Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

America's 51st State

"If Cuba becomes a state of the American Union, then no better place could be found in which to assert and establish the principles of free government."
- Springfield Republican
7 September,1900

Cuba – it’s an Island South of Florida that has always sparked dreams for America (and over the past 50 years quite a few nightmares) This once former Spanish Colony was eyed with glee by American Politicians for the greater part of the early 19th century as a possible state for the Union. In the build up to the civil war, Southern politicians sought Cuba’s annexation to increase the “slave state” representation in the US Congress – during the Civil War Cuba was seen as a potential player in the South’s plans for an empire of Cotton. As Caroline Levander says in her paper Confederate Cuba (for the full paper PDF see here):

As nineteenth-century political commentators consistently noted, Cuba was the target not only of turn of the century U.S. imperial out reach but, earlier in the century, of a plan by Southern leaders to “found a gigantic tropical slave empire”… As such, Cuba aligns U.S. imperialism with Southern separatism, revealing a complex, and often occluded, history of intervening sectional, regional, and national interests underpinning U.S. Cuban relations throughout the nineteenth century. Indeed, the term manifest destiny was used as Oliver Morton recalls, to describe not only U.S. westward expansion but also the ‘daring ambition’ of Southern leaders, writers, adventurers, and filibusters ‘to liberate Cuba from its despotic oppressor,’ Spain.

But even with the rise of Communism, America has been the self-proclaimed beacon of light and hope and democracy for the island fiefdom, opening her borders without question for political asylum to refugees of the Castro Regime. And the US has been rather bellicose in its efforts to influence, woo and ultimately claim capitulation – although what kind of ‘capitulation’ has changed over the course of our shared histories.

So today as Fidel Castro announces he’s stepping down from the Presidency (he did it by publishing a letter), and will not accede to any future role in governance (he is after all an octogenarian) – America once more is filled with a sense of glee, and this for better or worse will once again spark in the minds and the imaginations of certain politicians and interests a renewed since of determination of manifest destiny and continuation of the Pax Americana.

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