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Suwanee, Georgia. 30024
www.goldsmithworks.com
770.831.1257 - 1.800.438.6894

Date/Report Number ….120612.FKI71HY.04 Item:  CUERVO Y SOBRINOS HABANA UNICOS IMPORTADORES ROSKOPF SILVER HINGED CASED Pocket Watch Conversion
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Description of item: VINTAGE CUERVO Y SOBRINOS HABANA UNICOS IMPORTADORES ROSKOPF SILVER HINGED CASED Pocket Watch Conversion  IN A 1898 SPANISH AMERICA WAR MILITARY WATCH BOX™ FOCUSING ON THE HISTORY OF CUBA

.Estimated Retail Replacement Value $1350.00


Reports are supplied at the request of the customer and it is for the customer's exclusive use. Reports express an opinion of the time of the examination of the jewelry. This report is for customers use only for the following two purposes, indicating estimated retail replacement value to obtain insurance coverage, or for the purpose of providing geological information. goldsmith Works does not guarantee that the appraisal valuation will result in a sale at the price. Estimated retail replacement value is arrived after analyses of what the approximate high retail cash asking price is for labor, materials, and design. These prices may be substantially higher than actual transaction or warranty with regards to any item described in the report, since jewelry grading is not an exact science, this  report represent the best opinion of the company. GoldSmith Works is in no case responsible for differences that occur by repeated grading by other experts in the field and/or use of other standards, norms, methods or criteria other than those used by GoldSmith Works. GoldSmith Works is expressly held harmless by customers including, but with out limitation for any claims or actions that may arise out of negligence in connection with the preparation of this laboratory report, or actions based upon the customer's use of the report. The information on the carat weight, clarity grade, color grade on the report is approximate due to the limitations in jewelry grading. The item was tested, graded, and examined under 10x magnification using the techniques and equipment available to GoldSmith Works, including fully corrected triplet loupe, binocular microscope, master color comparison guides, diamond color comparison tools, electronic carat balance, non-contact optical measuring device, and ancillary instruments necessary at the time of Exam

 

 

READY TO WEAR
RESTORED & OVERHAULED
VINTAGE
CUERVO Y SOBRINOS
HABANA
UNICOS
IMPORTADORES

ROSKOPF
SILVER HINGED CASED
Pocket Watch Conversion

IN AN

1898
SPANISH AMERICA WAR
MILITARY WATCH BOX™

FOCUSING ON
THE HISTORY OF CUBA

INCLUDED

1-PRINT.jpg (3629 bytes) IMG_9028.JPG (143314 bytes)
3 AWESOME ORIGINAL GILDED CUBAN CIGAR ART PROOFS
1850  - 1898 - 1912
4 ORIGINAL U.S. OCCUPATION STAMPS
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2 ORIGINAL U.S. GUANTANAMO 1898 POST CARDS 1 TEDDY ROOSEVELT ROUGH RIDER 1000 BILL 1 COPY OF SANTIAGO VICTORY PHOTOGRAPH
1-SPANISH-AMERICAN-WAR-MEDAL-2.jpg (2457 bytes) FULL PROFESSIONAL APPRAISAL OF BOX CONTENTS AND WATCH
&
8 PAGE HISTORY OF WAR OF 1898, CUBA, CUERVO Y SOBRINOS, ROSKOPF, CARNEGIE AND CUBA.
&
ONE YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY
SPANISH AMERICAN WAR MEDALS


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SPANISH AMERICAN WAR OF 1898
HISTORY OF CUBA INDIGINOUS TO CASTRO
HISTORY OF ROSKOPF 1813 - 1889
HISTORY OF CUERVO Y SOBRINOS 1881 - 1958
MINOR HISTORY ON CARNEGIE 1898

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EARLY ROSKOPF POCKET WATCH CONVERION
SOLD BY THE FAMOUS
CUERVO Y SOBRINOS
[CUERVO & NEPHEWS]

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LARGE SOLID WOOD MILITARYWATCHHBOX™
OPENS SO YOU MAY WEAR WATCH
EXAMINE ITEMS
ADD MORE TO IT LATER.

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A HISTORY CHANNEL 1898 - 1902 SPANISH
AMERICAN WAR DVD WITH WAR VIDEO

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Georges Fredric Roskopf

ROSKOPF

Georges Frederic Roskopf was born in 1813 at Niderwiller,Grand Duchy of Baden, Germany - today Niderwiller is in the French province Alsace.

At 16, George undertook a three-year apprenticeship as a sales clerk at a firm selling watchmaker’s supplies in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland.

At 21 years of age, he apprenticed as a watchmaker before quitting to marriy the wealthy widow -- 17 years his senior -- and, with financing by his wife , he began a etablisseur business -a company that buys watch components and assembles them.

At 37 years of age, Roskopf sold his business to become joint manager of the Guttmann Brothers of Warburg, Germany; a company that assembled “English style” watches to market to Belgium and the USA.

At 42, Roskopf set up a business his son, Fritz Edouard and Henry Gindraux, as ROSKOPF, GINDRAUX & Co. to make good-quality, low-cost watches for the working man.

At 42, Roskopf began to design a watch that could be sold for 20 Swiss francs and still be of good quality after his son left him to open his own watch business and Gindraux left to become the director of a watch making school.

At 44, Roskopf had a simple and solid watch called the montre proletaire --the laborer’s watch. But Roskopf’s watch was with met indifference and hostility among the industry watchmakers who were tied to the home industry system and did not want the competition of a mass produced watch . When Roskopf ordered two boxes of ebauches from Emile Roulet and asked Gustave Rosselet to make escapements. Both refused to take his orders.

At 54 , Roskopf finally succeeded in producing his watch with the help of The Malleray Watch Co. which supplied the ebauches and cases, while other necessary parts came from other makers. The watches themselves were assembled in France, by M. Chatelain. The original order to Malleray was 2,000 watches.

At 57,  Roskopf had expanded orders tenfold, ordering 20,000 ebauches for production. The Roskopf  affordable watch was intended for the working man, but his first customers were aristocrats and army officers. But it would be Charles Léon Schmid, a sales man Roskop hired to move the monthly output of 500-600 watche that got the ball rolling. By presenting the watch to officers of different European armies and railroads, the orders soon outstripped production.

 

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Success can prove to be as dangerous as failure. The success of the Roskopf watch, and lack of a swiss patent office, invited Swiss companies to produce thousdands if not millions of knock offs. These Roskopf copies with names like System Roskopf, Gre. Roskopf , A. Roskopf  E. Rosskopf, G. Rosskopf, H. Rosskopf, J. Rosskopf, W. Rosskopf or labeled“Rosskopf (double "s") to bypass Roskopf’s registered trade mark, began popping up all over Europe. And,to compound this fraud, unlike the sound, well engineered Roskopf, these pin-lever fakes were badly made, machine-manufactured watches that. didn’t have Roskopf’s solid, well made, patented platform-mounted escapement.

