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Cabinet of the Interventionist Government - 1899-1901



Cabinet of the Interventionist Government 1899-1901

L to R: General Leonard Wood, Enrique Jose Varona, Diego Tamayo, Miguel Gener, Leopoldo Cancio & Jose Ramon Villalon


Historical Summary

The Cuban War of Independence started on 24 Feb 1895 under orders of Jose Marti. Several victorious campaigns by the Cuban rebels resulted in the Spanish government replacing the chief of Military operations in Cuba, General Arsenio Martinez Campos with General Valeriano Weyler. Weyler ferociously persecuted cubans and spaniards suspected of supporting the revolution. He ordered that all inhabitants of rural areas resettle in urban areas, thus agravating the economic situation in the island and agravating relations between the United States and Cuba.

The Revolution continued and the situation in th eIsland was turning critical. In 1897 the new government in Spain issued three decrees giving the island unprecendented authority to legislate all the matters of Justice, Government, Trasury, Development, Health, Commerce and Public Credit and establishing a parliamentary government consisting of two legilative bodies and a Governor General (named by the Crown). The spanish Government also replaced Weyler with General Ramon Blanco y Erenas. These reforms, however arrived too late. The general situation had deteriorated to the point where the US Consul in Habana, Fitzhugh Lee, advised US President McKinley to send naval units to the ports of Cuba. Following this advice, the US sent the battleship Maine to Habana. On 15 Feb 1898 a terrible explosion completely destroyed the battleship. A subsequent US government investigation revealed that the cause of the explosion was external. On 11 April 1898, President McKinley asked the US Congress to authorize "bringing peace to Cuba". Congress issued a "Joint Resolution" on 19 April 1898 which was signed by McKinley on 20 April. On April 21 Congress broke diplomatic relations with Spain, on 25 April Congress declared a state of war and on 27 April a blockade of the coasts of Cuba was started.

US troops disembarqued in Oriente province on 20 June 1898. Operations in Cuba by the US were very brief. Most of the spanish fleet was sunk as it tried to exit Santiago de Cuba. On 16 July 1898, a peace (surrender) document was signed between the US and Spain, significanlty ignoring the contribution of the Cubans during the preceding 3 years. After protests by Calixto Garcia, Washington replaced General William R. Shafter, commander of the US troops, with General Leonard Wood.

On 10 December 1898 a peace treaty was signed in Paris by the US and Spain, putting an end to the Spanish dominance of the island. Cuba again was left out of this meeting. On 1 January 1899 at 10 noon, General Adolfo Castellanos, in the name of his Catholic Majesty, delivered the command and government of the island to General John R. Booke, who received it in the name of the United States.

General Leonard Wood substituted General John R. Brooke as governor of the island on December 1899. General Wood invoked a Constitutional Assembly to develop and approve the fundamental document of the new Republic. Cuba was under US intervention from 1 January 1899 until 20 May 1902 (it is the Cabinet of this Interventionist Government that is depicted in the photo). In addition, the US insisted that an appendix (the Platt Ammendment) to the Cuban consititution give the right to the US to intervene in Cuba to protect the Republic. This ammendment was in force until abrogated by the US Congress on 29 March 1934 under the Presidency and leadership of the newly elected Franklin D. Roosevelt.


Ref: Historia de la Isla de Cuba, Carlos Marquez Sterling & Manuel Marquez Sterling, Regents Publishing Company, Inc., 1975. ISBN 0-88345-251-0.



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Cabinet of the Interventionist Government - Updated 26-Aug-2009

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