Treaty of Paris Poison Pill
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.
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.