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Cuban Government Documents

"The Most Extensive Dispute of the Contemporary Era"
Written by Lázaro Barredo Medina and printed by the Publicity and Printing sections of the Support Services Department of the National Assembly of People's Power, April 1997.

The Helms-Burton act is merely the lastest device in a history of almost two hundred years of annexationist voracity on the part of the United States. This summary of various bibliographies consists of quotes, mostly taken from U.S. sources themselves, on what may be considered as: The Most Extensive Dispute of the Contemporary Era.

Anyone who studies Cuban-U.S. relations in any depth and immerses themselves in the historical events of the past century, will note that the problem between both countries surpasses any ideology and can be summed up by the independence-annexationist dilemma.

The reading of documents and various U.S. and Cuban bibliographies shows that this point of contention between both countries is the most extensive dispute of the contemporay era, beginning with the independence of the thirteen English colonies and continuing to the present day with the Helms-Burton Act.

Unlike any other country on this planet, Cuba has had to face up to that U.S. foreign policy making it, the United States, and elite, rather than an ordinary country "destined" (The Manifest Destiny) with the mission of civilizing other peoples with the "U.S. way of life."

Cuba by Necessity and by Right should belong to the United States
"I frankly confess," wrote one of the founding fathers of the U.S. nation, Thomas Jefferson, in 1807, "that I have always regarded Cuba as the most interesting addition that can be made to our system of state."

Later, in 1823, the U.S. Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, announced Cuba's geographic fatalism using the doctrine of the" mature fruit," saying that "There are laws of political as well as physical gravitation; and if can apple, severed by the tempest from its native tree, can not choose but fall to the ground, Cuba forcibly disjoined from its unnatural connection with Spain and incapable of self-support, can gravitate only toward the North American Union, which, by the same law of nature, can not cast her off from its bosom."

Another figure of the time is James Monroe, the proponent of the famous doctrine "America for the Americans" and U.S. president, to who Thomas Jefferson writes: "the annexation of Cuba to our Confederation is precisely what is needed to complete our national power and maximize its interests."

In May 1847, the New York Sun newspaper states in one of its editorials that "Due to its geographic position, Cuba by necessity and by right, should belong to the United States; it can and should be ours."

One year later, the then U.S. President, Polk would make preparations, along with Spain, for acquiring Cuba through payment. The Creole de Neuva Orleans daily reflected the essence of this Yankee craving: "Cuba, by destiny of Providence, belongs to the United States and should be Americanized."

The "Americanization" of Cuba, being shaped in U.S. political opinion during the nineteenth century, found its expression in an absolute disdain for the Cubans.

In 1852, the El Delta de Neuva Orleans daily explained that "Its language [that of the Cubans] will be the first thing to disappear, because the bastard latin language of that nation will scarcely be able to resist, for any length of time, the competitive power of the vigorous, robust English... Their political sentimentalism and anarchic tendencies will rapidly follow the language and gradually, the absorption of the people will be complete, all thanks to the inevitable domination of the American mind over an inferior race."

Of course, the geographic prominence immediately became felt in the field of economics. About 1828, thirty-nine percent of total Cuban imports came from the United States, with Spain only accounting for twenty-six percent. In 1860, the dependence was already greater, the United States absorbing sixty-two percent of Cuban exports, Great Britain twenty-two percent and Spain only three percent.

In 1881, the U.S. Consul in Cuba is already in a position to state in its consular report that "Commerically, Cuba has been transformed into a U.S. dependency, although politically it continutes to depend on Spain." In 1884, the United States absorbed eighty-five percent of Cuba's total production.

Put that Country Right even if it Means Treating it Like Sodom and Gomorrah
During the final decade of the last century, U.S. political sectors began to reach the conclusion that the "Cuban fruit" was ripe for devouring.

In November 1891, Munsey Magazine once again insisted on the purchase of the Cuban island, asserting its vital geographical location for defending the United States and its use as a destination for excess U.S. production. At the same time, it expressed clearly the desire to do all possible to expropriate Cuban territory stating "It can be declared with almost total certainty that, before long, Cuba will be ours."

Another publication, the American Magazine of Civics, outlined, in 1985, various opinions concerning the annexing of Cuba, including prominent Wall Street figures such as Frederick R. Condert who declared, "My mouth waters each time I think of Cuba as one of the states belonging to our family."

