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On International Year of Languages: Homage to José Martí.
PhD Alicia González Gutiérrez, representative of the Cuban Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) used these words to refer to the intellectual work of Cubas National Hero José Martí on occasion of the ninth International Mother Language Day.

During the ceremony, held at the Havana José Martí Studies Center (CEM), a replica of Martís sculpture was inaugurated, similar to the one located in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, by renowned Cuban sculptor Alberto Lescaille. The José Martí Studies Center is an institution devoted to studying and preserving the most diverse aspects of Martís meaningful life and vast work.

The sculpture was inspired by the words of Commander Fidel Castro back in 1995 on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of Martís death in combat, when he said that 'Martí was like a tree that grows ever bigger and stronger, because of the ever-lasting validity of his thinking -- the ideological principles upon which the Cuban Revolution is based."

The most important Spanish literary figure of the 20th century, Martí was also the greatest political mind of his time and a brilliant journalist, essayist and poet. He was a diplomat at the service of several Latin American nations, a professor of English language, Philosophy and French, Italian and German literature, as well as a literary and art critic and a prestigious translator.

During its 30th General Conference, held in November 1999, UNESCO declared February 21st International Mother Language Day. "The aim is to support the activities of institutions and personalities all over the world in favor of promoting and preserving all languages, mainly those in danger of extinction."

Some 3000 of the estimated 6 to 7 thousand languages in the world today are in danger of extinction, mostly native languages, lacking communication spaces and government support.

UNESCO also declared 2008 International Year of Languages, under the slogan "Languages Matter".

The Havana ceremony to mark International Mother Language Day was attended by Armando Hart Dávalos, Director of the National José Martí office, Ana Sánchez Collazo, Director of the José Martí Studies Center and Pablo Rodríguez Vidal, Deputy Director of the Cuban Association of the United Nations.


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