Monday, May 14, 2007

Treaty of Paris Poison Pill

Treaty of Paris Poison Pill

Article VIII.

In conformity with the provisions of Articles I, II, and III of this treaty, Spain relinquishes in Cuba, and cedes in Porto Rico and other islands in the West Indies, in the island of Guam, and in the Philippine Archipelago, all the buildings, wharves, barracks, forts, structures, public highways and other immovable property which, in conformity with law, belong to the public domain, and as such belong to the Crown of Spain.

And it is hereby declared that the relinquishment or cession, as the case may be, to which the preceding paragraph refers, can not in any respect impair the property or rights which by law belong to the peaceful possession of property of all kinds, of provinces, municipalities, public or private establishments, ecclesiastical or civic bodies, or any other associations having legal capacity to acquire and possess property in the aforesaid territories renounced or ceded, or of private individuals, of whatsoever nationality such individuals may be.

The aforesaid relinquishment or cession, as the case may be, includes all documents exclusively referring to the sovereignty relinquished or ceded that may exist in the archives of the Peninsula. Where any document in such archives only in part relates to said sovereignty, a copy of such part will be furnished whenever it shall be requested. Like rules shall be reciprocally observed in favor of Spain in respect of documents in the archives of the islands above referred to.

In the aforesaid relinquishment or cession, as the case may be, are also included such rights as the Crown of Spain and its authorities possess in respect of the official archives and records, executive as well as judicial, in the islands above referred to, which relate to said islands or the rights and property of their inhabitants. Such archives and records shall be carefully preserved, and private persons shall without distinction have the right to require, in accordance with law, authenticated copies of the contracts, wills and other instruments forming part of notorial protocols or files, or which may be contained in the executive or judicial archives, be the latter in Spain or in the islands aforesaid.

Article IX.

Spanish subjects, natives of the Peninsula, residing in the territory over which Spain by the present treaty relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty, may remain in such territory or may remove therefrom, retaining in either event all their rights of property, including the right to sell or dispose of such property or of its proceeds; and they shall also have the right to carry on their industry, commerce and professions, being subject in respect thereof to such laws as are applicable to other foreigners. In case they remain in the territory they may preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain by making, before a court of record, within a year from the date of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty, a declaration of their decision to preserve such allegiance; in default of which declaration they shall be held to have renounced it and to have adopted the nationality of the territory in which they may reside.

The civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants of the territories hereby ceded to the United States shall be determined by the Congress.


What It Meant

Sure this is what Article 8 and 9 of the Treaty of Paris said but what it meant was whoever owned the land at the end of the war would continue to own the land. This agreement between Spain and the U.S. ending the war set in motion the economic and political conditions that would eventually lead to Castro.

During the war the Spanish crown seized all of the land from the Cubans in revolt then sold it at auction for centavos per acre to the Spanish nobility. This included my great grandfather's land as well. All of the patriots of the war for independence from Spain, except my great grandfather, lost everything. Cubans were free from Spanish rule per se...but the Spanish nobility owned most of the land. This set in motion the class divisions that pitted the landless Cuban against the nobility.That was especially apparent in the military where the officer's corps were made up of rich snobs whose commissions were paid for by their rich families. The rank and file soldiers however did not respect these elitists and that opened the door for a corporal named Batista to seize power. You know the rest of the story. Today the Spanish socialist government tries to re-exploit Cuban slave labor and the land they once owned. Castro is the landlord now but that won't stop the Spanish from trying to make a few pesos off the 21st Century Cuban peasants.

One hundred and one years ago my great grandfather resigned from office and called in the US marines to control things temporarily. Many leftists actually condemn me for this decision 3 generations removed from yours truly. Don Tomas made that decision - not me. Still, let me defend my famous relative. My great grandfather believed the only problem stopping Cuba's advancement was Spanish colonialism. They were and now once again, a major impediment to Cuban prosperity. Once they were vanquished by the US my great grandfather thought everything would be fine with Cubans working together. What he could not predict was the greed that would drive differing interests within Cuban society to begin conspiring against his presidency - the very presidency that was responsible for accumulating the wealth in the Cuban treasury in the first place. This was such a disappointment to Don Tomas that he resigned in disgust due to these greedy segments within Cuba.

You may challenge my great grandfather's decision to call in the U.S. military but he was the president and the safety of the people was his main responsibility. If he just walked away without calling for U.S. intevention then today we would be studying about the Cuban Civil War of 1906 with tens of thousands of deaths. Besides, he was just sick and tired - literally. His cousin Emiliano Estrada found him wandering the streets extremely ill only two years later. Emiliano took Don Tomas into his home where he died pennyless shortly thereafter. He was the only Cuban president since then to die pennyless while leaving office with the treasury fat with millions of dollars. So go ahead and question my great grandfather's motives and slander the honesty of his good name. The honest people who knew him, my family and I know the truth. That, and not slander from the historically ignorant or those with a political agenda, is what is important at the end of the day.


Blogger Charlie Bravo said...

Tomas, they don't "make" politicians like your great-grandfather anylonger. Unfortunately, the molds have been broken and we are dealing now just with honorless, substandard intelligence bozos. When we are lucky we get some of them with the morals of a grave-robber and the IQ as high as a spring day temperature.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha ha! I guess you're right.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Manuel A.Tellechea said...

