Cuban History

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With the passage of the Cuban Constitution in 1901, suffrage was legally extended to every Cuban, and racial equality, in the legal sense, was achieved in Cuba. Since the emancipation of slavery in the 1880s, there was a general trend towards the granting of full rights to Cubans of color. Two elements of Cuban society were instrumental in this achievement: the existence of a multi-racial labor force and the existence of a multi-racial revolutionary army during the rebellion against Spain. While both contributed to the achievement of racial equality, the existence of a multi-racial revolutionary army was more central to this goal, because it was a more genuine unification of races, and was a more immediate and direct cause of the principles written into the Constitution in 1901. After the gradual freeing of slaves through patronato in the 1880s, the work-force in Cuba slowly became multi-racial, but rather than serving as a unifying aspect of Cuban life, work life remained somewhat divided and tense through the years leading up to 1901. As Scott notes, "Various racial biases could be seen in hiring, with white men often favored for mill work and given preferential access to better housing" (181). Whites and blacks, though working side by side, had differing access to advancement and experienced poorer treatment by their employers, who "often displayed the same racialized arrogance that their counterparts in Louisiana expressed so freely, and exercised their prejudices as they hired workers to different jobs" (261). Prior to the revolution, the sense of cross-national unity did not permeate society, so individuals still operated with their racially divisive viewpoints, leftover from the slave era. As long as there was not equa... ... middle of paper ... ...uld not have been achieved as early as 1901. However, when considering the effects of each, the workforce did not succeed in stopping racial division and white favoritism among employers, even after 20 years. The effects of the heterogeneous army were much more immediate, and within three years of the end of the revolution, legal racial equality was achieved. This is because the act of taking up arms to fight is inherently more unifying than working sugar cane fields. The efforts made by all Cubans made a strong impression on the entire nation, and in particular, the delegates to the Convention, who couldn't ignore these efforts when drafting a Constitution. In the end, the existence of a multi-racial revolutionary army was much more central to the achievement of legal racial equality, and helped define the type of nation Cuba would strive to be in the years to come.
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