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England's Destiny in China. By Captain Younghusband
By Robert Donald
THE CUBAN INSURRECTION.
VAE average Britisher, in his practical “ John Bull” fashion, has
sympathy with revolution. To him rebels and filibusters are as one with bandits and pirates, and the word insurrection but embodies the petty squabbles of the South American republics. Probably in modern history no movement of its dimensions has aroused less interest in Great Britain than the latest struggle of the Cubans to achieve their independence and the stupendous efforts so unsuccessfully made by the parent country to quell the uprising. Not until war became imminent between the United States and Spain did the general public realise the international importance of a question generally regarded hitherto as the fighting of a band of renegades against rightful authority.
“The Cubans,” said General Campos, "are the easiest people to govern," and the political indifference of the colonials, in a measure enforced by the Government, has been a great reason for the shameless corruption and robbery persistently carried on by Spanish officials in the island, and the policy of the Home Government that has saddled the Caban Government with debts for which Madrid alone was responsible. Even the yearly indemnity granted the United States in fulfilment of the privateering claim was paid from the Caban Treasury until internecine strife reduced the revenue and the payments lapsed. The searching financial investigations carried out by Mr. James Creelman in Havana and Madrid threw a flood of light on the modus operandi of the Spanish Colonial Office and the jugglery that diverted the Caban revenue either into the pockets of the officials or to the payment of Spain's debts, without actual transfer to the coffers of the mother country. Through this proscriptive policy not one-fifteenth of the land is under cultivation, despite the unrivalled soil, though
the island has been a commercial gold mine to Spain in the past. Under judicious development and administration Cuba could supply the markets of the world with special prodacts, while her unrivalled tobacco and sogar alone would ensure her trade predominance in the Western hemisphere. It is not my intention to deal at length with Spanish misgovernment. Sufficient to say that, despite the large revenue raised by excessive export and import duties and taxation, nothing has been done to effect internal improvements. There are thousands of miles of camino Real (royal high-road) marked on the map, but they are little better than sheep-tracks, and, with one exception in Havana, there is not a road worthy the name. Wheel traffic is impossible in the interior, and communication is entirely cut off in the wet season. The want of roads is not so severely felt in the western half of Cuba, for the railroads, built by private enterprise and trammelled heavily by the Government, open up the country, affording transport for tobacco and sugar-cane to the capital, and thus keeping ap communication with the outside world. Away from the railroad, and also in the immense eastern provinces of Puerto Principe and Santiago de Cuba, miles of arable land lie idle, while rich estates languish, being dependent on transport by mule-back, and unable to bring out machinery for preparing sugar, coffee, or cocoa in any quantity, though these grow in abundance and of splendid quality.
The Cabans have made many attempts to alter the existing state of things, and there have been frequent uprisings, which have been quenched in the blood of their instigators at an immense cost to Spain. In 1868 one great effort was made to throw off the Imperial yoke, and thousands of lives were sacrificed on both sides, while the island was plunged into the horrors of a ten years' civil war. General Campos, seeing subjugation by force of arms was impossible, urged his Government to grant reforms, and in 1878 an armistice was agreed to. He met the insurgent leaders at Zanjon, where a treaty was arranged, liberal reforms were granted, and the Cabans laid down their arms in good faith. England, by the loss of her American colonies, learnt a lesson to which she owes much of her colonial supremacy to-day. Spain, who has lost possession after possession in the New World, has never profited by the experience, and dearly has it cost her, When once Cuba was pacified, the old policy was roverted to, and the treaty was shamelessly repudiated. Several Caban leaders mysteriously disappeared, and others only escaped deportation or secret imprisonment by flight to Jamaica or the States. The present insurgent President, Bartolome Maso, then a wealthy planter, loudly protested against the injustice, and being a man of great intelligence, with considerable influence both in Caba and Spain, he was flung secretly into prison and afterwards exiled. Other
prominent Cabang likewise suffered, and the revolution would have again started, so great was the indignation of the betrayed people, had not their disintegration, caused by the faith they placed in Spanish promises, been so complete. An abortive attempt to rise was again made in 1888, but owing to the delay of an expedition the insurgents dispersed, and when General Garcia landed he found the movement had failed. General Blanco was then in Cuba, and he offered a free pardon and safe conduct to the leaders if they would surrender.
