After 1959, while the Cuban and Soviet government rejected the claim that Cuban/Soviet relations were simply a new type of imperialism, Cuban revolutionaries were still concerned with Cuba’s compromised autonomy within that relationship.
While some exile groups in the United States focused their attention on Cuba’s relations with the Soviet Union, a few attempted to maintain a consistent position of anti-imperialism by criticizing both the Soviet presence in Cuba and what they believed to be the nefarious policies of the U. government as well as the overdependence of many exile groups on it.
Given the legacy of the Haitian Revolution and abolitionist movements throughout the Caribbean, the Manifesto also put forth the possibility that it might become necessary in the future to wrest the island away from Spain if it did not agree to sell: We should, however, be recreant in our duty, be unworthy of our gallant forefathers, and commit basic treason against our posterity should we permit Cuba to be Africanised and become a second San Domingo, with all its attendant horrors to the white race, and suffer the flames to extend to our neighboring shores, the fair fabric of our nation.
Acquisition was thus presented as both inevitable and necessary to save the region and Cuba from being “Africanised,” which referred not to the presence of Afro-descendent people (annexation was meant to preserve slavery, after all), but instead to their emancipation and equality, which, as the Haitian Revolution suggested, would come at the expense of white lives, white authority, and white privilege.
-century patriot and poet José Martí, rebel leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara, to whom Cuba gave special citizenship, and Fidel Castro, whose image will always be that of the bearded rebel shaking his fist impetuously at Yankee imperialism.
It is no coincidence that Cuba has also been in the crosshairs of more than one imperial power almost since the Spanish first colonized the island in 1492. occupation and intervention during the first years of the 20 century compromised Cuba’s newly acquired independence.Following the collapse of the Haitian sugar industry after the Haitian Revolution in 1791, decreased world sugar supplies and increased consumer demand led to skyrocketing prices that moved Cuba to center stage in the world sugar market.Cuban planters worked to capture and control more of the benefits of the sugar boom, but many small producers were forced from the island as the cost of living increased and local food supplies declined.Most significantly, its multiple wars of independence from Spain took place in the second half of the 19 century long after most former Spanish colonies in the Americas had gained their independence and when the United States began to assert its own imperial ambitions. The 1959 revolution promised to finally break from this legacy, but it took place in the context of a rise of the Soviet Union, which, while socialist, was not without its own imperial tendencies.This history illustrates the complex workings of imperialism, which exercises direct control over a country’s economic, social and political spheres, but also over its ideologies, laws and domestic struggles, and often in the context of multiple imperialisms.The same Haitian Revolution that led to Cuba’s sugar boom and increased slave importation also reminded elites in Cuba of the potential for slave rebellion.There were slave uprisings in Cuba in 1826, 1837, and 1843, and whites were the minority on the island by 1841.First, any particular imperialism operates in conjunction with other imperialisms, such that even when ostensibly at odds, they can they can in fact enable one another, both unintentionally and intentionally, since their interests are served not just by the maintenance of their empire, but by empire more generally.In 19-century Cuba, even if one or another imperial state was actually controlling the island through direct colonial rule, other forms of imperial control often operated simultaneously and often rival imperial states privileged empire in general over their own specific imperial interests. form, operates not just through control of a nation state’s land, labor, raw materials, capital and markets, but also through the colonization of domestic struggles, which, in the case of Cuba, have had to rely in one way or another on some imperial power (as a place of exile, economic support, or markets).During the earliest years, anti-colonial sentiments and policies, especially of white Creole elites, did not reflect a rejection of foreign influence, but rather an attempt to curtail that influence without upsetting political, social, racial and economic hierarchies within the colony proper.This often meant considering the advantages and disadvantages of alliance with a particular imperial power, rather than a complete rejection of that alliance.