The Thwarting of Cuban Autonomy

The United States emerged from the Spanish-American War in 1898 as a world power. But much was assumed in that war which was not true, for instance, the need to Christianize the Philippines (a Catholic nation since the sixteenth century), or to introduce Cuba and Puerto Rico to representative government (both islands had been represented in the Madrid parliament since 1878, and been granted home-rule and universal suffrage early in 1898). Kipling’s injunction to the United States to “take up the white man’s burden” was also preposterous, since the majority of Cubans and Puerto Ricans at that time were white by any standards except perhaps the American “one drop rule.” Finally, eighty years after the Americans blamed the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor on Spanish perfidy, a meticulous study by US. Admiral Hyman Rickover confirmed, as did the Spanish commission’s own report of 1898, that the coal bunkers of the battleship were dangerously close to the magazine, and that a spontaneous combustion had caused the explosion.

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