"If we do not seize power in Cuba, " wrote Theodore Roosevelt on September 23, 1897, then undersecretary of the U.S. Marines at the time, "the island will remain in the hands of a weak and decadent nation and the possibility of acquiring Cuba will be lost forever. I do not believe that Cuba can be pacified through autonomy (promised by Spain at that time to the island) and I am confident that, in the not too distant future, there will take place here such occurrences, that we shall have no other choice but to intervene."

The true objectives behind the intervention are revealingly expressed in the communiqué, dated December 24, 1897, from Mr. Breckenridge, U.S. under-secretary of war to Lieutenant General of the U.S. army N.S. Miles, appointed general-in-chief of the intervention forces.

What did that Communiqué Say?
"Encompassing a greater area, Cuba has a greater population than Puerto Rico. This consists of white, blacks, Asians, and their mixes. The inhabitants are generally indolent and apathetic. It is obvious that the immediate annexation to our Federation of such troublesome elements, in such great numbers, would be a fatal mistake and before running the country web must put it in order, even if that means applying the measures carried out by Divine Providence at Sodom and Gomorrah.

"We shall have to destroy everything within reach of our cannons with weapons and fire. We shall have to implement an extremely intense blockade so that the constant presence of hunger and disease decimates their civilian population and diminishes their army. And the allied army [referring to the Cuban liberation army] shall have to continuously carry out scouting and from line fighting, thus constantly suffering war from two fronts, in addition to having to carry out all the dangerous and desparate expeditions."

The imminent victory of the Cuban independence movement was thwarted instantly by U.S. intervention and the emergence of a new state, as happened in the rest of Latin America, did not take place, all the colonial power structures having been maintained at their disposal, thus enabling them to go ahead with their contrived plans to make the island totally independent.

Perhaps due to that annexationist conviction, one already formulated in the United States, the first decision adopted by Tomás Estrada Palma, once the U.S. intervention in the Cuban-Spanish conflict had begun, was to betray the memory of José Martí and dissolve the Cuban Revolutionary Party, which Martí had successfully made the uniting force behind the independence struggle. The result was the fragmentation of the Cuban revolutionary movement into fifty-seven parties or political groupings!

Having achieved their aims with intervention, General Leonard Wood, the U.S. military governor in Cuba, wrote to the U.S. War Secretary, E. Root, that "All Americans and all Cubans looking to the future know that the island will form part of the United States and that it is just as much in our interest as theirs to secure its position."

The proof that the United States wanted to use to maximum advantage its unlimited powers to serve its own interests, is that, for example, Leonard Wood, governor in Cuba from December 1899 to May 1902, granted U.S. companies 223 concessions for the exploitation of the island's most valuable resources.

In addition, there was also governor Wood's Military Order No. 62, more commonly known by the Cubans of the time as the "Dispossession Act." Also the incredible paradox that U.S. President had more powers in a foreign country than in his own, for example he was able to modify Cuban customs duties, when he was unable to do so in the United States, those powers falling within the jurisdiction of the Congress. The result was the ruin of the independent Cuban producers and the loss of their properties.

A newspaper in the state of Louisiana remarked at the time that "Little by little, the whole island is passing into the hands of American citizens, which is the shortest and surest way of obtaining annexation to the United States."

With our Platt Amendment We have given Them Little or No Independence
The zeal to distribute territory, on the part of the great European powers at the end of the nineteenth century and the U.S. diplomatic need to avoid friction in the midst of these contradictions, combined with resistance to annexation on the part of most of the Cuban population, forced the United States to look for some kind of formula giving the Cubans their republic, but only mediated on the condition that those elected yielded to U.S. interests.

With this background, on February 9, 1901, the U.S. War Secretary, E. Root, sent a letter to Governor Wood setting out the five conditions on which Cuban-U.S. relations should be based:

  1. to recognize the right of the United States to intervene in Cuba's internal affairs.

  2. to limit Cuba's right to sign agreements and treaties with foreign powers or grant them any kind of privileges without previous agreement of the United States.

  3. to limit Cuba's right to receive loans abroad.

  4. to recognize the right of the United States to acquire land and have naval bases in Cuba.

