Title of Course: Black History 301: The History of Cuba

Instructor: Mba Mbulu

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Class #12: The United States Intervenes, Part 1

Read the Essay below. Be able to answer and expound on the following questions.

(1) Did the US government consult with the people of the Caribbean before establishing the Monroe Doctrine?
(2) What does the interference of the United States in Cuba indicate?
(3) Was the US in favor of the war for independence being fought by the people of Cuba? Why not?
(4) What does the US's interference in Cuba say about its commitment to democracy?
(5) Why did the US government send the battleship Maine to Cuba?

Class #12 Essay [Audio Version]

The United States had long planned to make Cuba one of its possessions. In 1823, in total disregard for the rights of Cuba's people, John Quincy Adams referred to Cuba and Puerto Rico as "natural appendages." Quickly afterward, President James Monroe issued the Monroe Doctrine, which, without any input from the people of the Caribbean, warned European countries to not get involved in Caribbean affairs. In 1825, when Mexico and Venezuela were planning to help Cuba gain freedom from Spain, the United States warned them that any such move would meet with U. S. resistance.

In 1848, President James Polk offered Spain $100 million for Cuba, but Spain refused to sell. In 1854, President Franklin upped the offer to $130 million. Spain again refused. In between, three mercenary expeditions aimed at invading Cuba were initiated. Each was practically stillborn. These invasions did not have the public sanction of the United States government, but if either had succeeded, the U. S. would have had an ideal pretext for interfering in Cuba's affairs.

Slave owners in Cuba frequently lobbied for U. S, interference because they wanted to prevent the emancipation of the slaves. However, it was not until 1869, after the beginning of the War for Cuban Independence, that President Ulysses S. Grant articulated a Cuban policy. The essence of that policy was anti Cuban nationalism and anti emancipation.

In the United States, talk of annexing Cuba was almost non stop. When the first leg of the Cuban War for Independence ended with Spain still in control of Cuba, the U.S. government was pleased. But in 1895, as the second leg of the war of independence took hold, the U.S. government seized 3 ships that were carrying arms and supplies to the independence forces. This was a major setback for Cuban nationalists, but it did not stop them.

In 1897, as it watched the independence forces defeat the Spanish army, the United States decided to short circuit Cuba's road to self government. The U.S. sent the battleship Maine to La Habana (Havana), ostensibly to protect American interests. The Maine somehow managed to explode and sink. The U.S. used that as an excuse to declare war on Spain and ignore what the independence forces of Cuba had accomplished. Having defeated Spain, Cuba was now artificially faced with a more powerful opponent that was acting as if the Cuban War for Independence had never taken place. The military occupation of Cuba by the United States was about to begin.

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