Naked Cuban Men
The island of Cuba has been populated for more than several thousand years by Amerindian peoples referred to as the Taino and Ciboney. The Taino were known to be mostly farmers while the Ciboney were hunter-gatherers. The epithet Cuba in fact is derived from the Taino word cubanacan, which means "a central placeĒ. Christopher Columbus sighted the island while on his first ocean trip of discovery on 24 October 1492, and immediately claimed it for Spain.
Spain owned the island of Cuba for 388 years, governed by the governor of Havana. It had an economic base of orchard agriculture and main exportations of refined sugar, coffee bean and tobacco to European Community and later to North America. Brits captured the island in 1762, but gave it to Spain the following year. Like most of the Spanish Empire, a small land-owning elite of colonists had all the social and economic power. They were serviced by a population of modest farmers, laborers and slaves.
Many architectural masterpieces manufactured in the period of Spanish rule still stand nowadays. An excellent instance is the Catedral de San Cristobal, Havana. During the 1820s, when the rest of Spainís conglomerate in South America rose up and seceeded, Cuba rested loyal, though a few pushed for independence. Partly because concerns of a slave insurrection (as had materialized in Haiti) if the Spanish withdrew, partly because the prosperity of Cuban settlers depended on their exportation trade to Europe, and partly because Cuba feared the rising power of the United States more than they disliked Spanish colonial reign.
Due to the fact that Cuba is a mere 90 miles from the United States has had a fundamental influence on the lands development. Politicians in the south planned the islandís annexation as a means of supporting the pro-slavery forces in the U.S. throughout the early 1900ís. In 1848 a pro-annexationist insurrection was foiled after many failed invasion atemps from Florida proved fruitless. After that the United States sought to buy Cuba from Spain but was universally turned away.
Rural impoverishment in Spain led to a substantial Spanish emigration to Cuba. Among people arriving were the parents of Fidel Castro. During the 1890s pro-independence turmoil resuscitated, fueled by bitterness of the restrictions enforced on Cuban trade by Spain and hostility to Spainís progressively tyrannical and fumbling administration of Cuba. On 15 July 1895 rebellion broke out and the independence party, led by Tomas Estrada Palma and the poet Jose Marti, exclaimed Cuba an sovereign republic. Marti was killed briefly thereafter and has become Cubaís unchallenged national hero.
This abbreviated article canít possibly address the huge story that is Cuba. I have numbered a few first-class books at the closing of this report. You can find them all at Amazon or your local bookstore.
Cuba: A New History by Richard Gott
The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Latin America Readers) by Aviva Chomsky, Barry Carr, and Pamela Maria Smorkaloff
This is Cuba: An Outlaw Culture Survives by Ben Corbett
Inside Cuba by Julio Cesar Perez Hernandez, Angelika Taschen, and Giani Bosso