11.16.2007

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned

A break from revisionist history.

Inspired by a debate comment on Renegade Eye's blog, I thought I would delve into the history between US - Cuban relations, and the reasons behind an embargo that should have ended decades ago. In part, as an answer to Sonia, and in part as a further revelation in the sordid history of international economic domination on behalf of the United States. As many of your know by now, I'm a huge fan of John Perkins. The reading that I have been doing about US relations with Cuba prior to 1959, and indeed prior to the turn of the century tells me just how long this country has been practicing the art of economically forced political alliances (AKA economic hitmen), and Dealing with the Devil, among other forms of shady international dealings.

It all starts around 1818, after trade lines opened up between Cuba and the US. Although Cuba at the time was still a Spanish colony, the United States began to see Cuba as something to be bought, had, and controlled - like a buxom woman in a tight gown. [1]

In 1820 Thomas Jefferson thought Cuba "the most interesting addition which could ever be made to our system of States" and told Secretary of War John C. Calhoun that the United States "ought, at the first possible opportunity, to take Cuba."[2]


In 1854, under the document titled the Ostend Manifesto [3] US diplomats drew up plans to acquire Cuba from Spain for approximately $130 million dollars. The Manifesto failed when it was made public, due to anti-slavery concerns from the North. [Hugh Thomas. Cuba : The pursuit for freedom. p.134-5]

Again, in 1897, President McKinley offered to buy Cuba - this time for $300 million, and was rejected, leading into the Spanish-American War. [4] This war was fought by the US, to help Cuba gain its independence from Spain, when Spain refused to end the conflict peacefully, allowing Cuba to come into its own. As noble as this sounds, the US had ulterior motives, as always. Due to growing industry trade, considering the US now accounted for more than 80% of Cuban export and was a monopsony with regards to Cuban trade. Desire to make Cuba part of the US was evident enough for Henry M Teller to propose his amendment Teller Amendment which prevented the US from annexing Cuba once it was independent from Spain. It allowed for US military presence until the conflict was over, and until the government was stable, but leaving all aspects of governance to Cuba and its citizens.[5]

At the end of the Spanish-American War, references state this:
On the 10th of December 1898 Spain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris and in accordance with the treaty Spain renounced all rights to Cuba. The treaty put an end to the Spanish Empire in the Americas marking the beginning of United States expansion and long term political dominance over the region. Immediately after the signing of the treaty, the US-owned "Island of Cuba Real Estate Company" opened for business to sell Cuban land to Americans.[9] U.S. military rule of the island lasted until 1902 when Cuba was finally granted formal independence.
The economic dominance begins in earnest.

The neutral and somewhat vague Teller Amendment only lasted until 1901, when the Platt Amendment replaced the Teller Amendment with constrictive regulations on trade, sales, governance, and ownership of property in Cuba.
The amendment ceded to the United States the naval base in Cuba (Guantánamo Bay), stipulated that Cuba would not transfer Cuban land to any power other than the United States, mandated that Cuba would contract no foreign debt without guarantees that the interest could be served from ordinary revenues, ensured U.S. intervention in Cuban affairs when the United States deemed necessary, prohibited Cuba from negotiating treaties with any country other than the United States "which will impair or tend to impair the independence of Cuba" or "permit any foreign power or powers to obtain ... lodgement in or control over any portion" of Cuba, and provided for a formal treaty detailing all the foregoing provisions.[6]


Although US military occupation in Cuba ended in 1902, Cuba quickly became the playground of the rich. In fact, the surge of Americans taking advantage crumbling economy due to thirty years of conflict had started long before this point, but with stricter trade agreements and property rights under the Platt Amendment, the US was ready to unofficially, and economically annex Cuba.

