This study evaluates the repressive measures implemented by Spanish authorities and conservative loyalists opposed to reformist and anticolonial forces, in different regions of Cuba, during the Ten Years’ War (1868-78). In particular, it analyzes the consequences of socioeconomic repression on wealthy, middle-class, and poor individuals and families who were affected by official decrees allegedly aimed at drastically curtailing logistic support to the Cuban separatist insurrection. Pioneering Spanish and Cuban historians have viewed economic repression during the Ten Years’ War, particularly the policy of expropriation (embargo e incautación de bienes), as a strategic failure.1 They argue that the injustice, abuse, and bad administration of such policies prolonged the war instead of shortening it.2 This study contends that the loyalist groups in fact advanced their immediate cause thanks to socioeconomic repression although this repression, which complemented in zealous excess the more explicit counterinsurgency campaigns waged by the Spanish army, had costly and decisively negative social and political consequences for Cuba well beyond 1878.

This inquiry is based on independent archival research, consideration of specific cases, and quantitative analysis.3 The resultant data shows that Spanish socioeconomic repression against the mostly Cuban-born and white middle social sectors was not correlated to the affected parties’ actual participation in, or support of, the separatist insurrection. This evidence contradicts accepted historical accounts, which have overestimated the insurrectionary affiliation of those who suffered the effects of socioeconomic repression.4 Rather, this article suggests that these repressive strategies can be understood as part of a loyalist effort to re-Hispanize Cuba. Under the guise of war exigencies, but with motives that actually extended beyond them, the broad and indiscriminate attack against leading creole social sectors had the intention of averting colonial reform and securing peninsular social and economic preeminence on the island.

This article begins with a brief discussion of the general political and military contexts of the repressive policies of expropriation, deportation, confinement, imprisonment, and forced removal of rural population from areas of armed conflict (the earliest version of the reconcentración). It then analyzes the hitherto untold stories of selected cases of expropriated individuals and their families. This study continues by considering another group, selected from among those who were exiled from Cuba, confined to the Isla de Pinos, or sent to prison sites in various parts of Cuba. The main quantitative findings of this archival research are then compared with official statistics, paying particular attention to the racial, regional, and socioeconomic characteristics of those affected by the repressive measures herein analyzed. This study concludes by reconsidering some accepted generalizations regarding the costs and consequences of these Spanish policies of repression for Cuban society.

The Political and Military Context of Repression

The separatist armed uprising initiated in the eastern region of Cuba on October 10, 1868, was preceded by the frustrated attempts of creole reformist leaders to change the strict colonial regime firmly implanted in Cuba.5 Reformists had demanded political liberties and representation in the metropolitan legislature, and some had even called for a peaceful transition toward autonomy or self-government for the island.6 Some reformists also contemplated the gradual or outright abolition of slavery, although in defending their interests many planters, slaveholders, merchants, and financiers (represented by the partido negrero and partido español in Cuba and the centros ultramarinos in Spain) sternly opposed an immediate solution to the “social question” of slavery.7 Cuban reformists had also pressed for changes in the island’s customs administration, monetary and fiscal policies, import duties, and other taxes on commerce. Apart from being exacting and subject to administrative abuse, these policies and taxes unduly favored Spain’s trading and shipping interests, hindered Cuba’s exports and commercial links with other nations (especially the United States), and resulted in a considerable drain of financial resources from the island to the peninsula.8 By the 1860s Cuba’s export production—based mainly on a technologically revamped sugar industry that benefited from the use of Afro-Cuban slave labor and private railways—was outgrowing Spain’s capacity to absorb Cuba’s supply of goods.9 Freer trade for Cuba would have advanced the commercial ventures of the United States while curtailing the influence of peninsular merchant, shipping, and financial interests over the mostly creole planter elite.10

Spanish political leaders sensed the potential danger of losing Cuba to the United States through reform of the traditional colonial regime. Authorities in Spain ominously dismissed the economic and political demands presented by elected Cuban representatives to an official reform commission, the Junta de Información, which was convened in Madrid during 1866 and 1867. Moreover, in 1867, in the middle of a serious economic and fiscal crisis in Cuba, the Spanish government imposed a new 10 percent income tax without substantially changing the island’s already heavily burdened tax structure. This callous procedure seriously undermined the reformist alternative to armed protest in Cuba. A second barrier to reform stemmed from significant changes that affected the demographic composition of Cuba at midcentury and beyond.11 Spanish legislation and military mobilization had both facilitated and prompted peninsular emigration to Cuba, as evidenced in the censuses of 1846 and 1862. As a result, the peninsular population increased in size and in its relative share of Cuba’s total population.12 Young, single, and mostly unskilled peninsular male immigrants took up residence on the island, principally in the urban centers of Havana, Matanzas, and Santiago de Cuba. The recent immigrants were attracted to Cuba by opportunities made available to them in the commercial, service, administrative, and military sectors, all of which were buttressed by the traditional colonial system. This relatively new group of peninsular migrants formed the demographic basis for a sociopolitical movement to re-Hispanize Cuba and oppose the reform of its colonial regime.13

A major component of this movement were the voluntarios, a voluntary armed corps with a leading peninsular element that was officially established in 1850 and then reorganized on a permanent basis in 1855.14 Cohered by this paramilitary organization, and later encouraged by newly founded institutions such as the Casino Español de la Havana and by the activities of conservative groups linked to proslavery and financial interests, the lower-middle sector of the new group of Spanish immigrants became a decisive antireform and anti-creole political force.15 The first spontaneous street fights between peninsulares and creoles took place in Havana between April and June of 1866.16 At the outbreak of the separatist insurrection in October 1868, conservative Captain General Francisco Lersundi (12 December 1867 to 4 January 1869), who dissented from the liberal positions of the 1868 September Revolution (“La Gloriosa”) in Spain, expanded the voluntarios to a total of 35,000 men. He relied heavily on them to police the forts, towns, and cities of Cuba, especially Havana.17

