The Myth of José Martí: Conflicting Nationalisms in Early Twentieth-Century Cuba

By Lillian Guerra | Go to book overview

THREE
Cuba Libre in Crisis
The Origins of U.S. Imperial
Hegemony, 1898–1902

BY JULY 1898, the U.S. and Cuban militaries had achieved victory over Spain. Yet, Cuba’s thirty-year struggle for independence had come to an ambiguous and confusing end. Cuban rebels had no other choice than to make the most out of a situation they could neither predict nor control. For emigré activists and supporters, the coming months would bring more anxiety than joy. Everywhere, former sources of U.S. support for Cuban independence seemed to have reversed course. Not only did the United States exclude Cuban rebels from claiming their own victory over the Spanish, but U.S. diplomats barred representatives of the Cuban forces from peace talks in Paris, thereby allowing Spain to cede sovereignty over the island to the United States. Meanwhile, U.S. press accounts of the war advanced the view that because Cubans had supposedly mattered little in the struggle against Spain, they now mattered even less in the political process that would determine its results.1

Within weeks of the Spanish surrender, three different institutions had emerged to represent the Revolution, each claiming the greater right to defend and achieve the goal of independence from the United States. The U.S. occupation of the island suddenly made U.S. officials the principal power brokers and mediators of differences among leaders of the civilian and armed wings of the Revolution. The army, under Máximo Gómez, refused to lay down its arms without guarantees of independence from the United States. The PRC in New York continued to assert its right to command negotiations in Washington. At the same time, the legislative and executive branches of what had been the Government of the Republic-in-Arms during the war reorganized themselves into the Representative Assembly of Santa Cruz, Camagüey, with the claim of con-

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