V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > I. Latin America, 1806–1914 > 3. Latin America, 1820–1914 > e. The Caribbean
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
e. The Caribbean
1. Cuba
During the wars of independence, Cuba and Puerto Rico remained loyal to Spain. Slave labor and fertile soil allowed the sugar economy to flourish, especially after the destruction of slavery in Haiti. In 1827, Cuba had 707,400 inhabitants. The slave population in Cuba increased dramatically between 1790 and 1860. After 1860, slave trade declined, and colonial authorities actively promoted white immigration. Sugar planters, monopolizing land in western Cuba, and tobacco manufacturers formed a powerful elite. In the east, hacendados and free farmers of color predominated.  1
The TEN YEARS' WAR. Following the liberal revolution in Spain (1868), eastern small slave owners and farmers unleashed a war for independence with the Grito de Yara. Sugar planters of the west supported Spain. Massive participation of slaves in rebel ranks prompted Spain to pass the Moret Law of 1870 that freed children of slave mothers and slaves over age 60. The war ended with the convention of El Zanjón (Feb. 10, 1878), by which Spain promised amnesty and freedom to slaves and Asian indentured workers who had fought the war on both sides.  2
In the east, Antonio Maceo (1845–96) led slaves in a guerrilla war (Guerra Chiquita). Slaves resorted to legal and illegal measures to gain freedom. Spanish authorities tried to ensure a gradual process of emancipation. The Patronato Law of 1880 regulated emancipation by creating a transitional status for slaves. Spanish authorities abolished slavery in 1886.  3
WAR OF INDEPENDENCE. JOSÉ MARTÍ (1853–95) united Cubans to fight for independence. A war without quarter devastated the island. About 10 percent of the population died. The U.S. entered the conflict, alleging Spain's destruction of the Maine, a warship stationed in Havana Harbor, thus initiating the Spanish-American War (See 1898). Spain was quickly defeated, and by the Treaty of Paris (Dec. 10) withdrew from Cuba and ceded Puerto Rico and the Philippines to the U.S. Many Cubans viewed U.S. intervention with distrust.  4
U.S. occupation of Cuba. U.S. entrepreneurs secured most of the repair and renovation projects in the aftermath of the war. Despite peace and economic recovery, there was extensive discontent with U.S. control of Cuba. The U.S. introduced the Platt Amendment (Feb. 12, 1901) by which the U.S. had the right to dictate all of Cuba's international agreements, to intervene in domestic political affairs, and to establish a military base at Guantánamo Bay. Cuba had 1,573,000 inhabitants in 1900.  5
Tomás Estrada Palma, a pro-U.S. candidate, was elected president. U.S. forces withdrew. U.S. investors greatly augmented their ownership of land, industries, and services in Cuba. Popular unrest continued, fueled by electoral fraud. Liberals deposed Estrada Palma.  6
Second U.S. military intervention. Charles Magoon became provisional governor of Cuba. He broadened the franchise and held elections.  7
José Miguel Gómez, a liberal, assumed the presidency. U.S. forces withdrew. Power of foreign investors and local bourgeoisie increased. The Morúa Law prohibited political associations based on color or race. Black Cubans tried to resist, but their movement met harsh repression in the eastern provinces (1912). U.S. racism reinforced local prejudices.  8
Conservative Mario García Menocal became president. Liberals revolted against his reelection in 1917. The U.S. intervened on behalf of García Menocal. (See Cuba)  9
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.