Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York

By Agustín Laó-Montes; Arlene Dávila | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
“No Country But the One
We Must Fight For”

The Emergence of an Antillean Nation and
Community in New York City, 1860–1901
Nancy Raquel Mirabal

Cubans and Puerto Ricans! We suffer a common injustice. Let us be one in the revolution and in calling for the independence of Cuba and Puerto Rico. And tomorrow we shall be able to form a confederation of the Antilles!

Comité Revolucionario de Puerto Rico, New York, 18671

We have, Cubans, no country but the one we must fight for.

José Martí2

In 1868 anticolonial forces in Puerto Rico and Cuba revolted against the Spanish colonial government. For revolutionaries in Puerto Rico, the rebellion known as the Grito de Lares would be short-lived, lasting no longer than a month. For those in Cuba, on the other hand, the rebellion would turn into a ten-year struggle, becoming one of the longest revolutionary wars in Cuban history. The failure of Cubans to achieve independence during the Grito de Yara would spark further revolutionary efforts, including La Guerra Chiquita in 1879 and the Cuban War for Independence in 1895. 3

Despite the differences in the length of each rebellion, both efforts at gaining independence greatly influenced how Puerto Rican and Cuban migrants in New York City would view themselves, their community, and their role in creating a distinct and independent nation. 4 This is not to say, however, that Puerto Rican and Cuban migrants agreed on a singular vision of what constituted nation, community, or a nationalist identity. On the contrary, the differences in opinion and in strategies employed would divide the migrant community and cause tensions among various factions. The annexationists and autonomists as well as the independentistas were locked in a political battle that often left the migrant community fragmented and tension filled. 5 At the center of much of the disagreement were questions related to class, race, and the involvement of the United States. In turn, these questions disrupted definitions of what constituted a shared political

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