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The makeup of Cuba in the late nineteenth century is much the same as it is today. Nearly 66% of the
population are white and of Spanish descent. About 22% are of mixed racial heritage, and 12% of the
populace is black. Cuba lies to the south of the United States, and is most easily accessible by boat
from the Florida region. It is this naval quality that encompasses the island.
During the Ten Years War, between 1868-1878, the Cubans fought against Spanish rule in their
country. Rebellion broke out around the island, and the rebels joined under a united leader, Carlos de
Cespedes, a wealthy planter, who proclaimed independence from Spain. Nearly 200,000 lives were
lost, until the Treaty of El Zanjun was signed. This agreement promised the government would reform
and abolish slavery and the tyrannical rule it held over the Cubans. The treaty was not honored
however, and resistance was again put up in 1885.
The Spanish king at the time Alfonso XIII, encouraged the use of concentration camps for
revolutionaries caught in battle. The Cuban Revolution became extremely bloody due to the use of
Guerrilla warfare. This military operation, conducted on its home terrain, consisted of inhabitants fed
up with oppressive rule. The men involved operated from bases located deep in the jungle, dense
forests, and high rocky elevations. Guerrillas depended on natives for food, shelter, and useful
information. While striking swiftly was a must, the bands of men were specialized in the undetected
raiding of enemy camps. They could ambush a patrol, kill the soldiers, and supply their entire company
in a matter of hours. Cutting communication between enemy lines became a prime target, once severed
from the army, a battalion could be attacked, disarmed, and their reserves used for the revolutionaries.
It was the unfortunate, destitute populace that rebelled. Having little to lose they could fight on home
turf and soon, much to there delight had help from the United States. While in port in Havana on
February 15, 1898 the U.S. Battleship Maine was sunk by a large explosion. The Americans declared
war on Spain immediately, attacking all Spanish naval vessels in the area, marking the beginning of the
Spanish-American War. Finally on July 18, 1898, George Dewey, a U.S. naval officer commanded the
fleet that destroyed Spanish vessels in Manila. Upon being defeated once again, Spain surrendered,
giving up Cuba and the Philippines as free countries. Therefore with the help of the United States, and
there own fighting rebellion within the country the inhabitants of Cuba gained freedom from Spanish
dictatorship, becoming the Cuban Republic in 1901 and electing Tomas Estrada Palma as president in
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