of Independence was necessary. It wasn`t fair that so many jobs and so many privileges happened to fall into the hands of the Spaniards alone. It wasn`t fair that for women to work they had to be daughters of Spaniards. None of that was fair. You never saw a black lawyer because they said that blacks were only good for the forest. You never saw a black teacher. It was all for the white Spaniards. Even the white criollos were pushed aside. I seen that myself. A night watchman, whose only job was to walk around, call out the hour, and put out the candle, had to be a Spaniard. And everything was like that. There was no freedom. That`s why a war
A letter from T. Estrada Palma, a Cuban
in exile in the United States, demonstrates a similar sentiment. Presented to the U.S. Senate on February 28, 1896, by Senator John Sherman of Ohio, it reads:
`No public schools are within reach of the masses for their education. All of the principle industries of the island are hampered by excessive imports.
s have no security of person or property. The judiciary are instrum
ents of the military authorities. Trial by military tribunals can be ordered at any time at the will of the captain-general. There is, besides, no freedom of speech, press, or religion. In point of fact, the causes of the revolution
of 1775 were not nearly as grave as those that have driven the Cuban
people to the various insurrections which culminated in the present revolution
In other words, the Cuban
s fought for individual liberty, and not just freedom from their colonizer. `
s made up the bulk of the independence forces. Arguably the greatest general of the war
, Antonio `The Bronze Titan` Maceo, was of mixed African and Spanish heritage. In 1912 the Cuban
Partido Independiente de Color claimed that Afro-Cuban
s composed 80 percent of the insurgents` fighting forces.
In the century after the American Revolution, many fighting forces took to using guerrilla war
fare as a tactic.
Spanish forces fighting Napoleon`s brother in Spain at the beginning of the 19th century first coined the term guerrilla. Cuban
soldiers mastered the art of guerrilla war
fare during their war
Their fighting tactics consisted largely of charges, often on horseback, to fight with machetes and bayonets against Spanish soldiers with superior equipment and more of it. This hand-to-hand type of attack also frightened the Spanish troops a great deal.
`An intelligent and reliable American` wrote a letter to Consul General Williams in July 1895 stating that, while a captive of the rebels, he was told that `they had plenty ammunition, but did not need any, they shoot only if attacked and then their sharpshooters only, the balance hold power with their machetes.`
Esteban Montejo confirmed the fear of machetes, stating that `the Spaniards . . . weren`t afraid of rifles but machetes, yes.`