Desespañolización and the Defense of America
This chapter contextualizes Cuban and Mexican responses to the War of 1895 between Cuba and Spain and to the events of 1898 by situating them in the context of the long story of Cuban and Mexican relations. Looking beyond the binary that pits Spain against the United States in a battle for primacy in the Americas allows for the appreciation of the place and role of Latin America in relation to debates surrounding the Cuban struggle. Ultimately, Cuba Libre came to stand for much more than Cuban independence: it came so symbolize freedom and republicanism across the Americas and beyond. The ideology that bound Cubans and Mexicans as well as other likeminded Latin Americans at the time was neither Pan-Americanismo nor Pan-Hispanism, but americanismo, a concept that drew inspiration from the discourses of both, but was not reducible to either. In fact, as this chapter demonstrates, Cubans in exile rarely expressed anti-Hispanist sentiments, preferring instead to emphasize the distinction between Spanish colonialists who they detested and the anti-colonialist Spaniards who were their friends. Like-minded Cubans, Mexicans and Spaniards believed that Spain needed to be liberated from its imperial past and its colonial present in order to advance as a nation. They were equally critical of U.S. imperialism and thus rejected all U.S. aggressions toward Latin America.
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