FERNANDO MARTÍNEZ HEREDIA: The practice of thinking

Por: Pedro Pablo Rodríguez López

He was 28 years old when his name appeared printed as the author of a text in El Caimán Barbudo publication, at a moment when poets and narrators wanted to learn revolutionary theory together with philosophers and some others devoted to social thinking.     

The question was that we didn’t want to accumulate knowledge but to explain ourselves that formidable movement the Cuban Revolution was and in which we were participating in one way or another.  It was about to understand better what we wanted, what were the Revolution, Socialism for. And also for trying to explain it to the others, to the Imperialism, the Neocolonialism, the dependence politicians, ideologists and intellectuals and even for debating with the Marxist friends of the Socialist block and some others in Western Europe who said that this Revolution had to fulfill the laws of History, to hold to them to be truly   Socialist, Marxist.

And those of us who listened to and read Fidel and Che; who focused in the Cuban history for independence, in the 1930 Revolution and who dreamed to be like the guerrilla heroes of that time, those of the   Sierra Maestra, of  Venezuela, Guatemala, Colombia; those of us who went to sleep thinking that we could awake under the Yankees bombs, those who were also discovering Marx,  Engels, Lenin, the European revolutionary traditions, the different Marxists of, at that time, more than a century of development of that thinking and the social revolution practices against Capitalism.  

And then, in 1967, just in a dozen pages, 28 years old Fernando Martínez, taught us how to unite all this to better defend this first Revolution in the Western world, this one that didn’t adjust neither to the Soviet manuals nor to the imperial academy. Because in those few pages he reflected not only from and for Cuba, but for the world, for the Revolution of the world’s oppressed people. 

No matter the difficult situations, the misunderstandings, the silences Fernando had to go through, he was always the same: a Socialist revolution Cuban, a follower of Marti, of Fidel.  With no privileges, living a modest life, with his ear closed to the land to be able to know what was being thought and what was happening in this Island, in our America and in the world; subdued only for the passion to create awareness everywhere, to think from, because and for the revolution.

Being an uncommon academic, he didn’t used to be pleased with long conceptual examinations, but at the same time he was able to explain us the beauty in a phrase from Hegel or from Marx. A strange theorist who made us to study The Capital through exhausting days of debate, who impelled a group of studies about the Cuban revolutionary thinking at the Philosophy Department of the University of Havana and who enthusiastically made voluntary work either at a factory or in the agriculture.  An intellectual, of systematic studies and large literary readings, he likewise enjoyed a bolero and the humor in the choruses of a guaracha or a son, and in a street phrase describing social relations.

 If there was something Fernando treasured, besides reading and writing, it was to listen to his people, that who creates the Cuban identity, the revolution, the Socialism, while he remakes himself again and again. 

 If  — as Martí said—, to think is to create, to foresee and also to do, Fernando Martínez was a full thinker, so full that it is difficult to determine what discipline he belonged to: philosopher, historian, sociologist, political scientist? Maybe, it will be enough just to say thinker, that revolutionary practice in which he was involved at the moment of his death, while he was writing.

He probably had no time to become aware of what was happening, of thinking how to assume that death. Those who had been with him since many years ago should be proud of this man, who was capable of, before his death, to make many young people to express their affection, admiration, respect and will to follow his steps.  Fernando continues to practice thinking.     

I say good bye, Fernando, with that phrase you told me when we met each other: “For the motherland looks proudly to you”.  Thus, proud of you, the motherland says you good bye.

Pedro Pablo Rodríguez

17 de junio de 2017               


Translator’s Note:

“For the motherland looks proudly to you”. Translation of a fragment of the lyrics of the Cuban National Anthem. In Spanish, “Que la Patria os contemple orgullosa”.


Translated by: Liana Fleitas.