The insurrection also triggered virulent press campaigns—such as that of voluntario Gonzalo Castañón in the newspaper La Voz de Cuba—that sought to weld the peninsular patriotic defense of national territorial integrity (integridad nacional, integrismo) with an extremely virulent attack against creole presence in Cuba.18 The conservative movement in Cuba can also be considered a reaction to the liberal September Revolution in Spain, which integristas perceived as a menace to continual colonial possession of Cuba.19 In fact, the intransigent integrista force in Cuba, allied to conservative interests in Spain, played a significant role in influencing colonial policy and restoration politics in the peninsula.20

By late 1868 and early 1869, separatist insurrections had broken out in three main areas of eastern and central Cuba. The earliest insurrectionary outburst occurred in the area of Manzanillo-Bayamo-Jiguaní, in the rugged southwest corner of the easternmost region of Oriente (province of Santiago de Cuba). Soon thereafter the insurrection spread westward to the adjacent central province of Puerto Príncipe, particularly to the rural, flat, and mainly cattle-rearing lands around the landlocked city of Puerto Príncipe (today’s Camagüey).21 A third area of insurrectionary activity was in the central province of Santa Clara (also known as Cinco Villas before 1878); timely Spanish repressive control of this province effectively contained the separatist movement in this region. The important eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, as well as the western region of Occidente (comprising the provinces of Matanzas, Havana, and Pinar del Río), remained firmly under Spanish control.22

Lersundi’s successor as captain general of Cuba, the liberal and formerly reform-inclined Domingo Duke (4 January to 2 June 1869), faced serious insubordination by the Havana voluntarios while trying to wage war against the insurrection in the east. The voluntarios profoundly disliked the ties with creole reformists that had characterized his earlier administration (1862-66) and these conservative militiamen effectively drove Dulce out of office, despite his efforts to appease them by imprisoning, deporting, executing, and expropriating creoles suspected of disloyalty toward Spain.23 The latter policy was initiated by Duke’s retroactive orders issued between the first and twentieth of April 1869.24 (Allegedly, expropriations began as an attack on wealthy supporters of the insurrection and as a response to an insurgent decree abolishing slavery.)25 Thereafter, captain generals Felipe Ginovés Espinar (2 June to 28 June 1869), and especially Antonio Caballero de Rodas (28 June 1869 to 13 December 1870) and Blas Villate, conde de Valmaseda (13 December 1870 to 11 July 1872)—with voluntario support and pressure—intensified the number and range of expropriations while waging a war to the death against the insurrection and its supporters.

Under Caballero de Rodas, also known as the “primer voluntario,” and Valmaseda, the increased sequestration of property became de facto confiscation, and after 1872 there was little to restitute to former owners. There was a proliferation of public executions, staged to comply with voluntario demands for violent urban repression.26 Captain General Valmaseda intensified the implementation of radical new counterinsurgency measures such as the forced relocation of the rural population, or reconcentración, aimed at cutting off civilian aid and supplies to the insurrectionists. The insurrectionists retaliated by stepping up their burning of sugar mills and plantations in Spanish-controlled territories.27 In 1871, shortly after he was designated captain general, Valmaseda began a merciless military campaign in the countryside that led to excesses such as the assassination of insurrectionist families, including women and children, and the notoriously unjust execution of eight University of Havana medical students.28 In the latter action, a blow against the creole middle class of Cuba, a central role was played by local Spanish authorities (especially Dionisio López Roberts, political chief of Havana and president of the expropriation committee) who sought to re-Hispanize creole dominated institutions such as the university, as well as by incensed voluntario crowds in Havana that sought revenge for the death of the conservative martyr Castañón in a duel with a creole.29

Insurrectionary activity in eastern and central Cuba lingered on for ten years after 1868. The surprising yet uncoordinated initial armed actions of the separatists—which included the occupation of towns such as Bayamo and Guáimaro—gave way to rurally based defensive moves and surprise attacks against large-scale Spanish military retaliatory expeditions.30 The Spanish army soon reestablished control over the major cities of the rebellious regions. On the foreign front, the influential Revolutionary Junta, led in New York by disgruntled former Cuban reformists, encountered serious obstacles to gaining United States diplomatic support for supplying arms and resources to the insurrection on a regular basis.31 Moreover, from the very start the separatist front was divided by disputes between insurrectionary leaders of Oriente and those of Puerto Príncipe over military, executive, legislative and, ultimately, political decisions affecting the insurrectionary republic of “free” Cuba.32

The recurrent destabilizing political changes then affecting Spain, as well as the unwillingness or inability of the Spanish authorities to find a political solution to the Cuban conflict, certainly exacerbated the potential for strife. But another reason that the insurrection lasted for so long was the loyalists’ determination to intensify repressive anti-creole policies throughout Cuba in order to advance their interests.33 By January 1869, the indiscriminate persecution of Cuban-born individuals had intensified, particularly in Havana and Matanzas. Fearing for their lives, thousands of Cuban families fled Cuba. Together with the death toll of approximately two hundred thousand individuals, the emigration of an estimated thirty to one hundred thousand Cubans constituted one of the most significant demographic and social consequences of the Ten Years’ War.34 Most of those who migrated from Cuba were upper and middle class, since only they could afford to travel abroad, mainly to the United States, where they generally suffered a dramatic decline in their economic and social status.35 Thus, the Spanish policy of persecution, imprisonment, confinement, deportation, and, especially, expropriation, in essence became a long and thorough attack on the social and economic bases of Cuba’s creole population.