At the age of 62, Roskopf 's wife passed away. His loss of his waife and the distructive actions of the counterfeiting, left Roskopf a disillusioned and embittered man. In the short span from actual invention to production, Roskopf sold less than 100,000 pieces. Though Roskopf was able to patent his inventions in France, Belgium and the United States,  Switzerland would not have a patent office until 1888.The Swiss charlatans copied or faked his four patents for watch mechanisms and destroyed his market. Thus on his wifes death he turned his business over to Charles Léon Schmid and his wife’s grandsons. Roskopf would  never return to the watch making business though he would remarry --a school teacher 24 years younger -- and  pass away in 1889 at 86 years of age.

 

There is an amazing ending to the Roskopf story. The new Roskopf  company, named Wille Freres, would take full advantage of the new Swiss Patent office by registering 11 patents for Roskopf watch mechanisms and would produce over 20 million watches.

Though we have written about companies who claim to have introduced the "first good quaility working man's watches", Roskopf was, with non other,  the first in a vast industry who would design, created, and build the first good quaility watch that was affordable to many who would never have had the ability to own a watch. This factor would  not go unnoticed.  His pin pallet escapement would grace millions of watches and even inspire D.A. Buck of the United States to produce a cheap, easily manufactured pocket watch. The famous Dollar Watch was sold by the millions in the USA for decades. Though it made use of Roskopf’s pin pallet escapement, unlike the Roskopf, these watches were massed-produced with machine-punched parts and riveted bridges and plates to make them cheaper but unserviceable. They were the first  throw away watches.

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THIS IS AN ALL ORIGINAL ROSKOPF AND NOT A COPY
THE PORCELAIN DIAL HAS TWO REPAIRS
THEY WERE PROFESSIONALY REPAIRED BEFORE WE INVESTED IN IT

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WE HAVE AN AWESOME SYSTEM TO REPAIR PORCELAIN DIALS
BUT IT HAS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED WITH THE DAMAGE UN-REPAIRED
THIS WORK WAS ACCOMPLISHED AGES AGO
THE TECHNIQUE LEAVES TELL TALE FINISH OVER TIME
BUT IT IS HARDLY NOTICEABLE WHEN NOT ENLARGED CLOSE UPS

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THIS IS A PIN SET SYSTEM
YOU PUSH THE PIN IN TO SET THE TIME BY THE CROWN
GAINED POPULARITY DURING WWI.
TOOK THE PLACE OF HAND OR KEY SET MOVEMENTS
WE BELIEVE THAT THE SILVER LUGS WERE ATTACHED DURING WWII

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GILT HANDS ARE ORIGINAL
THIS BEAUTY KEEPS TIME AND SETS PROPERLY
YOU CAN TELL THAT THE LUGS WERE SET BY A WATCH MAKER/JEWELER

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WE CHOSE A LEATHER STRAP WITH KEEPERS
SMOOTH AND SHARP
IT IS NATO G-18 STYLE
AND
EXTREMELY COMFORTABLE

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Cuervo Y Sobrinos
Credit To Press & Marketing Releases by Cuervo et al


"The deep passion of collectors has made the survival of these pieces possible to the present day - unmistakable witnesses of luxury, elegance and style of life in bygone times."
Cuervo Y Sobrinos
2010

C-Y-S-BUILDING3.jpg (37102 bytes)
Early 20th Century
1916

Outside of the years of the Spanish American War, Havana/Habana was renowned as the "Pearl of the Caribbean" and a privileged center of luxury from the late 19th century through the first half of the 20th century, it would become a beautiful world for Intellectuals, adventurers. mobsters, movie stars, famous privileged persona and business men. It was  a stopping point for the cream of the high society. Many visited the city to attend parties and the vivacious social life which took place in luxurious hotels, casinos, splendid private mansions and gardens.

 

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VAULTS WITH CUERVO Y SOBRINOS IN GOLD SCRIPT

The splendid Spanish colonial architecture & international culture of Havana was the "pearl".  reflecting upon the fascinating and   "savoir-vivre" of its inhabitants and numerous visitors. An elegant, electric city overflowing with glamor was the Havana of (1880 - 1958) 75 years or so. Hemingway, Neruda, Gable, Churchill, Einstein and many other characters of that time were clients of the Cuervo y Sobrinos boutique.

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DON ARMANDO R. RIO Y CUERVO

It was in this sophisticated climate that Armando Rio y Cuervo, with the help of his brothers,  took on the management of the jewelers established by his uncle Ramón in 1882 and from   whom the name Cuervo y Sobrinos ( Cuervo and nephews) was established. The vitality and wealth of Havana   was the force that company grew and prospered Cuervo Y Sobrinos when combined with the family's outstanding commercial and creative ability.

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ADVERTISEMENTS 20TH CENTURY
1930-50

In a short time, "La Casa" - the name given to the jewelers on Quinta Avenida, an emblematic arterial street in Havana - became the most important jewelers in the Cuban capital and its fame was known the world over.

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THE CREW

The combination between the quality of products and the Latin spirit conferred the brand such reputation and credibility that Cuervo y Sobrinos decided to expand its production.

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ELEGANT HABANA & CUERVO Y SOBRINOS & GARDENS


Three offices were opened in key points in Europe: Pforzheim in Germany, where the precious stones were selected, Paris, in Rue Melzy, where the jewels were realized and, later on, in Switzerland where the company established its watch manufacturing in La Chaux-de-Fonds, which to this day is still the capital of Swiss watch-making.

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1950'S

During that period Cuervo y Sobrinos distributed and commercialized both their own creations and important trademarks of the sector. The family gained such fame that some of the noblest jewellery houses decided to engrave the name Cuervo y Sobrinos on their faces in confirmation of the importance achieved by the""House". In a short time the Cuban signature Cuervo Y Sobrinos created a space for itself among the most prestigious watch brands in the world.

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CALLE SAN RAFAEL

Over the years the jewelers expanded and changed premises, first in Calle Muralla and finally in the prestigious area of Calle San Rafael. An affectionate international clientele, with members from the world of literature, science, politics and entertainment, habitually visited the boutique during their travels to Havana. 

