Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Stirring the Melting Pot and How We Got Gitmo

The United States tried to upset Cuba's melting pot from jump. From the beginning, there was a movement to annex both Cuba and Puerto Rico, despite Spain's ownership of both islands, as well as repeated attempts to get the Cuban government to “dehumanize” its Negroes, by implementing jim crow laws and other forms of discrimination routinely practiced on the mainland.

As I said before, it was about the economy and the need for free labor to drive it along with the fear that whites would be murdered in their beds if, blacks were allowed to roam free. So, while rich Spanish/white Cuban slave and plantation owners may have agreed with the US, the government did not. Nor did the rebel forces moving toward independence.

Major General Antonio Maceo, Revolution Square, Santiago Cuba 

Jose Marti named Antonio Maceo, a black man as his Major General. He also used The Mambis. Fighters from the Dominican Republic, who took their name from a Black Spaniard named Juan Ethninius Mamby who fought in the Dominican war for independence and also for the Cubans in a previous war for freedom.

Marti made it clear to the US in his Proclamation of Montecristi, in which he outlined his policy for the War. He said: The war was to be waged by both blacks and whites, black participation was crucial for victory, Spaniards who did not object to the war were to be spared, and private property was not to be damaged if at all possible. The Proclamation did not end racial discrimination by any means. But it kept it from taking root and blossoming in Cuba, the way it did in America. Cuba, to this day recognizes African/Negro contributions to culture, while the United States still does not in any real sense of the word.

Cuba won its War for Independence with the help of the Americans, an outcome that have proven to be a two edged sword. Americans continued to meddle in Cuban affairs under the guise of “protecting” Americans as well as American interests on the Island. By the end of the War that included a military base named Guantanamo, that sits on a bay under an open ended lease, signed in 1903, still functioning today.  GITMO is infamous today for housing the alleged terrorists accused of plotting against America. Most people in the United States want it shut down, however it is still open and in use. The base also is the site of truly American fast food. Mickey D's is there as is Subway. No other American fast food exists anywhere else in Cuba.
Cannon salvaged from USS Maine which was blown up in Havana Harbor

Remnants of the War sit along the Malecon, where you can see the cannons salvaged from the remains of the USS Maine, sent in to Havana Harbor to protect citizens, but blown up as it sat in the Harbor soon after arrival. 258 people died on the ship. The remains of the ship itself sat in full view in the Harbor for the next 14 years. The bombing incident was the excuse the US used to justify its entry in the War itself.

Both Jose Marti and Antonio Maceo fell in battle, but their images are everywhere. A Marti Statue dominates Revolution Square in Havana, among other places. Marti is considered Cuba's founding father. Maceo is considered one of Cuba's greatest generals.

It is hard to describe the feelings engendered by the statue of this man, on his horse. It is a massive stone figure on a hill, located in the Revolution Square of Santiago. It simply dominates the horizon.
General Antonio Maceo

Maceo was even more controversial after death. Shortly after he was buried, he was dug up and his remains, especially his skull, were examined by a team of doctors, who concluded that his skull was “perfect.” So perfect, in fact, that Maceo could not possibly be a black man, despite his very dark appearance and his pre death claims that he was of Negro descent.

From that point on for a while, pictures of Major General Maceo were touched up. In other words, his skin was lightened to reflect his “inner whiteness.” This went on until somebody in government re-found their lost senses.

More to come...

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