Illustration by Michel Moro.

Every national identity is built on the basis of values and anti-values, of antithetical binomials that in their dialectical contradiction are forging a specific way of existing collectively: revolution and reaction, freedom and oppression, independence and annexation, solidarity and selfishness.

The preponderance gained by one or the other elements in these binomials defines to a large extent what we could call, romantically, the "spirit of the people".

With love and hate we can also establish that contradiction that, latent even in our way of assuming ourselves as Cubans, produces different meanings and interpretations of how we should be, both socially and subjectively.

This antithetical binomial, love-hate, also gains special relevance in the sphere of the revolutionary: what makes a person part of the Revolution, his capacity to love or his capacity to hate?

In Martí, whose ideology is central to Cuban identity, we find a constant concern for the love-hate binomial. Already in his adolescent poem, Abdala, establishes a causal-functional relationship between both terms: Love, mother, to the homeland / It is not the ridiculous love of the land, / Nor of the grass that our plants tread; / It is the invincible hatred of those who oppress it, / It is eternal resentment of those who attack it (...)

Many years later, however, in an article published in the newspaper Patria, on May 21, 1892, he would write a sentence that has transcended until today: "Men go in two camps: those who love and found, those who hate and undo"; to which he would later add: "And the fight of the world becomes that of the Hindu duality: good against evil."

After his bitter experience in the quarries of San Lázaro, Martí confesses that he does not know how to hate, and then, when he organizes the Necessary War, he emphasizes that it would have to be a war without hatred. Does it mean that Martí renounced that feeling?

For him: "Peoples are made of hatred and love, and of more hatred than love; but love as the sun that is everything burns and melts it." The hatred was there, but the guide had to be love, especially since the Apostle did not think of battles but of victory, which gave those blinded by hatred the opportunity of unworthy vengeance. And it was not for revenge that Cuba was taken to war but for justice.

In his famous message to the Tricontinental, in which the slogan of creating many Vietnams was raised, Che Guevara spoke of hatred as a factor of struggle, while "a people without hatred cannot triumph over a brutal enemy." The terrible asymmetry between the resistance of Cubans and imperial aggressiveness – another antithetical binomial – signified the need to find in this situation of vexation the forces to reverse it.

However, in his equally famous letter to the editor of the Uruguayan weekly Marcha, known as Socialism and Man in Cuba, Che would write: "Let me tell you, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love. It is impossible to think of an authentic revolutionary without this quality."
Incoherence? Not at all. Hatred can be a factor of struggle, but never the compass of the revolutionary.

Every now and then we return, as a people, to think and reformulate that antithetical binomial of love-hate. If we look at our history, we will understand that this dialectical contradiction does not annul any of the terms it encompasses, but there is a preponderance for love, from ethics. If we abjure hatred, we will be weak, but if we let it guide us, we will lose our way, we will get sick with resentment. We will be, in a word, haters: beings who, simply, are incompatible with the spirit of the Cuban people, with the revolutionary quality that has always been its highest stage.