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.
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.
Most significantly, its multiple wars of independence from Spain took place in the second half of the 19 century long after most former Spanish colonies in the Americas had gained their independence and when the United States began to assert its own imperial ambitions. The 1959 revolution promised to finally break from this legacy, but it took place in the context of a rise of the Soviet Union, which, while socialist, was not without its own imperial tendencies.
This history illustrates the complex workings of imperialism, which exercises direct control over a country’s economic, social and political spheres, but also over its ideologies, laws and domestic struggles, and often in the context of multiple imperialisms.While sugar monoculture brought modernization and prosperity, even its beneficiaries were frustrated with unwanted taxes by Spain and continued attempts to monopolize trade and public office.Moreover, many white planters blamed discussions about slavery in the Spanish Cortes in the early 19 century for slave rebellions on the island.-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.It also meant that conflict between imperial powers often produced new anti-imperial actors.Though a peace treaty returned the entire island to Spanish rule in 1763, the occupation had a number of lasting effects.This rejection of Spain led some Cubans, and especially the middle class, to look the United States as a better model, rather than rejecting imperial relations altogether. In 1823, John Quincy Adams, in a letter to the American Minister of Spain, articulated what would come to be known as the “ripe fruit” policy, citing “laws of political as well as of physical gravitation” that made Cuba’s separation from Spain and its union with the United States inevitable. offers to buy the island often worked alongside the logic of the ripe fruit theory.century, the newly independent United States had moved quickly from colony to imperial power with particular designs on Cuba. Proponents of a union argued that while Spanish tyranny had done nothing to enlighten the Cuban people in the ways of civilization and religion, Cuba would benefit from a union based both on the common interests of the two countries and the superiority of the United States. Representative argued in 1852, the annexation of Cuba meant slavery would be “extended and strengthened in the United States.” Advocate of annexation and Governor of Mississippi John Anthony Quitman argued that the destinies so intertwined that if the government did not act to annex Cuba, individual Americans should, and he advocated and prepared, but never carried out, an invasion of the island in 1854. In 1854, the United States’s Ostend Manifesto offered Spain 0 million for Cuba.While much of the work on imperialism has focused on distinguishing between different types of imperialism over time or between empire and imperialism, putting aside these considerations and focusing on various cases in Cuban history allows us to see certain slippages between the categories of imperialism, empire, and anti-imperialism.Two conditions account for the specific form these slippages have taken and for the specific political ends to which anti-imperialist discourse has been deployed.