Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cuban History Chronology, Part One

° 27 October, 1492. Cuba is discovered by Admiral Christopher Columbus, when he made landfall at what is now Baracoa, and claimed the island for the Kingdom of Spain. Cuba was at that time inhabited by indegenous people called the Taino, the Ciboney and the Guanatabey.

° 1511. The first Spanish settlement, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa, is founded by Spanish Conquistador, Diego Velázquez.

° 1511-1898. Cuba stays a Spanish possession. Its economy is based on agriculture, mining and the exportation of sugar, coffee and tobacco to Europe and later to North America.

° 16 November, 1519. San Cristóbal de La Habana, capital of Cuba is founded.

° 4 January 1762. Britain declares war on Spain, and on June 6, nearly 400 ships and 14,000 men converged and captured La Habana. Cuba remained in British hands for nearly eleven months.

° 18 April, 1819. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, is born in Bayamo, Cuba.

° 14 June, 1845. Antonio Maceo, "The Bronze Titan" is born in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.

° 28 January, 1853. National Hero and Apostle of Independence, José Martí, is born in La Habana, Cuba.

° 10 October, 1868. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, who is considered by Cubans as El Padre de la Patria, started the island's first war of national independence against Spain, after first freeing all of his slaves. It was a prolonged conflict which was called the Ten Years' War (1868-1878). He was joined by other patriot rebels named Máximo Gomez and Antonio Maceo. The Ten Years' War ended in failure with El Pacto de Zanjón. It did not guarantee any of the two fundamental objectives of the struggle: independence from Spain and the abolition of slavery.

° 15 March, 1878. General Antonio Maceo and his rebel troops stage his famous act of resistance, which is known as The Baraguá Protest. He meets at "Mangos de Baraguá" -- which is located near the city of Santiago de Cuba – with Spanish General Arsenio Martinez Campos. Maceo expresses that the Cubans who are at that meeting do not agree and would not submit to El Pacto de Zanjón and would not agree to peace without national Independence.

° 1890's. Pro-independence agitation was revived by resentment and hostility to Spain's increasingly oppressive and incompetent administration of Cuba.

° 1892. an exiled Cuban patriot, José Martí, founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party in New York, with the aim of achieving Cuban independence.

° January, 1895. Jose Martí travels to Montecristi, Santo Domingo to join the efforts of Máximo Gómez. Martí wrote down his political views in the Manifesto of Montecristi.

° 24 February, 1895. Fighting against the Spanish army begins in Cuba.

° 11 April, 1895. Jose Martí reaches Cuba.

° 19 May, 1895. Jose Martí is killed in the battle of Dos Rios. His death immortalized him and he has become Cuba's national hero.

° 1896. The rebel army made a charge to the west of the island. The success of this campaign led the Spanish to bring in the ruthless General Valeriano Weyler. The general brought the population into concentration camps to end the rebels' supply of recruits and food. Many died in the camps, and they united Cubans against Spain.

° 7 December, 1896. Antonio Maceo is killed in action against Spanish forces. Like the death of Jose Martí, the Spanish looked upon this event with great optimism. However, the Spanish forces could never catch Maximo Gómez's quick moving guerrilla army.

° 1897. The Cubans claimed an army as strong as 60,000, and though the Spanish were far greater in number, the war was not approaching any end. Eventually, General Valeriano Weyler was recalled from Cuba and returned to Spain. The war dragged on for a while. Cuban General Calixto García in the east captured Victoria de la Tunas. At home, the Spanish were growing angry at the number of dead soldiers. The Spanish Kingdom in Cuba was on the brink of collapse.

° 11 January, 1898.
U.S. President William McKinley sends the USS Maine to the harbor of La Habana.

° 15 February, 1898. At 9:40pm the USS Maine sank in the harbor after suffering a massive explosion. This would be used by nascent Yankee imperialism as the perfect excuse to intervene in the internal affairs of Cuba.

° 26 April, 1898. The U.S. Congress declares that a state of war between the United States and Spain has existed since April 21. The Spanish-American war begins. A weakened Spain is quickly defeated by the intervening U.S. troops. The U.S. government prohibits the Cuban independent rebel forces from entering Santiago de Cuba.

° 1898-1902. U.S. Armed Forces military occupation of Cuba.

° 1902. The U.S. Congress approves The Platt Amendment. It allows Cuba only a limited right to conduct its own foreign and debt policies. The amendment leases Guantánamo Bay to the United States. It gives the United States the right to militarily intervene at any time in Cuban internal affairs, which it would do several times later on during the first 30 years of the XX century. Cuba was not a truly free and sovereign nation.

° 20 May, 1902. Yankee imperialism imposses a neo-republic on Cuba. Tomás Estrada Palma, who had earlier favored outright annexation of Cuba by the United States, becomes President of Cuba. U.S. supported Cuban puppets would rule the island after this day. It would last from 1902 to 1958.

To be continued...

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