Cuba 's Great Blessing And Curse Essay

Cuba 's Great Blessing And Curse Essay

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Sugar has been Cuba 's great blessing and curse all at once, just as much as it’s indigenous people, convenient location, size, tropical climate and rich soil. Cuba’s sugar frontier was able to develop due to its environment, technology, and slave labor availability and became an everyday lifestyle for the people that inhabited it.
When Christopher Columbus and his crew landed on the coast of Cuba in 1492, he described the valleys and mountains “full of tall, cool trees that it was a glory to see,” landscapes in which on saw “ everything full of palm trees groves.” Even Bartolome de Las Casas, affirmed that all was a “flat land full of woods and glades.” Less than two decades later the colonization of Cuba began with three hundred Europeans, under the command of Diego Velazquez. It did not take long for the abundance of the forests covered with precious woods to awaken the interest of influences across seas. At first, Cuba’s primary industry was considered to be shipbuilding due to Havana’s transformation into a center of shipbuilding and the great demand for wood. Various assortments of trees predominated in many of the best soils and flatlands in Cuba. This fact and their abundance explain their almost total destruction to satisfy the demand for wood. Cuba failed to prosper in sugar before the 1760s due to Spanish trade regulations. Spain had set up a monopoly in the Caribbean and their primary objective was to protect this. They did not allow the islands to trade with any foreign ships. As Hispaniola developed its sugar industry in the second half of the sixteenth century, Cuba remained on the margins of a colonial system based on the exploitation of cash crops. Sugar cane, originally from New Guinea, was one of the earliest g...


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...e destruction of forests. This great escalation in the transformation of forests into cane fields bore short fruits compared with the damage to the ecosystem. It seemed as the though Cuba would soon find itself without the shade of a single tree. After the slaves were emancipated between 1880 and 1886, the planter class in Cuba underwent a transformation. Many mills stopped operating after abolition or became unprofitable when they were unable to modernize and keep up with technological advances. The lands belonging to these mills usually became sugar colonias that produced cane for neighboring centrales. Freed slaves from the core area of the ingenio economy moved out to frontier regions in eastern Cuba, drifted into the cities, or remained on the plantations as wage workers. In this advancement, slaves benefited from the sugar boom as the ecology of Cuba suffered.

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