History of Cuba

Indios auf Kuba um 1558
Indios on Cuba around 1558

table of contents

Präkolumbi Cuba

archaeological finds showing that Cuba at the latest since the time around 2000 v. Chr. is inhabited by humans. The settlement took placeprobably in several waves, whose temporal definition seems very uncertain however. Around 1500 the indianische population was as follows distributed: In the west of Cuba the Ciboney lived. Central and east Cuba were settled by the Taino. They built already to today arable crops used on Cuba Maniok, Sweet potatoes, peanuts and tobacco on. The Taino lived in huts (bohío) from Palmholz, as they are to be found also today still on the country. Their traces left the Indians also in the language. Many place names on Cuba go on indianischeWords back.

discovery - conquest - colonizing

Christoph Kolumbus discovered the island on its first journey at the bay of Bariay in the northeast of the island to 27. or and it took 28.10.1492 for Spain in possession. From 1511 to 1515 those becameIsland on behalf the king Ferdinand by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar conquers. This broke the first resistance of the Indians under the guidance of the Kaziken Hatuey with its Gefolgschaft. The indianische population went through wars against the Spaniards, brought in diseases (smallpox and sheets),Hard labour and malnutrition strongly back. Efforts on the part of the church, particularly the Dominikanerordens, and the Spanish state to protect the Indians against the arbitrariness of the Kolonisten had little success. Bartolomé de read Casas, which had participated as Feldkaplan in conquest, did without 1514for conscience reasons on his Encomienda and engaged itself against the suppression of the Indians. On his operation king Karl I 1542 arranged the gradual abolition of the Encomiendas, which interspersed itself in Cuba also relatively fast.

the early colonial age


the first goal thatSpaniard was the exploitation of gold resources, which were exhausted however very soon. Consequently many moved away to Mexico . Cuba remained only thinly settled. The economy was based on an extensive agriculture: Cultivation of the indianischen cultivated plants, aminal husbandry, beekeeping and the tropical woods of the still to a large extent wooded island.The regions apart of Havanna lived particularly on self-sufficiency and something smuggling. In 17. Jh. the interior in a second settlement thrust was opened and further places was based.

By the transfer of the governor seat Havanna became 1607 politically the center of the island. Also economically wonthe city due to their situation increasingly in meaning. From there out one could control the entrance to the gulf of Mexico and under utilization of the gulf stream over the Atlantic to Europe sails. Starting from the sixties 16. Jh. the port of Havanna was the tie pointthe fleets from the Spanish colonies Americas, the silver and other goods after Sevilla and Cádiz brought. Havanna was the bridgehead of the new world in the transatlantic trade. The economy of Cuba was aligned to the supply Havannas and the fleets with food and goods.


thosecolonial society of Cuba lets itself be arranged legally and soziokulturell as follows. White ones formed soon the majority. But only who was grown up in Spain born, and trained, the so-called peninsulares, could ascend in the higher administrative and offices for church. In addition dominated this circle of acquaintances the trade. InCuba born descendants of Spaniards, the Kreolen placed the largest part of the population. The families decreasing/going back to the first settlers could often remove their country to the large-landed property, which they managed as cattle breeders or Pflanzer. The landed property formed the basis of its power, it as oily archiein local offices in politics and church exercised. Besides there was a large number of central and Kleinbauern, which managed the country between the large goods and gradually also the more remote areas opened.

The general lack of workers in Cuba became by thoseIntroduction of slaves from Africa balanced. Slaves were used in all economic sectors, as house personnel, in small rural and urban production enterprises or as mountain workers. Also with them one differentiated born bozales between in Cuba born , spanischsprachigen black Kreolen and in Africa. The juridical system permitted thatSlaves own possession to redeem the possibility and the own family thereby the free choice of a marriage partner and even look for yourself for new gentlemen. Slaves knew itself to combinations, so-called cabildos, unite, which were formed by black ones of same ethnical or similar cultural origin.This institution made possible for them to retain and pass African culture elements on. Among them also religious conceptions, itself with the catholicism, because each slave had to be baptized, to the synkretistischen afrokubanischen cults, e.g. the Santería mixed, which is this very day far common.