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THE SILVER CASE IS THREE PIECE
BEZEL WITH CRYSTAL SNAPS ON
THEN CENTER MOVEMENT CASE
THEN HINGED BACK COVER

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THE WATCH SITS PERFECT
IT LOOKS GREAT
AND
IT IS COMFORTABLE

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EXTREMELY NICE SHARP FANTASTIC

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HERE WE CAN SEE THE REPAIR
AGAIN, THIS IS CLOSE UP HIGH RES PIC
THE ACTUAL LOOK IS MINUTE

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ANOTHER LOOK AT THE STRAP
I LIKE THE FACT LEATHER SITS UNDER THE CASE
THE CASE RESTING ON LEATHER IS SIMILAR
TO WWI TRENCH STRAPS
BUT THE LEATHER HERE IS SOFT
AND THE KEEPERS FANTASTIC

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STEEL KEEPERS AND BUCKLE

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NOTE THE EXCESS FITS INTO THE KEEPERS
LOOKS GREAT AND IS SIMPLE TO ATTACHE

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JEWELED MOVEMENT IS SIGNED
OVERHAULED
LUBRICATED
TIMED

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WE CANNOT ATTEST TO THIS TRENCH WORK
WE WERE NOT THERE
THUS IT TRULY HAD NO
CAUSE REASON MOTIVATION

FOR GSW TO INVEST IN IT

EXCEPT

CAUSING US TO DECIDE TO MAKE UP A
MILITARYWATCHBOX™
TO FOCUS ON

CUERVO Y SOBRINOS
"CUBA"
&
THE WAR OF 1898

[TEN YEARS AFTER THE DEATH OF ROSKOPH]

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NO WRITING ON POST CARD ONLY ON PLASTIC SLEEVE

ORIGINAL 1850 Woodcut
El Dorado by M.V. Grisiti
City of Havana 1850
Appraised on Antiques Roadshow at $50.00
has gone much higher in private auctions
5” x 5-1/2”

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NO WRITING ON POST CARD ONLY ON PLASTIC SLEEVE

1898
CIGAR BOX PROOF
Andrew Carnegie Portrait
Cherubs and Real
EMBOSSED
Gold Leaf
READ HISTORY OF
CARNEGIE & WAR OF 1898
4” x 5

In 1898, Carnegie tried to arrange for independence for the Philippines. As the end of the Spanish American War neared, the United States bought the Philippines from Spain for $20 million. To counter what he perceived as imperialism on the part of the United States, Carnegie personally offered $20 million to the Philippines so that the Filipino people could buy their independence from the United States.However, nothing came of the offer. Carnegie also opposed the annexation of Cuba by the United States and in this, was successful with many other conservatives who founded an anti-imperialist league that included former presidents of the United States, Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison, and literary figures like Mark Twain.

 

 

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NO WRITING ON POST CARD ONLY ON PLASTIC SLEEVE
THE TRIANGULAR ITEM IS STICKER ON INSIDE OF GLASSI

U.S. Spanish Mexican Cuban
FOUR NATIONS
Flags & Eagle
Over Cigar Factory
Vintage Cigar Label
4” x 5”.

 

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REPRINT RECEIVING NEWS OF VICTORY AT SANTIAGO

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NO WRITING ON POST CARD ONLY ON PLASTIC SLEEVE

ORIGINAL GUANTANAMO BAY CUBA 1898 POST CARD

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NO WRITING ON POST CARD ONLY ON PLASTIC SLEEVE

ORIGINAL MARINES AT GUANTANAMO BAY

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COMMEMORATIVE TEDDY & THE ROUGH RIDERS

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SPANISH AMERICAN WAR MEDAL
NUMBERED 7385

THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR - BIRTH OF A NATION
This presentation from the History Channel takes a look at the Spanish-American
War, covering all the propaganda and the battles that raged, while also considering
the global implications of the war.

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CONDITION
- EXCELLENT- 
WATCH WINDS SETS & KEEPS TIME
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PRE-CUBAN HISTORY

Cuban history  predates Christopher Columbus' landing on 28 October 1492 by centuries. The indigenous Guanajatabey, who first inhabited the island, were driven to the west by the Taíno and Ciboney [neo-Taíno nations] in two subsequent waves of migrantion along the Caribbean island chain. The Taíno and Ciboney were called the Arawak, a culture of peoples which extended far into South America. The neo-Taino population of Cuba rwould reach 350,000 by the end of the 15th century through the cultivation of maize, sweet potatoe and the yuca root to produce cassava bread. They also grew cotton and tobacco .

CONQUEST OF CUBA

During a second voyage in 1494, Columbus would land at what was to become Guantánamo Bayp on the south coast of the island with a Papal Bull of 1493, in which Pope Alexander VI commanded Spain to conquer, colonize and convert the Pagans of the New World to Catholicism. On arrival, Columbus observed the Taíno dwellings, describing them as "looking like tents in a camp. All were of palm branches, beautifully constructed".Thus began the conquest of the "natives. By 1511, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar arrived in Cuba from Hispaniola to form the first Spanish settlement at Baracoa.  New settlers were greeted with stiff resistance from the Taíno population. Cacique (chieftain) Hatuey, who had relocated from Hispaniola to escape Spanish brutalities organized the Taínos into a prolonged guerrilla campaign. The Spanish answer was to capture Hatuey and his successive chieftains and burn them alive.
The Spanish simply swept Cuba massacreing the inhabitants. In one recorded event near Camagüey. the three thousand inhabitants of Caonao viligers traveled to Manzanillo to greet the Spanish with loaves of cassava bread , fish and other foodstuffs and were butchered without provication. The surviving indigenous peoples would flee to the mountains or small surrounding islands before being captured and forced into reservations. The Spanish gained full control of the island by 1514 founded Havana as the first Spanish settlement. By the middle of the19th century to the great depression of the 1930s, the number of mostly adult male Spanish-born colonists, known as peninsulares, constituted only ten to twenty per cent of the population.

CUBA COMMERCE

Though the indiginous population was destroyed as a culture and civilization by 1550, many unions between the largely male Spanish colonists and indigenous women would keep both the Taíno DNA and way of life alive into the 21st century. The children of these uniuons, often called mestizos, holding less than equal standing, Native Cubans called them "Guajiro"[one of us]. Surviving Native Cubans would teach the Spanish how to nurture tobacco and consume it in the form of cigars. And, with the New Laws of 1552, Cuban Indians were freed from encomienda [a form of slavery], seven Indian towns were set up where decendants live today. As in the States and other places, local Indian   population and culture left their mark on the language with 400 Taíno terms and place-names of the island as well as cults and religions that incorporate Taíno spiritual practices. The name of Cuba itself, Havana, Camagüey, and many others were derived from the neo-Taíno language, and Indian words such as tobacco, hurricane and canoe are used today. With this final coming together of the Spanish, and what was left of the indiginous poplulation, and their off spring, by the 19th century, the Cuban suger plantation would become the worlds largest producer of suger, Cuban Tobacco would become world reknown and Habana would be on it's way to becoming the 4th most expensive city and the 2nd most popular destinatation in the world.