The U.S. originally wanted not one Guantánamo Naval Base but 10 bases from one end of the island to the other (making us a swiss cheese nation). Estrada Palma was able to resist this imposition and thanks to him we have only one Guantánamo to deal with (though that is certainly one too many).

There can be no excuse, however, for Estrada Palma's request, indeed, demand that President Theodore Roosevelt send the marines to Cuba, which Roosevelt was reluctant to do. This was perhaps the one time in Cuban-American bilateral relations when a Cuban president told an American president what to do. But, of course, never had any leader demanded of another what Estrada Palma demanded of Roosevelt.

In judging Estrada Palma, there are virtues enough and faults enough there to create a much more complicated portrait than the prevailing one of "the honest president" on our side and "the veiled annexationist" on the other side.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

Well Manuel maybe you would have done differently with the last two years of your life. But he was sick and tired and factions were plotting to overthrow his government and spill Cuban blood in the street. He did not wish to govern Cuba any longer under those conditions. But just walking away without someone being in charge under those tense conditions would have resulted in civil war. Maybe that would have been better? Maybe that might have led to a future without Castro? Why speculate? He did the best he could and operated Cuba honestly - something that was never before done and certainly not seen since he resigned. Making policy decisions is easy from the armchair. But my grandfather and his brothers were standing armed guard at the presidential palace during the days before Don Tomas' resignation because it was feared an assination attempted would be tried. Remember, Don Tomas' father in-law died this very way in the beginning of his second term.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Manuel A.Tellechea said...

First of all, it is good to hear you defending your grandfather. I have defended him myself a hundred times or more. I have always said that Castro and his ilk were not worthy to kiss Estrada Palma's shoes, which is all that they left of his statue on the "Avenida de los Presidentes."

That such said, there is no excuse or justification for his conduct in 1906. The election fraud which his followers perpetrated in his name did not save Cuba from civil war but very nearly precipitated it. Estrada Palma was right in thinking that José Miguel Gómez was not fit to be president and would steal everything that wasn't nailed down. That did not, however, give him the right to co-opt the will of the people and perpetuate himself in the presidency at the cost of a civil war. He aggravated matters further by compelling his vice-president and the entire cabinet to resign en masse leaving no constitutional replacement in order to force Roosevelt's hand. This could well have been the end of Cuban democracy and the invalidation of everything for which your great-grandfather and hundreds of thousands of other Cubans had fought and died for.

I, too, believe, given his history, that Estrada Palma must have been well-advanced in senile dementia to have contemplated let alone carried out such a calamitous course, the repercussions of which are still felt 100 years later.

Noble and disinterested patriot, yes. The most competent man for the job, I do not think so. Perhaps earlier in his life, but at that stage he was probably the least qualified Cuban. And thank God for his reputation's sake that the Americans did leave; for otherwise Cubans wouldn't care how honest he was.

By the way, Machado was our other "Honest President." When he died in exile in 1939 his estate was probated in Miami and amounted to $84,000, a pittance if you consider that hundreds of millions in loans from the First National City Bank passed through his hands in the construction of the Central Highway and Capitol building.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

Well that's exactly my point. He was sick and tired and his mental faculties were not what they were when he was younger. It's easy for everybody to do the Monday morning quarterback but I always try to put myself into everybody's shoes and look at the entire picture. How would I have performed under the same condition? Sadly I fear it would not be as well as Don Tomas. But whatever you heard about him being involved in cheating to win election, it is wrong. Surely his people did so out of blind loyalty to him. But he would not have stood for it and just the mere accusation was the reason for his resignation. His son (Hoppy my grandfather)told me that his father was absolutely outraged that anyone would dare think this way of him. To prove it he foolishly walked away from the job but it did prove he didn't steal any election knowingly.

But the past is gone. Debating it is interesting but the future interests me much more. Mankind has been trying to build a rich nation of people by using human labor taxation to one degree or another. Cuba's absolute ban on free labor is the most stark example. I believe we have an opportunity in Cuba to change the economics to free labor but government funded by land value taxation. That is the way to build a broad based wealthy nation that no other nation could compete with using current economic methods.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Manuel A.Tellechea said...

You can take some satisfaction in the knowledge that the end of the Castro era will lead to a complete reevaluation of our history, and the reputations of all our republican presidents, from Estrada Palma to Batista, will benefit by the comparison to Castro, who is the negation of all civic virtues. If nothing else the experience of the last 48 years will make Cubans more appreciative of what they have and less likely to stake it all on a chimera. The general tendency to denigrate all our presidents, seeing only their faults and none of their virtues, was another factor which led to the dissolution of the Republic and the ruin of the nation.

Martí was a rare phenomenon which we shall never see again. We must learn to make do with competent men (of which we shall always have many) and ignore the siren call of the demagogues, rabble-rousers and tyrants in utero who shall always seek to exploit Martí's legacy for their benefit.

In time Estrada Palma himself will again be a byword for honesty in Cuba. In fact, among the older generations, he still retains that fame despite Castro's assaults on his reputation.

9:05 PM  

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