Those took an intermediate positionfree colored ones. Special legal and social conditions made a pronounced mixture possible of the races and cultures in Cuba. Here there was a considerable number of free black ones, on released and/or. redeemed slaves decreased/went back. Contrary to the Spanish kreolischen Oberschicht the lower white layers did not respect up„the purity of the blood “and mixed itself with Indians and free black ones. Mixed marriages were not uncommon and - although limited - accepted.Mulatten and free black ones worked usually as craftsmen or manufacturing one, occupations, which were avoided because of their low status by white ones. They placedthe under and central layer of the cities. On the country, particularly in the east, they lived as Kleinbauern.

Indians and Mestizen were seized in censuses already soon no more than own group, them were come up in the subpopulations of the Kreolen and the colored ones. At the edge of the colonialRun away slaves (Cimarron) and groups of remainders of Indians, who lived withdrawn in remote areas, stood for society.

the late colonial age

the Karibik at the end 19. Century

British troops Havanna conquered 1762. The short time of the free trade gave up to the kreolischen middle classCuba a conception of it, how much it could earn without the colonial chains of Spain, because the Spanish colonial system directed the entire trade over Spanish ports and raised even for the trade under the Spanish colonies high import and export duties. One year later became Cuba in peacetimeto Paris in the exchange against Florida again Spain slammed shut.

In the course of the revolutionary slave rebellion on Haiti 1791 many French great land owners, who had possessed sugar and Kaffeeplantagen there, fled to Cuba. Under its influence and with their technical knowledge now Cuba for Spain became that,which before Haiti had been for France: The island of the sugar and the coffee. Economic upswing and the industrielle use of slaves was the consequence.

After the independence fights in south and Central America in 19. Century became Cuba the most important colony of Spain. In addition,on „the always faithful island “Cuba increased the discontent of the Kreolen with the Spanish rule, on the other hand governed among the owners of sugar plan day slave-holding the fear of a slave rebellion after Haitian model, which would eliminate its privileges. Between 1812 and 1844 eight large slave rebellions, those occurredbecause of the military supremacy of the Spanish colonial troops and the militias of the slave owners, particularly however because of the military inexperience of the slaves failed.

In this time different parties with different goals developed on the island:

  • the autonomousists wanted a stronger independence of Cuba while maintaining Spain than protecting power.
  • the Annexionisten fought for a connection of Cuba to the USA.
  • the separatists was for a complete detachment of Cuba of Spain and the creation of a republic Cuba.
  • the monarchists used itself for the continuing affiliation of Cuba to Spain.


1868 failed oneDelegation from prominent representatives of the Cuban Kreolen with the attempt to achieve in Madrid a larger Selbstständigkeit for the island. The delegation was delayed in Madrid and should finally complete a courtesy call only with the king house, without being able to speak their demands. After their returnreported the delegated ones of the hopelessness regarding reforms or autonomy. The consequence was a stabilization of the separatist currents under the Kubanern. Proclaiming the Republic of Cuba by Carlo Manuel de Cespedes in the Grito de Yara (war call of Yara) can asdirect reaction to the failure of the delegation to be seen.


in 19. Century gave to attach it both on Cuban and on US-American side considerations Cuba to the USA.

