Wars of Independence
1868-1878 and 1995-1998
1868-1878: Ten Year's War against Spain. Led by Generals Antonio Maceo, Máximo
Gómez, and Quintín
Banderas, the Mambi rebel army was made up mostly (80% to 92%) of AfroCubans and
numbered 40,000 in 1870. It was thus in fact the largest slave rebellion of the
hemisphere. The bourgeois criollos supporters finally capitulated in 1878 out of fear of
the lower classes and skepticism of the strength of the rural worker and the rebel
army. The effort was very successful in Oriente but floundered when it reached
Matanzas, notorious then for its wealthy white planters who wanted to keep their slave.
1995-1998: Second War for Independence from Spain
February 24. Jose Marti unleashes the war with a letter to his deputy, AfroCuban Juan Gualberto Gomez, on Jan 29.
AfroCubans form the
backbone of the Liberation Army ("Los Mambises"), and are estimated to comprise
as high as 92% of that army. See Photos of the
Liberation Army from Gloria Rolando's film "Roots
of My Heart."
March 13. Antonio and José Maceo land in eastern Cuba from Santo
April 11. José Martí and Máximo Gomez land in eastern Cuba from Costa Rica.
May 18. In his last letter, José Martí writes that it is his duty "to
prevent, by the independence of Cuba, the United States from spreading over the West
Indies and falling, with that added weight, upon other lands of our America. All I have
done up to now, and shall do hereafter, is to that end
I have lived inside the
monster and know its insides."
May 19. José Martí is killed in his first appearance on the battlefield at Dos Ríos
in eastern Cuba. He is 42 years old. The rebels try to recover his body, but are unable to
At some point during the year: Antonio Maceo was betrayed in
Havana, but the members of Bacoco Efo, an Abakwá potencia in Belen, of
which Lino D'ou was a member, hid and protected him. Many Abakwá members
fight in the Mambi Army and composed an elite corps in the Mambi Army from
July 5. José Maceo, brother of Antonio
Maceo, is killed at the battle of Loma del
December 7. Antonio Maceo, the "Bronze Titan," is killed in the
battle of Punta Brava in Western Cuba.
December. As the rebels declare success, President McKinley
refuses to recognize Cuban Independence.
December 24. J.C. Breckenridge, U.S.
Undersecretary of War, authors what becomes known as The Breckenridge Memorandum, which
outlines U.S. policy towards the Hawaiian islands, Puerto Rico and Cuba. The memorandum
went to Lieutenant General Nelson A. Miles, Commander of the U.S. Army.
January. The U.S. sends the USS Maine to Havana.
15.The US battleship Maine explodes in Havana harbor, giving the US a pretext for
April 25. The U.S. blames Spain and enters the Spanish-Cuban-American
War. In Cuba,
this is regarded as an intervention in Cubas War Of Independence. The US
and Spain fight a war in Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere. The
Spaniards are officially kicked out of Cuba, having been worn down and defeated by years
of struggle with the Mambises, the Cuban
independence fighters, many of whom (92%) are of African descent.
July 1. The Buffalo Soldiers (Ninth and Tenth Cavalry) take San Juan
Hill. Teddy Roosevelt takes the glory.
August 12. Spain and the U.S. sign a bilateral armistice. Cuba is not represented at
December 10. Spain and the U.S. sign the Treaty of Paris. The U.S. is granted control
of four new territories: Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam. Although the treaty
officially grants Cuba independence, the U.S. flag, not the Cuban flag, is raised over
Havana, and Cuban representatives are not allowed at the signing.
New York Public Library on the Spanish American War: http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/epo/spanexhib/index.html
January 1. The U.S. installs a provisional
military government in Cuba led by US General John R. Brooke. The US thus occupies Cuba
and builds schools, roads, and bridges and deepens Havana harbor in "preparing the
land for incorporation into the US economic and educational systems. The voting franchise
is designed to eliminate Afro-Cubans from politics." (Encylopedia Britannica)
Willard B., Jr. "Kansas Negroes and the
Spanish-American War." [PDF, 2.5MB] Kansas Historical
Quarterly 37 (Autumn 1971): 300. Focuses on black newspaper reaction but
includes photos of 23rd Kansas, an all black regiment commanded by black
officers, which did garrison duty in Cuba in 1898-1899.