Cases of Expropriation and Property Restitution

Cuban-born Pedro Nolasco Nápoles y Lescano lived a peaceful family life on his rural property in Urabo, not far from the city of Puerto Príncipe. At the time insurrection broke out he was already in his sixties, and throughout his life he had only known the “honest trade of country labor.” He saw no reason to change his customs. Because of his “fondness for the domestic home and the obscure but peaceful private existence,” he was not interested in public or political matters.36 But unfortunately for Nolasco Nápoles, in April 1869 the Spanish government decreed that all rural dwellers were to present themselves promptly in Puerto Príncipe, lest they be indicted as disloyal supporters of the insurrection (infidentes) and have their properties seized. It was a tough decision for Nolasco Nápoles. He was faced with the choice of remaining in the country or of moving his family to a city under siege and abandoning his lifetime possessions to the mercy of the destructive turmoil of insurrectionist and government troops. When he arrived in Puerto Príncipe, to his surprise he found that not only had his properties been expropriated, but also those of his wife and his unmarried sister. Nolasco Nápoles argued his innocence and in April 1871 petitioned the appropriate authorities for the restitution of the sequestered properties, which included a house, furniture, clothes, and five slaves (whom his family rented out in order to survive). Proving his innocence was not an easy task. Two witnesses had declared that as the insurrectionist subprefect of Urabo, Pedro Nolasco Nápoles had been at the head of a group of armed men. Nolasco Nápoles countered by arguing that there had been a serious mistake, in which his accusers had “perhaps confounded his identity with that of another person with the same name and first surname, a common occurrence in this country due to the general custom of so often repeating the same names in different families.”37 It was not until 1872—when it became clear to the authorities that the old Pedro Nolasco Nápoles y Lescano had been mistaken for the true insurgent Pedro Nápoles y Nápoles—that Nolasco Nápoles y Lescano managed to recuperate some of his properties. Similar cases of mistaken identity were not particularly uncommon in expropriation procedures.38

A careful reading of the expropriation files leads one to the stark realization that although some “mistakes” could either have been the product of bureaucratic blunders or of the overzealous implementation of rigid measures of population control, others were clearly retaliatory and ill intentioned. For example, in June 1869 Cayetano Pascual Ramírez, a resident of Cárdenas, was listed as an expropriated collaborator and escapee. For several months previous to this date, however, he had been legally living in Havana to care for his 17-year-old son, José Manuel, imprisoned in the Cabaña fortress while awaiting exile to serve an eight-year sentence in Cádiz.39 In another case, in January 1869 the lieutenant governor of Cienfuegos summoned before him Juan Martínez del Valle, a resident of Cienfuegos, who was advised that in consideration of his good conduct as well as the potential danger to his person posed by the frenzied hostility of peninsulares against native Cubans, he should present himself to the authorities at the headquarters of the local section of voluntarios. Martínez followed this advice and was then unjustly imprisoned for two months. After his release his properties were expropriated although, he claimed, there was not a single reason to question his “españolismo.”40

Creoles who were traveling or living legally abroad were also easy prey to official expropriation. Such was the fate suffered by Juan Terri, a creole merchant from Cienfuegos, and by Manuel Ramón Quesada y Estrada, a student who was sent by his parents to study in New York City.41 The excessive number of abuses committed against creoles living abroad prompted Captain General Caballero de Rodas to caution expropriation officials that “it is a frequent practice to sequester properties from individuals who are absent, without my decree declaring them [disloyal] under Article 1 of the executive order of 20 April [1869] having been formally entered into their files.”42

Those living or traveling abroad had several ways to contest the unjust expropriation of their properties. One way, though it was often perilous, was to directly confront the legality of such an action when there was insufficient proof of guilt. This was the strategy followed by José Ramón Zaldívar, a 54-year-old resident of Havana who owned real estate in Caciguas valued at 20,000 pesos. In February 1869, fearful of the anti-creole commotions in Havana, Zaldívar obtained a passport and traveled with a large entourage of family members to New Orleans. The Spanish consul in New Orleans informed the captain general of Cuba that Zaldívar had donated money to the insurrectionists. Zaldivar vehemently protested, claiming that he had lived “quietly, without any other concern than to obey, like a good patrician, the measures coming from the established authority, . . . [that he] loves and respects the Spanish flag under which shadow he had the honor of being born, . . . [and] that he is a Spaniard and wants to live and die as one.”43 Despite his ill health, and pressed by economic needs, in April 1870 Zaldívar decided to return to Havana with one of his sons. Upon arrival he was immediately arrested and subsequently spent one month in prison. He later obtained his release and, in August 1870, secured a legally-binding promise that he would be given back his properties.

Cubans who had become naturalized United States citizens could make use of diplomatic channels, a safer way than direct confrontation, to obtain indemnization from the Spanish authorities in Cuba. In 1870 Fausto Mora, an import merchant residing in New York and a United States citizen since 1859, sent a memorandum to the United States secretary of state, Hamilton Fish. A copy of the memorandum was forwarded to the United States consul in Havana, which delivered it to the appropriate colonial authorities. Mora demanded that the Spanish government reimburse him for 57,000 pesos, the price at which his confiscated properties and interests in local businesses had been officially auctioned.44 Despite Mora’s subscription to the rebel newspaper La Revolución, published in New York, and Mora’s donations to the Cuban cause, the captain general had to admit that the demand was justified.45 Similar demands were presented by other United States citizens who had been born in Cuba: Ramón Fernández Criado, Dr. Juan Emilio Howard y Gatier (in a highly publicized case), Mateo Rodríguez y Ramírez, and José Antonio Valle e Iznaga.46 The diplomatic imbroglios resulting from these and other cases brought increased negative public opinion toward Spain in the United States as well as considerable problems to the Spanish government in Madrid, which was eager to avoid United States pressure.47

The individuals who most frequently suffered from unjust expropriation were urban residents who had left government controlled cities (such as Puerto Príncipe, Nuevitas, Santiago de Cuba, and others) and rural dwellers who had failed to present themselves in the major cities in time to meet official deadlines. The Spanish military authorities simply and conveniently assumed that all individuals living in the countryside without permission supported the insurrection, and automatically expropriated their properties. The need to establish military control in eastern and east-central Cuba made this assumption a convenient way to justify the forced and drastic relocation of an often suspect rural population.