  • on Cuban side this interest particularly proceeded from the owners of sugar plan day of the west, thoseon the one hand by colonial rule of Spain in their economic interests it felt, on the other hand however fear reduced had that without a military strong protecting power (Spain or the USA) the same fate to them could flower as once to the owners of plan day on Haiti: the seizure of power by in terms of figures superior slaves.
  • on US-American side were first the owners of plan day of the Southern States, which expected by a new Federal State Cuba a stabilization of their position within the USA. After the American civil war increasingly the economic interest of the USA and the interest in the strategic meaning of Cuba rose inGulf of Mexico.
gekreuzte Flaggen der USA und Kubas als Zeichen der annexionistischen, exilkubanischen Gruppe Unión Revolucionaria, 1960er Jahre
crossed flags of the USA and Cuba as indications of the annexionistischen, exile-Cuban group Unión Revolucionaria, 1960er years

since 1842 there were again and again military invasion attempts without official support of the USA, which should lead to an affiliation of Cuba to the USA. Gaspar CisnerosBetancourt can be seen to Narciso López as the mental leader of the Cuban Annexionismus , as leaders of the military activities. On the other side the decided proponents sovereigns of a Cuban national state stood such as José Antonio Saco and late José Martí.

The topic Annexionismus is to inthe current policy of Cuba (2005) effectively. While the exile-Cuban invaders of the pig bay gave to recognize each other like most Exilkubaner in Florida clearly as Annexionisten, different directions are in the present political opposition in Cuba. The majority of the these simmering ducks in the meeting for promotionprofesses itself of the Cuban civil company (APSC, Marta Beatriz Roque) openly to its support by the US-American government and the exile organizations in Florida, while a smaller part rejects the proximity to the US-American policy. Main argument of the Cuban government against the majority of the these simmering ducks is therefore also those„Defense of Cuban sovereignty “against the Annexionismus.

the fight for independence

Cuba was the last large Spanish colony, which won its independence after a 30-jährigen guerrilla war. The war of the Mambises in such a way specified against Spain began 1868, after all attempts of the CubanMiddle class to receive from Spain larger liberties, particularly in the foreign trade, had failed. The war of independence can be divided in three phases:

the long war (Guerra Larga) 1868-1878

Angriff der Mambises auf einen spanischen Signalturm
attack of the Mambises on a Spanish signal tower

of the Guerra Larga began with the callby Yara (Grito de Yara) and ended with the peace of Zanjón.

To 10. October 1868 called Carlo Manuel de Céspedes in the war call of Yara of the east province of Cuba Oriente (Cuba) from the Cuban people to the war against the Spanish colonial power.It released its slaves and occupied with a small army the city Bayamo. When the Spanish troops wanted to back-conquer Bayamo, the inhabitants of the city ignited its own houses on and followed the insurgent one. A poem, which celebrates this event, becameCuban national anthem La Bayamesa. Within a monthly the revolution army of 147 on over 12.000 men increased, among them many slaves.

Short time later educated themselves also in Camagüey in central Cuba (Ignacio Agramonte Loynaz among other things) and read much-read in west Cuba (Eduardo Machado, Carlo Roloff) strong revolutionary military federations. Due to the resistance of the owners of sugar plan day under the leader of the reformists Havannas José Morales Lemus the planned and strategically crucial attack on the west of the island was missing however.

The parliament of the republic in weapons, like itself thoseCuban Untergrundbewegung called, consisted in its political guidance mostly of large basic owners, who promised themselves from an independence of Cuba free trade with the foreign country, particularly the USA. They always opposed the demand to expand the war also since the Cuban west where itself thoselarge sugar tubing fields found, from which Spain scooped the necessary financial means for the fight against the rebellion movement. At many failures it succeeded to the Spanish general Arsenio Martínez Campos to weaken in a political-military offensive the rebellion movement. 1878 came it to the peace of Zanjón. Itgranted the Kubanern and Kubanerinnen an agency in the Spanish Cortes and specified a gradual slave release, Cuba remained however without genuine autonomy.

the small war (Guerra Chiquita) 1878-1879

the Guerra Chiquita began with the protest of Baragua and endedwith the exile Maceos.

The deputy commander in chief of revolution armed forces Antonio Maceo refused recognizing the surrender and explained with a meeting with Arsenio Martínez Campos the continuation of the fight for the independence of Cuba (Protesta de Baragua). 1879 had however also it the fightadjust and went into the exile to Mexico.

the war of independence (Guerra de Independencia) of 1895-1898

Mambi-Kämpfer 1896
Mambi fighters 1896

the war of independence began with the war call of Baire (Grito de Baire) and ended with the occupation of Cuba by the USA.

