A Cuban History Lesson

With the death of Fidel Castro, a name that many of us have heard in our history textbooks, someone who many of us thought to probably be dead already, I am able to review the history of relations between the US and Cuba. And trust me, it goes really far back. Just look at this picture of US troops in Havana!

cubanoccupationThis is a picture from 1898, but let’s pretend it goes as far back as 1798, cause US relations did go at least that far back.

Thats just to say how old it is, but I might just be stating the obvious. Well conveniently for me, with such old relations, that must mean Cuba had something to do with Manifest Destiny at some point right? If you guessed yes (I mean who didn’t?) then you’re right on the mark! In this post, I’ll be covering some of the US and Cuban relations as well as Fidel Castro’s impact on Cuba. Let’s get started!

Back in the good ol’ pre-America 1700’s, the colonies and Cuba, a Spanish colony at the time, did a whole bunch of underground trade deals. All in the name of colonial tax evasion! Well once America became independent, the Spain opened up Cuba to America for even more trade opportunities. It became a big fiesta of trade deals where everyone got richer! Soon enough, these trade agreements started taking over the actual Spanish trade connections. By this time, the 1820’s, many US officials considered annexing Cuba, but nothing came of it for decades. Probably because we were too busy on taking over the rest of mainland America. Something finally came of the desire to annex Cuba, in 1854, when US diplomats in Europe came together and drafted in secret the Ostend Manifesto. But one of the diplomats was a little too excited about annexing Cuba and screwed the whole secret part of the Ostend Manifesto.

pierre_soulc3a9_2The US can thank this guy (Pierre Soulé) for screwing them out of Cuba.

Everyone called for the US to publish it and when they did, boy were a lot of folks pissed, both in Europe and back at home. Why were people back at home mad though? Weren’t they all for Manifest Destiny and expanding?

Well the Ostend Manifesto called for the annexing of Cuba should Spain decline America’s offer to buy it, but it also meant that annexing Cuba would turn it into a slave state. And that was a big no-no as tensions between abolitionist North and pro-slavery South were at a high point. Because of this the US lost it’s chance to take over Cuba. This sort of showed that the forces behind Manifest Destiny weren’t as powerful as they seemed to be. There was a force lying beneath it, undermining it. And that would be the conflicting interests between pro and anti slavery, and Manifest Destiny would be dealt its final blow with the outbreak of the American Civil War.

Fast forwarding by about a century, past Cuba’s independence with the help of America to the American backed dictator of Cuba, to his overthrow by the one and only, Fidel Castro. With Fidel Castro, he pushed Cuba away from Capitalism, through agrarian reforms and nationalizing industries. This of course wasn’t appreciate very much by the US, and relations between the both of them plummeted into the abyss very rapidly. As in US cut off all diplomatic relations and put up a bunch of embargoes against Cuba. Those embargoes they put up also forced Cuba to look for petroleum through the Soviet Union instead of the US, so the US was partially to blame for Cuba’s association to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.  They even tried to overthrow the Cuban government in the failed but infamous Bay of Pigs invasion. They also planned to assassinate Fidel himself many times. The situation reached a climax during the Cuban Missile CrisisAs Mr. Montes, a Cuban who lived under Castro’s rule said, “The Cuban missile crisis and the American trade embargo only strengthened the siege mentality that Mr. Castro relied on for decades, as he argued repeatedly that Cuba must remain under tight control lest the northern imperialists invade and turn the island into an American fief.”

Castro would continue to rule until 2006, handing rule of Cuba over to his brother Raul Castro due to health issues. Since the Missile Crisis to Fidel Castro’s retirement, US and Cuban relations were constantly at ups and downs, where whenever restrictions were loosened during one administration, subsequent administrations would place more more restrictions on Cuba. This trend continued all the way up until Obama came to presidency, who has since been thawing out relations between the two countries. However with Trumps attitude towards Cuba, things don’t look to be very promising in the future.

Cover Photo

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3 thoughts on “A Cuban History Lesson

  1. After hearing about the death of Fidel Castro, I was curious more about Cuba’s history since I don’t really know much about it, so I enjoyed getting to read this post. It was also interesting to read about it and how it pertains to the Manifest Destiny as well, and I think that you did a good job with this blog post!

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  2. Hmmm, I didn’t know much about Cuba to begin with so your blog was somewhat of a history lesson, and I appreciate that or else I would’ve been lost when you made your point about Manifest Destiny being stopped by something America valued more than land. Slavery. It built up to it. I dont have many critiques when it comes to your writing because I get so pulled in by your tone. You keep it real.

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  3. I agree with the previous comments that the background you gave on Cuba was interesting and helpful. In addition, I thought the way you analyzed the influence of Manifest destiny versus the influence of slavery was fascinating. As Marcella commented, you have a down to earth tone that grabs people’s attention. Good job!

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