any action against such strength is useless and to him ridiculous, since he does ‘not want to “stop what is going to happen from happening.” Second, he argued that in the future we may be compelled by convenience towards the sale, and third, he argued that his rights as Editor of the paper should permit him to develop his own ideas just as they permit me to have my own right and develop distinct opinions. Never have less solid arguments been used to combat ideas more sacred and sentiments more honest. I had to react to this, and I did. I reacted with my usual force, and even though he did his best to avoid the debate I was sincerely inviting him to participate in, I stood up with a harsh look on my face and demanded an immediate explanation. He explained with sophisms. His unquestionable talent conceals his lack of political science; it masks his solely personal interests and the ambition and self-interest with which he has approached the revolution. He insisted that the revolution’s sole intention is to throw Spain out of Cuba and argued that Cuba’s official representatives here do not have the function I attribute to them, that is, the true and effective representation of principles.
“I will not stoop to deal with other details. But since the Junta has given Mr. P the post as Editor of the newspaper, I would like to know if it also patronizes his ideas. That way I will have complete freedom of judgment.” This was essentially my letter and the purpose behind it. I am a man like the rest of them, and though I may be unlike them in that I always put my passions to noble use, I do have passions just as they do, and impassioned by the detour they are attempting with deaf ears, by the attacks committed against the sacred principles which I defend and attribute to the revolution, and by the obvious distrust with which I am being treated on account of my severity and radicalism, I wanted the letter to make everyone understand my opposition. They have understood it and were probably frightened by it, for although, just as I expected, they have not come to try to dissuade me, they must have influenced P.’s attitude in some way, because he was unexpectedly at Basora’s this morning. He did not avoid the discussion he expected to use to have my immediate friends dissuade me, and he presented it in his own way, making my resolution appear to be an impulsive act, the product of an ideologue’s folly, so that the others, who do not understand me as an ideologue, would disapprove of my indiscretion and approve of
his prudence. He did not get his wish entirely. Although Basora, Márquez and Betances disapproved of my leaving the paper, and using a thousand arguments advised me in every possible way to stay there Basora, who. sees me as a weapon for opposing the Junta, Márquez, for
whom indignation is not a sufficient reason, and Betances, who considers me the safeguard of the ideas that because of his passion and greater sensibility he shares with me-all of them approved my wish for clarity in action, all of them took time to discuss whether it was P. or I who truly represented the revolution and leaned to my position.
It was so clear that I was the real friend to the revolution, that it was I who really represented the sentiments which guide it, and that I have higher motivations, that they almost convinced me to follow their unanimous advice and remain with the paper to guarantee nothing will be done to harm the dignity of the Antilles. But I will stay with the paper only if we can come to an agreement on the following points: 1) my position, my status, and my rights within the paper; 2) that in accordance with those, no resolution be made without my approval; 3) that the paper’s position be made clear, and that at the first opportunity I be allowed to present the program of the Antillean revolution. In this way, with a bit of flexibility that would enable me to take advantage of the others’ weakness, I could be of use. But I would be of more use if they granted my wish and sent me to Haiti, where I would work for armed revolution in Puerto Rico and Cuba as well as for my ideal of an Antillean federation.
True, I am not suited for petty struggles. Now as in the past, the more I learn about the world and mankind, the more impatient I grow at having to put up with the difficulties which others, in their pettiness, impose upon great things. I know that dealing with reality is a fundamental obligation for the political thinker or the revolutionary thinker, but since I am not the one who is fighting directly, not the one who is allowed to overcome those difficulties; and since I am the one they discreetly isolate, since I am the one whom they cautiously do without, the more they diabolically destroy or debase my ideas, the more zealously I hold on to them. So the struggle I carry out against them is much. more rigorous, because it is a manifestation of a deeper, longer, and more tenacious struggle which I continually carry on within myself. Perhaps I was born to command attention, as the memories of my domineering adolescence suggest, and the incapacity to ‘Command attention I have fallen into gives me these alternate feelings of exalted vehemence and passive disdain that neutralize those who could otherwise be powerful. This is a product not only of the moral and intellectual development my solitary and almost aesthetic education has brought me, but also of the loss of strength caused by mishaps and abuse of my body, the rigors of conscience, and the very loftiness of my life’s austere aims. Perhaps I was born to put the most rational principles, the most human sentiments, and the most complete ideas into action, and since I have not yet
been able to practice what I feel, think, or desire, I agonize over my incomplete life and unintentionally make it less fruitful than it would be if I had less inner strength and more of the strength of the weak, the flexibility that shuns the straight line and successfully travels along all the curves of life’s affairs. Perhaps I was bo’rn to govern, and my indignation at being poorly governed make me powerless. Perhaps I was not born to be a martyr, and my long apprenticeship in martyrdom makes me angry and unproductive. .
Be that as it may, I was not cut out for these petty struggles imposed on me, and instead of defeating P. and the Junta, I would rather be taking my ideas to those poor Blacks in Haiti, with whose help I would like to realize my sacred ideal of the future.
The program which I had the indiscretion to unfold before M. and B., and which I will perhaps indiscreetly discuss with Ba. and Bs. tonight, is easier and more realistic because it is more immediate and because it depends absolutely on my will and ability. This is the program: tomorrow night, the Club will be discussing an absurd proposal based on sound sentiment and reliable instinct-the proposal that the Junta be moved from its present location and that it go to England to work. Their feelings, almost always incomplete, are justifiably hurt by the conduct of the United states. But feelings cannot perceive that every previous act becomes a subsequent commitment, and that you cannot risk the future of an idea by forgetting a commitment. I try to speak the truth about the revolution, about its development, about the duality between the revolution and its representatives here, about the need to guard this duality by attending more to Cuba and less to the United States, without breaking with the latter and simply destroying any opposing actions they attempt through the interests, sentiments and politics of other powers. The change would therefore be one of distribution of agents rather than of location. And since there are feelings in the air about what I would say, and since I carry all the ideas of the revolution inside me, it would be enough for me show that Cuba’s agents here do not know what they should know in order to incite the just indignation they deserve to have directed against them. Thus instead of being exploited I would enter into the category of being respected, the enviable position of being feared, and I could thereby obtain my much needed initiative. But I am no good at such things. Perhaps I will do as I think, perhaps passion will force me to do so; but I doubt that I can derive the personal benefit I need.
No matter how much B.’s zeal made him declare last night that the arguments of M. and the other members of the Junta did not hold up against mine, no matter how much t myself continue to be convinced
that my policy would be more worthy of the revolution and the future of
the Antilles, the fact is that as soon as they posed their only serious objection, I lost all the confidence my point of view had inspired in me. And it would be worthwhile to find out if my vacillation was born of the fear of having indiscreetly exposed, a higher cause, or of the vice-which I must overcome-of loosing the strength of my ideas when they are confronted by the opposing opinions of the others.