Between 1879 and1895 prepared Cuban groups of exiles in the USA and Mexico for a return to Cuba. With organizing were revolutionary particularly actively the poet, journalist and José Martí, to which it finally succeeded, the two former commanders in chief of revolution armed forces, Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceoto bring, a table. In the communist manifesto of Montechristi (Manifesto de Montechristi) the conditions were specified for a resumption of the fight. 1895 landed the revolutionary with a ship in the east of Cuba. José Martí, which did not possess military experience, fell in onethe first battles with the Spanish colonial army. The Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Cánovas del Castillo sent an army of 200.000 soldiers under the general captain Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau on the island. Its drakonischen methods had military success, released however world-wide Entrüstung, so that Weyler 1897, its own Ministry for Cuba was recalled developed and the island large autonomy received. The Kubaner demanded however complete independence. Spain did not succeed it this time to stop the rebellion movement particularly the fight from the outset over completely Cuba, thus also for Spain to the economically particularly importantThe west of the island was expanded. When in Spain already publicly about a retreat from Cuba one spoke, the USA intervened 1895 and provoked the Spanish-American war. Historically this date marks the entrance of the USA into the circle of the imperialistic world powers. Instead of its independenceto win, Cuba came now to the peace negotiations between Spain and the USA into of Paris, in which the Cuban movement of independence was not allowed to participate, under the rule of the USA, which permitted only 1902 a sham republic.

the flat Amendment

major item flatly Amendment

the condition of Cubafrom 1902 the so-called flat Amendment on pressure of the USA which assured a right military intervention to the USA, received an additional clause, if they saw their interests or US-American property on Cuba in danger. Thus Cuba the most important condition of an independent state was missing to the neugegründeteten republic: thoseSovereignty. Tomás Estrada Palma became a first president of the republic.

In flatly the Amendment the USA secured themselves 1903 in addition two military bases on the island: Bahía Honda, which were returned 1912, and Guantánamo Bay, until today of US-American military occupies held and sincethe Afghanistan war for the arrest contrary to international law by prisoners of war one uses.

Cuba in 20. Century

the pseudo republic

Kubanische Karikatur von 1921
Cuban caricature of 1921

between 1906 and 1919 intervened the USA several times militarily on Cuba (gunboat politics), to protect over „US-American property “. ThoseRepublic of Cuba, which did not possess sovereignty due to the flat Amendments, became in such a way the pseudo republic, in which the most important decisions from the US-American message it pleases became including the decision over the fact whether a selected president was allowed to remain in the office. The corruption of the presidents and their governments was an open secret, then was lent to Alfredo Zayas the pointed name Pesotero (Pfennig hunter), because it did not deflect also small amounts of bribery.

the Machado dictatorship

Portal des Kapitol von Havanna: die ersten kubanischen Präsidenten - mit dem 1933 weggeätzten Gesicht des Diktators Machado
portal of the Kapitol of Havanna: the first Cuban presidents - with that to 1933 1925 general arrived to etched away face

of the dictator Machado Gerardo Machado Morales in the office for president. Into its choice by the US-American large-scale enterprises Rockefeller, Guggenheim and Morgan altogether one million dollar had been invested. Machado represented an extremely nationalistic course, which him also the name „tropical Mussolini brought in “. From the first day of its presidency onpursued he political opponents, he let whom murder or in the exile drove, among them also its predecessor Mario Garcia Menocal. Soon a broad political movement of the civil Oberschicht developed up to the workers' movement. The terrorist organization ABC, itself mainly from the civil youthit recruited, committed numerous notices on personalities of the Machado government on which Machado let the repeated number at political prisoners murder in each case. Under Machado the Garotte, was introduced the choking iron, again for the execution of the death penalty. A 44-facher murderer was armed boss of the military police, big criminal in the prison,in order to kill 70 political prisoners.1929 organized Machado an illusory choice, whose only candidate was he. Hopes in the population to become loose the dictator by logging-off smashed themselves and the resistance grew.

