After the flag raising, the residents were invited into the Joseph N. Falbo Municipal Court Chambers on the second floor of City Hall for a dedication to the Cuban patriot.
This year, the celebration lasted two days. On Jan. 26, the Cuban Community met at the new Jose Marti Park, located one block west of Bergenline Avenue between 41st and 42nd streets, to dedicate the park to the late Cuban leader.
"This park is a voice for all those who live in Cuba and don't have the opportunity to speak out," Robert Ruiz-Yeras, the chairman of the committee created to plan the new park, had said to the crowd of 50 or so Cuban Americans on Friday.
The park features a bust of Marti created by Cuban sculptor Tony Lopez. The Belstone Company of Newark, a firm owned by three Cuban brothers, Enrique, Miguel and Vicente Beltran, donated the marble and granite used in the park. The park is co-sponsored by the Comite Jose Marti Park Union de Ex-Presos Politicos Cubanos Zona Noreste de EEUU (Jose Marti Park Committee of the Union of Cuban Ex-Political Prisoners, Northeast Zone) and La Asociacion de Mujeres Martianas "Sara Rosado" (The Association of Marti Women, Sara Rosado Chapter).
"This park marks the end of a dream for many Cubans in the community," said Alicia Morejon, who sits on the committee that worked on creating this park.
Ruiz-Yeras said that he began to work on the idea for a new park after his mother passed away two years ago. "I began talking with my family in Cuba," said Ruiz-Yeras, who came to the United States from Cuba when he was 6. "I began to realize that for many Cubans in the area, the dream of one day going back to Cuba is never going to be realized."
Ruiz-Yeras belongs to the Cuban Nationalist Party, whose members, he said, still hold the belief that they will one day be able to go back to Cuba.
"Now the Cuban community is still strong in Union City," said Robert Ruiz-Yeras, the chairman of the committee formed to create the park. "But in 20 years, when the Cuban population begins to diminish, this will be our legacy."
The members of the committee are Alicia Morejon, Rudy Rivero, Mario Fernandez, Dr. Luis Espina, Commissioner Chris Irizarry, Luis Martin and Ruiz-Yeras.
Marti lived from 1853 to 1895. He was instrumental in founding the Cuban Revolutionary Party in 1892. He launched an invasion of Cuba in 1895, and was shot and killed almost immediately in his first battle.
However, Marti's political battle began when he was very young. Marti was a political prisoner at the age of 16 and was deported to Spain twice for conspiracy.
Jose Marti is the national hero of Cuba. His writing is read and studied by every student in Cuba.