I had wanted to discuss the sale of the island and oppose it, because of all the possible outcomes of the revolution, this one seems to me the most contemptible; and when P. insisted on attributing the correspondence to an official source and the newspaper article to official inspiration, my determination grew along with the indignation I felt at seeing the idea of the revolution being treated as a toy; and when I realized P. had some secret reservations for not wanting to deal with the matter, and that my opinion on it frightened him enough to make him present his reservations to me as an act of authority, my indignation increased with my fear. This is how the matter looked before and after the disagreement with P., before and after the discussion at B.’s home. To put it directly, I wished to avoid the support which the cool policy of the paper and its inspirers might bestow on me one day, and had I come to the point of wanting to leave for Cuba, not so much anymore to be satisfied with myself as to be in the right place to actively defend my ideas, and, once the day of the sale arrived, to be the one to turn against them most vigorously. The whole castle built on my frightened feelings collapsed when, ~evolving around the same argument, they told me a hundred times that the reason for all the alarm might be nothing but an invention, a political device to calm the people down with an attractive promise after they had been annoyed by the dispatch of war ships. I rightly argued that even if this were true, we had to place one nation before the other, and just as one is alarmed by events that contradict its wishes, the other is alarmed by the animosity of events which threaten its dignity. I insisted on this point for a long time, although not with the necessary force. By then, [illegible] inside the desire that the strength of my feelings would be excessive, that my fantasy’s inspirations were illusory, my fears were theoretical, and my politics unrealistic.
There must have been some profound reason in my protest, however, because Ferrer, who at first was opposed to my outcries, ended up
by supporting me and seconding them, and because Morales and Aldama himself agreed that those outcries should have some kind of expression in the paper; After this, after the two, letters offering such satisfactory explanations [illegible] my leaving the paper, and after the efforts which [illegible] and the determination-with which my fellow Puerto Ricans have supported it, it would be foolish for me to leave, but negligent and stupid for me to remain. I am certain I will not be able to stay at the paper for very long, not only because it is advantageous for the Junta to support P., not only because I cannot and should not stand for it, but also because one day soon the same disagreement or a similar one will come up under a different guise. This is why I wanted to plan my trip to Haiti, but Bs. has apparently succeeded in being appointed, and I do not want to stand in his way. P. can be of use in helping me with M.L. and in obtaining a commission to go anywhere, even though he was not very pleased with my somber announcement that, according to a precedent set during my meeting with the Junta, I had the right to oppose the veto which he had up to now been able to reserve for himself. I hope to move nearer to Puerto Rico and attempt to do something, or to move some place farther away and allow my ideas to mature and hide my powerlessness in some region of the Americas-in any of my island’s family of Latin American territories.
In the evening I met with Márquez and Ba. I gathered useful information about the Cuban revolution’s progress and the founding of the center here that will work on its behalf.
A great laziness makes me fall asleep even an hour after rising and whenever I lie down to rest; an apathetic shiftlessness such as that of the darkest days of my struggle; a tediousness which borders on depression; a state of unconsciousness that turns into indifference; an insecurity evidenced by my tendency to become impassioned. All of this may be caused by, first, the change in customs and habits imposed on me in these American houses, second, the constant darkness of my room, demanding constant gas light and tiring my sight and my mind, and third, the increasingly lonely feeling in my heart, my thought, and my will, awakened sometimes by memories of her, more frequently by the lack of friends and allies.
Last Monday night was a night of discontent; will this Monday’s be more satisfactory? I have just come from the Club, where, with my usual incoherence, I expressed the thought of my life amidst the thunder of praise and applause. Now, when I link this applause (which bothers me more than it excites me) to my dominant thought, I see cause for rejoicing-I am not alone. That is to say, my idea is not mine alone, it belongs to all. But was I right to express it? When I think that we are all so cowardly about thought that all thought which is vigorously expressed frightens us, I believe I was right; when I think that the revolution is in the hands of those here who misinterpret it and enslave it within the idea of annexationism, I believe so; when I think that Macias, the League’s organizer, does nothing but ask for, seek, and preach annexation, I believe so; when I think that Escobar, because of his ideas, energy, and feelings in favor of annexation has argued for it tonight in front of the Americans, reasoning and raising it to the category of a possible alternative, I believe so. And I believe I was right, because I believe that those who do not support the logical aims of the revolution are its
perjurers and those who trade the pains of independence for the joys of annexation are traitors to their country’s land and liberty. However, when I think that there were two Americans present who were delegates
of the popular organization which has been founded here in support of Cuba, I do not believe I did the right thing. Not because social virtuescourtesy, hospitality, gratitude, etc.-should have forced me to curb a noble sentiment, silence a powerful idea, or waste a perfect opportunity to know, secure and direct public sentiment, but rather because, aside from abandoning myself to my feelings-which have presented my thoughts incompletely, but thanks to their very purity have not broken loose and turned into dangerous uproar-it was also necessary for me to attend to the passions that rage around me instead of recklessly inciting them as I did during my speech. The true political spokesman is the one who uses all the strengths, all the passions and the men they control, to lead them towards the satisfaction of moral, material, intellectual, and emotional needs-both immediate and long-lasting-that a society has
during normal times as well as in times of crisis.
If Macias looks at me with spite in his eyes; if the Junta avoids me and isolates me; if the people among whom I am popular and before whom I have the duty to fulfill the human hopes which I arouse in them-if those same people do not persist in their affection for me, their determination in my favor, and their confidence in my moral and inte-
llectual strength and in the soundness of my sentiment, it is because I myself do not know how to perfect myself or perfect my work, nor how to be as logical in my public expressions as I am in my own hidden reality.
Tonight I could have done an outstanding service for the Antilles, yet I have done them a half-sevice. I could have said what I think, yet I was only able to say what I feel. I feel, with a vehemence enhanced by the ideas of my fellow supporters, that the sacred Antillean revolution can fall into the abyss if the interests and underhandedness of the plutocratic and intellectual oligarchy triumph. Recalling the action taken today by the Federal Government against Santo Domingo and seeing with eyes that can perceive the obvious indifference to ideas shown by this business and by all federal policies regarding the Antilles, I violently vented my feelings and forgot about serious thought. I think it is necessary for the Americas to complete their process of civilization by serving two ideas: the unification of freedom through the federation of nations, and the unification of the races through the fusion of all of them. All the members of the continent- mainlands and islands-should take part in this work. The mainlands have begun their fusion; the North is putting Anglo-Saxon freedom into effect and serving as an agent for the fusing of the European races; the South is fusing European and Native races together; the Antilles are outside this American sphere of action and attempting to enter it. What are the Antilles? They are the bond, the connection between the fusion of European standards and ideas in North America and the fusion of races and disparate natures which is being painfully carried out in Latin America. They are the natural geographic median between both parts of the continent as well as the producers of a transcendental fusion of races; politically, the Antilles are the pivot of the scales, the true federal bond of the giant federation of the future; socially, humanly, they are the natural center of fusions, the definitive crucible of races. This is why they serve. as the necessary station for commercial communication throughout the world, and why they will one day be home for pilgrims of the world. This is also why it is a crime of misguided providence to try to distance them from their aims.