1933 were fallen the dictator Machado by a broad people movement. More againRuling power became the Sergeant Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar, which became as a” leader of the revolution “ from 1933 to 1939 the commander in chief of the army. In this function it affected the Regierungsgeschäfte crucially. Thus it set the president off grey San Martín and Carlo Mendieta Montefur as new, Supported by the Cuban army and the always present intervention threat of the USA, Jefferson Caffery represents presidents by Ambassador.

the rule Batistas

from 1940 to 1944 was Fulgencio Batista president of Cuba. 1944 became Batista as a president of Carlo Prío Socarrásreplaced, however the actual ruling power remained in the background as an army general. When it became clear that the corrupt government of Prío Socarrás the elections of the yearly 1952 against the Partido del Pueblo Cubano (Ortodoxo) Eduardo of the Chibás, despite or because of the public suicide of Chibás, to losebecame, Batista undertook a Militärputsch. Batista became the dictator of Cuba and established a corrupt regime, under which it came to the abolishment of the condition and to the suppression of the opposition.

Fidel Castro, a young attorney and member of the orthodox party of Chibás, complained Batista because of itsMilitärput before the highest Court of Justice on. After the complaint was rejected, Castro explained the fact that now the resistance right embodied in the condition of 1940 had stepped after exhaustion of all legal means into force and prepared the fall by force Batistas.

the Cuban revolution1953-1959

major items Cuban revolution

Hotel Habana Libre ehemals Hilton Havana, während der Revolution vorübergehender Regierungssitz
hotel Habana Libre formerly Hilton Havana, during the revolution temporary seat of the government

to 26. July 1953 committed a Guerillatruppe under the guidance of the attorney Fidel Castro Ruz (*1926) an attack on the Moncada barracks of Santiago, which failed however. This was thatBeginning of the revolution under guidance of the movement 26. July (M-26-7). The goals of the movement were social reforms, democracy and the re-establishment of the condition of 1940. After Castro some years in the prison spent went it into the exile (first into the USA late Mexico). It1956 with approx. 140 guerillas returned.

At the 1. Castros revolutionary the capital Havanna conquered January 1959, whereupon Fulgencio Batista fled in the exile. Fidel Castro took over to 16. February the office of the Prime Minister.

Cuba after the revolution

major item Cuban revolution

to 17. May 1959 came it to the introduction of a land and an agrarian reform, which planned among other things the removal of the private large-landed property, formation of cooperative ones and national enterprises and the prohibition of Landbesitz for foreigners. To 17. July 1959 became Osvaldo Dórticos Torrado (*1919, † 1983) presidentthe republic. Castro remained a head of the government.

In July 1960 the USA over Cuba imposed a partial of trade embargo, which as the second country to the USA the Federal Republic of Germany and later almost all western states followed, and which was finally expanded to a complete commercial boycott.

pig bay invasion

major item invasion in the pig bay

to 17. Penetrating Exilkubaner failed to April 1961 with an attack in the” pig bay “from Guatemala. To 2. December 1961 took place the proclamation of the socialist republic on the basis of the marxism Leninism .In February on itthe following yearly imposed the USA a total embargo on all imports from Cuba.

Cuba crisis (October crisis)

