10/07/13 - People's World - Today in Latino history: Slavery abolished in Cuba
Today, Oct. 7, in 1886 slavery was finally abolished in Cuba by Spanish
royal decree that also made an indentured servitude system, known as
"patronato," illegal. Cuba's first record of slavery was in 1513, and the
first large group of slaves - kidnapped from Africa - to arrive in Cuba was
in 1520. Slave trafficking surged during the British occupation of Havana.
Sugar production grew, becoming Cuba's number one slave-produced crop.
Slave uprisings challenged the system of oppression and exploitation. In
1795, Nicolás Morales, a free black, led a slave revolt that began in
Bayamo and spread throughout the eastern part of Cuba. This revolt included
blacks and whites. The Spanish army quickly suppressed it. According to "A
History of Cuba and its Relations with the United States, Volume I,
1492-1845," the multi-racial character of the uprising, "especially
disturbed the slave-owners," as did their demand of black and white
Similarly, in 1812, another free black, José Aponte, organized a revolt of
slaves and free people of color to overthrow both slavery and Spanish
colonialism. In addition to those two objectives, the uprising demanded an
end to the slave trade and a society based on racial equality. Aponte and
his fellow leaders were captured and brutally executed, with their heads
put on display as a warning against any other rebellions. Eight years
later, however, the legal slave trade into Cuba was abolished through a
treaty between Spain and England. Although for the next ten years 60,000
more slaves were brought into Cuba.
After the 10 Years' War for independence, slaves who fought for either the
Spanish or the Cuban anti-colonialists, were granted freedom in 1878.
Black Cubans faced racial discrimination after the 1886 abolition of
slavery, but became the backbone of the Cuban independence movement and its
Liberation Army ("Los Mambises"). Antonio Maceo was one of the greatest
military commanders in both the 1868 and the 1895 wars for independence.
Called the "Bronze Titan," Maceo was one of the most important leaders in
Cuba's fight for independence from Spain.
Even after independence, racial discrimination and segregation persisted
from time the U.S. intervened in the Cuban war for independence, leading to
the Spanish American war, until the 1959 fall of U.S.-supported dictator
Fulgencio Batista during the Cuban Revolution.
While problems of racism exist (it hasn't been "possible to completely
erase that ballast of colonial slavery," writes Esteban Morales), Black
Cubans have made great gains since the revolution.
For a timeline of events in the struggle against slavery and for liberation
go to afrocubaweb.com.
Photo: Cuba's "Mambises" fighters (via afrocubaweb.com)
Visible links 1. http://www.historyofcuba.com/history/race/EndSlave.htm 2.
Original Source / Fuente Original:
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