All this I said, but I said it in an incoherent way, in spurts, like flashes of lightning fired by my feelings. I was not right.
Yesterday at midday, for fifteen minutes during the walk I usually take to distract myself from political worries-provided it is a pleasant day
and Broadway is teeming with charming women-I did something which matched my state of mind: I followed a lovely young girl who was walking in the same direction as I was, parting from her when our directions parted. Even though I wasn’t aware of it, it was my thirty-first birthday-my thirty-first year spent imagining things and curbing my imagination, feeling and drowning out feelings, thinking and not utilizing thought, struggling to materialize my images, my feelings and my thoughts, gaining no other fruit from the struggle but the birth of a contradictory being who, just as he can feel affection momentarily, and perhaps make someone else feel it momentarily, only to abandon the feeling when he could continue it, he can also waver forever within the realm of the ideal conceived and loved by the people, the heart and the conscience; ideals which are unattainable for those with a will that only wants to move in a straight path and only considers it straight if it is flat, trimmed, and cleared from beginning to end. I am saying to myself this is not completely true; that I know men too well to not feel as they do, to be surprised at the way they place their passions where I put my principles, their selfishness where I cast my self-sacrifice, their premeditated indifference where I keep my indignation and my enthusiasm. But even if what my inner voice tells me is true, it is also true I make my passivity worse, I give less justification to my illness, and I make a crime of the carelessness with which I subject myself to struggles I should rather control and direct, the more clearly I discern the value of the obstacles, the more serenely and scientifically compelling the force of the elements I have to work with [illegible] are. What is this dependent on? On the fact that in their lives they put to use a force which I lack in mine-the will. The will is blind; it is fickle, thoughtless, unhealthy, it can even be wicked-all this you can truthfully say; but they give outer movement to their wishes and their passions while I inwardly meditate and enlarge my thought, which, being the most noble and most human, can be more easily interrupted by the unhealthiest ambitions and the most anti-human battles. To show this is true, let us examine
my present situation.
I am in New York to carry out a revolution in Puerto Rico and help advance the one in Cuba. There is not one person who can see the matter with more clarity or who has the solutions I would like to give to it. However, there is no one who is less useful than I am. I bring my organized thought to the matter, resisting any changes in that thought. The Antilles have the necessary conditions for independent life, and I want to distance them completely from North America’s pull. The others believe it is only a matter of liberating the Antilles and themselves from Spanish oppression, and they trample on logic, dignity, and justice to attain
their goal. I believe annexation would amount to assimilation, and assimilation is a real, material, patent, tangible, and calculable fact which is characterized not only by the native peoples’ subsequent abandonment of the islands but also by the immediate economic victory of the people who annex and therefore by the impoverishment the annexed. The others do not make detailed observations, they laugh at assimilation, they have money or dream of having money and status, and they laugh at the pursuits of the people and the final result of the present situation in the archipelago. I know all about the Americans at this time in history. They are strong, dynamic, and hardworking, and they love this concrete freedom which protects all properties-those of labor and of thought as well as those of the land and of the conscience. Having been brought up in freedom, they complimented it when, having won independence, they
were able to employ reason to organize their institutions and live their collective life. But since they are the only people in the world who have not suffered, and for whom all roads have been smooth, all sympathy displayed, and all obstacles turned to victories, they are like people who have an easy life, who are cold because they are happy and ambitious because they are cold; they are cold because they have not struggled much and ambitious because they believe and are made to believe happiness increases with the expansion of what they think happiness is. And so I, who cannot be surprised by the tactics of a government constituted by such a people; I, who respect it too much to not be hurt by its misconduct; I, who writing in El Progreso since 1867, have deplored its territorial ambitions; I, who [illegible]. And this is how I, with my daily disdain of everyday experience, with my insistence upon changing reality
and leading a heroic life, have come to do nothing for the Antilles, to be displeased by what I see in the past and what I see in the present and for the future, to be more and more dissatisfied with myself, in a hole that gets deeper and deeper, my ideal rising higher while I sink lower, and I have spent the thirty-one years of my life without having lived. Everything inside and nothing outside of me. Feelings? Emptiness. Maria Lozada, when we were merely children, felt a passionate affection for me which I failed to appreciate or return. Enriqueta Muriategui and one of the Chavarrys in Ludiema (?); Lola Ruiz and Cipriana Mangual, in Mayagiiez, did well not to respond to my hesitant displays of feelings; Matilde has done the right thing by preferring her husband; I loved her when there were obstacles and stopped loving her when the obstacles were unworthy of my strength, making those incomplete feelings the
pretext for the prodigious moral and intellectual activity which I later wasted. I did not love her as a lover nor would I have wanted her as a wife. Nevertheless… yes, that is the mystery, nevertheless, I love her
as one loves memories, as one loves the life he has lived, as one loves the work he has done. In the history of my feelings, she is the one reality I stumble upon. And even if it is a confused, embryonic, obscure reality, the ideal of an ideal, the fading of a color, half way but not quite finished (just like everything I have ever done, half way but not quite finished), I welcome her into my imagination with enthusiasm, I bring her close to my heart with reverence, arid in my soul I think of her as an ideal. Then, Amparo. Isn’t there a letter from A. that says it all? And yet I left her in a difficult crisis which I perhaps helped precipitate. Then, Asuncion-poor Asuncion! The desperate tears she shed at our last meeting are still falling on my heart and are beginning to flow from my eyes. Then Maria and maybe Candor. One was hesitant, but the other! There never was a more spontaneous, stronger, simpler and more naive feeling! And I was able to observe it calmly, and now, when I think of it, it pleases me to remember and to say to myself: I could. And now, Memé. I don’t know whether it is love, but fire has never before approached me with such reverence. When we are alone, she comes near me with a blush on her face, kisses me on the lips and then hides from me. When others are looking she either gazes at me silently or lets herself be carried away by her feelings or desires, and, as she did the other day, she forgets about the others and, at my hinted request, takes a solitary kiss from her lips and places it on my stoic cheek, which reddens lightly with a blush that no one notices.
