It wasn’t just our American fear of Cuba’s racial equality practices that made us shine our imperialist boots in preparation for a good ass-kickin’.
We wanted Cuba’s sugar money.
Cuba was the top sugar producer in all the world.
That’s a lotta sugar dough.
We had tried to buy Cuba from Spain, but our first offer was so low it slapped ‘em in the face with insult, and showed those Spaniards just how little we thought of them.
Then we came to our senses and grudgingly upped our offer to a more realistic number.
But by then Spain was like, are you serious? Why would we sell the goose that lays the golden eggs to you, of all people? Hahahaha! You Americans are funny!
So, we had to settle for investing in their sugar industry on the island. But, though we invested millions, we were only getting a comparatively tiny amount of sugar dough return.
Spain was the one swimming in the juice.
Which stuck deep in our craw. (Not real sure what a ‘craw’ is, but this is a well-known expression. And I like saying ‘craw.’)
So, with our craw all bent (since I don’t know what a craw is, I’m pretty sure I can bend it ), we were like, why should Spain get all that Cuban sugar dough? We’re closer. In fact, we’re so close that, rightfully, Cuba should really belong to us – along with all the other tobacco, coffee, citrus, and other profitable products-producing islands colonized by Spain.
Those island geese should be laying golden eggs for us.
Something had to be done about that…
Even though Cuban slaves had finally snatched their freedom back from Spanish slave owners by 1886, Spanish colonists on Cuba were still fighting their own war for independence from Spain.
Spanish land owners on Cuba were sick of sharing their sugar profits with their motherland. They wanted to keep it all. But they were losing that battle.
They didn’t start winning until 1898.
Because we stepped in.
And our boots were polished, ready for a good stompin.’
America had been watching Cuba.
Watching their slaves fight back. Watching Whites & Blacks unite and rebel against color separation. Watching this threat to our Western world order of White supremacy erupt just 90 miles away from us…
Watching a super-money-making sugar industry stall in the midst of slave revolution & an independence war. Watching lucrative acres of sugar cane…just sitting there…waiting for a victor to step in and usurp 100% of that sweet profit.
So, as the Spanish colonists on Cuba were losing their war of independence against Spain (which would mean loss of our investment millions in their sugar), we sent a war ship to Cuba to help them win their war.
We sent the USS Maine.
“Beware of Americans offering help,” an accented voice intoned gravely.
All our American heads snapped around to see who said it.
It was another Cuban.
He was standing with a group of Cubans, off to one side, listening to Victor’s history lesson and our responses.
A woman in that group asked, in accented English, “You are all Americans?”
“Yes,” we answered.
“Welcome to Cuba,” she growled, looking downright hostile.
It was the most unfriendly welcome I’ve ever had. She could have said, “Go to Hell!” and it probably would have sounded friendlier.
Someone in our group said thank you, but there was a question mark after it.
Victor continued his history of Cuba, but Karli & I weren’t listening right then.
We were watching that Cuban lady incinerate our group with rays of eye-fire.
The man who had made the “beware of Americans” statement, didn’t look like he wanted us dead. He just looked disgusted with us.
What the hell??
I looked around for our American group leaders or Armando, but they weren’t anywhere in sight. Probably leading the rest of our group throughout the museo somewhere.
“Do Cubans hate us?” Karli whispered. I knew by “us,” she meant all Americans and not just our group.
“It’s probably just her,” I guessed hopefully.
“And him,” Karli’s eyes rolled toward the “beware of Americans” guy.
“And everyone else in that group,” Malcolm, a man in our group, added.
I snuck a side-eyed look at the faces in that group of Cubans. Stoic. No smiles. Some had a hint of sneer in the expression on their lips. Others looked suspicious but curious. About us. The Americans in their museo.
None looked as openly hostile as eye-fire lady.
But none looked friendly, either. Not even a little bit.
“Let’s find Armando & ask him about it,” Karli suggested.
I shook my head. “I want to hear the rest of Victor’s history story.”
I had only been half-listening to Victor, so I missed some stuff. I think I heard him saying something about the terrorism of imperialism. I tried to whisper-ask one of our group members what Victor said about this, but she sniffed, “It’s not worth repeating.”
Anyway, I came back to full attention on Victor as he was saying that our USS Maine rescue war ship – and everyone on it – was blown to smithereens.
To this day, no one really knows.
But for some reason (sugar?), we decided it was the Spanish colonists on Cuba who blew up the Maine – even though they had nothing to gain by it. I mean, we were coming to their rescue, so they had absolutely everything to lose and nothing to gain by jacking us.
But we wanted those Spanish colonists in Cuba gone.
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“Diary of An American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land”