Articulate Cubans and their lawyers exposed the inherent flaws of a relocation policy that was concomitant to expropriation. José Antonio Cosío, for example, explained that he had left Puerto Príncipe with his wife and six children to take up residence on his rural property, which he hoped would provide him with the means to spare his family the “horrors of hunger.” Puerto Príncipe, he claimed, was affected by “extreme scarcity and exorbitant prices at the beginning of 1869 due to the interruption of railway service, the only means for transporting imported products, and the siege imposed by the insurrectionists.”48 Cosío stated that honest property owners like himself suffered not only the extensive destruction of their possessions, but also the added and painful dishonor of being considered outlaws. He proceeded to argue that “in the difficult task of distinguishing between loyals and disloyals, the government had opted to exclude from the former group all those who were in the countryside. . . . [Nevertheless,] the charge of disloyalty, based on the simple fact of residence in the countryside, is nothing more than an assumption.”49

Notwithstanding the cogency of Cosío’s legal claim, his petition for the restitution of his property was denied, based on evidence provided by a couple of questionable witnesses who declared that Cosío had donated 50 calves to the rebels.50 This accusation was at odds with information taken from insurrectionary correspondence that government forces had seized and later published in local newspapers. This material suggested that Cosío, as well as other rural property owners, had been reluctant to surrender their cattle to the insurrectionists, who had threatened the use of force to obtain the resources from the countryside that they so desperately needed.51

Apart from its negative impact on the economy, the policy of relocation and expropriation constituted an obvious political liability; it alienated sizable sectors of the population that otherwise would have remained neutral or even supported Spanish authority outright. This was a dangerous and inevitable effect of the repressive strategy undertaken by the Spaniards. Those who gave seemingly earnest and sworn declarations of having always “remained faithful to the nation” were often unable to avoid the initial expropriation of their property.52 And many others who risked their lives and went to extremes, at high personal cost, to evade insurrectionary surveillance and take refuge in Spanish-controlled cities soon found out that they too had been expropriated.53 Even a few peninsulares and voluntarios had their possessions sequestered in this way.54 But the most significant group to suffer the social and political, as well as economic, consequences of expropriation were individuals who held small and medium-sized rural and urban properties, especially in the central and eastern provinces. Most commonly they lost their fincas (rural properties), potreros (cattle-rearing farms or ranches), houses, slaves, cattle, furniture, and clothes. As a result of the extensive destruction and expropriation of their properties these individuals suffered a dramatic decline in their social status.

In the provinces, ad hoc committees searched municipal real estate registers and district slave ownership registers for information on properties that could be expropriated from those charged with disloyalty to Spain. Once the Spanish authorities had obtained specific information, they would expropriate private possessions, particularly those in urban, as opposed to rural, districts. Furniture and clothes were first held in deposit, most often in an expropriated home, and then quickly auctioned.55 Slaves and Asian workers were also seized and sent to a “deposit” in Havana specifically designated to house runaway slaves and coolies. They were then rented, sold outright, or assigned either to private individuals or to government officials.56 A typical case of an individual whose rural and urban properties were expropriated was Lorenzo Marín, who held medium-sized properties in the countryside and in the city of Puerto Príncipe. He was first expropriated of his potrero, La Purísima (in the partido of Camugiro), which he had bought for 11,000 pesos in 1860.57 In 1871, Marín’s own evaluation of his rural assets was dismal: “[my] cattle ranch [potrero] was destroyed, and [my] . . . animals consumed in part by the insurgents and in part by the [Spanish] troops that took the remaining animals to sell to the slaughterhouse.”58 After his urban properties were also expropriated, Marín was left with no means to support his family. In the city he lost seven houses (one where he lived and six that he rented), five slaves (three women, one man, and one infant), approximately seventy pieces of good furniture, a fully equipped horse carriage, and his family’s clothing and linen.59

Cattle that had belonged to destroyed or abandoned rural properties were left to roam freely through the countryside because their owners had either suffered expropriation or were unable, due to official relocation measures, to regain possession of their herds. In an effort to solve this problem, in July 1869 the Spanish governor of Puerto Príncipe allowed counterinsurgency guerrillas to seize stray cattle, offering them compensation that amounted to 10 percent of the auction price of cattle that had been captured and brought to the city for public sale. This measure alleviated the scarcity of food supplies in the city, and increased the revenue that the government obtained from expropriations.60 But at the same time it prompted a series of legal actions by dispossessed cattle owners in the regions of Puerto Príncipe and Cienfuegos. Nevertheless, even those ranchers who obtained orders for the restitution of their cattle continued to face difficulties; either local authorities disregarded restitution decrees or the owners were unable to benefit from the herds that had been restored to them because of government restrictions on the sale of restituted properties.61

Through the course of the war, the number of dispossessed property owners steadily increased. By 1872 a few Spanish authorities had started to recognize the obstacles and danger of such adverse social conditions for achieving even minimum improvement of the disastrous productive situation in Cuba. On April 8, 1872, the military commander and intendant of Cienfuegos complained that the uncertainty produced by local expropriation officers, who were trying to register the value of properties held by pardoned individuals (presentados) who had “returned” from the countryside, was undermining his efforts to increase local agricultural production.62 Likewise, on February 8, 1873, the military governor of Santa Clara, Colonel Federico Armentero, pleaded to the superior governor of Cuba on behalf of poor agriculturists who during the previous years had suffered the expropriation of several small and medium-sized properties (six sitios and potreros covering a total of 50 caballerías of land) in Güinia de Miranda. Colonel Armentero argued that these properties, which had been completely destroyed by “the enemies of national integrity,” had since been abandoned and therefore no longer generated any revenue for the state. The ex-owners, who had been initially classified as disloyal, had observed good conduct since they had been granted amnesty. Moreover, they promised that if they were allowed to repossess their properties they would begin to work them and pay taxes to the state. Armentero considered the granting of the petition to be “convenient for the reconstruction of the district.”63

