With the signature of the Treaty
of Paris the political situation of the former colony was defined.
Cuba was not a colony any longer, but, at the same time, the
establishment of the republic neither was carried out. A transitional
period began, mediated by the direct presence of the United States
in handling the fate of islanders.
On the 1st of January 1899, the United States formally
occupies Cuba, true to its secular ambition. The question now was defining
the future of the Island. Whatever the future would be, the Government
in Washington considered it would be convenient to dissolve all institutions
that represented the Cuban liberation movement.
To this end, the US would work to increase the weaknesses and contradictions
already existing, namely, the differences between General in Chief of
the Liberation Army, Máximo Gómez, and the Representatives
of the Constitutional Assembly, the highest political body of the Revolution,
in reference to the methods used to license the Liberation Army.
Consequently, both institutions disappeared and this, together with the
dissolution of the Cuban Revolutionary Party by its delegate Tomás Estrada
Palma dispersed independence forces and left them without a leadership.
The military occupation, legitimated by the Treaty of Paris
(signed on December 10,1898) became the experimental framework in the
implementation of the policy towards Cuba. This period in the United States
was, at the same time a period of strong domestic and foreign tensions,
characterized by constant pressure and negotiations regarding governmental
Among the factors that had a bearing on the internal restlessness was
precisely the way in which the Cuban situation was manipulated by the
sectors that were, in one way or another, interested in a particular end
for such situation. In spite of the efforts of the groups in favor of
peace in the Northern nation, the annexionist trend, in any of its diverse
modalities, was opening itself a wider and wider space in the various
spheres of power. The rather pejorative concept that the Cuban people
suffered from "infantilism" was present in all the annexionist
groups. That is, the infant, meaning the Cuban people, was starting to
walk and had to have the strong arm of the father for support and protection
from any fall.
The campaign in favor of annexionism reached its climax at the end of
the government of John Brooke, the first military governor in the Island, consisting of
the idea of transferring in one single stroke the sovereignty of the Island
to a civil government that would turn Cuba into a part of the American
territory. This idea was gaining force among expansionist circles and
internal opposition and, above all, the Cuban peoples resistance
to the idea, made the new Governor, Leonard Wood
think of the need to "Americanize" the Island by means
of a long occupation. His idea had two main directions. First, a
centralized comprehensive project of reforms "from above",
which essentially aimed at the transformation of the Cuban social
context (schools, health care, judicial reforms, city councils).
Second a line of action aimed at encouraging immigration, Anglo-Saxon
of course, and a gradual colonization which would establish "from
bellow" the spirit and customs of the American society.
Second Military Gobernor. He occupied the
control of the island from December 20, 1899 up until May
None of the measures had as an objective the transformation
of the old colonial structures. On the contrary, they aimed at creating
the necessary conditions to encourage a "land market" and to
facilitate transfer of properties to the hands of US politicians, financial
tycoons, economists and planters. Meanwhile, the scarcity of investment
and loan capitals placed Cuban planters in a very difficult position,
a great disadvantage to restart business, mainly all the activities related
to the sugar industry.
However, the need for a change in policy increased every day. The issue
of how the way for annexation could be paved, not by extending occupation,
but by establishing a Republic in a short term and under certain specific
conditions had been discussed since very early in 1899. The alleged incapacity
of the Cubans to rule themselves would eventually force them to plead
for annexation with their powerful neighbor.
The first stone of the building would be passing the decisions to convene
the Cuban Constitutional Assembly according to what the Military Order
No. 301, dated on July 25, 1900 established. The Convention, according
to the military orders, should draft and adopt a Constitution for the
Cuban people and, as part of such document provide and regulate with the
Government of the United States all matters related to the relationship
between both countries and governments.
While the Cuban constitutional commission in charge of regulating
on the future relationship between Cuba and the United States was
working, the US Congress passes the Platt Amendment,
according to which the US government had the right to interfere
in the internal affairs of the Island whenever it was considered
convenient. In spite of the opposition of the delegates to the Constitutional
Assembly, the American pressure placed the Cubans in a very difficult
disjunctive: having a Republic with an amendment to the Constitution
which limited its independence or continue under a military occupation.
The Cubans had no other choice, and the Constitution was thus passed
with the Platt Amendment on June 12, 1901.
A period caricature, that expressed the corrupt
and dependent condition imposed to the Cuban people by the