By 1926 U.S companies owned 60% of the Cuban sugar industry and imported 95% of the total Cuban crop,[10] and Washington was generally supportive of successive Cuban Governments. However, internal confrontations between the government of Gerardo Machado and political opposition led to a military overthrow by Cuban rebels in 1933.[7]


Machado's replacement, Grau nullified the Platt Amendment, presumably because it was unfair. Our government recognized this as a threat to US interests, and refused to acknowledge the Cuban government under his rule. [8, 9]

Enter in the puppet president, Batista. A general in the Army gave rise to a de facto president, and was supported by our government. (Sound familiar? We have continued this pattern in recent times.) Consider this, Grau was dismissed by our government as communist, yet Batista was actually funded and supported, at one time, by the old Cuban Communist party. Batista was also known for opening up Cuba to American gangsters, and gambling, while tightening restrictions on Cubans.
Due to growing popular opposition and unrest, manifested by the Cuban people with increasing acts of civil disobedience, and in order to appease the growing concerns in Washington, Batista held an election in 1954 in which he was the only legal candidate. Without opposition, he obviously won, becoming president of Cuba in 1954, prompting yet even more waves of civil unrest.[...]By late 1955 student riots and anti-Batista demonstration had become frequent. These were dealt with in the violent manner his military police had come to represent. Students attempting to march from the University of Havana were stopped and beaten by the police, and student leader José A. Echeverría had to be hospitalized. Another popular student leader was killed on December 10, leading to a funeral that became a gigantic political protest with a 5-minute nationwide work stoppage.

Instead of loosening his grip, Batista suspended constitutional guarantees and established tighter censorship of the media. His military police would patrol the streets and pick up anyone suspected of insurrection. By the end of 1955 they had grown more prone to violent acts of brutality and torture, with no fear of legal repercussions.

In March of 1956 Batista refused to consider a proposal calling for elections by the end of the year. He was confident that he could defeat any revolutionary attempt from the many factions who opposed him.


This is important to note, Batista was seen as a dictator, who suspended constitutional rights at least twice, and operated under the strict guidance of the US government. It is clear that Cubans objected - sometimes violently - to his rule. During his reign he allowed the US to buy up companies, and land from Cubans, regardless of the civil and economic unrest it caused with the citizens of Cuba.

Batista had always leaned toward the United States. I don't think we ever had a better friend. It was regrettable, like all South Americans, that he was known-although I had no absolute knowledge of it-to be getting a cut, I think is the word for it, in almost all the, things that were done. But, on the other hand, he was doing an amazing job.[12]


The move was vehemently opposed by U.S. ambassador Earl T. Smith, and led U.S. state department advisor William Wieland to lament that "I know Batista is considered by many as a son of a bitch... but American interests come first... at least he was our son of a bitch."[13]
In reference to the US opting not to support Batista by supplying arms to Cuba while Castro lead the revolution that led to Batista's political demise.

Hey, at least the guy was honest about it.

When Castro with the aid of Che Guevara overthrew the US puppet government, they immediately sought changes. First and foremost, they wanted the US political influence and power plays out of Cuba. Some of the first actions taken by the new government were documented by Castro, which you can read here: The case of Cuba is the case of all underdeveloped countries. They worried about the state of the Cuban economy, and sought to nationalize companies that had been allowed to be owned by US companies. A list of companies that had been nationalized can be seen here. It should be noted that most companies are still alive and kicking today - the nationalization of said companies didn't prevent them from prospering in business outside of Cuba.

More about the nationalization of US companies can be read here. Basically, to answer Sonia's query about "taking back" companies, yes Cuba was indeed taking back companies that had been sold out from under them while being under constitutional restrictions akin to Martial Law, topped with decades of war and poverty. They didn't just take back companies however, they took back their country. The Platt Amendment had put Cuba into a trade based strangle hold, an economically crippling tactic, still used by our government today. Think about it in these terms, if someone holds you hostage, takes your things, and you get free, whats the first thing you're going to do? Get yuor things back. Thats what.

The US government sought not only to punish Cuba for its national infidelities, but other countries who sought trade with Cuba as well. Then the US froze Cuban accounts, and used the money in them to file lawsuits against Cuba. This was purely a revenge tactic.

The fact that the UN has repeatedly asked for the embargo to be stopped doesn't make a difference. The fact that other countries have come to resent the US for its stalwart position on global trade rules with Cuba, doesn't make a difference. The fact that the vast majority of Cubans enduring the punishment in the here and now had nothing to do with political power plays, revolution, or nationalization of companies doesn't matter on whit to our Government.

If the US can't have Cuba, no one can have her.

7 comments:

Renegade Eye said...