CUBA SLAVERY

How Cuba managed this was the introduction and expansion of black slavery. But it was the Engish and French who would sow the seeds. During the Seven Years' War, the English briefly conquered the port of Havana and, in a ten month period, introduced thousands of black African slave. And then, during the 13 year Haitian Slave Revolution in Saint-Domingue, thousands of fleeing French refugees would bring their slaves and the expertise in sugar refining and coffee growing into eastern Cuba. Spain had been under pressure to end the slave trade. With Black unrest and British pressure to abolish slavery motivated many Creoles were advocating Cuba's annexation by the United States, where slavery was still legal. Other Cubans supported the idea, because they longed for what they considered higher development and democratic freedom. The annexation of Cuba was repeatedly supported by the US. In fact, in1805, President Thomas Jefferson was the first of many Presidents who considered possessing Cuba for strategic reasons, even sending secret agents to the island to negotiate with Governor Someruelos. Though the Spanish signed treaties to end slavery in 1817, and in 1835, slavery continued and black revolts were put down with mass executions. From 1843 until 1844, the Conspiración de La Escalera/"Ladder Conspiracy"(, a torture method in which  free blacks and slaves,white intellectuals and professionals were tied to a ladder and whipped until they confessed or died).  It is estimated that 300 blacks and mulattos died from torture, 78 were executed, over 600 were imprisoned and over 400 were expelled from the island -including one of Cuba's foremost thinkers José Antonio Saco. Among the executed was one of Cuba's greatest poets, Gabriel de la Concepción Valdés,  known as "Placido".

CUBA LIBERATION

FIRST ARMED UPRISING

The British Colony's Declaration Of Independence, victory of the French Revolution, and successful revolt of black slaves in Haiti, were the first actions, events and results that influenced early Cuban liberation movements. The first movement was headed by Nicolás Morales, a free black, aimed at gaining equality between "mulattos and whites", the abolition of sales taxes was discovered in 1795 in Bayamo, and the conspirators were jailed. This suppression, and the success of independence movements in the former Spanish colonies on the North American mainland, led to a rise of Cuban nationalism. All the independence conspiracies during the 1820s and 1830s failed: The 1826 "Expedición de los Trece" (Expedition of the 13) , the 1829 "Gran Legión del Aguila Negra" (Great Legion of the Black Eagle) & "Cadena Triangular" (Triangular Chain),  and the 1837. "Soles de la Libertad" (Suns of Liberty)  Leading national figures in these years included Félix Varela and Cuba's first revolutionary poet, José María Heredia. The US also opposed possible agreements between Spain and England. In 1836, the first armed uprising for independence took place in Puerto Príncipe (Camagüey Province), led by Francisco de Agüero and Andrés Manuel Sánchez. Agüero (a white man) and Sánchez (a mulatto) both were executed, becoming the first popular martyrs of the Cuban independence movement.

SECOND ARMED UPRISING

In the 1860s, Cuba had two more liberal-minded governors, Serrano and Dulce, who encouraged the creation of a Reformist Party, despite the fact that political parties were forbidden. But they were followed by a reactionary governor, Francisco Lersundi, who suppressed all liberties granted by the previous governors and maintained a pro-slavery regime. On 10 October 1868, landowner Carlos Manuel de Céspedes made the "Grito de Yara", the "Cry of Yara", declaring Cuban independence and freedom for his slaves. This began the Ten Years' War, which lasted from 1868 to 1878, and eventually contributed to the abolition of slavery . All slavery was abolished by 1884, making Cuba the second-to-last country in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery, with Brazil being the last. Slave traders began to look for others sources of cheap labour, such as Chinese colonists and Indians from Yucatán. During the time of the so-called "Rewarding Truce", which encompassed the 17 years from the end of the Ten Years' War in 1878, fundamental changes took place in Cuban society. With the abolition of slavery in October 1886, former slaves joined the ranks of farmers and urban working class. Most wealthy Cubans lost their rural properties, and many of them joined the urban middle class. With only companies and the most powerful plantation owners owning them, the number of sugar mills dropped and efficiency increased, The numbers of campesinos and tenant farmers rose considerably. Furthermore, American capital began flowing into Cuba, mostly into the sugar and tobacco businesses and mining. By 5, these investments totalled $50 million. Although Cuba remained Spanish politically, economically it became increasingly dependent on the US.

 

THIRD ARMED UPRISING

After a second deportation to Spain in 1878, José Martí moved to the US to   mobilizing the support of the Cuban exile community in Ybor City  and Key West, Florida. for a revolution from Spain and independence. José Martí  spent time lobbying to oppose US annexation of Cuba. After deliberations with patriotic clubs across the US, the Antilles and Latin America "El Partido Revolucionario Cubano" (The Cuban Revolutionary Party), with the purpose of gaining independence for both Cuba and Puerto Rico, was officially proclaimed on April 10, 2. Martí was elected delegate, the highest party position. By the end of 4 the basic conditions for launching the revolution were set. But Martí's impatience to start the revolution for independence was affected by his growing fear that the imperialist forces in the United States would succeed in annexing Cuba before the revolution could liberate the island from Spain.

On 25 December 5, three ships, loaded with armed men and supplies, set sail for Cuba from Fernandina Beach, Florida . Two were seized by US authorities in early January after alerting the Spanish government. All across the island insurrection began on 24 February 5. The most important ones took place in Santiago, Guantánamo, Jiguaní, San Luis, El Cobre, El Caney, Alto Songo, Bayate and Baire. Uprisings in the central part of the island, such as Ibarra, Jagüey Grande and Aguada, suffered from poor co-ordination and failed. The leaders were captured and deported or executed. In the province of Havana the insurrection was discovered before it got off and the leaders detained.

Martí, on his way to Cuba, proclaimed the Manifesto de Montecristi in Santo Domingo, outlining the policy for Cuba's war of independence: the war was to be waged by blacks and whites alike; participation of all blacks was crucial for victory; Spaniards who did not object to the war effort should be spared, private rural properties should not be damaged; and the revolution should bring new economic life to Cuba.On April 1 and 11, 5, the main Mambi leaders landed on two expeditions in Oriente: Major Antonio Maceo and 22 members near Baracoa and Martí, Máximo Gomez and four other members in Playitas.

Around that time, Spanish forces in Cuba numbered about 80,000, of which 20,000 were regular troops,and 60,000 were Spanish and Cuban volunteers. The latter were a locally-enlisted force that took care of most of the guard and police duties on the island. Wealthy landowners would volunteer a number of their slaves to serve in this force, which was under local control and not under official military command. By December, 98,412 regular troops had been sent to the island and the number of volunteers had increased to 63,000 men. By the end of 7, there were 240,000 regulars and 60,000 irregulars on the island. The revolutionaries were far outnumbered. Martí was killed only shortly after his landing on 19 May 5, at Dos Rios; but Máximo Gomez and Antonio Maceo fought on, taking the war to all parts of Oriente. By the end of June all of Camagüey was at war. Continuing west they were met by 1868 war veterans, Polish internationalists, Gen. Carlos Roloff and Serafín Sánchez in Las Villas, adding weapons, men and experience.In mid-September representatives of the five Liberation Army Corps assembled in Jimaguayú, Camagüey, to approve the Jimaguayú Constitution. This constitution established a central government, which grouped the executive and legislative powers into one entity named the Government Council, headed by Salvador Cisneros and Bartolomé Masó.After a period of consolidation in the three eastern provinces, the liberation armies headed for Camagüey and then for Matanzas, outmanoeuvring and deceiving the Spanish Army several times, defeating the Spanish general Arsenio Martínez Campos, himself the victor of the Ten Year War, and killing his most trusted general at Peralejo.

