Three wars against the Spanish empire namely La
Guerra Chiquita or the small war (1879-1880), La
Guerra de los Diez Anos or the Ten Year War(
1868-1878) which began when Carlos Manuel Cespedes
freed his slaves and finally the War of
Independence(1895-1898) led the pathways to
independence in Cuba.
The third war launched by the Cuban rebels finally
freed them from Spanish rule. In the early days of
the War of Independence there were 80,000 men made
up of Spanish regular troops, Spanish and Cuban
volunteers made up of the slaves of landowners of
rural communities in Cuba.
This number was to increase two years later to
become 240,000. Fully equipped and trained with
weapons the Spanish troops did not match the rebels.
The latter, the ‘guerilleros’ had to resort to the
environment, surprise ambush, rapid horses, machete
and help from the peasant farmers to fight the
opposing troops. This war united the veterans of the
Ten Year War namely: Josť Marti, Antonio Maceo,
Maximo Gomez, Flor Crombet and Calixto Garcia and
others to fight against colonial domination. Josť
Marti, the Cuban poet and Carlos Manuel Cespedes are
considered the fathers of Independence in Cuba.
It was after much careful thought and planning that
the War of Independence started under the leadership
of Josť Marti. According to him, independence was
the only way to get rid of Spanish domination and
have a free Cuba. And in 1895, on the battlefield in
Dos Rios in the Oriente Province, now known as the
Holguin Province, his death instead of diminishing
the spirits of his troops inspired them giving them
much strength to struggle. This inspiration then
spread to all eastern Cuba enabling the nation to
stand and fight for their freedom.
In the American-Spanish war, Cuba changed hands to
be occupied by the Americans. In fact the War
started in 1898 with the explosion of the Maine, an
American battleship sent by the President William
Mckinley to protect the Americans citizens and
American interests in Cuba.
While the Spanish said it was an internal explosion,
the Americans fervently believed it was the
underwater mines that sank the battleship killing
more than 250 crew members. Following this the
congressmen in the United Stated allowed the
President to fight the Spanish and free Cuba from
the Spanish empire.
After the victory of the Americans, Cuba gained its
independence. But on December 10, 1898 instead of
the Cuban flag it was the American flag which rose
over Havana while the Spanish one was lowered.
Though many Cuban citizens participated and died
during the wars, their troops did not parade in the
They were simply denied of the expression of their
nationalist sense of belonging by the US General
William R. Shafter. Cuba though recognized
independent; the Americans did not withdraw their
troops. It was only after the signing of the Platt
Amendments passed in the congress in 1901 and added
to the Cuban constitution that they left. The Platt
amendment specifies the lease of land for a naval
base and right to intervene in the Cuban affairs
state if American interests were in danger as well
as not to let any other foreign power to occupy any
parcel of the Cuban territory.
The Cuban flag rose in the Cuban sky only on May 20
1902.The American occupied the island from 1906
-1909 and again in 1912. However, Cuba remained
economically and politically dependant of the United
States and this till the late 1950s.