U.S.-Cuban Relations: A Survey of Twentieth-Century Historiography
More than two centuries of close and, on occasion, controversial relations between Cuba and the United States have produced a literature of vast proportions. It could hardly be otherwise. For most of these years, the island was something of a national preoccupation in the United States. Strategic factors were very much a part of these concerns, and indeed proximity alone explains much and served all but to guarantee the island a place of prominence in U.S. geopolitical calculations. Proximity facilitated North American economic penetration of Cuba, and very early the defense of U.S. interests in Cuba was as important an issue in U.S.-Cuban relations as security considerations were. Proximity also served to make the island accessible, and its location in the New World middle latitudes made it an obligatory port of call for numbers of travelers and tourists.
For many of the same reasons, the significance of the United States to Cuba was no less important. Through the nineteenth century, Cubans became increasingly dependent upon the United States as a market, as a provider of consumer goods and foodstuffs, as a source of credit and capital, and as a defender of the status quo. Proximity also facilitated Cuban travel to the United States, and because travel was so convenient and inexpensive it also served to stimulate emigration.
North Americans were more familiar to Cubans than they were to any other people in Latin America, and vice versa. Geography, strategic considerations, and vital economic concerns worked inexorably to link the destinies of both peoples. This linkage was, of course, often more a