Do you know about Cuba? Do you know where our story with Cuba begins? (It started long before the 1950's.)
Have you gotten far past the fear instilled headlines about "the Socialists" or "the Communists?" Do you hold in your consciousness consistently the fact of "expansionism" and how it affects your life? Do you understand that this has been the driving force behind 'big business', wars and consumerism from the beginning? And that many of the earliest laws were formed to protect the endeavors of 'big business?'
Do you recognize that the technological advances that enabled us to produce beyond our means only served us/our pocket books/ our wealth, if we could expand expand beyond the limits of the United States of America's boundaries into foreign territory and then if we could expand people's ideas of their needs into realms far beyond the basics - do you see that?
We expand geographically and then we expand "psycho-graphically" until the roots have grown and a deep hold has been taken. And...here we are. With all this expansionism still going on, out of the belief that business makes the world go 'round, how is it that we simultaneously have people living without their basic needs met? If expansionism is based in the fact that we are producing more than we can consume and therefore we must encounter, acquire and create new sales frontiers - if there is "excess", why are there so many living without their basic needs met in this country?
Let's be reminded. Let's learn a little about the Spanish-Cuban-American War. And let's be reminded of the prominent driving force behind war. And, let's be aware, of our own belief constructs. Let's observe who our mind holds as the default authority on decisions of what is right and what is wrong. And let's place the power in the places deep down, where we feel - in our gut and in our heart, in the places beneath the fear - where we feel, in its most simple form, what is right. And let's allow and insist that our daily habits, conversations and purchases reflect an alliance with this deep knowing. Please, let's.
A little about our history with Cuba (about expansionism), from Howard Zinn, of course:
"Many histories of the Spanish-American war have said that "public opinion" in the United States led McKinley to declare war on Spain and send forces to Cuba. True, certain influential newspapers had been pushing hard, even hysterically. And many Americans, seeing the aim of intervention as Cuban independence -- and with the Teller Amendment as guarantee of this intention -- supported the idea. But would McKinley have gone to war because of the press and some portion of the public (we had no public opinion surveys at that time) without the urging of the business community? Several years after the Cuban war, the chief of the Bureau of Foreign Commerce of the Department of Commerce wrote about that period:
"Underlying the popular sentiment, which might have evaporated in time, which forced the United States to take up arms against Spanish rule in Cuba, were our economic relations with the West Indies and the South American republics. . . . The Spanish-American War was but an incident of a general movement of expansion which had its roots in the changed environment of an industrial capacity far beyond our domestic powers of consumption. It was seen to be necessary for us not only to find foreign purchasers for our goods, but to provide the means of making access to foreign markets easy, economical and safe.""
"There was a similar turnabout in U.S. business attitudes on Cuba in 1898. Businessmen had been interested, from the start of the Cuban revolt against Spain, in the effect on commercial possibilities there. There already was a substantial economic interest in the island, which President Grover Cleveland summarized in 1896:
"It is reasonably estimated that at least from $30,000,000 to $50,000,000 of American capital are invested in the plantations and in railroad, mining, and other business enterprises on the island. The volume of trade between the United States and Cuba, which in 1889 amounted to about $64,000,000, rose in 1893 to about $103,000,000. ""
"Popular support of the Cuban revolution was based on the thought that they, like the Americans of 1776, were fighting a war for their own liberation. The United States government, however, the conservative product of another revolutionary war, had power and profit in mind as it observed the events in Cuba. Neither Cleveland, President during the first years of the Cuban revolt, nor McKinley, who followed, recognized the insurgents officially as belligerents; such legal recognition would have enabled the United States to give aid to the rebels without sending an army. But there may have been fear that the rebels would win on their own and keep the United States out."
"On March 21, 1898, Henry Cabot Lodge wrote McKinley a long letter, saying he had talked with "bankers, brokers, businessmen, editors, clergymen and others" in Boston, Lynn, and Nahant, and "everybody," including "the most conservative classes," wanted the Cuban question "solved." Lodge reported: "They said for business one shock and then an end was better than a succession of spasms such as we must have if this war in Cuba went on." On March 25, a telegram arrived at the White House from an adviser to McKinley, saying: "Big corporations here now believe we will have war. Believe all would welcome it as relief to suspense." "
"Two days after getting this telegram, McKinley presented an ultimatum to Spain, demanding an armistice. He said nothing about independence for Cuba. A spokesman for the Cuban rebels, part of a group of Cubans in New York, interpreted this to mean the U.S. simply wanted to replace Spain. He responded:
"In the face of the present proposal of intervention without previous recognition of independence, it is necessary for us to go a step farther and say that we must and will regard such intervention as nothing less than a declaration of war by the United States against the Cuban revolutionists. . . ."
"The prediction made by longshoreman Bolton Hall, of wartime corruption and profiteering, turned out to be remarkably accurate. Richard Morris's Encyclopedia of American History gives startling figures:
"Of the more than 274,000 officers and men who served in the army during the Spanish-American War and the period of demobilization, 5,462 died in the various theaters of operation and in camps in the U.S. Only 379 of the deaths were battle casualties, the remainder being attributed to disease and other causes. The same figures are given by Walter Millis in his book The Martial Spirit. In the Encyclopedia they are given tersely, and without mention of the "embalmed beef" (an army general's term) sold to the army by the meatpackers -- meat preserved with boric acid, nitrate of potash, and artificial coloring matter. ""
"In May of 1898, Armour and Company, the big meatpacking company of Chicago, sold the army 500,000 pounds of beef which had been sent to Liverpool a year earlier and had been returned. Two months later, an army inspector tested the Armour meat, which had been stamped and approved by an inspector of the Bureau of Animal Industry, and found 751 cases containing rotten meat. In the first sixty cases he opened, he found fourteen tins already burst, "the effervescent putrid contents of which were distributed all over the cases." (The description comes from the Report of the Commission to Investigate the Conduct of the War Department in the War with Spain, made to the Senate in 1900.) Thousands of soldiers got food poisoning. There are no figures on how many of the five thousand noncombat deaths were caused by that. "
"The Spanish forces were defeated in three months, in what John Hay, the American Secretary of State, later called a "splendid little war." The American military pretended that the Cuban rebel army did not exist. When the Spanish surrendered, no Cuban was allowed to confer on the surrender, or to sign it. General William Shafter said no armed rebels could enter the capital city of Santiago, and told the Cuban rebel leader, General Calixto Garcia, that not Cubans, but the old Spanish civil authorities, would remain in charge of the municipal offices in Santiago. "
"American historians have generally ignored the role of the Cuban rebels in the war; Philip Foner, in his history, was the first to print Garcia's letter of protest to General Shafter:
"I have not been honored with a single word from yourself informing me about the negotiations for peace or the terms of the capitulation by the Spaniards. . . . when the question arises of appointing authorities in Santiago de Cuba . . . I cannot see but with the deepest regret that such authorities are not elected by the Cuban people, but are the same ones selected by the Queen of Spain. . . .
A rumor too absurd to be believed, General, describes the reason of your measures and of the orders forbidding my army to enter Santiago for fear of massacres and revenge against the Spaniards. Allow me, sir, to protest against even the shadow of such an idea. We are not savages ignoring the rules of civilized warfare. We are a poor, ragged army, as ragged and poor as was the army of your forefathers in their noble war for independence. . . . ""
The history of our habits...