Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to The Bahamas, Ernesto Soberon Guzman, places a wreath following the February 23 unveiling of the monument in Mathew Town, Inagua, commemorating the 1895 visit of Cuban Freedom Fighter Jose Marti. Pictured at left is Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes and at right, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government the Hon. V. Alfred Gray and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon Fred Mitchell. (BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)
Inagua, Bahamas -- Characterising liberty throughout the Caribbean and the Americas,
nor General Sir Arthur Foulkes returned
to his birthplace in Matthew Town, Inagua, "in a spirit of gratitude"
to memorialise a regional freedom fighter, Jose Marti, who lost his
life about 118 years ago, battling the injustice of racial inequity
and Cuban Independence from Spanish imperialism.
"We are here today to celebrate
the history of Inagua and to pay tribute to the memory of an extraordinary
son of the Caribbean, a citizen of the world, a man who in his short
life span was a journalist, poet, lawyer, philosopher and liberator
-- a monumental figure in the history of the Caribbean and the Americas,"
said Sir Arthur Foulkes.
He called it a special privilege
and pleasure to unveil a monument to the memory of Jose Marti and the
events surrounding his historic visit to Inagua in April 1895.
Sir Arthur described Jose Marti as
a revolutionary leader, who became a hunted man after he was labelled
an exile, which forced him to become a fugitive. He also said that after
writing his historic "Manifesto of Montecristi", Marti was
on his way from the Dominican Republic to join his generals, Maximo
Gomez and Antonio Maceo to engage in war with Spain for Cuba's Independence.
"Marti and five comrades walked
on this very ground and were, fortuitously, right here in Mathew Town,
Inagua, assisted and enabled to continue on his fateful mission,"
said Sir Arthur.
"It was a mission that was to
cost him his life, but eventually bring independence to Cuba and inspiration
to millions in the Caribbean and the Americas. It has long been my hope
to memorialise, in a suitable way, these dramatic events, and at long
last we are here to unveil a monument to the memory of Jose Marti."
Sir Arthur extended his gratitude
to the teamwork of national and regional leaders, business leaders,
and the Cuban sculptor, Tomas Lara, who made the ceremonial recognition
of Marti's contribution to The Bahamas a reality.
"As you know, there are many
monuments to Marti including the magnificent ones in Havana, New York
City and Washington DC. Ours is not nearly so grand in dimensions, but
it is an elegant work by the internationally-celebrated Cuban sculptor
Tomas Lara. I am grateful to Mr. Lara for agreeing to create this monument
for Inagua and, indeed, for all Bahamians, and I thank him for his commitment
to the completion of this project," said the Governor General.
"I am grateful to Mr. Glen Bannister
and Morton Salt Company, whose generosity made it possible to undertake
this project. I am grateful to Prime Minister Christie and to former
Prime Minister Ingraham for their assistance, and to Minister [Alfred]
Gray for his enthusiastic support from the very beginning.
I am also grateful to Ambassador
Soberon and to his distinguished predecessor Ambassador Luis Ponce for
their active support."
Sir Arthur also remembered the Antiquities
and Monuments Authority of The Bahamas, the Secretariat of the 40th
Independence Celebrations, the Administrator and the Local Government
Council of Inagua.
"I am also grateful to all others
who helped to bring the project to fruition, especially Mrs. Irene Stubbs,
the hard-working Secretary to the Governor General, who coordinated
this entire event, the staff of Government House, and the Royal Bahamas
Defence Force. Thank you all," said the Governor General.
Sir Arthur described his bond to
his native island home and said that the precious soil of Inagua is
known for its natural resources and virgin environment. He also mentioned
that his hometown is the original industrial site of Morton Salt, the
home of the flamingo, which is The Bahamas' national bird, as well as
being a veritable paradise for eco-tourism that attracts bird watchers
and nature lovers worldwide.