A modern José Martí has begun to appear on several walls of Havana. The graffiti arouses the curiosity of passers-by and worries the ruling orthodox do not know whether to interpret the representation as a tribute or disrespectful. The truth is that the national hero, with short sleeves and his hands in his pockets provokes varied readings among those who see it.
Is there something moving in this Martí who seems to look out over the Cuba of today and see a reality so far from his dreams.
“This is saying that Pepe* belongs to all time,” comments a young man waiting at a nearby bus stop. Others point to the graffiti as a “desecration of the memory of the Apostle**” and recommend that it be “immediately erased.” However, unlike what usually happens with drawings by El Sexto and other irreverent graffiti artists, neither the police nor the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution have intervened to cover the image with a brushstroke.
* Pepe is a common nickname for José.
** Cubans often refer to José Martí as “The Apostle.”