Incomplete realities, and I don’t want them; the one who has a heart does not have a face; the ones who have faces, have no brains; the ones who have brains, do not have the harmony created by esthetic beauty; the ones who have not loved, have not been loved; and those who began to be loved remained at the beginning and linger there, in the darkness of unfinished things. Family love. ..? I more than anyone in the world have loved my family. Yet I have been their torment. Friendship? I have never stopped loving those whom I have loved and I have loved everyone who has been close to me in the course of my life. Yet I don’t have a friend, not a single friend. Intellectual activity? From the imagination that flowered without cultivation-which before my moral crises so closely agreed with those other precocious faculties which gained me the respect of those around me and brought misfortune to my adolescence-to the early sense of judgment which was later strengthened and invigorated by harsh experiences, everything I have ever felt inside me I have tried to analyze and direct. The lack of any systematic study of the ideas of others testifies to this eagerness and explains my failures. With less constant effort, my ignorance would have been shameful, but it is not. Sometimes through intuition, other times through assimilation, the
primary concepts of science have become familiar to me, and it is almost certain that if I devoted myself to the task of reconstructing human thought-its evolution, its errors, its entire history-I could accomplish it. When I was a boy, nothing surprised my fervent mind more than the ecstasy others felt when they happily linked premises and consequences. Thinking seemed so easy to me from the beginning that I was shocked when others found such a simple mechanism difficult. When I was sent to school, instead of yearning for my usual games, I worried deeply about what others would think of me-an early dignity; in school, I was absorbed in the observation of an anthill I can still see under the pinewood table where I sat–early observation; the first time I listened to music, it had such a profound effect on me that I learned the piece by heart and spent two whole days remembering it in the strangest way: I would lie down on the living room floor, start to spin round, nearly faint, and then the sounds of the music and the singing of the carnival tune I was listening to would hurt me deep in my soul and would reveal to me the sadness of joy-the shaping of my feelings. When they sent me to school, Roqué, my grammar teacher, was amazed at my progress, not knowing what it consisted of-the increase in my capacity for deduction. When I didn’t go to school, I would avoid my brothers and sisters, and when at ten in the morning the sun became more intense, I would sit in one of the corners of the balcony. When my dear mother would look for me, she would find me contemplating the sun face to face or gazing far away at the glimmering sea-my fantasy gaining a notion of the universe. The first time I heard about philosophy, I conceived the goal of coordinating opposing schools. Later, a more complete life, that is to say, a more continuous expression of my talents, the lack of method in my studies, the solitude of my self-education, the constant probing with which I’ve lived, the continuous scrutiny of conscience I have subjected myself to, all this has perfected my strength. But instead of doing so by harmonizing my disagreeing and excessive thoughts and impulses and the predominance of dangerous faculties, I did so by leaving the strongest impulses intact, forcibly coordinating them with more moderate faculties.
Thus along with the random training of my intelligence came the revelation of my will and its training. I may be the man who can most certainly claim his will as his own. My will was tremendous; however, my childhood neglect, similar to the neglect of most children in directing the shape their soul is taking, made me lose this strength. What was done against it by my tutor, teachers, and friends in Bilbao, forcefully contributed to weaken it; my self-neglect, the imprudent use I made of my freedom, my idleness, and an absolute lack of responsibilities, deadened it.
At that point I contemplated upon the vices of the will and said with belief that the will was necessarily and originally perverse. Family responsibilities, shared with Mother, Eladia, and Carlos, the struggle to which I would commit myself, the loss of all hopes for a family, the effort I put into turning the near-love I had for Matilde into a sacrifice, the pain I had to bear, the crisis I had to overcome in Mayaguez, the suffering in Madrid and the spectacle of indignity, injustice, and tyranny in my poor Puerto Rico, resulted in a powerful conscience too demanding to consent to the will’s freedom of action. And so I fell into a half stoic, half stupid passivity which paralyzed me for some time; but then, as the crisis became more real, my imagination and my feelings, guided by reason and conscience, produced my Peregrinación *. Everyone’s silence and the obvious conspiracy of friends and authors against that new name, resulted in one of the most serious struggles I have ever endured and from which I have not yet recovered. My plans for an easy glory which would open up to me through the republic of letters were upset, and as I observed for the first time the difference between ideas and reality, I saw, with amazement, wonder and awe, a world of reality unknown to me, and I yearned for the will, and I decided to create it. And I did, and I contrasted the adage of my first observation to the following ones: “The will is half the man. Choose between the will and the gun. If you want to be a complete man, put all the strength of your soul into all the actions of your life.” Seeing how in the last adage there is a whole concept of life and the individual duties it imposes on us, it seems to me I emerged from the crisis having made considerable progress; perhaps too much progress, because having previously lacked will, from then on I could no longer employ it without the aid of reason and conscience. And who can possibly move on with such overwhelming companions! It is true I have been revived by my will, and it is true that I owe my idea of inborn courage and the serenity with which I have faced and will be able to conquer my fear of danger to that moment. Yet I don’t know how to act opportunely, I am extremely timid about making a move and never, ever carry out what I think, and I always, or almost always, let others do the things I do not dare to do. My coming to New York and my determination to fight at all costs the injustice that paralyzes the Antilles has, turned into constant vacillation, the perpetual maturation of what I never do. It is also true that the strength of my will consists in defeating the force of inertia. But are my obscure triumphs over myself really
. La Peregrinacion de Bayocin (The Journey of Bayoan). published in Madrid in 1863, Hostos’s first literary work. (Translator’s note)
worth anything if they do not bring to the world any reality other than that of my spirit? It is perhaps a powerful spirit, but one which has not had the power to do anything. This is probably the man I really am; if you superimpose on it the one other people make of me; the result is clear-a useless man, a man without use made useless.
Thus I have come to the thirty-first year of my life; at the same time I struggle with feelings of hope, with the energy of reason, with an absolute strength of conscience, and with a strong will to do good. To reach this age and not be shamed to death by the emptiness of a life which I had considered so full is perhaps praiseworthy. But I will not rest upon this fact for even a moment, because my dissatisfaction with myself will always torment me, and the problem of my life-how to make that healthy inner life a reality-will continue to overwhelm me.
If I could continue to believe-I don’t really doubt it-that moral crises are solved through physical ones, I would be content. Since last night I have been feeling ill; it is getting worse by the minute and I feel a fever coming on. My heart is still aching-it is punishing me, it has reason to.
I have received two letters from Blanco and one from Castro. Although he expresses himself nobly, Castro has maliciously interpreted some of my words which, in the context of my letter as well as of my whole life, are perfectly innocent. Blanco says he was hurt by the tone of my letter, but he proposes we do something, which makes up for the failing in his previous letter. He wants to organize the St. Thomas Committee, and proposes we find two reliable men who will travel throughout the Island and try through every possible means to arouse our compatriots in hopes of obtaining aid for the revolution.
