Courtesy Reuters

Cuba, America and the War

THE history of Cuba's rôle in international affairs since the establishment of the republic in 1902 falls into three well-defined periods. The first extends from 1902 to April 1917, when Cuba entered the World War, following the lead of the United States. The second extends from that time to May 29, 1934, when the Permanent Treaty, which gave the Platt Amendment legal force in Cuba, was abrogated.[i] The third period covers the years from 1934 to the present.

During all the forty-odd years that Cuba has been an independent and sovereign nation -- including the era when the Platt Amendment governed her relations with the United States -- she has always enjoyed all the attributes of a nation in full control of her own destinies. People of considerable legal attainments, like Dr. Antonio Sánchez de Bustamente, Professor of International Law at the University of Havana and Member of the Permanent Court of International Justice, have continually maintained the thesis that the Platt Amendment did not impede Cuba's complete freedom of action. According to them, the Amendment embodied only two fundamental principles: one, that Cuba could in no way surrender her independence or any part of her territory, nor contract debts which would lead to foreign interference in order to collect them; and two, that Cuba should ensure the protection of the lives, property and liberty of all persons within her borders -- an obligation incumbent upon all sovereign states.

Cuba has concluded treaties of all sorts with other Powers, and the good sense of the Cuban authorities, plus the prudence of the majority of those who have governed the United States since 1902, prevented the Platt Amendment from becoming the source of mischief which many people anticipated. Nevertheless, the patriotism of the Cuban people was affronted by those clauses that forbade them to do things which they never would have done anyway, because to have done them would have meant surrendering those very rights of absolute independence which Cuba had struggled for half a century to

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