President Obama Praises Jose Marti's 'Passion for Liberty' - NBC 6 South Florida

Reestablishing connections with the island nation and its people

President Obama Praises Jose Marti's 'Passion for Liberty'

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    President Barack Obama has signed many guest books during his time in office, but the message he left behind for Cubans is one for the history books.

    "It is a great honor to pay tribute to Jose Marti, who gave his life for independence of his homeland. His passion for liberty, freedom, and self-determination lives on in the Cuban people today," Obama wrote in dark ink in the book after he laid a wreath and toured a memorial dedicated to the memory of Jose Marti.

    President Obama's first stop on his first full day in Cuba was Revolutionary Square, home to the memorial to the independence hero. Marti was an influential poet and journalist who became a symbol for Cuba's bid for independence against Spain in the 19th century.

    Obama arrived midmorning for the brief wreath-laying ceremony. Standing in a lineup of Cuba and U.S. officials, the president listened as a military band played both the Cuban and American national anthem. He held his hand on his heart for the "Star Spangled Banner" and watched as three Cuba soldiers carried a massive wreath of red and white roses to the base of the Marti memorial. Obama made no remarks.

    The scene was heavy with reminders of Cuba's history. Behind Obama were striking steel sculptures of two Cuban Revolution figures: Ernesto "Che" Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos.

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