  5. the recognition and observance by Cuba of all laws declared by the U.S. military authorities and the rights proceeding from these laws.
Senator Orville H. Platt, on presenting his amendment before the U.S. Congress, would take those five points and add five clauses to them.
  1. the government of Cuba will implement and, when necessary, will fulfill existing plans and others, to be mutually agreed, for the sanitation of the population, so as to prevent epidemic and infectious diseases, thus protecting the Cuban people and Cuban commerce, as well as the commerce and people of the southern ports of the United States.

  2. the Isle of Pines will be omitted from the Cuban limits proposed by the Constitution, its ownership status to be decided upon at a further date.

  3. the government of Cuba will include the preceding decrees ina Permanent Treaty with the United States.

It was in that way that the Platt Amendment emerged from the U.S. Congress, which the Cubans were obliged to incorporate as an appendix to their Republican Constitution.

Some days after the Platt Amendment was passed, General Wood wrote to Theodore Roosevelt, the then U.S. vice president, that "Of course, with the Platt Amendment, we have left Cuba with little or no independence... The practical thing to do now is to achieve annexation. This will require some time... With the control we have over Cuba, which will undoubtedly be come possession before long, we will soon control the entire world sugar business. I believe that Cuba is a very desirable acquisition for the United States."

Wood not just exerted intense pressure on many Cuban constituents to achieve those proposals, but also engaged in manipulation, so as to limit the participation of the Cuban people during the incomplete elections of June 1900, where the U.S. rulers imposed the condition that only seven percent of the population could vote. Of 1,572,797 inhabitants, only 150,648 voters could register themselves in the census, due to the limitations established by governor Wood's declared electoral law, of whom 110,816 voted. This was the manner of the first "democratic" Cuban elections organized by the United States.

The conception of a Cuban Republic was outlined during the last year of the nineteenth century by the Review of Review publication, when it confessed that "the new Cuba will be a nation, but not a sovereign power. Internally, it will have the independence its people have longed for and for which they have fought. Externally, it will be a dependency and will fall under the protection of the great America power."

That guaranteed the composition of the first Cuban Republican government. Of the government ministers or secretaries governing the negotiated Cuban State with Tomas Estrada Palma, nine had belonged to the defunct Autonomist Party, whose protagonists worked in the service of the Spanish in the managing of the Cuban colonial state. Six were members of prominent families belonging to the Cuban sugar oligarchy and a further six - including people who, in one form or another, participated in the 1895 Revolution - had held senior posts in the U.S. occupation government.

The contempt with which the U.S. rulers held the Cubans was described by Gonzalo de Quesada, who served as Cuba's ambassador to the United States at the beginning of the century, who said that "They now proclaim (in the United States) our incapacity to function without foreign aid. They highlight our faults and mock our men...The hundreds of millions of pesos invested in Cuba are in their eyes, of more significance than intellectual and moral future. Gold demands stability, tranquility, prosperity...and peace, even though it may be that of the tombs."

What the Proconsuls Thought The following historical period concerns the behavior of the proconsuls regarding "self-conceded rights," which will be referred to in broad terms using various examples:

Charles Magoon, the "provisional governor," between 1906 and 1909 would clearly outline, in his report to the United States government, the nature of the Cuban multi-party system, when he explained to his superiors that "The people in Cuba are not very united along party ties. There are little policies, if indeed there are any at all, which cover the essential points of national politics, or indeed political principles which are truly different."

With the first U.S. intervention in Cuba's political life arrived Charles Magoon, in line with the regulations of the Platt Amendment, but with the intention of promptly opening all paths to Yankee enterprises. According to the U.S. historians Scott Nearing and Joseph Freeman in the book "Dollar Diplomacy," which they wrote in 1925, between that first U.S. military intervention and the third in 1917, U.S. economic interests expanded in the island. From 50 million dollars worth of investments in 1898, they rose to 141 million in 1909 and jumped spectacularly to 1.25 billion dollars in the mid-1920s.

Likewise, it is necessary to stress the real power of the U.S. General, Enoch Crowder, who arrived in Havana as U.S. envoy in 1921 and took total charge of the Cuban government with 15 memorandums, exercising more power than the Cuban President himself and against the slightest move towards Cuban independence.

Then, during the 1930s, the ambassador Summer Wells, in a letter to his superiors, acknowledged that "the President asks me for advice on a daily basis concerning all government decisions. These decisions range from problems of domestic policy to the discipline of the army, even including the appointment of personnel throughout all branches of government."

