Republic Of Cuba

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba (Spanish: Cuba or República de Cuba), consists of the island of Cuba (the largest of the Greater Antilles), the Isle of Youth and adjacent small islands. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean at the confluence of the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Cuba is south of the eastern United States and the Bahamas, west of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Haiti and east of Mexico. The Cayman Islands and Jamaica are to the south.

Following Hispaniola, Cuba is the second-most populous island in the Caribbean. Its culture and customs draw from several sources including the period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves, and to a lesser extent, its proximity to the United States. The island has a tropical climate that is moderated by the surrounding waters; the warm currents of the Caribbean Sea and its location between water bodies also make Cuba prone to frequent hurricanes.

The recorded history of Cuba began on 24 October 1492, when Christopher Columbus sighted the island during his first voyage of discovery and claimed it for Spain. The island had been inhabited for at least several thousand years by Amerindian peoples known as the Taíno and Ciboney. The Taíno were farmers and the Ciboney were hunter-gatherers. The name Cuba is derived from the Taíno word cubanacán, meaning "a central place".

Cuba was a Spanish possession for 388 years, ruled by a governor in Havana, with an economy based on plantation agriculture and the export of sugar, coffee and tobacco to Europe and later to North America. It was seized by the British in 1762, but restored to Spain the following year.

Cuba’s proximity to the U.S. has been a powerful influence on its history. Southern politicians in the U.S. plotted the island’s annexation as a means of strengthening the pro-slavery forces in the U.S. throughout the 19th century, and there was usually a party in Cuba which supported such a policy. In 1848 a pro-annexationist rebellion was defeated and there were several attempts by annexationist forces to invade the island from Florida. There were also regular proposals in the U.S. to buy Cuba from Spain, but Spain always refused to consider ceding its last possession in the Americas.

During the 1890s pro-independence agitation revived, fueled by resentment of the restrictions imposed on Cuban trade by Spain and hostility to Spain’s increasingly oppressive and incompetent administration of Cuba. On 15 July 1895 rebellion broke out and the independence party, led by Tomás Estrada Palma and the poet José Martí, proclaimed Cuba an independent republic—Martí was killed shortly thereafter and has become Cuba’s undisputed national hero.

In 1898, Swept along on a wave of nationalist sentiment, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution calling for intervention and President William McKinley was quick to comply.

The result was the Spanish-American War, in which U.S. forces landed in Cuba in June 1898 and quickly overcame Spanish resistance. In August a peace treaty was signed under which Spain agreed to withdraw from Cuba. Some advocates in the U.S. supported Cuban independence, while others argued for outright annexation. As a compromise, the McKinley administration placed Cuba under a 20-year U.S. trusteeship. The Cuban independence movement bitterly opposed this arrangement, but unlike the Philippines, where events had followed a similar course, there was no outbreak of armed resistance.

Theodore Roosevelt, who had fought in the Spanish- American War and had some sympathies with the independence movement, succeeded McKinley as President of the United States in 1901 and abandoned the 20-year trusteeship proposal. Instead, the Republic of Cuba gained formal independence on 20 May 1902.


Information provided courtesy of: Caribbean Association Midwest America