Thank you for taking part in the discussion at my blog. I try to find good fighters to debate issues, on my blog.

Thank you for your historical summary.

In addition Cuba offered compensation to companies, but the US thought it was too little.

I think Bush has been particulary provocative, sending signals to the Cuban military in his recent speeches. I think he wants chaos there, so European interests would be hurt.

Regards.

Anok said...

Ren, I have a reference to the offer from Cuba somewhere.....somewhere in that nightmare called "bookmarks, political folder". When I find it, I'll post it up, if for nothing else but posterity. But I do remember reading that, I just forgot to add it. (Thanks for reminding me though!)

Otherwise no problem, I'm enjoying the debate and I'm always grateful when I get inspiration to write from a debate or discussion. Sonia has given me much to think about, and much to research. Thats always good.

Anon-Paranoid said...

anok...
It has always been the case that when there are dictators we support whatever they do.

We did it in Iraq when Saddam was our dictator, but when he turned against us we destroyed not only him, but Iraq as well.

Now were seeing the destruction in Pakistan by another dictator we support.

Der Fuhrer Adolph Bush is pure evil just like everyone in his employ is.

Its time we give serious thought about being willing to fight for the return of our Constitution when he declares Martial Law.

That day is coming soon as time runs out before the next election is due.

He can not let elections take place as it will put him in jeopardy of arrest and trial for Treason and War Crimes.

Good post.

God Bless.

sonia said...

Nice summary of conventional liberal wisdom about Cuba. It's correct on facts, but completely misleasding on context.

1. You are outraged, OUTRAGED, that US had the temerity of trying to buy Cuba in the 19th century. I don't know if you're aware but half of US territory (from Louisiana to Iowa to Alaska) was bought with money and that was the legitimate half. The other half was conquered (either through revolution or wars). Jefferson wanted to follow Louisiana with Cuba. Why not ? Why would the Spanish-speaking Cubans be more entitled to independence than French-speaking Cajuns ?

2. You are outraged by the Platt amendement and the continuous interference in Cuban affairs. But what about Puertio Rico ? US policy towards Puerto Rico was IDENTICAL. Both are former Spanish colonies. Both are Carribean islands. Both are fertile sources of immigration towards United States. Recently, there was a referendum on Puerto Rico. People were sharply divided. Half wanted to become a US state. The other half wanted to keep the colonial status quo. Independence was supported by 2% of Puerto Ricans.

Are Cubans better people than Puerto Ricans ? I bet if a genuine referendum was called in Cuba, the results would be very similar. Even if Miami Cubans were prevented from voting, less than 10% of Cubans would vote for independence.

And here's the heart of the matter. Castro's dictatorship doesn't exist in order to build socialism. Socialism is an excuse. It exist for the sole purpose of PREVENTING THE HISTORICALLY INEVITABLE MERGER OF CUBA WITH UNITED STATES. A tiny minority of Cubans don't want that merger and will go to any length, including starving their own countrymen, to prevent it.

But the merger is already under way. There are already 2 million + Cubans in Miami. Whatever happens in Cuba and in United States, this is an irreversible fact on the ground. Similar things is occuring in South-Western United States. US nationalists see it as a threat to themselves. It is. It is the future of North America in the making. 100 years from now, there won't be a border on the Rio Grande. There will be a single, bilingual country stretching from the Bering Straits to Chiapas to Cuba. Don't worry. The rights of the English-speaking minority in that country will be well protected.

George W. Bush's nephew is Hispanic. Remember "Giant" (1956) ? I suggest you watch it. This is the future leadership of Estados Unidos...

Once the ligua franca was Latin. Today it's English. Tomorrow it will be Spanish. And this idiot asshole Castro is trying to prevent it. Why ?

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Anok said...

I find it interesting that in the entirety of your reply, there is no mention of the use of monopsonies and monopolies as a loaded weapon with regards to forcing Cuba into a political alliance they did not want - nor the mention of how both economic strategies are inherently against the principles of free trade (and some forms of capitalism), that the US holds so near and dear. No mention of how citizens in Cuba who played no part in the revolution (anyone born post 1949 giver or take was simply not old enough to have any part in it), are the ones now being punished for it.

