Cuba's desire for independence from the Spanish empire existed for almost 100 years before Carlos Manuel de Céspedes issued the famed Grito de Yara that started Cuba's first formal war against Spain.
Efforts to obtain legal autonomy had been explored, and drastically failed. The only hope was in complete separation.
The Ten Year War (1868-1878) ended in a stalemate, but one man stood against the compromise and won the hearts and minds of Cubans throughout the island. Antonio Maceo became the symbol of a Cuban identity that included the idea of racial equality and the end of slavery.
Rebel rhetoric and ideology always emphasized an anti-racist agenda, and this became part of the Cuban identity that eventually went to war against Spain. Men like José Martí, Juan Gualberto Gómez and others, spread the idea of Cuba as a race-less society, and even if the reality of the island never quite lived up to the caliber of the dream, it makes Cuba unique in this struggle, and very different from the empires that would claim her.
In 1890 Martí formed the Cuban Revolutionary Party, and organized the third and final war effort against Spain. Veterans of the various previous wars for independence came aboard, Antonio and José Maceo, Maximo Gómez, Calixto Garcia and others.
The war started in 1895, and Cuba would never be the same. At the very end, Spain ceded control of the island to the U.S. government.
So ended the 19th century; the island under the control of a new empire, and the promise (in the form of the Teller Amendment) that soon the Cuban flag would fly over the nation's capitol.
Cuba's romantic poet
Wars against Spain
Excerpt from an editorial in Madrid's newspaper La Discusión, March 24 1870
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