Garcia and others were forced to comply, and, in face of the assurances to the contrary, they were seized and taken to Spain. Several were thence deported, and Garcia was only saved by Blanco's threat to Señor Canovas to resign his commission unless his word to the Caban were respected.' Garcia was ultimately freed on ticket-ofleave in Madrid, and remained there until the return of Weyler to Cuba led him to escape over the frontier and land in the island with all the men and arms he could collect to fight the Spanish “butcher.” Shortly after the failure of the guerra chiquita, or small war, Maso regained his liberty and returned to Cuba, where he restarted sogar planting. He was soon again in affluence, and devoted his wealth to the cause.
Marti, a young Cuban writer and patriot, arose also at this time, and revolutionary societies were formed, especially among the thousands of Cubans forced through oppression to find a home in the United States. There were some hopes, however, of their obtaining genuine reform peaceably until January 1895, when an English syndicate was negotiating to take over the Cuban debt and acquire interests in the island. The action of the Cortes in dealing with the Maura decrees in February, showed conclusively that there was no hope of a change of policy, and Maso raised the lone-starred flag of Caba in Santiago. His address to the followers who gathered round him is worthy of comparison with Garibaldi's speech to the remnant of the Roman army in 1849 :
“ Brother Patriots of Cuba! You know what we have to fight for and what we have to fight. We have already tasted the trials and perils of war against oppression, and we must face a repetition of those hardships. We have endured famine, thirst, and fatigue in the past, and we must prepare to endure them in the future. I am an old man, and may not live to see Cuba free ; but we must remember one thing-No surrender! This must be independence or death.'
Waving their machetes on high the Cabans took up the cry, “Independencia ó muerte ! Viva Cuba libre!" and that has been their sworn motto to the present time. Maximo Gomez and Macoo soon landed to take command of the over-increasing forces, and though Marti, the man who had worked hardest to promote the insurrection, was killed in an early fight, the Cubans carried all before them in the east, completely routing the Spaniards and capturing much-needed arms and ammunition. Gomez realised, however, that to make the struggle a success he must carry his campaign to the west, and the famous invasion in the direction of Havana started. As the force · swept toward the capital many desperadoes and outlaws surged from the city and joined their ranks : men who were out for plunder, not patriotism. To reduce Spain's resources, Gomez issued an order for all sugar-cane to be burnt, and many estates, held as fortified zones by the Spaniards, were entirely destroyed. Contrary to general expectation, Havana city was not attacked, and when the everincreasing force reached Pinar del Rio a halt was called, and various commands were allotted out to operate in and hold the districts that had virtually been captured. It was then that several lawless deeds were committed, acts which horrified the Cubans no less than the Spaniards, Leaders arose, and, joined by the scum of false patriots, carried on a war of robbery and loot under the guise of patriotism. Negroes, hastily given commands, overstepped all bounds of propriety, terrorising the planters and demanding money by menaces. One leader in particular, named Bermudez, spread a veritable reign of terror in his district, and for a time the Cuban country-people found the revolution anything but a blessing. Gomez and Maceo soon realised that extreme measures re necessary to end the disorder. They issued stringent orders on the subject, and inflicted the death sentence on many of these platedoes, or plated Cubans, who had thus abused the cause, and took the command from several unfit leaders of their own selection. Indeed, so strictly was their martial law enforced that soldiers taking by force the smallest articles from the farmers, were hung. Such discipline had the desired effect, and the thieves and ruffians soon went over to the Spanish siile, where, in the guerilla ranks, their proclivities were allowed full play. The crimes of these freebooters in the early days of the revolution greatly damaged the Caban cause; but some time before his death, and after Gomez had returned east, Maceo had all his forces well organised, and comparative order was established.
In the first few months of the revolution, while General Campos was in command of the Spanish army, he did everything to conciliate the rebels, and by the offer of a generous amnesty many Cubans, disgusted with the outrages of sham patriots, were induced to lay down their arms and return home, He earnestly pleaded with his Government to grant genuine and far-reaching reforms to prevent the disaffection spreading ; for no one realised better than he the justice of the Caban cause after the repudiation of the Zanjon promises. Though the insurgents had sworn to accept nothing short of independence, genuine autonomy at this juncture would have restricted the movement to those in the field, and the rising, without just cause for its continuance, would have lost outside sympathy, and could have