Tuesday, April 01, 2003


Two really good essays by Ernest De La Cova on Cuban Filibustering in 1851:

I have picked up a lot of information on Captain James Bulloch, the captain of the Black Warrior when it was confiscated by the Spanish in Havana harbor. The Spanish certainly had reason to suspect that Bulloch was a revolutionary. A U.S. Navy veteran, Bulloch was a prominent Georgia Mason familiar with all of Quitman's cronies involved in the Cuban invasion plans. In 1861, he was appointed Confederate liason to the British and French by Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory. Bulloch had 24 ships secretly built for the Confederacy but only 8 ever got into Confederate hands. Bulloch was a Top Gun in the Secret Service of the Confederate States and was Judah Benjamin's liason man in England and the Confederacy's chief arms procurer. There's a lot on Bulloch so more details of his troubles in Cuba will be revealed soon.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

The Appetizing Cuban Apple

A fruit that is still green

A long time before the Cuban nation was forged and before the United States had enough power to endorse its ambitions, the U.S. greediness and wait over Cuba had started.

In November 1805 President Thomas Jefferson conveyed to the British Minister in Washington that if there was a war with Spain, the United States would take possession of Cuba, since it was strategically necessary to defend Louisiana and Florida.

The conflict did not take place with Spain (but with Great Britain from 1812 to 1814 over Canadian territory), though they were deprived of the western parts of Florida in 1810 and 1813. In 1819 they purchased from the Spanish Crown eastern Florida, the U.S. main objective as they did in 1803 with Louisiana, purchased from France.

Since that time, U.S. agents were order to carefully watch events in Cuba and specially any annexation tendency.

In 1808, when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Spain, Jefferson sent General James Wilkinson to Havana to discuss with the Islands Captain General, the Marquis de Someruelos, the possibility to transfer Cuba to the United States.

When Jefferson left the presidency in 1809, he advised his successor James Madison to reach an agreement with Napoleon about the Spanish colonies in America, by signing a treaty. The U.S. would have Cuba and would give France free hands over the rest of the Spanish America.

Though Madison distrusted Napoleon and he recognized his naval force was still weak, his new consul in Havana, William Shaler, communicated to the Cuban authorities that the U.S. government wouldn't admitted that any Spanish territory pass to another power. Shaler also contacted some Creoles to organized an annexation conspiracy. He was arrested in November 1811 and expelled from Cuba by Someruelos.

Among the causes of his failure: landowners were afraid of a British intervention in case of an uprising in the Island, they preferred an undisturbed atmosphere to increase sugar production, and even more important the U.S. lacked the military might for an intervention.

The prospect of annexing Cuba was part of the official debates in 1822 and 1823, as John Quincy Adams wrote down in his diary. In that time he was Secretary of State of President James Monroe and years later president of the United States.

Once they discussed the proposal of annexing Cuba, as presented by Mister Sanchez, a Cuban landowner about whom details were omitted. Should Cuba were incorporated to the Union, a British occupation or a black revolution could be avoided, all aides agreed, but they had differences on how to do it, as it might unleash a war with Great Britain.

They officially answered that due to the friendship with Spain they could not accept the proposal, but in private they asked the carrier for more details about the annexation movement in the Island.

Adams also revealed the great weigh the Cuban issue had for the proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine.

In his instructions to Hugh Nelson, the new minister to Spain, in 1823 Adams explained what came to be known as the "theory of the ripe fruit", based on the geographical fatalism, that saw the Cuban Archipelago, sooner or later, attached to the United States. In spite of this, Nelson was to assure Ferdinand VII that the U.S. government wished Cuba and Puerto Rico to remain under Spains domain. In the future, Washington would claimed for a Spanish Cuba, until it was convenient. They let Mexico, Colombia and Peru know of their intentions and President Adams himself brought it to the light on March 15,1826.

One more time the United States tried to purchase Cuba unsuccessfully. It pushed Spain under different circumstances.

When the Cubans fought their three wars of independence, the U.S. never supported them because it found it untimely to recognize the Republic in Arms.

The annexation policy was never abandoned, but the U.S. used it in accordance with its interests.

During the first half of the 19th Century, the southerners wanted to incorporate the pro-slavery island, but for the anti-slavery North it was not suitable.

Besides the strategic and commercial factors being swung accordingly, there was another that started to play a mayor role in the 1880's: the investments of U.S. capitals in the sugar and mining industries in Cuba.

The rivalries between England and the United States allowed Spain to keep its domains until the end of the century, when England changed its policy and assured the U.S. it would not oppose to Washington's plans.

In 1898, the United States found the right moment for the "ripe fruit" had come and intervened in Cuba, but 100 years later history shows they were not right.

The long lasting U.S.-Cuban conflict, from the beginning of the 19h Century up to the 20th Century could be perfectly summarized with a phrase of the last generation of revolutionaries, led by Fidel Castro: "Cuba neither surrenders, nor is it for sale