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Havana Residents Contributed U.S. Independence
In times when relations between Cuba and the United States are thawing from a long freezing process, not many on both sides of the Florida Strait know the surprising story that joined the then Spanish posession with the struggle of the 13 North American colonies for its Independence.

Historic documents confirm that in the second half of the 18th Century insurgent militias had rebelled against the British crown in the war that extended from 1775 and 1783, commanded by George Washington.

The storming and occupation of Havana by the British in August, 1762 had a strong impact on the development of those links and although the redcoats left the city 11 months later, in 1763, it paved the way for Spanish and creoles supported the claim for independence of the North American colonies.

In exchange for the strategic Cuban city that was given back to the Spanish, main enclave for communication routes between the Hispanic America and Europe, by the pact signed at the end of the Seven-Year War, Great Britain obtained Florida, until then part of the Cuban governorship.

As compensation, France ceded to Spain the extensive Louisiana region, which since then was controlled, managed, both militarily and trading operations to Havana.

TIMELY AID

In the second half of the 18th Century, Spanish-Cubans and a batallion of free negroes and mulattos left for southern North America and fought all over the Mississippi Basin and even further tthan Baton Rouge and Mobile.

In the essay titled "Cuba and the Independence of the United States: a forgotten aid," PhD. doctor Eduardo Torres-Cuevas, director of the National Library of Cuba, referred from a historic science point of view to those events.

"During the 215 years of Independence of the United States (already 240 years in 2015) the role played by the Cuban colony in the liberation of that nation began to fade until falling into oblivion", affirmed the historian".

Those North American scholars who with objectivity and wide span of analysis have approached the sizeable existing documents on the subject, according to Torres-Cuevas, are forced to admit that the Spanish contribution, and with it the Cuban, to the American Revolution was decisive to achieve independence.

Of course, speaking of omissions, it would be necessary to admit that Cuban historiography, immerse in other problems it judged to be vital, did not give enough importance to facts so transcendent.

The financial, commercial, supplies of clothing, food, arms and medicines, as well as the military group that covered the Caribbean, the Antillean coast of the North American sub-continent and all the wide strip of the Mississippi Banks that had its nucleus in Havana, present a much wiuder and decisive spectrum.

The author remembers in that yet obscure end of the 18th Century, amid the conflict of the empires, a bilateral relation was born between two peoples: the Cuban and that of North America.

A TROUBLED BUT UNAVOIDABLE LINK

To ignore the conditions in which that relation appeared and the conception itself that implied the theory of the Destiny Manifest, in which no recognition was possible to an aid supplied by a people that is wished to be conquered , have probably thrown a shadow on the original characteristics and thus real, of the birth of a troubled, yet unavoidable link.

The alliance formed between Havana dwellers and North American settlers, besides their commercial interests, was the humiliation of the British occupation of Havana, in the opinion of Torres-Cuevas.

According to the website mcn.biographies.com, Cuba played an important role in the fight between Spain and Great Britain that occurred in 1776.

To this end, two Spanish generals born in America were selected to lead operations from Havana: To that end, the generals appointed were Berbnardo Galvez and Gallardo, born in Mexico and Cuban Jose Manuel Cajigal, born in El Caney, Santiago de Cuba.

Havana dwellers, through public collection, gathered one million 800 pesos of eight reales, delivered personally by Galvez and Cajigal to the French general Rochambeau, giving him the possibility to resume his campaign when he was heading south for the final blow, together with Washington (at Yorktown, Virginia) against the British forces.

Cajigal was one of the few foreigners invited, years later, to George Washington's house for the funeral rites (1799) when the Father of American Independence died.

Almost a century after, that aid was reverted, when Americans traveled to Cuba in a dozen expeditions with weapons, ammunition and men to fight for the Independence of Cuba against Spanish colonial power.

Major General Thomas Jordan, born in Luray, Virginia, arrived to Cuba on May 11, 1869 as commander of the expedition of the Perrit. In December of that year he was already appointed Chief of Staff of the liberating army.

Henry M. Reeve, of Brooklyn, New York, became a legendary hero for Cuban patriots and one of the most admired and loved officers for his discipline, loyalty and bravery. He died in combat on August 4, 1876, when he invaded the western part of the country. He had the rank of Brigadier General.

Nine Americans fought as Mambi colonels, of which five died in combat. Two Americans obtained the degree of lieutenant colonels, eight were commanders, 17 captains and eight lieutenants. Another 83 combattants reached different ranks.

When the fighters for Independence had almost won the war against Spain, they received an unsolicited aid, the "rough riders" of Theodore Roosevelt who would later be President of the United States. After signing the armistice in 1898, Spanish colonial rule left its previous colony in U.S. hands.

Foreigners who took part in the American Civil War on the side of President Lincoln also marched to Cuba like Polish Charles Roloff Mialofsky, who when the war ended, traveled to Cuba in 1865 where he settled and formed a family.

He was one of the leaders of the uprising in the central region of the country in 1869 and during the Ten-year War was ascented to the rank of Major General of the Liberating Army and had a leading role in the Small War and that which started in 1895.

On April 19, 1898, the Congress of the Union approved the Joint Resolution in which text, as clearing any doubt or suspicion on the true intentions of the occupants was expressed in its first article, "the people of the island of Cuba is, and should be, free and independent".

What happened after was all the opposite. Four years of military occupation and a neocolonial republic in which the government of the United States, protected by the Platt Amendment, assumed the right to intervention, every time it considered its interests in danger.

As former U.S. ambassador to Cuba, Earl T. Smith, said in 1959: "until Castro, the United States were so overwhelmingly influential in Cuba that the U.S. ambassador was the second most important man, sometimes more important than the Cuban president".

As the director of the Institute of History of Cuba, Rene Gonzalez Barrios, said recently: "the respect to the memoryof those noble heros who fought for our Independence shoujld inspire, on the part of the U.S. administrations, the new times and the bilateral relation that is being constructed".

THAW IN THE MAKING

At present, President Barack Obama, is taking distance from the failures of 10 previous administrations since that of Dwight D. Eisenhower, in the policy toward the island, "that cannot be hostage to the previous U.S. policy".

On July 1, Obama announced from the garden of the White House about the opening of both embassies in the two capitals, action he described as "historic step forward in the way to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people, as well as to begin a new chapter with our neighbors of Latin America."

He acknowledged "the policy of isolation failed". In that attempt to isolate Cuba, he said, we became isolated from our neighbors in Latin America."

Obama's assertion was ratified the following day by Wayne Smith, privileged witness of the turbulent dispute, as he helped close the US embassy in Havana in 1961.

"We have followed that policy, year after year. "Oh, blessed God! that did not isolate Cuba, on the contrary it isolated us", said Smith sitting at his desk in Washington. / By Prensa Latina.

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