Ramón Blanco y Erenas
The archaeological record suggests that Cuba was populated by various migrations from both North and South America, the following migrations have been archaeologically attested:
In 1652, the Hermanos de la Costa, whose base of operations was located on the island of La Tortuga, sacked San Juan de los Remedios and took women, slaves and church ornaments.
The destruction of the filibustering produced some tranquility, but Vidal Morales wrote that at the end of the XVII century the colony of Cuba lay in the saddest state of despondency. The population was very scarce (it was estimated 30 000 or 40 000 inhabitants) having almost extinguished the natives, diminished the Europeans by repeated epidemics, almost null the white immigration and still of little importance the African. Production was insignificant and the rigid monopoly laws did not allow trade with foreigners, giving rise to the most scandalous smuggling. Industry did not exist either, and education was very rudimentary.
On February 24, 1895, on Martí’s orders, 35 villages in eastern Cuba rose up in what has come to be known as the Grito de Baire (Cry of Baire). The authorities managed to disband the insurrection in the four western provinces, with the arrest of Julio Sanguily and José María Aguirre Valdés. The capital of the State sent 9000 men to the revolted province, suspended the constitutional guarantees and applied censorship to the press. On March 21, Antonio Cánovas del Castillo sent another 7000 men and named Arsenio Martínez Campos, architect of the Peace of Zanjón, captain general of Cuba.
Date of Cuban Independence
On February 15, 1898, at 9:40 p.m., an unexpected explosion came to disturb the nightly bustle of Havana. The American battleship Maine, which was anchored in its waters, jumped into the air and sank irremediably after taking the lives of two officers and 266 sailors on board. That sad episode is still surrounded by controversy and mystery.
Today, the hypothesis that the explosion of the Maine provoked the American intervention in Cuba has been discarded. The question is what happened on the Maine that night. What or who caused the explosion that sank it. As a consequence of the explosion, a good part of the crew on board died. The bow was totally destroyed, and the Maine ended up sinking soon after.
Possibly, apart from ensuring the marginalization of blacks and the black status of the power structures in Cuba, the political system and the state as a whole may have paid the greatest and most lasting cost. Today, the 1959 Revolution has produced a nationally sovereign government that maintains for itself a power that long repressed citizens’ demands for a democratic state. As an antagonist and bystander, the United States forms the indispensable foundation of the national narrative, policies, and most importantly, the claims for legitimacy of the Cuban state – from 1898 to 2018. The lesson is not only an appreciation of the ironies of history shaped by the presence of a foreign power and, after 1959, its absence. Rather, the lesson lies in what the political elite does capable of gaining and sustaining a monopoly of control under conditions where engaging with the United States, as a threat or as an ally, serves the cause.