A visit to Parque José Martí

Jun 29, 2022 | Travel

While I was in the Tampa Bay area this week for some events to promote my new book about Cuban exiles, I visited José Martí Park in Tampa’s Ybor City, the historic cigar-making enclave for Cuban, Spanish, and Italian immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It’s a tiny vest-pocket park, but the park’s land is owned by the Republic of Cuba. Until the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2015, it was the only property that Cuba owned in the US. The historian Gary Mormino tells a funny story about how former Tampa prosecutor E.J. Salcines always worried that one night a dead body would be found in the park, creating all sorts of jurisdictional issues. That may be why the park is locked up at dark. In addition to a statute of Martí, the park features a bust of Antonio Maceo, the Afro-Cuban general from Cuba’s War of Independence, and trinkets and keepsakes left by well-wishers. It was well worth a visit. #cuba #patriayvida #yborcity #oralhistory