The First Yankee Blockade Against Cuba
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The ruling class of the United States has been advocating possession of Cuba since the end of the eighteenth century, that is to say, since [well] before the island’s first wars of independence. Two precepts conditioned North America’s foreign policy towards the United States. Cuba: the Doctrine of Manifest Destiny and Ripe Fruit Syndrome.
In June 1783, the second president of the United States, John Adams, said that the island of Cuba was a natural extension of the continent and that its annexation was absolutely necessary for the existence of the United States. Adams held that Cuba’s independent, sovereign existence would never be permitted, and much less would Adams support the struggle of its people to obtain it. The best thing was for Cuba to continue in Spain’s possession until it could be assimilated by the US.
“Manifest Destiny” was the idea developed then as a doctrine attributing to the United States the special mission of bringing its system of economic, social and political organization throughout the Americas. all the way down from the North. Subsequently, it would be extended to the entire Western hemisphere.
Expansion to the West was completed at the end of the 19th century. Its population was annihilated and the Mexicans lost almost half of their territory (Texas, New Mexico and California).
In 1823, President James Monroe pronounced the doctrine of “America. for the Americans” [the Monroe Doctrine”], which said that any interference by any European power in the emerging Latin American republics, would be considered an unfriendly act by Washington, against the United States. He, therefore, proclaimed the right to protect the region. The apparent paternalism toward the rest of the hemisphere would soon be turned into obvious expansionism.
A few years earlier, John Quincy Adams, then-Secretary of State in the Monroe administration and subsequently his successor in the Presidency, wrote: “…if an apple, knocked down from its tree by the storm, cannot but fall to the ground, Cuba, separated by the the strength of its abnormal connection with Spain and unable to sustain itself by itself, it can only gravitate, towards North America, which cannot, because of the the same natural law, reject it from its lap.”
This principle – known as that of the “ripe fruit” – did not prevent the United States from trying buy Cuba from Spain. An offer of $100 million to that effect was rejected by the Iberian crown.
In the 1880s, U.S. capital was already solidly involved in Cuba, especially in the sugar industry. as a result of its interest in converting the Caribbean islands into sugar economies.
In US popular memory, the roots were still alive in the United States, and so many ordinary citizens of that country. had sympathy for Cuba. This fact overlapped a tense preparation in the US for a direct military intervention during Cuba’s independence war against Spain.
However, in 1895, shortly before falling in combat, Cuban revolutionary José Martí wrote that, in his fight against Spain, Cuba tried to “prevent, with its independence, the expansion of the United States through the Antilles and fell with that much greater force. on the lands of our America. All that I have done so far has been meant for this,” Martí emphasized.
On December 24, 1897, US Under Secretary of War J.C. Breckenridge wrote in a memorandum:
“This (Cuban) population is made up of whites, blacks, Asians, and people who result from the mixing of these races. The inhabitants are generally indolent and apathetic…. While these people have only a vague notion of good and evil, they tend to seek pleasure, not through work but through violence. It’s obvious that the immediate annexation of these disturbing and numerous elements to our federation would constitute madness, so, before proceeding to it, we must clean up the country. We must destroy everything within reach of our cannon fire. We must impose a strict blockade so that hunger and its perennial companion, diseases undermine the peaceful population and decimate its army. The allied army must be constantly engaged in reconnaissance and vanguard actions so that the Cuban army is irreparably caught between two fronts.
“When that time comes, we must create conflicts so that the independent government will have to face these difficulties. That, in turn, must coincide with the unrest and violence among the aforementioned elements, whom we must support. To sum up, our policy must always be to support the weakest against the strongest, until we have managed to exterminate both of them, in order to annex the Pearl of the Antilles.”
September 30, 2019. This article can be reproduced.