remainders of a U2-Spionageflugzeuges major item Cuba crisis after

the failure

of the pig bay invasion, shot over Cuba , gave it in the president consultation under Kennedy, those in the meantime no longer to the secrecyare subject, considerations, to attack Cuba again this time however under direct use of US troops. Which was missing, an useful pretext was to be justified around the attack contrary to international law on Cuba. After the pig bay invasion by the USSR atomic rockets on Cuba were stationed, under other for the deterrence of an invasion throughthe USA served. Since the USA at the Turkish-Soviet border had likewise stationed atomic rockets, the Soviet Union in this step saw „a drawing even “in the sense of the deterrence doctrine of the cold war. The discovery of Soviet rocket bases on Cuba in September 1962 seemed after long consideration of the president advisorsto be the looked for cause for an attack on Cuba. In October 1962 the USA established a total blockade over Cuba and threatened on the free sea Soviet trading vessels with warning shots. The nuclear war between the USA and the Soviet Union seemed within reach. After secret negotiations toDismantling of American atomic rockets in Turkey the Soviets agreed to eliminate also the rocket bases on Cuba. In addition the USA had to assure to prepare no further attacks for Cuba. In the public however nothing was well-known from this secret treaty, so that the US Government under Kennedy asWinner strengthened from the October crisis came out.

socialist Cuba

  • for the protection from notices of terror on cinemas, department stores and residential areas are created 1960 the Comites de Defensa de la Revolucion (committee for the defense of the revolution), those today about 8 millions Members cover.
  • In July 1964 Cuba on pressure of the USA is excluded from the organization of American States of (OAS). All Latin American states, with exception of Mexico, break their diplomatic relations off with Cuba.
  • In July 1972 Cuba steps the” advice for mutual economic aid “(COMECON), the economic organization thatEastern Bloc countries.
  • 1973 supports Cuban troops to small extent the Arab armies of Egypt and Syria with their attack on Israel in the Jom Kippur war.
  • To 30. July 1975 terminates the OAS the sanctions against Cuba.
  • Cuban troops support 15 starting from that. November in Angola the communist MPLA - government against the invasion of troops South African apartheid - regime and in the fight against the FNLA - and UNITA - rebel.
  • To 16. February 1976 is set in Cuba a new condition into force.
  • To 2. December takes over Fidel Castro beside its officeas an Prime Minister also that of the president of the republic.
  • Cuba Ethiopia in the fight against Somalia for the Ogaden supports 1978 - area.
  • To 25. Octobers 1983 occupy US-American armed forces six days after the murder at the Grenadian prime minister the Karibik island Grenada, a British overseas Dominion, andtakes prisoner after the invasion the Kubaner usually active in the building of airports.
  • Cuba its military commitment in Angola (50,000 soldiers) in a trilateral negotiated solution as well as Angola and South Africa terminates 1989.

Cuba after end of the cold war

the implosion of the Eastern Bloc solves onecatastrophic economic crisis with substantial bottlenecks out, there the economic aid and - for Cuba very favorable - the trade relations to the former allied ones away-broken.

  • To 30. No troops of the former Soviet Union Cuba leave June 1993.
  • To 5. August 1994 comes it into Havanna to the heaviestoppositional unrests since the seizure of power of Fidel Castro in the year 1959. As consequence Castro knows to 7. August the abolition of the coastal monitoring on and released with it the largest mass escape from Cuba.
  • To 25. March 1995 joins Cuba the contract of Tlatelolco, that thoseSpreading of nuclear weapons in Latin America forbids.
  • While the economic crisis, by which above all agriculture and industry are affected, continues to stop, experiences the tourism a large upswing.
  • Of 21. up to 25. January 1998 visited Pope Johannes Paul II. Cuba.
  • Cuba and Venezuela create May 2005 the ALBA, the Bolivariani alternative to the ALCA, the US-dominated Economic Community. While Venezuela of Cuba maintains support with the structure of its health and educating nature, Venezuela takes part with the structure of the Cuban economy.

Web on the left of

literature about Cuba

  • Jürgen bright: Short history of the Cuban people, Berlin 1966, out of print
  • Phiip S. Foner.The Spanish Cuban American was and the Birth OF American Imperialism 1895-1902. 2 volumes. New York/London 1972 (much particularly detailed investigation with many sources from US-American archives)
  • Fernando Ortíz Fernández, for the history of the indianischen Urbevölkerung and the Afrokubaner
  • Michael Zeuske and max of Zeuske (1998):Cuba 1492-1902, colonial history, wars of independence and first Okkupation by the USA.

see also


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