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

Instructor: Mba Mbulu

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Class #13: The United States Intervenes, Part 2

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


(1) Is it unusual that the United States was not willing to recognize the right of the Cuban people to govern themselves?
(2) What did the United States use as a pretext for starting a war with Spain?
(3) Why did the United States want to fight a war with Spain?
(4) Why was propaganda published that claimed that Cubans were not fit for self government?
(5) What can students of history learn from the Teller Amendment?

Class #13 Essay [Audio Version]

In the 1790s, the Blacks of Haiti successfully fought against France to end slavery in Haiti. Rather than recognize the right of those people to make a decent life for themselves, Napoleon Bonaparte planned to kill all of them and replace them with hundreds of thousands of newly enslaved Black men and women from Africa. That way, France would be able to continue to profit from slave labor. White people and their governments tend to trivialize the rights and legitimacy of other people, and this process of trivialization repeated itself in Cuba. The people of Cuba fought a war to get independence from Spain and had won that war. The United States, because it wanted to be the recipient of Cuba's wealth, artificially started a war with Spain, acted as if the war for independence the Cubans had fought had never taken place, and forced Spain to accept a treaty that enabled the United States to act as if it had the "right" to interfere in the process of Cuban self government.


The war with Spain, just as would be the case in VietNam, Iraq and other countries, was based on lies. But that is part of white power's modus operandi. After the US lied about why it was going to war, it lied about its intentions. Its modus operandi is to make a public declaration that states that its intentions are honorable, knowing all the time that its intentions are far from honorable. As regards Cuba, the public declaration was issued in 1898 and is known as the Teller Amendment. The 4th article of the Teller Amendment states: "That the United States hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said Island [Cuba] except for the pacification thereof, and asserts its determination, when that is accomplished, to leave the government and control of the Island to its people." Since the Cuban nationalist forces had all but defeated Spain, the island was already on the verge of pacification (peace). US involvement was not needed to bring about that end, so a hidden motive was in the mix. Anyone who was capable of straight thinking could therefore see that the United States had every intention of exercising "sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over" Cuba and anyone who was capable of straight thinking could see that the United States had no intention of leaving "control of the Island to its people."


On August 12, 1898, Spain and the United States signed a war treaty that would greatly affect the future of Cuba. Since the United States was trivializing the rights and legitimacy of the Cuban people, Cuba was not allowed to attend the peace talks. On other fronts, the US invasion was in full swing. U.S. companies were grabbing control of land, resources, education, and any other thing of value within reach, and propaganda about Cubans being unfit for self-government was beginning to fill the air. Although the war treaty officially recognized Cuba's independence, no Cuban representatives were invited to the signing. Quite tellingly, the U.S. flag, not the Cuban flag, was raised over La Habana (Havana).


The U.S. occupation of Cuba continued for several years. In 1899, a provisional military government was created to direct the affairs of Cuba. In 1900, when Cubans organized a Constitutional Convention, they were informed that they would have to attach a United States congressional amendment to the constitution they drew up. The articles of this amendment, later known as the Platt Amendment, all but made Cuba a U.S. subject. The Platt Amendment gave the United States the power to lease or buy lands for the establishment of naval bases (Guantanamo Bay) in Cuba, and required that the government of Cuba accept the right of the United States to intervene in Cuban affairs. The Teller Amendment had convinced the gullible that the US had no intention of taking control of the island. The Platt Amendment laid the real cards on the table.

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