tv Jose Marti and the San Carlos Institute CSPAN June 21, 2015 2:46pm-3:02pm EDT
west historic society. it needed a full renovation. now we operate it as a museum. key west is a very historical city that is bursting with people and places and ideas and businesses and industry. indus really essential that places like this -- and it is really essential that places like this contain history of the architecture on the island. it is telling a story of prior times, earlier days and we were one of the richest cities in the united states. >> all weekend long american history tv is joining our comcast cable partners to tell
the story of key west, california -- key west, florida. we continue our look at the history of key west. this is american history tv on c-span3. mr. peñalver: for the cuban people this is the most sacred place outside of cuba. this is a historical landmark of such proportions that i always like to say cuba lives here. we are only 90 miles away. this is a symbol of freedom, a monument to the cuban people, to their perseverance and pursuing freedom. this embodies all of the aspirations of the cuban people. the san carlos building was designed by one of cuba's most
famous architects. he was able to put architecture as a tool of history and what he defined as the façade of the san carlos, he combined the beauty are architecture with a powerful message of history. the cuba he envisioned would have as its first and primary goal guaranteeing its citizens basic human rights, the rights and freedoms that he felt all children of god should have and no government could tonight. so, with the hurricane of 1917 in not to down san carlos and the republic of cuba decided on
francisco to rebuild this due to him feeling this was the place of cuba. you say this was exactly as in the previous building, marking the place. he said, that base will be the base of the republic he envisioned. and the san carlos is a living monument to the perseverance of the cuban people in pursuit of that dream. when human through the building then, you find yourself almost surrounded -- when you go through the building then, you find just up almost surrounded. you have the high ceilings, the mosaics in the walls.
the floors, the black and white tiles. it incorporates other elements. the beautiful white marble in the staircases. marble brought in. and this was designed to bring people to understand history and to appreciate the elements of cuba's architecture. the building from an architectural point of view is fantastic. it's only greater element are the principles for which it stands. at it was founded in 1871 by immigrants. they establish san carlos is a place where they could put together the dream they had for their homeland. the cuba they envisioned and
what they envisioned was a cuba that would have as its cornerstone respect for cuban rights and respect for the dignity of the individual. it was an education and patriotic center. the basis of that, the founders wanted to imitate what the san carlos seminary in cuba stood for. the san carlos seminary stood for academic excellence, but it was also where father varela first proposed cuban independence. the children of the founders come -- the children of the founders, the founders were mostly poor tobacco farmers. but they were rich in spirit. what they passed on to their children was a sense of pride in
their culture and language and a vision and aspiration to have a homeland that would one day be free and have at its cornerstone the respect for human rights and the dignity of the individual. that is what they envisioned and san carlos became the center of education. it was also a center where the elders would come to prepare for the independent in spain. cuba was the last hope of the spanish column in the americas. so the cuban people were eager to be independent. the first few years was an ef fort by the cubans to free themselves from spanish rule. it was led by a rich landowner who freed his slaves and sold all of his properties, the sugar mills he owned and he dedicated
all of his assets to the cause of cuba's independence movement. it was a war that the united states basically helped to debilitate spain. key west was an island closest to the cuban mainland, an island not connected to florida from mainland. there was more conflict between key west in cuba them between key west and the rest of florida. in 1880, key west was the most opulent it city in the state of florida. -- the most populous city in the state of florida. the language was spanish. the main industry was the tobacco industry. they would bring the tobacco leaves from cuba and they would roll them in the factories in key west.
that way they were able to sell the finished product as a domestic product in the american market, avoiding the cost duties. that was the economic rationale for the tobacco industry in key west. spaniards tried to demoralize the cuban exile community by the great fire of 1886. one night in 1886, pro-spanish forces burned down the san carlos institute and some of the -- the response was explanatory. the next day a cuban civic leader gather the exile community over the asterisk -- the ashes on a side street, fleming street. and he told the exiles, are we
going to allow our dreams to die here? they said, no, so they put their meager resources together and they said we will respond by rebuilding the san carlos. not only on the site. we will rebuild these san carlos on the main streets. they purchase this area and they rebuilt the san carlos, and they chose key west as the culmination of his effort. it was here the tobacco workers recognized his leadership, jose marti's leadership. jose marti is cuba's legendary patriot poets, a man who -- when you talk about giving yourself totally to a cause -- the example that comes to mind is jose marti.
the exile community in key west after the defeat of the 10 years war, they wanted to go back and start another were immediately and get spain out of the country. marti said, take it slowly. wait for the right moment. wait for a military effort. marti was seen as a person who spoke and wrote, but did not want to fight, versus the community in key west that was ready to go on and continue the fight in 1878. but marti's vision of respect for human life and the value of the individual was such that he did not want to put anyone at risk and in effort that did not have a chance to succeed.
and then when he finally found that the moment had come, he went to cuba and he was the first to die. he was killed may 19, 1895 in his first battle. and this was the rest of cuba's history. how different would cuba have been had mari lived? -- had marti lived? the united states new cuba was very weekend. the united states came in with the rough riders. it was the final push by the united states that eventually pushed spain out of the continent. that war had incredible significance for the united states. for the first time, it really established the united states as a world power, a world naval
power, and it gave rise to teddy roosevelt and an era of american power and intervention around the world. and in fact, when cuba became an independent republic many, many of the key west cuba population returned to cuba, most of them to be part of the formation of the new cuban republic that they envisioned. unfortunately, that republic came to an end in 1959 with the communist take over by fidel castro and the atrocities that have taken place in. that government remains in power to this day and it is still the dream of the cuban people to have a cuban republic where they can practice the ideals of these
san carlos institute. there is a lot of talk about normalization of relations between the united states and cuba, and we all dream that the normalization of relations would mean a bringing a freedom and human rights to the cuban people. i am concerned that all of the talk is about an open cuba instead of a free cuba, a cuba that is open for american businessmen to go and make money instead of concern about the rights of the cuban people and the aspirations of the cuban people to be free and enjoy the basic human rights every human being is entitled to. all that i hear -- we will be able to go and do this -- i think it would be great.
you go there and you play by castro's rules and you are told to you can do business with and for the most part, it is for members of the castro elite that will become the business partners of the american businesses that want to make money in cuba. i think these san carlos institute can play a pivotal role ringing the cuban -- bringing the cuban people together and that is why i have dedicated my life to this cause. not to restore, bring back to life -- to establish a facility that works as a library, and museum, a community center, a cultural center for key west, that the real purpose of this effort is for the san carlos to
serve as a place that helps put into action the principles and ideals for which it was founded in 1871. and those ideals are human rights and human dignity for the cuban people. >> all weekend, american history tv is featuring key west, florida. the city was first established as a port city in the 1820's. by the 1880's, key west's revenue was greater than that generated by keep west -- by florida pro other ports combined. cities toward staff recently visited many sites showcasing the city's history. learn more on american history tv. mr. malcolm: the really sad part though is a lot of them were really, really sick from being