I have written Aldama a note referring to the movement’s possibilities in Puerto Rico in order to know what to expect as far as the Agency’s decisions are concerned. Then I wrote to Basora asking him to come and see me. I also wrote out the organizing plan and letters to a few Puerto Ricans vividly laying out the needs and advantages of the situation. I am almost happy.
New York, June 19, 1874
Mr. Manuel A. Matta and Mr. Guillermo Matta*
Santiago de Chile.
I continue, my dear and worthy friends, bringing you together in my heart and addressing you both in my letters. This letter will be a serious one, it needs to be read, thought about, and answered by you both.
It has been fifty-four days since I arrived in New York, where I neither wanted nor expected to spend more than two weeks, and I am still threatened by a possible extended stay here. I have told you why I came, but I have not told you why I have been detained and why this exasperating delay represents a powerful motive for my anxious uncertainty and great distress for my ideas.
Details are important. I .owe an account of my actions and my ideas to those who have been capable of respecting the former and have given me an example of courage and dedication in the practice of the latter.
In late October, 1868, I had returned to Madrid after contributing- as no other youth had to the September revolution. The men whom I encountered in the government were friends, like Sagasta, who knew that in Spain’s liberty I sought independence for the Antilles as well, or like Ruiz Zorrilla, who were amazed I did not respond to the offer that had been made to me, on one decorous condition, while I was still in Parisan offer to take part in the government of Barcelona when the revolution triumphed. Being completely independent, and having emphasized my position during some verbal arguments I had with Serrano and his Overseas Minister regarding the Antilles, as soon as the uprising in Cuba began to gain a deliberate character in December 1868, I openly took the side of independence against the metropolis, and broke with the Spanish government in an extremely noisy speech that began to win me the variety of insults I have been getting ever since. Wanting me to remain in Spain and fearing my attitude would endanger this possibility, my country took my name to the ballot boxes, where I managed to remove it by an ardent appeal to the dignity of my compatriots, from whom I demanded its withdrawal. I decided to devote myself to the revolution and wrote to the few men in Puerto Rico whom I could trust, predicting everything that has happened, asking those on the Island about the actual
. This letter appears in the Diary because it was found within its pages, in the corresponding date and inside its envelope. It seems Hostos wrote it and then decided not to send it. The Matta brothers do not refer to this letter in any of the ones they wrote to Hostos. (Editors’ note)
situation there, and assuring those in exile that I would stand beside them when they decided to do something. Meanwhile, I appealed to Pi Margall and Castelar to bring the Antillean question before Congress, which had already convened. Pi Margall, a loyal man, refused a hundred times, arguing that the.. situation was too serious; Castelar, disloyal and crafty, went so far as towarmly accept a draft of a speech which I expressly prepared for him, and then, when the constitutional article about the Antilles was being discussed, showed himself to be a traitor to our principles and to be less liberal than Moret or Ruiz Gómez, my friends and fellow journalists. They at least requested the provincial autonomy which I had defended when I still imagined the possibility of independence with Spain. Given the Republican Party’s attitude toward the Antillean problem, I had nothing else to do in Spain. The moment word came from Puerto Rico that “everything was organized,” and as soon as I heard from New York that “a military expedition to Puerto Rico would leave in October (1869),” I left Spain and my future there and embarked as a poor immigrant aboard the Havre to come here and fulfill my promise.
All this was known by Puerto Rico and by those Puerto Ricans whom I was coming to join as a simple volunteer. Whether it was because of my excessive devotion, which perhaps raised suspicions of ambition about my conduct, or because the news of a prompt expedition by Puerto Rican revolutionaries was completely false, the fact is I was received as even the most fearsome of adventurers would not have been greeted. I have never lacked patience, so instead of screaming, protesting, and returning to Spain to avoid being a victim, I gathered the Puerto Ricans together, tried to organize what did not exist, and held conferences with the three Puerto Ricans who headed the revolutionary exiles. I did more
than can be demanded of a man who had been deceived, and even committed myself to returning to Puerto Rico alone to organize the movement there. Everywhere I encountered obstacles, distrust, hidden intentions, half-words, mental reticence, lies, and secret hostilities.
Meanwhile, the Cubans on the Junta, who knew about me and though I was only revolutionary in my hatred for Spain and not in my ideas, offered me the post as Editor of a newspaper I was to found. I presented my program to them: total independence; an Antillean Confederation; the unification of the Latin American people-and they were horrified. But since they wanted to use my name and my efforts to save the paper (La Revolución), which in a way had already made itself known, they begged me to join the secretary of the Cuban Representative on the editorial staff of the paper. Beside the fact that subordination was unacceptable to a man backed by a reputation and undeniably meritorious ser-
vice, I had three reasons to refuse the offer: the first reason was the proposal I had made to go to Puerto Rico and reorganize the revolution; the second was my fear that the Junta would want to impose their ideas on me; and the third reason was my disgust at having to take from the revolution the ten or twelve weekly pesos I needed to pay for my lodgings. However, since I found no other job, and the self-styled leaders of the exiled Puerto Rican revolutionaries begged me to accept the editorial post and said nothing about my offer to go to Puerto Rico, I began to speak my mind in the pages of La Revolución. From my very first article, I encountered opposition from the top men, whose annexationism grew in the same measure as the force I put into my essays and the enthusiasm which these aroused in the masses, always scorned and always more worthy of esteem than those who use them to amass fortunes and power. Having to attend both to the purity of the revolutionary principle, in Cuba and the raising of the revolutionary spirit in Puerto Rico, I sent there and published here a proclamation which I was obliged to issue, explaining why and for what purpose I had broken with Spain and publicly placing myself at the disposal of my country. I was burning my bridges and could not conceive that anyone would antagonize me about that new sacrifice which made it absolutely impossible for me to take a step backward or for that act of logic which irremissibly increased the numbers of those who are determined to do it all. Nevertheless, I had the privilege of being antagonized at the same time by revolutionaries, who believed my proclamation to be a vindication of the leading role, and by all the undecided people of my country, who forever lost hope of seeing me making compromises with Spain in the Spanish Congress and giving jobs to those who had thought of me only when they sensed I could be useful to them in Spain.
I was flooded with letters of bitter reprehension from Puerto Rico, and my noble father would tell me with great consternation that my popularity had turned into an “alternately crude and sarcastic” hostility which projected back on him. Meanwhile, my companions in exile treated me with the most hostile coolness and left me alone in my struggle against annexationism-some of them returned to Puerto Rico, the most important one retired to Haiti, * and the most influential one remained to join efforts with those of the Junta.
