José Martí Rides Again In Key West

Jan 28, 2019

In the late 19th century, Key West was home to a large community of Cuban exiles. Poet and revolutionary leader José Martí visited the island several times to unite exile factions. On Monday, Marti made a return visit of sorts.

Actor and Florida International University theater professor Ivan Lopez rode a white horse through town, starting at a Cuban bodega, stopping at a guesthouse called La Te Da (for La Terraza de Martí) and winding up at the San Carlos Institute on Duval Street.

The San Carlos Institute, founded by Cuban exiles in the 1800s, is now a nonprofit dedicated to preserving Cuban heritage and culture.

Lopez has portrayed Martí before for the poetry group O, Miami, but this was the first time he had done it in a place Marti actually visited.

"He's like the one thing that all Cubans can agree on. To me, he's kind of like our Shakespeare and our Thomas Jefferson and our George Washington, all wrapped into one," he said.

The ride was organized by O, Miami and The Studios of Key West, which has been hosting a retrospective exhibit about O, Miami all month.

"The idea is to just bring poetry back into everyday life, in a strange and unusual way," said Scott Cunningham, O, Miami's founder and executive director.