Nice summary of conventional liberal wisdom about Cuba. It's correct on facts, but completely misleasding on context.

Considering the fact that about 70% of the "context" in the post consists of quotes from leaders, and historical documentation and only a small percentage is my opinion, I'd have to argue with the notion of the "context" being misleading. Unless you think facts are misleading...

1. You are outraged, OUTRAGED, that US had the temerity of trying to buy Cuba in the 19th century.

Actually, I'm not outraged at that fact, and have not offered any opinion to support your assumption that I am. What I oppose is the idea that if an offer to buy a territory is refused or rejected, that one can simply use monopolies and monopsonies to steal it.

I don't know if you're aware but half of US territory (from Louisiana to Iowa to Alaska) was bought with money and that was the legitimate half. The other half was conquered (either through revolution or wars).

Yes I was aware of that, your point is...? I am well aware that the US has engaged in shady dealings, illegal acts, and downright nastiness in the attempts to gain land, control, and power throughout history. The fact that "its been done before" doesn't actually mean that it is acceptable behavior. If that was the case, we'd still own slaves. After all, its been done before, and it was OK then.

Jefferson wanted to follow Louisiana with Cuba. Why not ?

Why not indeed. The question isn't about what Jefferson wanted to do, but rather how it was done. And whether the US acted in a manner that justifies an almost 50 year embargo, when the offer to buy Cuba was rejected, first by the US citizens, then by Spain.

Why would the Spanish-speaking Cubans be more entitled to independence than French-speaking Cajuns ?

Gee, I don't know, why is any country entitled to independence? Why was the US entitled to independence from England? Why are people entitled to freedom at all? Why are you talking about countries, and territories other than Cuba, in this debate? You state these assumptions of yours as if it changes the whole debate. It doesn't.

2. You are outraged by the Platt amendement and the continuous interference in Cuban affairs. But what about Puertio Rico ? US policy towards Puerto Rico was IDENTICAL.

What I oppose to in the Platt Amendment isn't to whom it was applied, but the fact that it was applied at all. It goes against what the US supposedly stands for - freedom.

And, again, what about Puerto Rico? Who says I'm not against US foreign policies towards Puerto Rico, or any other country? We are debating US- Cuban relations, not Puerto Rico - US relations.

However, obviously, the US's treatment of Puerto Rico was not identical. If it was, they would have an embargo against them too, which they don't, or they would have been bought or annexed, which they weren't.

Both are former Spanish colonies. Both are Carribean islands. Both are fertile sources of immigration towards United States. Recently, there was a referendum on Puerto Rico. People were sharply divided. Half wanted to become a US state. The other half wanted to keep the colonial status quo. Independence was supported by 2% of Puerto Ricans.

Do you have stats to back up what you are stating? And in any case, we are discussing Cuba. If you would like to debate US foreign policy with regards to other countries, please feel free to start a debate.

Are Cubans better people than Puerto Ricans ? I bet if a genuine referendum was called in Cuba, the results would be very similar. Even if Miami Cubans were prevented from voting, less than 10% of Cubans would vote for independence.

You're operating on assumptions about my political ideologies for which you are seriously uniformed. A discussion about Cuba does not mean that Puerto Ricans are less than. Its a nice diversionary debate tactic, however. As for your "betting" on what Cubans would and would not want - do you have anything to back it up? Or is this just based on your opinion?

And here's the heart of the matter. Castro's dictatorship doesn't exist in order to build socialism. Socialism is an excuse. It exist for the sole purpose of PREVENTING THE HISTORICALLY INEVITABLE MERGER OF CUBA WITH UNITED STATES.

Lets just take a look at history for a moment here. If merger with the US is inevitable, as you seem to believe, then why hasn't it happened yet? Cuba has proved to be more than resourceful in not becoming the 51st state of the US, or to show any dependence on the US whatsoever. The idea that once the embargo is lifted, Cuba will be forced to rely on the US is ridiculous. If anything, opening up honest to goodness trade lines with the rest of the world will only strengthen Cuba's already independent economy - which will make your inevitability non existent.

A tiny minority of Cubans don't want that merger and will go to any length, including starving their own countrymen, to prevent it.