Later, there would come, as a personal representative of President Roosevelt, ambassador Jefferson Caffrey, whose manifest interference was such that Cuban history named one of the republican governments after him.

The security with which the United States viewed its neo-colony is demonstrated by this phrase published in the Washington Daily News, dated May 30, 1934, on the day following the "abolition" of the Platt Amendment:

Economically, Cuba will continue to be a ward of the United States. Whilst U.S. capital continues to dominate the republic's industries, land and banks and whilst the Cubans depend on U.S. trade the government and daily life of that country will be influenced in various ways by the United States.

That security resulted in the setting up in the island of over 300 U.S. companies. The "free enterprise" made it possible for 28 U.S. corporations to control one quarter of the Cuban nation's productive land and the possession of 36 sugar mills, as well as rail, mining, telephone, electric and many other companies, whilst at the same time maintaining the Guantánamo naval base and military reciprocity agreements.

There was also security in the fact that the abolition of the Platt Amendment was none other than a symbolic publicity stunt.

The Washington Post Daily, in its editorial of June 18, 1934, gave the assurance in that respect that "The United States have given up responsibility for maintaining law and order on the island, but our right to intervene to protect life and liberty still remains."

It was made completely clear in the new Permanent Treaty on bilateral relations that the rules of the new game were not changing, which is explicit in article two of that agreement signed in 1934: "All actions in Cuba carried out by the Untied States of America, during its military occupation of the island, until May 20, 1902, the date of the establishment of the Republic of Cuba, have been ratified and held as valid; and all rights legally acquired as a result of those acts will be maintained and protected."

The "status quo" resulting from the Platt Amendment remained in effect, the proof of this being the admission of one the last U.S. ambassador during the 1950s MR Earl Smith, who acknowledged, years later in his memoirs, that during his mandate until the initial days of the triumph of the Revolution, the U.S. ambassador was the second most important man on the island and on occasions exercised a more important role than the Cuban President even."

The U.S. government was almost on the point of employing the Platt Amendment's "right to intervention" as a result of the successful advance of the rebel forces led by Fidel Castro, who defeated the dictator Fulgencio Batista's army despite all the military backup of the United States.

Batista's army had risen to power through a coup d'etat staged with U.S. approval some years previously. A note from the State Department announced a possible intervention in the armed conflict, in the manner of 1898. But this time things would be different...

The Neutrality of Fidel Castro is Defiance
Nowadays they want to distort everything in the eyes of the world but the facts are there in black and white and effectively demonstrate the historical reality underlining this dispute.

What emerged in January 1959 would be none other than the self-same desire for national independence preserved for more than a century by Cuban patriots.

The Cuban Revolution emerged triumphant on January 1, 1959. Fidel Castro and his Revolutionary Forces entered Havana a week later. As early as January 15, 1959 - one week after his victorious entry into Havana - Fidel Castro gave an interview to the U.S. News and World Report publication where, referring to Cuban-U.S. relations, he declared that "We want good relations with the United States, but submission, no."

These words by Fidel, where from a position of sovereignty he announced that Cuba was not prepared to permit interference and disregard for self-determination, were interpreted by the United States as an act of aggression.

This happened some months previous to Cuba's adoption of the first Revolutionary law, the Agrarian Reform Law of May that year. The ideas underlying socialism were still far from taking root in the Cuban national conscience, but right from that moment, in January 1959, the United States politicians were furious at this demand for the respect of self-determination.

Time Magazine, in its issue dated April 6, 1959, reflected the dissent which that independent stance provoked within the U.S. government and state in an article that "Castro's neutrality is a defiance to the United States."

Nor can the Cuban government be neutral before the United States!

From that moment on, there would begin a pitiless war which has failed in all its attempts to subvert the Cuban nation and which, with the Helms-Burton Act, has just exhausted its complete arsenal of political and diplomatic reprisals.

And all that on the part of an enormous country, which on its founding in July 4, 1776, brought their people to pass a Declaration of Independence whose first, irrevocable principle recognized the natural right of each nation to decide their own future.

from: Moreover &
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Participant in Moncada attack and imprisoned subsequently; Granma expeditionary; became Rebel commander February 1958 and headed Third Front of Oriente; currently member of Central Committee and Politial Bureau of Communist Party of Cuba; headed Commission to Perpetuate the Memory of Commander Ernesto 'Che' Guevara.