Not once did any sort of reprimand escape my lips; deaf and blind to the slander and contempt of those with influence, I continued to strive to be worthy of the doctrines I preached with pen and word, in the paper and in the clubs, with my example and my conduct. When invited
. He is referring to Betances. (Editors’ note)
to take part in the work of the political Club which at the time shared revolutionary influence with the Junta from my very first speech I had the good fortune of clearly presenting the problem of the revolution and the difficult problem of the exiles’ conduct: in essence, I said, “This is a fraction of the Cuban and Puerto Rican people that has come here not to escape the Spaniards, but to find miiitary resources. with which to fight them. They have the duty amVthe right to find those resources, either by helping the Junta representative of the Cuban government, or without its support; because the exiles represent the people, and the people have not delegated their power to do what they can directly do themselves. While the exiles gather resources to throw the Spaniards out of the islands, they can and should learn to throw them out of their own souls, and to do this they must understand what the revolution really means, they must increase their love for ideas and diminish their useless hate for our adversaries, because revolutions are made with ideas and not with hatred; we must start to adhere to principles, and create the unity which is to save us.”
After forming a party to oppose the Junta-which in reality was doing nothing, but nevertheless had to be respected since it was a delegation from the Cuban government, and since, because the power of its members, it could do a great deal-the opposition came looking for me, and I did not listen to them; the Junta cajoled me, and I did not pay attention either. The instinct of the people saw what was in me, and when they needed someone of sincerity, they displayed more trust in me than in any other person. My popularity had grown to such degree that the Junta members could not thwart the man alone, the reflective embodiment of the revolution who acted only in its interest, who had as followers all the representatives of the people but did not have a single friend in whom to confide his own sorrow and anguish. Ever set on the need to take the revolution to Puerto Rico, as well as on the importance of making a final declaration of the ideas in favor of revolution in the Antilles, I utilized my influence on the exiles in order to achieve both aims: in dealing with the first, I had the Club pass a resolution by which they would issue a proclamation, in its name and in that of the Junta, offering Puerto Ricans as many resources as they needed to start an uprising; I wrote out the proclamation; the richest and most responsible men in exile and of the Junta signed it, and we sent it to Puerto Rico. In dealing with the second aim, I took advantage of an exceptionally well attended evening at the Club -at which the North American General McMahon and other intelligent men who support the annexation of Cuba were present-to make it clear that the Cubans favored independence. My success surpassed my dreams-never has a speaker been
blessed as I was that evening, speaking as a representative of the purity of the Antillean revolution. But this was not sufficient, and soon after the event, when news came to us that a motion in favor of Cuba and of a joint action by all Latin American governments had been made in the Federal Congress of Colombia, I took the opportunity to make it clear that we Antilleans declared ourselves brothers and followers of the independent nations of the continent, I presented a motion to write a message of gratitude to the Colombian deputies, and having been appointed to write it, I wrote the complete program for the Antillean revolution. The Junta, all the Annexationists, and some jealous Puerto Ricans and Cubans put up a merciless opposition which nearly ruined what had been incessantly acclaimed with shouts of enthusiasm. But the idea finally prevailed, and the soundest of the exiles decided to adopt the program.
Amadeo de Saboya was on the throne; the democrats were in power in Spain. Their concessions, their schemes, and the conduct of the reformists in Puerto Rico had. ruined my hopes for revolution on the Island, which lay in the state of stupidity into which some of her children misguided her and in which they still keep her in. The horrible act of treason known in the history of Cuban independence as the presentaciones * had begun; Azcarate, a Spanish Cuban, had come here with a message for me from Overseas Minister Moret, but in a scheme which I condemned (thereby estranging myself from that old friend) the men of the Junta had begun, after Mr. Fisch had rejected annexation, to carry out the even darker scheme which they continue with to this day; the Cubans had caused constant commotion with their quarrels; anguish and sadness weighed upon me, making me indifferent to everything; and ashamed even of the good I had intended and the men whom I had been forced to deal with, I decided to undertake my trip to South America.
My secret pain does not matter. The only thing that matters is that you and all of those in Colombia, Peru, Chile, and Argentina who read and think, remember not a single day passed between 1871 and February 1874 in which, with or without motive, I did not cry out in favor of a Cuba abandoned; not a single day in which the Spaniards or their supporters did not insult me because I cried out, nearly alone and to no effect, in favor of a martyred people, in support of the ridiculed unity of all those peoples, in favor of the emancipation of the human race, in support of women, the Indians, the Chinese, the huasos, the rotos, the cholos *
. Huasas is a variant of guasas, Chilean or Argentine peasants; in Chile, the members of the poorest class are referred to derogatorily as ratas; mestizos are called chalas throughout South America. (Simon & Schuster, Moliner; translator’s note)
and the gauchos, all of them slaves of social inequality. I strived so hard and felt so deeply what I preached, that I managed to gain a little respect from those peoples. I had nothing left to sacrifice except my physical life, which I was saving to sacrifice in Puerto Rico, when I was shaken with indignation upon hearing the terrible news about the steamship Virginius. I decided to come here in order to go to Cuba and wrote to two influential men in exile here, pleading with them “to delay until my arrival the expedition” which, according to what I had been told in Brazil, was being prepared.
When passing through St. Thomas, several Puerto Rican refugees told me about what had just occurred on my Island, about the blow given there to the false liberties with which the island had been deceived, about the humiliation brought upon it by the new Spanish government when it sent the most hateful of its Captain Generals to tyrannize the island, about the resurgence of slavery, the violent repression of all rights, and the persecution of all those who had defended the reforms in Spain. They told me they and the rest of the country were ready for revolution, and I promised to lead it if they wrote to me by the first steamship with their categorical statement and with the approval and signatures of respectable persons who would second my armed incursion.
Relying on that declaration to obtain resources from the rich Cuban exiles, and relying on services everyone knew about, I arrived here. From the beginning I suffered an inquisition about the practical results of my travels through South America. I was horrified by the ingratitude of some men who do not value the sacrifices that are made for an ideal, and thus felt they had nothing in common with a fool who had not made use of his talents to make money. Afterwards I was horrified by the indifference with which they spoke about the victims of the Virginius, whose deaths had not been avenged in any way, since the news that I had been given in Brazil, in St. Thomas, and upon my arrival here about the launching of an expedition to Cuba was completely false. Later on I became convinced and ashamed of the fact that the foreign representatives of the Cuban revolution were set on not doing anything at all, and that they were working with the slave traders in Havana and the annexationists in Washington to turn the final success of the revolution into a plot by our intriguers instead of a triumph by our heroes. I heard Cespedes had been deposed by the intrigues of the rich Cuban exiles. I learned that the death of the foremost man in Cuba had been the work of hatred, knowing he had been abandoned to the snares of the Spanish army. I learned from the vice-president of Cuba himself, Francisco Vicente Aguilera, who has been delayed here because he is being denied the resources to lead an expedition to Cuba, that nothing was being done
to send resources to the island. I heard a thousand sinister rumors told to me by every Cuban I met. . Meanwhile, the most influential man in Puerto Rico wrote me from Europe condemning our allies and the allies of Puerto Rico, who were so horrified they did not even dare to write to me after hearing that the Captain General, knowing Dr. Basora and I had passed through St. Thomas, had reinforced the troops and the nightly vigilance on the Island.