For many small farmers, artisans, low-income individuals, and free persons of color with modest assets, the expropriation policy meant destitution. Spanish authorities tried to diminish the radicalization of these sectors by granting property restitutions. Don Asunción López, a white cobbler from Puerto Príncipe, had lost six slaves, his workshop, and a house to expropriation simply because he had remained in the countryside between 1868 and 1870. In 1872 López was granted official amnesty. As a result, the house, workshop, and one slave were returned to López in the temporary condition of a “deposit.” It was not until 1877 that López, the only breadwinner in a family of fourteen, received official confirmation of full restitution (excluding four slaves who had died or escaped during the interim) in an effort—according to the secretario de bienes embargados—“to make his situation more tolerable.”64

There are very few full records of those expropriation and restitution procedures that affected free persons of color. Those individuals for whom records have been found did manage to regain possession of their property. Such was the case of the “free negro” Miguel Carcaño (66 years old, born in Africa and resident in Holguín) and of the brothers Matías and David Castillo, pardos from Puerto Príncipe. In both cases the dispossessed owners were given back their respective humble dwellings in 1872.65 In another example, the artisan of color José M. Varona obtained the restitution of his few possessions in 1870 arguing lack of evidence to prove his support of the insurrection.66 There are also records of two cases of unjustly re-enslaved children who were later claimed by free women of color.67

A striking finding of the present research is that property confiscation is not correlated to actual participation in or support of the insurrection.68 There were, of course, supporters of the insurrection among those who suffered expropriation, but they were a minority and most of them (or their wives, widows, or relatives) had similar or even fewer problems in obtaining the eventual restitution of their property than those expropriated individuals who did not support the insurrection.69 True insurrectionists and their supporters admitted their involvement—as attested in the records of the expropriation and restitution proceedings containing testimony that was often corroborated by their wives, widows, or relatives—in order to petition for the restitution of their seized properties in accord with legal remedies initiated by the colonial government beginning on July 21, 1871.70 These measures included one (dated November 25, 1872) that legalized restitutions to widows and heirs when the accused had died and another (dated April 1, 1873) that offered the same right to disloyals who had been pardoned or to their wives who claimed dowry rights.71

One of the main justifications for expropriation was to dispossess wealthy Cubans who allegedly supported the insurrection. Initially a few notable creole owners were targeted by overzealous and aggressive authorities and voluntarios who felt that the insurrection received material and political support from wealthy creoles, mainly those who resided in Havana and Matanzas. Miguel Aldama and José Morales Lemus, important property owners who eventually became leaders of the insurrection abroad, were persecuted; their property was expropriated and they were forced to flee Cuba. Vengeful voluntarios and corrupt Spanish authorities, motivated either by the hope of a reward for helping to keep Cuba under Spanish control or by simple greed, have been blamed for the initiation and extension of the expropriation measures.72 Nevertheless, expropriation policy needs to be analyzed further as to whether it was a useful mechanism in eradicating creole social and economic influence on matters of colonial government and reform.

A case in point is the punishment suffered by reformist lawyer José Valdés Fauli. Like many other early supporters of colonial reform, Valdés Fauli was a prime candidate for expropriation at the beginning of the war, when he was forced to leave Cuba. A former judge of the Cuban Audiencia and former president of Havana’s university, Valdés Fauli had published an article in the May 2, 1869, issue of Havana’s Diario de la Marína in which he clearly stated that although he favored extending to Cuba the political reforms carried out in Spain in 1868, he was opposed to Cuban independence. He rejected the invitation of the Junta Revolucionaria in New York to join the insurrectionary leadership. Nevertheless, based on dubious information contained in seized insurrectionary correspondence and on a report by the Spanish consul in New York, Spanish authorities proceeded to expropriate Valdés Fauli’s properties. Valdés Fauli’s lawyers contested the expropriation, arguing that it was based on false information contained in the tainted and vengeful correspondence of the insurrectionists, bitter over Valdés Fauli’s refusal to join their organization.73

Valdés Fauli’s expropriated properties included nine stockholding titles of the Empresa de Fomento y Navegación del Sur (valued at 4,500 pesos) and a 15,000-peso credit against the sugar mill La Chucha (in Jiquimas, located near Colón in the province of Matanzas). In November 1872, López Roberts demanded that the owners of the sugar mill, some of whom were relatives of Valdés Fauli, immediately turn over Valdés Fauli’s share of the estate in order to avoid government seizure of the entire property. In October 1873, due to insufficient evidence against Valdés Fauli, the properties seized from him were classified as belonging to the “second category” of expropriations and, consequently, subject to restitution in accordance with the terms of a royal decree dated August 31, 1872. This decree, however, did not solve all the problems faced by expropriated individuals, such as Valdés Fauli, whose property was classified in the “second category” of seizures. Restitution under the provisions of the 1872 decree did not give owners the right to sell the affected properties until two years after the conclusion of the war. But immediately after the Ten Years’ War had ended Spanish authorities continued to debate whether to grant full property rights to the expropriated owners.74 In this way a considerable number of properties belonging to native Cubans remained encumbered and continued to cause financial losses to the owners of medium-sized and large properties even after the end of the Ten Years’ War.75