Campos tried the same strategy he had employed in the Ten Year War, constructing a broad belt across the island, called the trocha, about 80 kilometres (50 mi) long and 200 metres (660 ft) wide. This defense line was to limit rebel activities to the eastern provinces. The belt consisted of a railroad, from Jucaro in the south to Moron in the north, on which to move armoured railcars. At various points along this railroad there were fortifications, at intervals of 12 metres (39 ft) there were posts and at intervals of 400 metres (1,300 ft) there was barbed wire. In addition, booby traps were placed at the locations most likely to be attacked.For the rebels, it was essential to bring the war to the western provinces of Matanzas, Havana and Pinar del Río, where the island's government and wealth was located. The Ten Year War failed because it had not managed to proceed beyond the eastern provinces. In a successful cavalry campaign, overcoming the trochas, the rebels invaded every province. Surrounding all the larger cities and well-fortified towns, they arrived at the westernmost tip of the island on 22 January 6, exactly three months after the invasion near Baraguá. Campos was replaced by Gen. Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau (nicknamed The Butcher), who reacted to these rebel successes by introducing terror methods: periodic executions, mass exiles, and the destruction of farms and crops. These methods reached their height on October 21, 6, when he ordered all countryside residents and their livestock to gather in various fortified areas and towns occupied by his troops within eight days. Hundreds of thousands of people had to leave their homes, creating appalling conditions of overcrowding in the towns and cities. It is estimated that this measure caused the death of at least one-third of Cuba's rural population. The forced relocation policy was maintained until March 8.

Maceo was killed on 7 December 6 in Havana province, while returning from the west. As the war continued, the major obstacle to Cuban success was weapons supply. Although weapons and funding came from within the US, the supply operation violated American laws, which were enforced by the US Coast Guard; of 71 resupply missions, only 27 got through, with 5 being stopped by the Spanish and 33 by the US Coast Guard.

In 7, the liberation army maintained a privileged position in Camagüey and Oriente, where the Spanish only controlled a few cities. Spanish liberal leader Praxedes Sagasta admitted in May 7: "After having sent 200,000 men and shed so much blood, we don’t own more land on the island than what our soldiers are stepping on". The rebel force of 3,000 defeated the Spanish in various encounters, such as the battle of La Reforma and the surrender of Las Tunas on 30 August, and the Spaniards were kept on the defensive. Las Tunas had been guarded by over 1,000 well-armed and well-supplied men. As stipulated at the Jimaguayú Assembly two years earlier, a second Constituent Assembly met in La Yaya, Camagüey, on 10 October 7. The newly-adopted constitution decreed that a military command be subordinated to civilian rule. The government was confirmed, naming Bartolomé Masó as president and Dr. Domingo Méndez Capote vice as president. Madrid decided to change its policy toward Cuba, replacing Weyler, drawing up a colonial constitution for Cuba and Puerto Rico, and installing a new government in Havana. But with half the country out of its control, and the other half in arms, the new government was powerless and rejected by the rebels.


SPANISH AMERICAN WAR OF 1898

CUBAN ANNEXATION OR INDEPENDANCE

In April 1823, US Secretary of State John Quincy Adams spoke of annexation, his argument was " if an apple severed by its native tree cannot choose but fall to the ground, Cuba, forcibly disjoined from its own unnatural connection with Spain, and incapable of self-support, can gravitate only towards the North American Union which by the same law of nature, cannot cast her off its bosom." He furthermore warned that "the transfer of Cuba to Great Britain would be an event unpropitious to the interest of this Union." Adams voiced concern that a country outside of North America would attempt to occupy Cuba upon its separation from Spain. He wrote, "The question both of our right and our power to prevent it, if necessary, by force, already obtrudes itself upon our councils, and the administration is called upon, in the performance of its duties to the nation, at least to use all the means with the competency to guard against and forfend it." On 2 December 1823, US President James Monroe specifically addressed Cuba and other European colonies in his proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine. Cuba, located just 94 miles (151 km) from the US city of Key West, was of interest to the doctrine's founders, as they warned European forces to leave "America for the Americans". By 1881, American and Cuban politicians were clamoring for annexation. US Corporations were heavily invested in Cuba. The US Government viewed Cuba as an important economic and military zone.

Since the early 1880s, Spain had also been suppressing an independence movement in the Philippines, which was intensifying; Spain was thus now fighting two wars, which placed a heavy burden on its economy.

In secret negotiations in 1896 Spain turned down US offers to buy Cuba.

In 1898, in an attempt to appease the United States, the Spanish colonial government took two steps that had been demanded by President William McKinley: it ended the forced relocation policy and offered negotiations with the independence fighters. However, the truce was rejected by the rebels.

But the Cuban struggle for independence had captured the American imagination for years and newspapers had been agitating for intervention with sensational stories of Spanish atrocities against the native Cuban population. Americans came to believe that Cuba's battle with Spain resembled America's Revolutionary War. This continued even after Spain replaced Weyler and changed its policies, and American public opinion was very much in favour of intervening in favour of the Cubans.

On January 8, 1898. a riot by Cuban Spanish loyalists against the new autonomous government broke out in Havana, leading to the destruction of the printing presses of four local newspapers which published articles critical of the Spanish Army. The US Consul-General cabled Washington, fearing for the lives of Americans living in Havana. In response, the battleship USS Maine was sent to Havana in the last week of January. On 15 February 1898, the Maine was destroyed by an explosion, killing 268 crewmembers. The cause of the explosion has not been clearly established to this day, but the incident was presented as a casus belli by the American media to promote a war with Spaiin

The destruction of the Maine had sparked a wave of indignation in the US. Newspapers concluded that Spanish officials in Cuba were to blame. Yellow journalism fuelled American anger by publishing "atrocities" committed by Spain in Cuba. McKinley, Speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed, and the business community opposed the growing public demand for war. Yet the American cry of the hour became, Remember the Maine, To Hell with Spain!  On 11 April McKinley asked Congress for authority to send American troops to Cuba for the purpose of ending the civil war there. On 19 April Congress passed joint resolutions (by a vote of 311 to 6 in the House and 42 to 35 in the Senate) supporting Cuban independence and disclaiming any intention to annex Cuba, demanding Spanish withdrawal, and authorizing the president to use as much military force as he thought necessary to help Cuban patriots gain independence from Spain. This was adopted by resolution of Congress and included from Senator Henry Teller the Teller Amendment, which passed unanimously, stipulating that "the island of Cuba is, and by right should be, free and independent". The amendment disclaimed any intention on the part of the US to exercise jurisdiction or control over Cuba for other than pacification reasons, and confirmed that the armed forces would be removed once the war is over. Senate and Congress passed the amendment on 19 April, McKinley signed the joint resolution on 20 April and the ultimatum was forwarded to Spain. War was declared on 20/21 April 8.