Do you have facts to back up that assertion?

But the merger is already under way. There are already 2 million + Cubans in Miami.

Immigration from one country to another does not guarantee a merger between countries. In fact, it is not even an indication of a merger, an annexation, or a colonization of a country. Your assertion is a logical fallacy, and a disingenuous one at that. If what you say was actually true, then the US would have politically assimilated or annexed many other countries by this point. You'd do well to remember that the US was made up entirely of immigrants, and continued to take in swarms of immigrants for decades.

Whatever happens in Cuba and in United States, this is an irreversible fact on the ground.

What is an irreversible fact? That people move from country to country? No shit.

Similar things is occuring in South-Western United States. US nationalists see it as a threat to themselves. It is. It is the future of North America in the making. 100 years from now, there won't be a border on the Rio Grande. There will be a single, bilingual country stretching from the Bering Straits to Chiapas to Cuba. Don't worry. The rights of the English-speaking minority in that country will be well protected.

What are you babbling on about? If you are referring to white supremacists as the worried "nationalists" you should seriously reconsider your source of information and basis of opinion.

If you have some sort of non anecdotal (and apparently racist) evidence that international borders are dissolving in the Americas, and that "white english speaking people" are in danger of being assimilated into a culture not their own, then provide it please.

Then again, if you re-read your previous statement above, the whole issue has been done before, by countless of countries, and, by your standards, is perfectly acceptable. So which is it?

George W. Bush's nephew is Hispanic. Remember "Giant" (1956) ? I suggest you watch it. This is the future leadership of Estados Unidos...

Whats the matter, you don't want to become a colony of some other country? By your words, why are we entitled to independence? Are we better than any other country? Why shouldn't we be taken over, bought, sold, or economically strangled?

Oh, I forgot - its only acceptable to do that to other countries. As long as it doesn't happen to you, its OK. Fuck the rest of the world.

Once the ligua franca was Latin. Today it's English. Tomorrow it will be Spanish. And this idiot asshole Castro is trying to prevent it. Why ?

Perhaps its because he doesn't subscribe to the same selfish money driven ideologies of the US? The real question however, is this:

If lifting the embargo will force Cuba to become an annex of the US, at a benefit to the US, then why is the US preventing it? Because it is, in fact, the US that is preventing it, not Cuba.

sonia said...

Do you have stats to back up what you are stating?

Yes, I have.

1967
Commonwealth: 60.4%
Statehood: 39.0%
Independence: 0.6%

1993
Commonwealth: 48.9%
Statehood: 46.6%
Independence: 4.5%

1998
Commonwealth: 50.3%
Statehood: 46.5%
Independence: 2.5%

, As for your "betting" on what Cubans would and would not want - do you have anything to back it up? Or is this just based on your opinion?

Unfortunately, unlike in Puerto Rico, there were no refendums in Cuba. Castro doesn't allow it. So I have no proof, just a hunch.

If what you say was actually true, then the US would have politically assimilated or annexed many other countries by this point.

They did. Texas used to be an independent country. Hawaii used to be an independent country.

If you have some sort of non anecdotal (and apparently racist) evidence that international borders are dissolving in the Americas, and that "white english speaking people" are in danger of being assimilated into a culture not their own, then provide it please.

I am not saying that they are "in danger". I am saying that demography determines political future. I am saying that the future belongs to the Hispanic people and I am saying that it is a good thing.

Fighting against it is as futile as American Indians fighting against Europeans colonizers. Waste of time.

By your words, why are we entitled to independence?

The only "entitlements" that can be seen are the cemeteries at Yorktown, Saratoga, Bunker Hill, Lexington, Concord, etc.

Are we better than any other country? Why shouldn't we be taken over, bought, sold, or economically strangled?

If your military enrollement continues to fall, like the US leftists triumphantly claim, you will not only be "taken over, bought, sold or economically strangled", but you will deserve to be as well...

If lifting the embargo will force Cuba to become an annex of the US, at a benefit to the US, then why is the US preventing it? Because it is, in fact, the US that is preventing it, not Cuba.

Lifting of the embargo won't "force Cuba to become an annex of the US, at a benefit to the US". The fall of Castro's dictatorship will.