II. LEITER TO
Clinton Place, New York, June 8,1874
Mr. Emeterio Betances,
Dear friend and
countryman: I received your letter in which you disprove what they
told me in Saint Thomas and you dash my hopes to the ground.
According to that
letter, this is what we have: we have that everything Castro and
Blanco told me regarding the next expedition attributed to the
efforts of Generals Quesada and Luperón is false; we have that you
are only counting on the arms you have been offered, and that you
have received a negative response to your request for $30,000 from
Puerto Rico; we have that you have doubts about the supposed
friends of the revolution in Puerto Rico, and that you have
requested that I to ask Basora, who you say knows them well, about
their conduct; and finally we have that we have nothing. What
distressing news! A letter to Quesada? Special circumstances had
made me value the word of the refugees in Saint Thomas, from whom
I had no reason to expect more loyalty than they had given me in
the past. They showed me one of your letters to someone in Ponce,
in which you said that money was no longer needed and you asked
only for u an answer to the question: "Are you willing to second
I had hoped to
speak at length with Basora so I could answer the letter I have
just quoted. I have been unable to see him again since the second
time I spoke with him.
He tells me that
he finds the people at the Agency inaccessible in so far as
proceeding with the plan I have been proposing. As for me, I have
found all this so cold, so obscure, so totally. Opposed to the
revolution, and so full of reticence, mutual distrust, and mutual
recriminations, that I haven't even dared to speak concretely
about Puerto Rico and the plan I conceived Thomas, fearing I would
hear myself repeating that in Saint anything that is not
ready money is a futile idea. I have decided not to talk about
anything with anyone who has left our beloved countries. If you
have to be rich to have influence and authority among the
colonials, I will not regret that I cannot be bribed, nor will I
change my ways.
It's been eight months since the expeditionaries of the
cruelly executed, and when I arrive here anxious to take part in an
expedition, I find nobody else is even thinking about it. And with
it being for Cuba, where nobody sends even a single weapon, how are
they going to seriously consider Puerto Rico?
Never have they talked so much about "the sister island," and there
are even those who look for maps and who want to know her ports and
who have promised to come with me even if they must abandon Cuba,
but this doesn't mean any more than one of these three things:
either the naive illusion of those who are hopeful about what will
be said in favor of Cuban independence in the next Congressional
declaration, or the pretext employed by those who don't want to do
anything for Cuba until the U. S. Congress does so as not to
discourage the exiles, or the result of instinct, which foresees the
benefits of a diversion of efforts to Puerto Rico. Even if this has
no substantial value, I have wanted to take advantage of it, but Basora has dissuaded me with his categorical declarations - he is or
appears to be even more discouraged than I.
This terrible coldness toward everything and the criminal hatreds
that cause division among the revolutionaries make any effort almost
impossible, and the spectacle of the exiles unbearable.
Since Basora finds the plan I proposed to him for achieving
something here hopeless, I took the more absurd one I also proposed
to him to be more practical, and in keeping as always with what I
have said, I will state it here. I propose:
First, that we move closer to Puerto Rico at all costs; Second, that
we choose Santo Domingo as our meeting place; Third, that we
determine, like I have determined, to risk everything, to act right
away, relying on what we have, without further ado.
Time and circumstances are pressing us. On the one hand, the
evidence of the colonial government in Puerto Rico. On the other,
the dissolution of the colony in Cuba is near.
Puerto Rico's independence will be impossible the day after
Cuba's. It would be a shame if foreigners were to obtain it for us.
It would be a great risk for the future if the Cubans were to
initiate it for us. Puerto Ricans want independence: Reformists of
all kinds will not want it until they see it prevail. Since they are
counting on us and we give them hope, let's begin. Beginning is
everything, and to begin we don't need armies or squadrons. I do not
hide it, and far from hiding it, I declare to the few Puerto Ricans
I see, the few I write, and the even fewer I trust, that what is
happening today is the result of three tragic elements in the
preparation for the revolution: lack of preparation, obstinacy in
trying to do everything without being able to do anything, and the
worst of all mistakes -the one I most violently accuse myself of
wanting to do from the outside what even for the dignity of the
country would be better if done from the inside. But since there is
no way to rectify past mistakes, we must stake everything. This
everything is near Puerto Rico, not far away from her; it lies in
our resolution to trust in those who are decided instead of those
who are undecided, in ourselves instead of others, in inciting the
revolution instead of waiting for it.
sure of myself as I am, I would
persevere until the last days of my life in this futile self-denial
of everything, but, not having cause to be sure of the others, I am
determined not to wait much longer. What I don't do in Puerto Rico,
I will do in Cuba. That is, if the means to get to Cuba eventually
materialize. Not a word from Saint Thomas. And after they had
committed themselves to going through with it, giving me
The hardest thing about revolutionary life is the relationships it
So as not to discourage the young people, I am going to send a
little newspaper' to Puerto Rico with funds from the youths
themselves. I am sorry but pleased to have been as frank and as
tough as I am in it. Outraged at having so many reasons to scorn so
many people, I tell the naked truth. Perhaps it is the best policy
for men and times like these.
have read with great' pleasure your eloquent treatise in favor of
Cuba. The arguments against annexation are excellent. In the event
that we should do something, I would like for us to raise the flag
of the Confederation. I pushed this idea in the platform for the
Antillean revolution which I wrote at the request of the exiles.
This, plus making it understood that we are not greedy fools and
that we are not after a presidency, is of the utmost importance to
me, and jt will not seem new coming from my lips to those who, like
you, have heard me formally de
declare that none of us wants the silly role of indispensable man.
Those of us who have sacrificed the most must set an example of
self-denial in such self-centered societies as ours.
0 A life that could have
been useful has not been in vain if it is useless.
Ramirez, in spite of
his better position, seems the same; he always asks me to send you
Let me know if you
have better news than your humble servant.
E. M. Hostos
He is referring to La Voz
de Puerto Rico, whose first issue was printed June 20, 1874,
at the J. J. Bon printing
house. (Editors' note.)
All the elements of the
revolution, and the country, are quiet, and those of us who should
be more united are far away and separated, and there is frozen
indifference and not even an atom of enthusiasm, and our country is
vilified, and we, we are impassive and our bodies alive.
Dear countryman! Dear
friend! When will we leave the decency and self-denial and
disinterest in fortune and life, of which we have given more proof
than has been demanded of us? When will we have better occasion to
die as good men and triumph as dignified men? When will we leave
this dismal solitude that weakens us and in which we deeply harm
ourselves by not doing all the good that we can for our country?
Let's go, for heaven's sake, let's go once and for all!