Forget the <i>Maine</i>!

MIGUEL A. Bretos

in Matanzas

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780813038100
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813041568 | DOI:
Forget the Maine!

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Cuba's Oriente is privileged in the narrative of Cuba's search for independence from Spain, but the 1895 war for independence began at Ibarra, a hamlet near Matanzas City. Nearness to Havana, however, made the Matanzas insurgency vulnerable. The systematic wartime destruction of the island's sugar industry crippled Matanzas's economy. Matanzas, moreover, was the region of Cuba most affected by the Spanish government's policy of “reconcentration,” that is, the forcible removal of peasants to urban areas ill equipped to look after them. Population loss as a result of the 1895 conflict known as the Spanish–American War after the United States intervened in 1898, reached 10 per cent that of pre-war levels, a demographic catastrophe. This book's author's family was divided by the war. A great-grandfather, Americo Bretos, was an officer in the Cuban insurgent army, while another, Laurentino Garcia Alonso, was a Spanish businessman quite content with the preservation of colonial status.

Keywords: independence war; 1895; Ibarra; reconcentration; demographic catastrophe

Chapter.  7977 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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