Cuban History

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Cuban History Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Cuba on October 28, 1492, during his initial westward voyage. In honor of the daughter of Ferdinand V and Isabella I of Spain, his benefactors, Columbus named it Juana, the first of several names he successively applied to the island. It eventually became known as Cuba, from its aboriginal name, Cubanascnan. Colonization by Spain When Columbus first landed on Cuba it was inhabited by the Ciboney, a friendly tribe related to the Arawak. Colonization of the island began in 1511, when the Spanish soldier Diego Velázquez established the town of Baracoa. Velázquez subsequently founded several other settlements, including Santiago de Cuba in 1514 and Havana in 1515. The Spanish transformed Cuba into a supply base for their expeditions to Mexico and Florida. As a result of savage treatment and exploitation, the aborigines became, by the middle of the 16th century, nearly extinct, forcing the colonists to depend on imported black slaves for the operation of the mines and plantations. Despite frequent raids by buccaneers and naval units of rival and enemy powers, the island prospered throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Restrictions imposed by the Spanish authorities on commercial activities were generally disregarded by the colonists, who resorted to illicit trade with privateers and neighboring colonies. Following the conclusion of the Seven Years' War in 1763, during which the English captured Havana, the Spanish government liberalized its Cuban policy, encouraging colonization, expansion of commerce, and development of agriculture. Between 1774 and 1817 the population increased from about 161,000 to more than 550,000. The remaining restrictions on trade were officially eliminated in 1818, further promoting material and cultural advancement. During the 1830s, however, Spanish rule became increasingly repressive, provoking a widespread movement among the colonists for independence. This movement attained particular momentum between 1834 and 1838, during the despotic governorship of the captain general Miguel de Tacón. Revolts and conspiracies against the Spanish regime dominated Cuban political life throughout the remainder of the century. In 1844 an uprising of black slaves was brutally suppressed. A movement during the years 1848 to 1851 for annexation of the island to the United States ended with the capture and execution of its leader, the Spanish-American general Narciso López. Offers by the U.S. government to purchase the island were repeatedly rejected by Spain. In 1868 revolutionaries under the leadership of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes proclaimed Cuban independence. The ensuing Ten Years' War, a costly struggle to both Spain and Cuba, was terminated in 1878 by a truce granting many important concessions to the Cubans. In 1886 slavery was abolished. Importation of cheap labor from China was ended by 1871.
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