Having resolved to finish once and for all, I had set my hopes on the launching of an expedition to Cuba which had been announced for months, when only yesterday one of the men in whom I have some trust
came to me, and after expressing his great displeasure with everything that is happening, said, “We will be annexed. You should not believe in expeditions to Cuba or in aid for Puerto Rico or in anything that will permit us to gain our own freedom. I am and have always been in favor of annexation, but I cannot accept its imposition through secret plots.” I begged him a hundred and one times without success to clarify his thoughts for me. Convinced of my impotence in preventing what I feared, completely alienated from those who have only wanted to protect their wealth, forsaken by a Puerto Rico that will only want revolution when it has reached the point of despair, surrounded by colonials who do nothing but curse at each other, not having a single man who would accompany me in what can still be attempted, grieving over the death of one my two remaining sisters, fearing my father’s silence could turn into mournful news at any moment, hurt as much as a man can be hurt within a life of sorrow, incapable of making a decision to give up on an undertaking that is tied to all the efforts of my thought, my will, my feelings, and my conscience, feared by all the speculators of the revolution and jealously spied on by all those who should be my friends, I am looking for a corner of the world where I can go hide the shame I feel at others and at my own self for having spent my entire life disarming myself to evil while evildoers sharpened their weapons by testing them on me.
I have not been defeated yet-Puerto Rico can still explode, and I will go there; the expedition to Cuba can still be launched, and I will join it;
but how long must I suffer the anguish of having generously done every good deed I could conceive of only to produce no other fruit but that of ingratitude and treason or the most desperate sorrow? I want and should set a limit to the evil. I can and should serve humanity, and I am determined to retire to Switzerland or Germany and put my life’s thought and experience into lasting works, or to make Latin America in general and Chile or Argentina in particular a home for my ideas, where I can live to forget and think, working and making myself useful.
If in the meantime the opportunity presents itself to commit the most insane, most desperate act, on behalf of Puerto Rico or Cuba, I will do it without hesitation.
If something is done and I’m not there to participate, you may say that those whom I fight with my ideas have deprived me even of the right to die.
I look forward to your letter and send you a most cordial and affectionate greeting.
Eugenio M. Hostos
Don Antonio Ruiz.
Old friend: If I remember well, it was over a year ago that I wrote you a few words accompanying the voluminous package given to me in Valparaiso by Mr. Arlegui, the important Chilean gentleman who in his capacity as Grand Master of the Chilean Lodges was taking care of certain documents relating to our untimely departed Segundo. I do not know if you received the documents, since neither Mr. Arlegui nor I have received a response. What the noble gentleman wrote to you then or may still need to disclose to you could be of importance, therefore I am hereby informing you so that you may write to him.
You will soon see that in the same way I publicly acknowledged while still in Spain Segundo’s service to our ideal, as I acknowledged them there, so have Irmade them notable in my writings while in Chile, the land where his remains rest.
This memory becomes all the more important when on it I base my right to speak to you about what became our first martyr’s object in life as well as the cause of his death.
Segundo and Mariano, like Lacroix, Brougman, Bauren and Davila, will always be heroic examples for good people. How can they not be for
those who, by merely listening to the beating of their hearts, can perceive in it the flow of the very blood which emboldened two of our martyrs?
It would be to the disgrace of their compatriots if they were forgotten! It would mean remorse for you if they refused to [destroyed in the original]. I know they are not refusing. I recently received in St.Thomas the
issues of La Razon which had been sent to me there; I have seen with vivid satisfaction that you have the same generous nature which made your brothers immortal in our homeland.
They would have already taken up arms for liberation. I have come to disclose to you some of the reasons that make it important for us to take up arms. ‘
I have yet to set foot on in American land where I have not received the same answer when in advocating the Cuban cause I refer to Puerto Rico: “And where is this place we don’t hear about, which neither lives nor struggles for life?” I have yet to curse the Spaniard’s atrocities in Cuba without giving rise to the question: “Why doesn’t Puerto Rico run to the aid of her sister island?” I have not met a single Cuban here who has not said with indignation;”When will Puerto Rico ever stop being Spanish?” I have not conlffilted my conscience once about the conduct of Puerto Ricans without feeling my face burn with shame.
Am I the only one saying and feeling this, the only one who can and should suffer the shame which I have a right to not feel, because I have done as much as a man can do, and more than most men want to do, in order to be able to serenely lift my head up?
No, I am not the only one. There isn’t a single Puerto Rican who is not ashamed of his situation, who does not want to come out of it at all costs.
So why don’t we come out of it?
I will put it bluntly: because we have all made mistakes; some of us out of excessive self-sacrifice, others out of excessive selfishness.
There is no one today who can [illegible] his mistake and does not want to [illegible] must learn how.
[Illegible] had heard, now we would not have to begin [illegible]. But we must do it, and we have no time to lose discussing an irreparable past.
With the forces that lie dormant in our homeland, we can do anything. Give us an organization of those forces and we will give you the initial thrust.
Let us attempt the first. There are patriots and Freemasons all over the Island; they should come together and commit themselves to working for their country’s well-being; those with the influence to do so should make them come together and commit themselves.
They should come together to read our news sheets, to be strengthened with the spirit of the revolution and incited into action. They should commit themselves and pledge allegiance to the homeland, to obtain through prompt contributions what it needs to arm itself and fight. We can consider the St. Thomas committee constituted. Castro, Blanco and Gonzalez will be authorized to constitute it. Basora and I will continue to work here for the time being. I pledge to do everything as long as the country pledges to respond to a call to arms. Betances will be
near us soon, perhaps. If not here, where I don’t think he will come, then in Santo Domingo. We are in agreement to do everything, but neither he nor Basora nor I, are willing to continue making useless sacrifices. They will do as they want. But if I am deprived of hope by all of you, I will go to Cuba.
