Cuban War of Independence
|Cuban War of Independence|
Calixto García, a general of Cuban rebel forces, (right) with American Brigadier General William Ludlow with Cuban rebels in the background, 1898.
United States (Apr.-Aug. 1898)
Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898) was the last of three liberation wars that Cuba fought against Spain, the other two being the Ten Years' War (1868–1878) and the Little War (1879–1880). The final three months of the conflict escalated to become the Spanish–American War.
The years of the so-called “Rewarding Truce”, lasting for 17 years from the end of the Ten Years War in 1878, there were fundamental social changes in Cuban society. With the abolition of slavery in October 1886, former slaves joined the ranks of farmers and urban working class. Many wealthy Cubans lost their property, and joined the urban middle class. The number of sugar mills dropped and efficiency increased: only companies, and the most powerful plantation owners, remained in business. The number of campesinos and tenant farmers rose considerably. It was the period when US financial capital began flowing into Cuba, mostly into the sugar and tobacco business and mining. By 1895, investments reached 50 million US dollars. Although Cuba remained Spanish territory politically, economically it started to depend on the United States.
At the same time began the rise of labour movements. The first such organisation, created in 1878, was the Cigar Makers Guild, followed by the Central Board of Artisans in 1879 and many more across the island. After his second deportation to Spain in 1878, José Martí moved to the United States in 1881. There he mobilized the support of the Cuban exile community, especially in Ybor City (Tampa area) and Key West, Florida. He aimed for a revolution and independence from Spain, but also lobbied against the U.S. annexation of Cuba, which some American and Cuban politicians desired. After deliberations with patriotic clubs across the US, the Antilles and Latin America, "El Partido Revolucionario Cubano" (The Cuban Revolutionary Party) was officially proclaimed on April 10, 1892, with the purpose of gaining independence for both Cuba and Puerto Rico. Martí was elected Delegate, the highest party position. By the end of 1894, the basic conditions for launching the revolution were set.
"Martí’s impatience to start the revolution for independence was affected by his growing fear that the imperialist forces in the United States would succeed in annexing Cuba before the revolution could liberate the island from Spain". A new trend of aggressive US “influence”, evinced by Secretary of State James G. Blaine’s expressed ideals that all of Central and South America would some day fall to the U.S. “That rich island”, Blaine wrote on 1 December 1881, “the key to the Gulf of Mexico, is, though in the hands of Spain, a part of the American commercial system… If ever ceasing to be Spanish, Cuba must necessarily become American and not fall under any other European domination". Blaine’s vision did not allow the existence of an independent Cuba. “Martí noticed with alarm the movement to annex Hawaii, viewing it as establishing a pattern for Cuba…”
On December 25, 1894 three ships; the Lagonda, the Almadis and the Baracoa, set sail for Cuba from Fernandina Beach, Florida, loaded with soldiers and weapons. Two of the ships were seized by US authorities in early January,but the proceedings went ahead. Not to be dissuaded, on March 25, Martí presented the Proclamation of Montecristi, which outlined the policy for Cuba’s war of independence:
The Maine incident
The Spanish–American War
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