Hostilities started hours after the declaration of war when a US contingent under Admiral William T. Sampson blockaded several Cuban ports. The Americans decided to invade Cuba and to start in Oriente where the Cubans had almost absolute control and were able to co-operate, for example, by establishing a beachhead and protecting the US landing in Daiquiri. The first US objective was to capture the city of Santiago de Cuba in order to destroy Linares' army and Cervera's fleet. To reach Santiago they had to pass through concentrated Spanish defences in the San Juan Hills and a small town in El Caney. Between 22 and 24 June the Americans landed under General William R. Shafter at Daiquirí and Siboney, east of Santiago, and established a base. The port of Santiago became the main target of naval operations. The US fleet attacking Santiago needed shelter from the summer hurricane season. Thus nearby Guantánamo Bay with its excellent harbour was chosen for this purpose and attacked on 6 June (8 invasion of Guantánamo Bay). The Battle of Santiago de Cuba, on 3 July 8, was the largest naval engagement during the Spanish-American War resulting in the destruction of the Spanish Caribbean Squadron (Flota de Ultramar). Resistance in Santiago consolidated around Fort Canosa, all the while major battles between Spaniards and Americans took place at Las Guasimas (Battle of Las Guasimas) on 24 June El Caney Battle of El Caney and San Juan Hill Battle of San Juan Hill on 1 July 1898 outside of Santiago after which the American advance ground to a halt. Spanish troops successfully defended Fort Canosa, allowing them to stabilize their line and bar the entry to Santiago. The Americans and Cubans forcibly began a bloody, strangling siege of the city which eventually surrendered on 16 July after the defeat of the Spanish Caribbean Squadron. Thus, Oriente was under control of Americans and the Cubans, but US General Nelson A. Miles would not allow Cuban troops to enter Santiago, claiming that he wanted to prevent clashes between Cubans and Spaniards. Thus, Cuban General Calixto García, head of the mambi forces in the Eastern department, ordered his troops to hold their respective areas and resigned, writing a letter of protest to General Shafter.

After losing the Philippines and Puerto Rico, which had also been invaded by the US, and with no hope of holding on to Cuba, Spain sued for peace on 17 July 1898. On 12 August the US and Spain signed a protocol of Peace in which Spain agreed to relinquish all claim of sovereignty over and title of Cuba. On 10 December 8 the US and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris, recognizing Cuban independence Although the Cubans had participated in the liberation efforts, the US prevented Cuba from participating in the Paris peace talks and signing the treaty. The treaty set no time limit for US occupation and the Isle of Pines was excluded from Cuba. Although the treaty officially granted Cuba's independence, US General William R. Shafter refused to allow Cuban General Calixto García and his rebel forces to participate in the surrender ceremonies in Santiago de Cuba.After the Spanish troops left the island in December 8, the government of Cuba was handed over to the United States on 1 January 9. The first governor was General John R. Brooke. Unlike Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, the United States did not annex Cuba because of the restrictions imposed in the Teller Amendment. The US administration was undecided on Cuba's future status. Once it had been pried away from the Spaniards it was to be assured that it moved and remained in the US sphere. How this was to be achieved was a matter of intense discussion and annexation was an option, not only on the mainland but also in Cuba. McKinley spoke about the links that should exist between the two nations.[54]

Brooke set up a civilian government, placed US governors in seven newly created departments, and named civilian governors for the provinces as well as mayors and representatives for the municipalities. Many Spanish colonial government officials were kept in their posts. The population were ordered to disarm and, ignoring the Mambi Army, Brooke created the Rural Guard and municipal police corps at the service of the occupation forces. Cuba's judicial powers and courts remained legally based on the codes of the Spanish government. Tomás Estrada Palma, Martí's successor as delegate of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, dissolved the party a few days after the signing of the Paris Treaty in December 8, claiming that the objectives of the party had been met. The revolutionary Assembly of Representatives was also dissolved. Thus, the three representative institutions of the national liberation movement disappeared

Before the US officially took over the government, it had already begun cutting tariffs on US goods entering Cuba without granting the same rights to Cuban goods going to the US. Government payments had to be made in US dollars.] In spite of the Foraker Amendment, which prohibited the US occupation government from granting privileges and concessions to US investors, the Cuban economy was soon dominated by US capital. The growth of US sugar estates was so quick that in 1905 nearly 10% of Cuba's total land area belonged to US citizens. By 1902, US companies controlled 80% of Cuba's ore exports and owned most of the sugar and cigarette factories. At the same time, the US Army began a massive public health program to fight endemic diseases, mainly yellow fever, and an education system was organized at all levels, increasing the number of primary schools fourfold.

Popular demands for a Constituent Assembly soon emerged. In December 9, the US War Secretary assured the Cuban populace that the occupation was temporary, that municipal and general elections would be held, that a Constituent Assembly would be set up, and that sovereignty would be handed to Cubans. Brooke was replaced by General Leonard Wood to oversee the transition. Parties were created, including the Cuban National Party, the Federal Republican Party of Las Villas, the Republican Party of Havana and the Democratic Union Party. The first elections for mayors, treasurers and attorneys of the country's 110 municipalities for a one-year-term took place on 16 June 1900 but balloting was limited to literate Cubans older than 21 and with properties worth more than 250 US dollars. Only members of the dissolved Liberation Army were exempt from these conditions. Thus, the number of about 418,000 male citizens over 21 was reduced to about 151,000. 360,000 women were totally excluded. The same elections were held one year later, again for a one-year-term.