So that we don’t scatter the strength which now more than ever we need to focus in common action, it is important for all of you to organize local committees, rural centers [illegible], and revolutionaries who know where [illegible] they should be headed. Once organized [illegible] it is necessary for you to establish ties among yourselves. Before and after establishing those ties, you must analyze how much each of you will give, because those who contribute with their own money are obliged by what they give even if they aren’t obliged by their commitment. All the money, whether it be in large or small amounts, should go to Castro, Blanco, and Gonzalez. You should be in touch with them about the formation of new juntas, grouping the men from one or another jurisdiction, and maintaining and organizing steady communications. You should send constant news to Basora and me, telling us about all you do, think, or need, either through St. Thomas or using all the ships that sail here directly. I need to know. I beg you to give me your opinion about the following points:
The strength and the spirit of the Spaniards; our compatriots’ strength and spirit; the views on the revolution that circulate in the country; what kind of a reception an armed expedition should expect; which men in the country and in the towns, which clergymen, landowners, and influential farmers are more inclined to second a liberation attempt.
Betances wrote to me saying he has weapons. He displays as much determination as ever, although he is a little disappointed with everyone. Those in St. Thomas tell me they can raise the necessary funds. Thus, what else remains to be done other than organize the personal and financial elements there, and the military elements here and in Europe?
So now, my oId friend, continue to be worthy of our two beloved martyrs -don’t discourage your old and loving friend with refusals or excuses.
Eugenio M. de Hostos
Judging by the news from Spain, Puerto Rico is paradise regained.
What calm, what conformity, what patience, peace, and loyalty abound on the gentle island! Not a single conspirator, not a single separatist, not even a reformer. Not a cry, not a single breath, not a single disturbance is heard in the sepulcher. Everything lies in silent slumber: the portentous Sanz in his Fortress, the lazy cannons in their castles, the Spaniards in their grocery stores, the makeshift marquises in their titles, and Spain in her self-confidence.
Never before were charlatans provided with better wax with which to model their ideal of a Spanish colony. The great men of ’68 arrived and made Puerto Rico a province without provincial rights. The great men of the great democratic monarchy arrived and made Puerto Rico a democracy without individual rights. The greatest men of the Republic arrived and made Puerto Rico a state or district, an organism or an organ, granting her anything except the right to be a republic. They needed to prove that magnanimous Spain was as usual prepared to bring happiness-political, economic, social, intellectual, moral, eternal, lasting, transferable, migrating happiness-in heaven and earth, in that most beloved, faithful, and integral part of the nation that one day [was], so the Conservatives of the September revolution, the Radicals of the Savoy monarchy, the Savoyards of the Sophist republic, and all the portentous politicians of Spain molded the Puerto Rican wax into an elastic doll that has submitted itself to the greatest variety of forms and suffered the strangest transformations with the most evangelical resignation.
A soldier who decided to save Spanish society executed the redeeming coup d’etat, and -from one day to the next Puerto Rico ceased to be the happy district of a sickly republic and became a flock of sheep that is herded ad libitum by the prodigious general who is idolized by the Conservatives who conserve themselves on the Island.
How the gentle transition is made from Republican farce to Conservative tragicomedy, I do not know; but the fact is it does happen. It happen with such absurd naturalness, simplicity and ease, that nothing is more Spanish than Puerto Rico’s docility or the offensive rashness of its enslavers.
By God, what men are these! The ones let themselves be robbed of what they should have not accepted for any other reason than to break once and for all with their mockers, while the others take away the little bit they had mercifully granted, as if they were absolutely certain they can be dominators only by being absurd.
The colonial history of Spain and the history of the Spanish colonies was beginning to seem monotonous. Ever present was the brutality of force, ever present the brutal authority, ignorance, latent struggle, rebellion, and final emancipation.
Thanks to modern advancements, Spain and Puerto Rico have man aged to contribute something new to an anxious history and a fickle future.
The old system of arbitrariness without conditions was no longer enough, so the new system of contemptuous despotism was invented. One group imposes it, to other endures it, and both appear equally innocent of their actions.
If you listen to the Spaniards in Puerto Rico, you will know these sublime beings believe there is nothing more natural than applauding the change that will mercilessly condemn them. If you look at the Puerto Ricans you will admire the old-fashioned candor with which they abandon the charlatans’ road of noisy liberty and take the one of migration or exile. Is there anyone among the mockers and the mocked who has taken the time to analyze the significance of this incredible state of things?
Apparently not: Spaniards and criollos alike believe it is a matter of simple change and nothing more; and since everything is change and transformation, the Spaniards who benefit from a finished transformation are celebrating their latest victory, while the Puerto Ricans who curse the change are benignly adapting to their defeat.
Spain has again deceived Puerto Rico; but she has sent General Sanz, a merciful man who has not gone there to make people shed tears but to wipe away those shed by common sense at seeing the Puerto Ricans content themselves with the republican farce.
The drier of tears has silenced all those who used to speak; he has dissolved all the corporations that had been created by law; he has destroyed the section of the Constitution that was left over for the paupers of a liberty sent begging; he has reinstated slavery, left unresolved by a simple regulation in an infamously deceptive law; he has arbitrarily created an absurd vagrancy law from whose claws only the richest are spared; he has given new force to the barbaric system of libretas . which makes slavery of the work done by free day laborers; he has created an inquisition and poll tax with the rigorous demands of the identity card; he has imprisoned all workers who did not have the money to buy the document; he has forced countless prisoners of both sexes to.~ work at jobs that keep them from work more necessary for the ruined agriculture; the law of the stick rules over the backs of the prisoners; many of them die from the cruel treatment they receive; espionage is the
‘Libreta de jornalero: an identification card, signed by the plantation owner, showing worker was gainfully employed. Without the signed card, he could be detained and put on a road gang. (Lidin; translator’s note)
dark master of the entire Island; the police turn increasingly insolent and brutal; poverty increases at an alarming rate; Puerto Ricans migrate in greater numbers. But since the few Spaniards on the Island are happy, and they were the ones who asked for Sanz, and he has promised them what he neither knows how nor is able to give, the few insulted the many, the many devoured the insults of the few, and the unfortunate island of Puerto Rico, which has been used to rehearse all the comedies, is now beginning to purge itself of the fondness it held for the Spanish comedians.
How long it will take Puerto Rico to atone for her incomprehensible gullibility, I do not know; but I do know that those who are aware that the most effective vengeance is the one which has been delayed the most can dare to expect that those who think they.. can indefinitely mock the dignity of a people will leave the Island in repentance.
Having accepted the nearly impossible task of reviving La Reuolución, the Cubans’ historic newspaper, I am very busy these days. There isn’t a penny to meet the paper’s various needs, nor is there a patriot who wants to contribute to its renewal, for everything they have done they have done only ‘ out of deference to me.The letters I have just received from the Puerto Rican refugees in St.Thomas lead me to expect the possibility of revolution in Puerto Rico. I immediately went to see Aldama and asked him for the third time to lend me credit for obtaining the military equipment we need to launch an expedition to Puerto Rico. It was again a waste of my time.The Cuban agent continues to view the revolution merely as a business deal whose expenses he is not willing to undertake.