The Spanish-American War and Cuba

Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders

  • The U.S. fought Spain over Spanish colonial policies in Cuba
  • Theodore Roosevelt was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy prior to his position as President of the United States
    • Having resigned in 1898, he redirected his efforts into organizing the first voluntary cavalry in the Spanish-American War, otherwise known as the Rough Riders
  • Roosevelt and his Rough Riders were a diverse group. They received the most publicity of any unit in the army during the war
    • Roosevelt recruited a distinct group of miners, cowboys, Native Americans and law enforcement officials to join the Rough Riders
  • They participated in the seizure of Kettle Hill and the capture of San Juan Ridge
    • The Rough Riders are best commemorated for their charge up San Juan Hill (highest point of the ridge) on July 1, 1898.

The Spanish fleet fled Cuba a few days after the Rough Riders’ charge up San Juan Hill. The US would emerge from the war a few weeks after victorious.

The Cuban Pacification / Occupation (September 1906 – February 1909)

  • The Platt Amendment (1901) stipulated terms for U.S. intervention in Cuba that virtually made the island a U.S. protectorate
    • With this bill, the United States established (and maintains to this day) a naval base at Guantanamo Bay
  • Cuban internal strife in mid-1906 resulted in the United States invoking the Platt Amendment and sending military troops to the nation to attempt to restore order
    • U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt ordered U.S. military forces into Cuba when the government of Cuban President Tomás Estrada Palma collapsed
    • The goal of the operation was to:
      • Hamper violence between the Cubans
      • Protect North American economic interests
      • Hold free elections

The regiment was recalled when the Cuban political situation stabilised by 1909

Cuban War (1912) / Negro Rebellion

In 1912, Cubans mounted an insurrection in defiance of Partido Independiente de Color, an Afro-Cuban political party, being outlawed.

  • The Independent Party of Color held an important role in the clash. Led by Evaristo Estenoz and to the annoyance of President José Miguel Gómez, the party quickly gained the support of a large number of Afro-Cubans

Cuban black inhabitants suffered from poor conditions, as most of them were employed in the sugarcane industry

  • Estenoz spearheaded a movement to improve the conditions which led to the First War of 1895 which was unsuccessful
  • Affairs in Cuba showed signs of disturbance in early 1912 among the Negroes, resulting in the American government detached officers and marines to Guantanamo Naval Base
    • Major George C. Thorpe commanded the force which was preconceived to be used against Mexican rebels

The Independent Party of Color had regrouped in 1912 to stage another armed uprising


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