THE deepening crisis in Cuba inescapably reflects a failure of American foreign policy. Failure rather than disaster, for the situation is not unmanageable. Yet it should not have happened. Because somewhat similar crises are possible in other parts of Latin America, it is not amiss to analyze the policy (or lack of it) for future reference.
The more obvious background events are well-known; they need only be summarized here. Cuba as an independent state came into existence as a result of the Spanish-American War. This in turn was the climax of the war of independence sporadically carried on in the island for a long time, reaching an active phase in 1895. Three bloody years preceded the three-months war with Spain. On December 10, 1898, by the Treaty of Paris, Spain renounced her claims to lands discovered by Columbus. American occupation was set up under the Governor Generalship of Leonard Wood; parties were organized, elections were held. On May 20, 1902, the Cuban Republic was inaugurated and the American occupation ended. The United States retained the right to intervene in Cuba to restore order; this right, rarely exercised (and never successfully), was renounced by the United States in 1934.
Meanwhile, Cuba pursued her independent way with substantial success. Among other things, desiring to assure an economic base for the new country, the United States assured her preferential tariff treatment for imports of Cuban sugar. This was subsequently translated into the large quota of Cuban sugar granted import into the protected American market. Then, as now, Cuba's primary economic resource was the growing of sugar cane and its manufacture into raw sugar, chiefly for export.
The economic life of Cuba was, quite obviously, bound up with that of the United States. Geography would have done this in any event. The economic norms of civilized intercourse were then the conventional ones of private commerce and investment. Cubans traded with Americans. Americans invested in Cuba. This was not philanthropy on either side. The trade was mutually profitable. One must note here
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