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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.
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.
In what follows, I offer a number of vignettes or moments in Cuban history that illustrate the related operations of imperialism and anti-imperialism, of the ways that anti-imperialist struggles rely upon and resist an imperialism that can never be fully opposed or pinned down, and of the various uses to which anti-imperialist rhetoric has been put.
As we shall see, it has been used to preserve a racist economic and social order, to advance political independence or thwart it, to challenge U. domination, and to question the anti-imperialist credentials of the Cuban revolution.
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.-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.Cuba established mercantile relations with the British Empire, including with the North American colonies, whose own rebellion led to even greater trade with Cuba.The occupation also left behind the industrial equipment and slaves that formed the foundations of a sugar economy.In all these cases, anti-imperialism could not always be so easily disentangled from imperialism as a specific practice of nation states, or the larger logic of empire, as these limited the options available to the anti-imperial struggle.Cuba emerged as a flashpoint for competing empires soon after the Spanish conquest of the island in 1492.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).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.