Elections for 31 delegates to a Constituent Assembly were held on 15 September 1900 with the same balloting restrictions. In all three elections, pro-independence candidates, including a large number of mambi delegates, won overwhelming majorities. The Constitution was drawn up from November 1900 to February 1901 and then passed by the Assembly. It established a republican form of government, proclaimed internationally-recognized individual rights and liberties, freedom of religion, separation between church and state, and described the composition, structure and functions of state powers. On 2 March 1901, the US Congress passed the Army Appropriations Act, stipulating the conditions for the withdrawal of United States troops remaining in Cuba following the Spanish-American War. As a rider, this act included the Platt Amendment, which defined the terms of Cuban-US relations until 1934. It replaced the earlier Teller Amendment. The amendment provided for a number of rules heavily infringing on Cuba's sovereignty:

Cuba would not transfer Cuban land to any power other than the United States.
Cuba would contract no foreign debt without guarantees that the interest could be served from ordinary revenues.
The right to US intervention in Cuban affairs and military occupation when the US authorities considered that the life, properties and rights of US citizens were in danger,
Cuba was prohibited from negotiating treaties with any country other than the United States "which will impair or to impair the independence of Cuba".
Cuba was prohibited to "permit any foreign power or powers to obtain … lodgement in or control over any portion" of Cuba.
The Isle of Pines (now called Isla de la Juventud) was deemed outside the boundaries of Cuba until the title to it was adjusted in a future treaty.
The sale or lease to the United States of "lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points to be agreed upon." The amendment ceded to the United States the naval base in Cuba (Guantánamo Bay) and granted the right to use a number of other naval bases as coal stations.

As a precondition to Cuba's independence, the US demanded that this amendment be approved fully and without changes by the Constituent Assembly as an appendix to the new constitution. Faced with this alternative, the appendix was approved, after heated debate, by a margin of 4 votes. Governor Wood admitted: "Little or no independence had been left to Cuba with the Platt Amendment and the only thing appropriate was to seek annexation".[59]

In the presidential elections of 31 December 1901, Tomás Estrada Palma, a US citizen still living in the United States, was the only candidate. His adversary, General Bartolomé Masó, withdrew his candidacy in protest against US favoritism and the manipulation of the political machine by Palma's followers. Palma was elected to be the Republic's first President, although he only returned to Cuba four months after the election. The US occupation officially ended when Palma took office on 20 May 1902. In 1902, the United States handed over control to a Cuban government that as a condition of the transfer had included in its constitution provisions implementing the requirements of the Platt Amendment, which among other things gave the United States the right to intervene militarily in Cuba. Havana and Varadero became popular tourist resorts. The Cuban population gradually enacted civil rights anti-discrimination legislation that ordered minimum employment quotas for Cubans. For three decades, the country was led by former War of Independence leaders, who after being elected did not serve more than two constitutional terms. The Cuban presidential succession was as follows: José Miguel Gómez (1908–1912); Mario García Menocal (1913–1920); Alfredo Zayas (1921–25).

President Gerardo Machado was elected by popular vote in 1925, but he was constitutionally barred from reelection. Machado, determined to modernize Cuba, set in motion several massive civil works projects such as the Central Highway, but at the end of his constitutional term he held on to power. The United States, despite the Platt Amendment, decided not to interfere militarily. The communists of the PCC did very little to resist Machado in his dictator phase; however, numerous other groups did. In the late 1920s and early 1930s a number of Cuban action groups, including some Mambí, staged a series of uprisings that either failed or did not affect the capital.

The revolution of 1933 undermined the institutions and coercive structures of the oligarchic state. The young and relatively inexperienced revolutionaries found themselves pushed into the halls of state power by worker and peasant mobilisations. Between September 1933 and January 1934 a loose coalition of radical activists, students, middle-class intellectuals, and disgruntled lower-rank soldiers formed a Provisional Revolutionary Government. This coalition was directed by a popular university professor, Dr Ramón Grau San Martín. The Grau government promised a 'new Cuba' with social justice for all classes, and the abrogation of the Platt Amendment. While the revolutionary leaders certainly wanted diplomatic recognition by Washington, they believed their legitimacy stemmed from the popular rebellion which brought them to power, and not from the approval of the United States' Department of State. To this end, throughout the autumn of 1933 the government decreed a dramatic series of reforms. The Platt Amendment was unilaterally abrogated, and all the political parties of the Machadato were dissolved. The Provisional Government granted autonomy to the University of Havana, women obtained the right to vote, the eight-hour day was decreed, a minimum wage was established for cane-cutters, and compulsory arbitration was promoted. The government created a Ministry of Labour, and a law was passed establishing that 50 per cent of all workers in agriculture, commerce and industry had to be Cuban citizens. The Grau regime set agrarian reform as a priority, promising peasants legal title to their lands. For the first time in Cuban history the country was governed by people who did not negotiate the terms of political power with Spain (before 8), or with the United States (after 8). The Provisional Government survived until January 1934, when it was overthrown by an equally loose anti-government coalition of right-wing civilian and military elements. Led by a young sergeant, Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar, this movement was supported by the United States.


Batista, with his straight Taíno hair and very dark skin, often lightened in later photographs, was known as "El Mulato Lindo". He was Cuba's first and only mulatto leader. In 1940, Cuba conducted free and fair national elections.Fulgencio Batista, endorsed by Communists,won the election. Communists attacked the anti-Batista opposition, branding Ramón Grau San Martín and other candidates as "fascists", "reactionaries", and "Trotskyists".The relatively progressivist 1940 Constitution was adopted by the Batista administration.The constitution denied Batista the possibility to run consecutively in the 1944 election. Rather than endorsing Batista's hand-picked successor Carlos Zayas, the Cuban people elected Ramón Grau San Martín in 1944. A populist physician, who had briefly held the presidency in the 1933 revolutionary process, Grau made a deal with labor unions to continue Batista's pro-labour policies.Grau's administration coincided with the end of World War II, and he presided over an economic boom as sugar production expanded and prices rose. He instituted programs of public works and school construction, increasing social security benefits and encouraging economic development and agricultural production. However, increased prosperity brought increased corruption, with nepotism and favoritism flourishing in the political establishment, and urban violence, a legacy of the early 1930s, reappearing on a large scale.The country was also steadily gaining a reputation as a base for organized crime, with the Havana Conference of 1946 seeing leading Mafia mobsters descend upon the city. Grau's presidency was followed by that of Carlos Prío Socarrás, also elected democratically, but whose government was tainted by increasing corruption and violent incidents among political factions. Around the same time, Fidel Castro became a public figure at the University of Havana. Eduardo Chibás – the leader of the Partido Ortodoxo (Orthodox Party), a liberal democratic group – was widely expected to win in 1952 on an anticorruption platform. However, Chibás committed suicide before he could run for the presidency, and the opposition was left without a unifying leader.

Taking advantage of the opportunity, Batista, who was expected to win only a small minority of the 1952 presidential vote, seized power in an almost bloodless coup three months before the election was to take place. President Prío did nothing to stop the coup, and was forced to leave the island. Due to the corruption of the previous two administrations, the general public reaction to the coup was somewhat accepting at first. However, Batista soon encountered stiff opposition when he temporarily suspended the balloting and the 1940 constitution, and attempted to rule by decree. Nonetheless, elections were held in 1953 and Batista was re-elected. Opposition parties mounted a blistering campaign, and continued to do so, using the Cuban free press throughout Batista's tenure in office.Although corruption was rife under Batista, Cuba did flourish economically during his regime. Cuban wages rose signifianctly; according to the International Labor Organization, the average industrial salary in Cuba was the world's eighth-highest in 1958, and the average agricultural wage was higher than in developed nations such as Denmark, West Germany, Belgium, and France.Although a third of the population still lived in poverty, Cuba was one of the five most developed countries in Latin America. Only 44% of the population was rural.

