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

Instructor: Mba Mbulu

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Class #14: Seeds Of Revolution

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

(1) What did Cubans do to show their dissatisfaction with the occupation of their country by the United States?
(2) Why do you think U. S. authorities were so concerned about the responses of Blacks in Cuba? Could they have been taking into account the state of race relations in the United States?
(3) Why might the formation of a socialist party and forcing the president to resign be regarded as steps toward revolution?
(4) What might the psychological impact of acts such as those mentioned above have had on the Cuban population in general?

Class #14 Essay [Audio Version]

Cubans were not taking the intervention of the United States lightly. Street laborers went on strike, and the Partido Socialista Cubano (Cuban Socialist Party) was started. Quite importantly, in 1900 a delegation of Cubans petitioned the United States occupation government to not use terms referring to color in official documents. U. S. officials ignored the petition.

When elections were finally held, those candidates who supported the United States and were in favor of annexation failed to win in a single Cuban city. Particular attention was paid to the Black response, since United States officials viewed Blacks as dangerous. A correspondent of the New York Tribune commented that "the colored race in Cuba has reached a pretty unanimous decision that its future is not promising if the island becomes a State in the Union. That is the present sentiment, and it is in itself powerful enough to dampen any annexation movement."

On January 30, 1901, Cuba's new constitution was published. Even though the U. S. had declared that the Platt Amendment must be attached to the new constitution, Cubans were not disposed to do so. Cubans of all classes and political leanings joined in a series of protests, and a motion to accept the Platt Amendment was defeated by a large margin. Several weeks later, a similar motion was defeated by a similar margin. But the U. S. continued to pressure, pay off, make promises to and threaten delegates behind closed doors. As a result, a motion to accept the Platt Amendment was finally passed by a one vote margin. The stage had been set for the U. S. military to rule the island; this at the same time that U. S. lawmakers and business people were insisting that Cuba's government was independent.

In 1908, Evaristo Estenoz started El Partido Independiente de Color (the Independent Party of Color). Anti independence forces, hoping to cause dissention among the opposition, immediately began to circulate rumors of an impending race war. Black Cubans were more anti United States than non Black Cubans, and their political activities were very much a consequence of the racist and controlling influence of the U. S. on the Cuban government. Not long after the formation of the party, there was an uprising consisting primarily of Black Cubans that was viciously crushed by the Cuban government because of pressure from U. S. authorities. For years thereafter, under the occupation government, Cuba's Black population chose to have very little to do with Cuba's political status quo.

But it was not just the Blacks who were dissatisfied. In 1917 there were rebellions in several provinces, and Santiago and Camagüey fell under rebel control. In 1923, the José Martí Universidad Popular (Jose Marti University), which became a haven for leftist thinking individuals, was founded, followed closely by the formation of the Cuban Communist Party in 1925. In 1933, a bill was introduced that called for lifetime imprisonment for any Cuban who helped a foreign government interfere with the affairs of Cuba. The U. S. did not allow that measure to go into effect.

Still, signs that Cubans were thinking about a new approach to government were emerging. There was a steady stream of general strikes and mass protests throughout Cuba, and anti government activites began to get violent. In time, a rebel organization was formed to punish members of the government who acted against the well being of the people, and the president was forced to resign. Actions such as these were expanding the arena of thought of individuals throughout Cuba, and establishing a comfort zone within Cubans for political and ideological realities that were in complete contrast to much of what they had been exposed to previously.

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