Moreover, property seizure by the state resulted in a morass of legal battles, including a great number of claims brought by aggrieved creditors of the expropriated individuals.76 Indeed, there were so many pending legal claims against the Administración de Bienes Embargados e Incautados that in April 1874, when restitutions had to be suspended due to a shortage of funds, the responsible officials expressed their concern. They advised that to avoid further legal problems and the complete depletion of funds, it was urgent to honor claims—following established priorities—by utilizing money that the Treasury had previously received from the Administración de Bienes Embargados e Incautados.77 Adding to the financial difficulties of this administrative organ were notorious problems of mismanagement, inefficiency, abuse, and corruption. Local administrators would steal and conduct illegal sales of expropriated property, often in collusion with interested parties, such as the creditors of expropriated individuals.78 Nevertheless, properties (such as large sugar mills, potreros, slaves, luxury houses, and stocks) seized from a few wealthy creoles at the beginning of the war did produce substantial income for the state. According to official accounts elaborated in May 1874 by the local Administration de Bienes Embargados e Incautados in Matanzas, over one-half (8,724 pesos) of the annual income of 16,290 pesos collected from the rent or product of thirty-seven properties had been generated by only six properties that had been seized from the wealthy creoles Miguel and Domingo Aldama, and from José Morales Lemus.79

The growing tendency to indiscriminate expropriation increasingly affected many creole capitalists who were politically neutral or had even refused outright to support the insurrection. Nevertheless, secret agents of the Spanish government who spied on Cuban exiles in the United States promptly gave credence to rumors of collaboration that were circulating in revolutionary circles. Julián de Rivas y Párraga, who was born in Havana but resided in Baltimore after he and his family left Cuba in January 1869, was one of several wealthy Cubans unjustly accused of providing “indirect” support to the insurrection. Rivas defended himself from these charges by saying that he had no political inclinations and had left Cuba solely for family reasons. In the 1870s, when it became clear that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he was disloyal to Spain, Rivas was able to regain possession of the properties that he had lost to expropriation.80 On March 22, 1870, an article in the Boston Post denounced the case of the Havana lawyer Santiago Cancio Bello, who had been forced into exile and came to reside in Boston. The article was placed into Cancio Bello’s file as evidence of his anti-Spanish treason, given its harsh criticism of the policies of unjustified imprisonment and expropriations. The article mentioned the “arbitrary arrests and long imprisonment without cause, the robbery of citizens under the name of confiscation, and the terrible list of military murders.” “In Cuba,” it continued, “confiscation means the loss of everything. Not only the gentleman’s [Cancio Bello’s] real estate, but his private and personal property is swallowed up under the edict. His library, his papers, his wearing apparel, and even his crockery . . . go with the rest, and a fortune of $300,000 is annihilated in a moment.”81

Deportation, Confinement, Relocation, and Imprisonment

Parallel to their policy of expropriation, Spanish authorities used other more traditional and administratively less problematic measures of repression. These included deportation, which generally involved imprisonment in Spain or in Spanish territories in Africa; banishment (extrañamiento) and confinement to the Isla de Pinos; and imprisonment (presidio) in various detention and penal centers located in several of the major cities of Cuba. Additionally, in 1869 the forced relocation (reconcentración) of civilians within Cuba was initiated. Due to the fact that all these measures suppressed individual liberties and had similar social consequences, they are treated together in this section.

Spanish authorities had used deportations as a repressive measure well before the outbreak of the Ten Years’ War, but only by 1869 did they reach massive proportions.82 Deportations favored anti-creole objectives and the goal of re-Hispanizing Cuba. Individuals subject to forced exile were not only insurrectionists and their supporters, but other political undesirables, including reformists and dissidents, many of whom were in prison at the time they were deported.83

The first mass deportation of undesirable creoles during the Ten Years’ War was carried out in March 1869 under the orders of beleaguered Captain General Domingo Dulce. A Spanish war vessel transported 249 detainees, who had been suspected of supporting the insurrection (laborantes) and convicted without due process, from Havana’s La Cabaña prison to the Spanish island of Fernando Póo (today named Bioko) off the African coast of Spanish Guinea (today Equatorial Guinea). Initially the prisoners were simply disembarked on Fernando Póo and left to fend for themselves. Later, prison reforms led to the establishment of an official penal colony.84 In April 1869 the Cuban properties of many deportees were confiscated by local Spanish authorities.85 Some exiles remained in Fernando Póo after completing their sentences. Others, often those with some economic resources at their disposal, escaped or managed to obtain a transfer to places such as Port Mahón, on Minorca in the Balearic Islands, or to Barcelona, Madrid, and other cities in Spain.86

The prison terms associated with most deportations were stiff, ranging from the more common six- or ten-year terms to life imprisonment. Francisco Burdeos Espinosa, a white 30-year-old tobacco worker from Havana who was given a life sentence in 1870 for insurrectionary activities, was deported to Ceuta (North Africa), where he began to serve his prison term. Lame and one-handed, Burdeos pleaded to be transferred to a prison in Spain. Because of the awful prison conditions in Ceuta, deported prisoners eagerly sought transfers to prisons in Spain, as evidenced by a petition submitted in March 1873 on behalf of former estate owner José Aguilera Cruz. The harsh conditions of his confinement were prominently mentioned in Aguilera’s legal plea: “In prison for four years serving a stiff sentence in Ceuta’s prison, he has become seriously ill due to the hard labor he has endured, the bad hygienic conditions of the prisons in which he has been and is now [confined], and [the effects of an] infinite number of moral sufferings. According to medical opinion he will only be cured of his diseases by leaving this prison [in Ceuta] and being sent to Spain.”87 Aguilera’s petition was successful and he was transferred to a prison in Valencia. Another similar case is that of insurgent leader José Maceo y Grajales, the brother of Antonio Maceo, who was deported to the Chafarinas Islands (off the northern coast of Morocco) with his wife, his son, and his brother Rafael’s widow. In 1882 Maceo petitioned for a transfer to Ceuta, but later managed to obtain a transfer to Spain where he served time in the military prisons of Pamplona and Estella (both in the Spanish province of Navarra).88