In the 1950s, Cuba's gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was roughly equal to that of contemporary Italy, and significantly higher than that of countries such as Japan, although Cuba's GDP per capita was still only a sixth as large as that of the United States.According to the United Nations at the time, "one feature of the Cuban social structure [was] a large middle class" Labour rights were also favourable – an eight-hour day had been established in 1933, long before most other countries, and Cuban workers were entitled to a months's paid holiday, nine days' sick leave with pay, and six weeks' holiday before and after childbirth. Cuba also had Latin America's highest per capita consumption rates of meat, vegetables, cereals, automobiles, telephones and radios during this period.:186 Cuba had the fifth-highest number of televisions per capita in the world, and the world's eighth-highest number of radio stations (160). According to the United Nations, 58 different daily newspapers operated in Cuba during the late 1950s, more than any Latin American country save Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Havana was the world's fourth-most-expensive city at the time, and had more cinemas than New York. Cuba furthermore had the highest level of telephone penetration in Latin America, although many telephone users were still unconnected to switchboards

Moreover, Cuba's health service was remarkably developed. It had one of the highest numbers of doctors per capita – more than in the contemporary United Kingdom – and the third-lowest adult mortality rate in the world. According to the World Health Organization, the island had the lowest infant mortality rate in Latin America, and the 13th-lowest in the world – better than in contemporary France, Belgium, West Germany, Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Additionally, education spending in Cuba was the highest in Latin America relative to GDP.Cuba had the fourth-highest literacy rate in the region, at almost 80% according to the United Nations – higher than that of Spain at the time.However, the United States, rather than Latin America, was the frame of reference for educated Cubans. Cubans travelled to the United States, read US newspapers, listened to US radio, watched US television, and were attracted to US culture. Middle-class Cubans grew frustrated at the economic gap between Cuba and the US The middle class became increasingly dissatisfied with the administration, while labour unions supported Batista until the very end.

Large income disparities arose due to the extensive privileges enjoyed by Cuba's unionized workers. Cuban labour unions had established limitations on mechanization and even banned dismissals in some factories.The labour unions' privileges were obtained in large measure "at the cost of the unemployed and the peasants". Cuba's labour regulations ultimately caused economic stagnation. Hugh Thomas asserts that "militant unions succeeded in maintaining the position of unionized workers and, consequently, made it difficult for capital to improve efficiency." Between 1933 and 1958, Cuba increased economic regulation enormously.The regulation led to declining investment.The World Bank also complained that the Batista administration raised the tax burden without assessing its impact. Unemployment was high; many university graduates could not find jobs.After its earlier meteoric rise, the Cuban gross domestic product grew at only 1% annually on average between 1950 and 1958

Fidel Castro, a young lawyer from a rich family, who was running for a seat in the Chamber of Representatives for the Partido Ortodoxo, circulated a petition to depose Batista's government on the grounds that it had illegitimately suspended the electoral process. However, the petition was not acted upon by the courts. On 26 July 1953 Castro led a historic attack on the Moncada Barracks near Santiago de Cuba, but failed. Many soldiers were killed by Castro's forces. Castro was captured, tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, he was released by the Batista government in 1956, when amnesty was given to many political prisoners, including the ones that assaulted the Moncada barracks. Castro subsequently went into exile in Mexico where he met Ernesto "Che" Guevara. While in Mexico, he organized the 26th of July Movement with the goal of overthrowing Batista. A group of 82 men sailed to Cuba on board the yacht Granma, landing in the eastern part of the island in December 1956. Despite a pre-landing rising in Santiago by Frank Pais and his followers of the urban pro-Castro movement, most of Castro's men were promptly killed, dispersed or taken prisoner by Batista's forces.

Castro managed to escape to the Sierra Maestra mountains with about 12–17 effectives, aided by the urban and rural opposition, including Celia Sanchez and the bandits of Cresencio Perez's family, he began a guerrilla campaign against the regime. Castro's main forces supported by numerous poorly armed escopeteros, and with support from the well-armed fighters of the Frank Pais urban organization who at times went to the mountains the rebel army grew more and more effective. The country was soon driven to chaos conducted in the cities by diverse groups of the anti-Batista resistance and notably a bloodily crushed rising by the Batista Navy personnel in Cienfuegos. At the same time, rival guerrilla groups in the Escambray Mountains also grew more and more effective. Castro attempted to arrange a general strike in 1958, but did not get support from Communists or labor unions.[page needed]

United States imposed trade restrictions on the Batista administration and sent an envoy which attempted to persuade Batista to leave the country voluntarily. The middle class was dissatisfied with the unemployment and wanted to restore the 1940 constitution. Batista fled on 1 January 1959.
In the years following its independence, Cuba saw significant economic development, but also political corruption and a succession of despotic leaders, culminating in the overthrow of the dictator Fulgencio Batista by the communist revolutionary Fidel Castro during the 1953-9 Cuban Revolution. Cuba has since been ruled by Castro's Communist Party of Cuba, although Castro himself formally stepped down as leader in 2008, to be replaced by his brother Raúl Castro.

Castro took over. Within months of taking control, Castro moved to consolidate power by brutally marginalizing other resistance groups and figures and imprisoning and executing opponents and former supporters. As the revolution became more radical and continued its persecution of those who did not agree with its direction, hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled the island.

Fidel Castro quickly purged political opponents from the administration. Loyalty to Castro became the primary criterion for all appointments. Mass organisations such as independent labour unions were made illegal.[page needed] By the end of 1960, all opposition newspapers had been closed down and all radio and television stations were under state control.: Teachers and professors were purged.: The Communist Party established a system of one-party rule, with Castro as the supreme leader,: Moderates were arrested.: while Fidel's brother Raúl Castro became the commander of the army.: In September 1960, a system of neighborhood watch networks, known as Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), were created.:

In July 1961, two years after the 1959 Revolution, the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (IRO) was formed by the merger of Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement, Blas Roca's Popular Socialist Party, and Faure Chomón's Revolutionary Directory March 13th. On March 26, 1962 the IRO became the United Party of the Cuban Socialist Revolution (PURSC), which, in turn, became the Communist Party of Cuba on October 3, 1965, with Castro as First Secretary. As of 2011, the Communist Party remains the only recognized political party in Cuba. Other parties, though not illegal, are unable to campaign or conduct any activities that could be deemed counter-revolutionary.

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