José Martí first visited Key West in late 1891 and found a well organized community with long experience and tradition of nationalist activism led by a cadre of committed, experienced, and skilled insurrectionists. Key West had patriotic clubs and schools, secret revolutionary associations, a nationalist working class constituency, ties with revolutionary groups in Cuba, a financial base in the cigar industry, a certainty that one day Cuba would be rid of Spanish rule, and a predisposition to immediate action. Martí possessed intellectual prowess, political genius, a charismatic presence, superb oratorical skills, and an obsessive energy capable of mobilizing a working class community ripe for revolution. Together they forged the Cuban Revolutionary Party, an émigré-wide organization with a clear and inspiring political platform. José D. Poyo opened Martí’s path to Key West where, under his guidance, the New York nationalist orator became a practical revolutionary organizer. Poyo and Martí needed one another; a mutuality that enhanced their revolutionary aspirations, and produced an affectionate friendship.
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