Not all deportees were insurrectionists or their supporters. Simple dissent was also punished with deportation. In 1869 Pedro Coyula, a 26-year-old commercial employee and amateur writer from Regla, made the mistake of publishing a proreformist article in the journal El Polizonte, in which he stated that Cubans considered Spain as their stepmother. This slight was sufficient reason to condemn Coyula as an infidente (disloyal) and banish him to Cádiz to serve a two-year prison sentence.89 Likewise, in 1871 Cayetano Montoro y Claro, a prominent lawyer and alternate Havana judge of strong reformist opinions, was anonymously accused along with his wife. They were first confined to the Isla de Pinos and soon after deported to Spain.90

Deporting political undesirables abroad was more costly than confining them to the Isla de Pinos or to other prison sites in Cuba. Simple suspects and perceived supporters of the insurrection were dealt with in a swiff preemptive manner and also sent to the Isla de Pinos. Those who were confined to the island (confinados) had to support themselves in Nueva Gerona, a town of very limited resources. If they could afford it, some confinados stayed in the rundown local hotel or rented lodgings elsewhere until they were allowed to return to Cuba.91 From the records and petitions of some confinados we can discern some of their experiences and difficulties.

Joaquina Morales de Carrillo of San Juan de los Remedios had been absolved of the crime of treason. But she was forced to go to Pinos for the duration of the war to accompany and provide for her three young daughters, between 15 and 24 years of age, who were sentenced in 1870 for sympathizing with the insurrection. The charge stemmed from evidence found in the young women’s correspondence with their father, who was hiding in the countryside. Joaquina explained to the authorities that if some “inconvenient words” had filtered into such correspondence, it was only because her daughters were “poor women who are not even old enough to seriously reflect on such matters.”92 Joaquina had to take her four other children, all under 12 years of age, with her to Pinos, where she supported them all with the pittance she earned as a seamstress.

There were other similar cases. Nicolás Navarrete y Romay, a land surveyor and resident of Guanabacoa, was suspected and mistakenly charged with smuggling insurrectionist correspondence into Cuba.93 In August 1871 Navarrete was sentenced to confinement in Pinos. Despite writing several petitions from Nueva Gerona between February and June 1872, as well as protesting his loyalty to Spain, it was not until June 1873 that Navarrete was allowed to return to Cuba.94 Doña Cecilia Porras Pita, accused of donating jewelry and money to the Cuban cause, was sent to Pinos in October 1871, after having first been confined to a religious institution in Havana. She was pardoned in August 1872 when it became clear that there was no case against her.95

Prominent reform-minded individuals, as well as those with previous records of political activity, were also sent to forced confinement in Pinos. A case in point is that of the lawyer Ignacio Torres y Mojarrieta, a 48-year-old resident of Marianao. Despite their efforts, Spanish officials were unable to turn up evidence to show that Torres y Mojarrieta supported the insurrection. Nevertheless, and despite his public stance against the insurrection, he was sent to Pinos. In an article published in El Fanal de Puerto Príncipe on November 21, 1868, Torres wrote in favor of full reforms that would change Cuba’s status to that of a province, rather than a colony, of Spain. But his pacifist leanings were clear, and he advised that “today we need to re-establish order and tranquility and avoid spilling a single drop of blood because from whomever it is drawn, it is the blood of a brother.”96 Torres’s reformist subtlety won an official but unproven accusation of insurrectionary conspiracy and subsequent confinement to Pinos.

In a more conspicuous case of confinement, lawyer José María Gálvez y Alfonso, a suspected laborante from Havana, was also confined to Pinos. Gálvez’s ordeal started when he was arrested in May 1870, suspected of secret collaboration with the insurrectionist New York newspaper La Revolución,97 The only evidence to support this charge was that José María Gálvez was the brother of Federico Gálvez, a member of the Revolutionary Junta of New York who, in 1869, had seen his property expropriated. The prosecutor, the gobernador político of Cuba himself, argued that José María Gálvez should be confined simply because he had “very bad political antecedents; [and] I think it convenient to banish him to the Isla de Pinos because his presence in this capital is deleterious; even less [favorable would be] his transfer to the peninsula [of Spain].”98 Three months later, a sick Gálvez had his legal representative petition for his release from Pinos, stating that “he [Gálvez] trusts that during the time of his imprisonment or banishment suspicions about him not being a peaceful citizen, proud of his nationality, and obedient to legitimately constituted law and authority would have disappeared. He has left his clients [in Havana] behind and [now] completely lacks [economic] resources, not having been able to find work on this island [of Pinos].”99 Many of Gálvez’s former clients were members of Havana’s commercial sector and a large number of them were involved in civil and criminal suits. But it was not until January 1871 that Gálvez was allowed to return to Havana where, nevertheless, he would remain under surveillance.

