• English (United Kingdom)
  • Español(Spanish Formal International)
cuba history .org - History of Cuban Nation
 

Slavery

Starting from 1790, in only thirty years, they were introduced into Cuba more African slaves than in the century and half previous.

With a population that in 1841 it already overcame the million and half of inhabitants, the Island housed an extremely polarized society; between an oligarchy of Creole landowners and big Spanish merchants and the wide slave mass, the dissimilar standard strata of society subsisted, integrated for race like black and free mulattos and the humble white from countryside and the cities, these last ones more and more remiss to carry out manual labour considered annoying and characteristic of slaves.

The slavery constituted an important source of social uncertainty, not only for the frequent manifestations of the slaves' rebelliousness - so much individual as in groups - but because the one rejects to this institution gave place to conspiracies of abolitionist purposes.

Among these they are the one headed by free black José Antonio Aponte, miscarried in Havana in 1812, and the well-known Conspiracy of the Stairway (1844),  wich originated a bloody repression. In this last one numerous slaves died, black and free mulattos among who the poet Gabriel de la Concepción Valdés (Plácido) figured.

The thieving and discriminatory colonial politics of Spain in Cuba after the loss of its possessions in the Continent, it would had frustrated in reiterated occasions the reformist expectations. This favored the development of another political current that calculated its hopes of solution of the Cuban problems in the annexation to United States.

In this attitude converged as much a sector of the pro-slavery farmers that it saw in the incorporation of Cuba to the North American Union a guarantee for the survival of the slavery - given the support that they would find in the southern states - as individuals encouraged by the possibilities that the American democracy offered in comparison with the Hispanic despotism.

The first ones, grouped in the "Club of Havana" favored the managements of purchase of the Island on the part of the government of Washington, as well as the possibilities of an invasion "liberating" headed by some North American general.

In this last direction Narciso López led his efforts, general from Venezuelan that, after having served long years in the Spanish army, he was involved in conspiratorial- annexionist affairs. López drove to Cuba two unsuccessful expeditions, and in the last one he was captured and executed by the colonial authorities in 1851.

Another more radical separatist tendency aspired to conquer the independence of Cuba. Of early appearance - in 1810 it is discovered the first independence conspiracy lead for Román de la Luz -, this separatism reaches a time of growth in the first years of the decade of 1820.

Under the coincident influence of the emancipating geste in the continent and the constitutional triennium in Spain, they proliferated in the Island Masonic lodges and secret societies.

Two important conspiracies were miscarried in this stage, Soles y Rayos de Bolívar (1823), in which José María Heredia participated – the most important poet of the Cuban literary romanticism - and later on the Great Legion of the Black Eagle encouraged from Mexico.

Also for these years, the independence movement found its complete ideological foundation in the work of the presbyter Félix Varela.

Philosophy professor in San Carlos' Seminar in Havana, Varela was elect deputy to Cortés in 1821 and he had to escape from Spain when the invasion of "San Luis' a hundred thousand children” restored the absolutism. Resided in United States, he began to publish the newspaper there “El Habanero” one dedicated to the popularization of the independence ideology.

His effort, however, would take long years in fructifying, the circumstances then, so much internal as external, were not favorable to the Cuban independence movement.

The failure of the Meeting of Information summoned in 1867 by the metropolitan government to revise its colonial politics in Cuba, supposed a devastating blow for the frustrated reformist hopes in reiterated occasions.

Such circumstances favored the latent independence movement among the most advanced sectors in the Cuban society, propitiating the articulation of a vast conspiratorial movement in the Center-Orient of  Cuba.