Sugar and tobacco were established as Cuba’s principal exports by the Spanish, and the island rapidly surpassed Hispaniola as the primary Spanish base in the Caribbean. It became necessary to add more field labor. African slaves were then brought to the United States and used as field labor on estates.
Cuba’s slavery system was gendered in the sense that some labor could only be performed by males, while other labor could only be performed by women. Slave women in the city of Havana performed a variety of tasks, including running bars, dining places, and lodges, as well as working as laundresses and domestic laborers, beginning in the sixteenth century and continuing to the present day.
The Treaty of Paris, in addition to ensuring Cuba’s independence, compelled Spain to relinquish the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States. As part of the agreement, Spain would transfer ownership of the Philippines to the United States for a payment of $20 million.
Under Spanish authority, Cuba developed into a significant producer of sugarcane, and in order to keep up with worldwide demand, Spain began importing slaves from Africa to labor in the country. As a result, Cuba’s economy was highly unpredictable in relation to international prices since it was dependent on a single crop for its livelihood.
The United States’ desire in acquiring Cuba began well before the year 1898. Following the conclusion of the Ten Years War, American sugar companies purchased significant areas of property in Cuba. During the American Revolutionary War, changes to the sugar tariff in favor of home-grown beet sugar contributed to the reignited revolutionary fervor in 1895.
From the 1500s until the 1800s, Spanish invaders transported around 8,000 Africans to Cuba, the most of them were from West Africa, to labor on the sugar fields. By 1838, when slavery reached its zenith on the island, there were almost 400,000 slaves there. As their numbers grew, so did the amount of tons of sugar that Cuba was able to produce.
In 1513, the first enslaved Africans were brought to Cuba by the Spanish. Many of these initial Africans were compelled to work in Cuba’s mines as substitutes for the quickly dwindling population of enslaved indigenous Taino-Arawak laborers who were swiftly vanishing. From 1520 onwards, the first big groups of Africans to labor underground began to arrive in Europe.
Equipment, food, and fuel goods account for the vast majority of Cuba’s imports, while refined fuels, sugar, tobacco, nickel, and medicines account for the vast majority of its exports.
Prior to the Revolution, Cuban administrations were viewed as client republics of the United States, and this continued until the country gained independence from Spain. Cuban and United States legislation from 1902 through 1932 included the Platt Amendment, which granted the United States the ability to interfere in Cuba while placing constraints on Cuba’s international ties.
Dissatisfied with the corrupt and inefficient Spanish administration, a lack of political representation, and high taxes, Cubans in the eastern provinces banded together under the leadership of wealthy planter Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, whose declaration of independence in October 1868, known as the Grito de Yara (“Cry of Yara”), signaled the beginning of the country’s independence from the United States.
After being colonized by Spain since the 15th century, it became an American protectorate during the Spanish–American War of 1898. After being conquered by the United States, Cuba acquired nominal independence as a de facto protectorate of the United States in 1902.
Thousands of United States soldiers fought in the Cuban Revolution. Despite the fact that the Spanish-American War lasted just a few months, it came to an end when Spain signed a peace deal with the United States, granting the United States dominion of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam. Cuba, on the other hand, was no longer considered a U.S. colony but rather an independent country.
Because of this struggle, along with the Spanish-American trade dispute of the 1890s, the country’s productive potential had been reduced by two-thirds. Close to 20 percent of the city’s estimated prewar population of 1,800,000 had perished, and the outlook for those who survived was gloomy to say the very least. Cubans lacked financial resources and were highly indebted.