Among other reformists suspected of “bad political antecedents,” and who were confined to Pinos, were a notable number of professionals such as lawyers, doctors, and dentists.100 Cuban-born lawyers, judges, and notaries were particularly targeted for confinement as alleged conspirators who favored the insurrection. For example, in November 1871 Joaquín Lastres y Girrate, a 62-year-old Havana lawyer and estate owner, was accused of “bad political antecedents . . . [and of having organized] several raffles in the notaries’ guild [Colegio de Escribanos] to procure funds for the insurrection.”101 He was sent to Pinos despite his advanced age. The same charges were brought against Luis Mazón, a high-ranking clerk at the Ramírez notary in Havana. Notwithstanding Mazón’s claim that he was a voluntario, in January 1872 he was confined to Pinos.102 Another group of middle-class creoles punished by confinement to Pinos were merchants, brokers, and business employees. Among these were Rafael Jiménez, a broker who allegedly bought bills of exchange in Havana’s financial market to send to revolutionaries in the United States, and Agustín Teclo y Muro, a broker and merchant who was sent to Pinos and, after four months, protested the “grave damage to his interests.”103

There is comparatively less evidence of petitions from individuals of a lower social rank who were confined to Pinos. Two pardos, the carpenter José Santos Barrizonte and the rural worker Pedro Beltrán, both accused of infidencia, were imprisoned for two years in Trinidad and Havana before being sent to Pinos in 1877.104 But the number of low-income persons banished to Pinos increased dramatically in 1875. An alarming number of “vandalic” actions by the bandit-insurrectionist Carlos García in the western rural provinces of Havana and Pinar del Río convinced Spanish authorities of the need to banish large numbers of “white and colored” individuals from the region. By October 1875 García’s alleged collaborators, as well as those persons defined as “of proven lowly livelihood,” were among those detained in several towns of the area and exiled to Pinos. Not until December 1877, after García had been killed, did the authorities allow the return of 298 of the 395 individuals who had been banished in 1875.105

Beside deportation and confinement to Pinos, forcing people to relocate within Cuba was also a frequent punishment, though it involved mostly lower- and middle-class Cubans. For example, although there was insufficient evidence to justify expropriation, Juan Bautista Rivero and Martina Baluja de Rivero, along with their three daughters, were forcibly taken from Cienfuegos and resettled in Pinar del Río, where their daughters married local men.106 In June 1870 the Spanish military commander of Cinco Villas (Santa Clara), Manuel Portillo, informed the highest government authorities in Havana that he was expelling several families from the town of Yaguaramas because they had close relatives among the rebels. These families were placed in Havana’s asylums and charitable institutions.107 In 1871 the owner of a potrero named Yarao, located near Sancti Spíritus, asked government officials to expel the rural families who had been taken from their homes and resettled (reconcentrados) on his property as part of the government policy of creating new centers of population from among those living dispersed in the countryside.108 He argued that his property did not present the conditions appropriate for a permanent settlement.109

Among those who were imprisoned or sent to forced labor camps in Cuba, as well as among those who were executed, the number of slaves and free people of color was higher than in other types of punishment.110 Slaves and free people of color also occasionally died in prison, especially in the poorer and harsher jails.111 If they were accused of infidencia, they were also often punished with forced labor, as exemplified by the four-year sentence given to Lucas Esteves in Santiago de Cuba and the ten-year sentence given to Matías Suárez in Cienfuegos.112 Fidela Tamayo de Bestar, a parda, was sentenced to four months in Havana’s prison for “uttering subversive words against the Spaniards.”113 The moreno Miguel Tamayo was condemned to six years in a Havana jail as a “confessed convict who had committed the crime of recruiting people for the insurrection.”114 Harsher sentences were meted out to the morenos José de los Santos and Pío Herrera, and to the Asian José Pelo, all of Puerto Príncipe, for infidencia.115

Repression against insurrectionists, their supporters, and plain sympathizers among the lower ranks of Cuban society eventually became hard to distinguish from punishments against “dangerous” free people of color, “insolent blacks,” runaway slaves and coolies, common criminals, and simple folk. Eusebio Ponce, a free black resident of Cárdenas, attracted the attention of Spanish authorities due to his active role, “alien to his condition,” in promoting the coartación of one slave. On questionable evidence, Ponce was accused of “inciting slaves against the [social] order and the obedience that they owe to their owners and supervisors.”116 Ponce was imprisoned in September 1871, pending his expulsion from Cárdenas—an area with a high concentration of slaves—and his banishment to Pinos. Likewise, an inquiry against the morenos Francisco Duarte, Agustín Pinillos, and Angel María Pérez—all suspected of uttering subversive words and singing subversive songs during a dancing session of “Congos” held near Guanajay—was sparked by the local priest’s accusation against their “obscene” behavior and lack of respect.117

The slave Félix Mentón left the ingenio La Julia (near San Juan de los Remedios) one night in August 1870, allegedly encouraged by a group of marauding men. Arrested and questioned by the police in Villa Clara, Mentón was unable to prove that he was free and not a slave. He declared, but could not document, that he had served in the Spanish army, an argument that hundreds of slaves used to win their freedom during the Ten Years’ War, in accordance with the terms of an “emancipation law” issued on June 23, 1870.118 Mentón’s owner failed to claim him after 15 days and Mentón was subsequently sent to the Havana holding camp (depósito) for slaves, where he was still being held in April 1871.119 Around the same time a runaway Asian known in the documents only by his first name, Jacinto, was captured on the outskirts of Colón and sent as a prisoner to the same Havana camp.120

In sum, increased traditional repression through exile, confinement, relocation, and imprisonment affected individuals of all social strata, and not necessarily only those supporting the insurrection. These measures complemented the Spanish and loyalist sociopolitical fight against colonial reform, simple dissent, and everyday transgressions of the strict colonial social order.

Comparison of Archival Data with Official Accounts

After surveying different forms of repressive policies, which are illustrated by relevant cases, this section proceeds to compare available and partially published official information with data obtained from archival research. The official data—helpful mainly in providing the total number of individuals affected by the expropriation decrees, as well as information on their names, race, and place of origin—was checked against and complemented by more elusive information, including estimates regarding the value and type of wealth seized, the social status of those affected, and the costs that the repressive measures inflicted on Cuban society. This complementary data is found in thousands of mostly disaggregated individual files, official reports, and correspondence in manuscript form kept in the archives of Madrid and Havana.

The official reports reveal the following sequence, one that represents the total number of individuals who had been subjected to expropriation at a given time: by August 1869 a total of 1,184 individuals had been affected; by September 1870 the figure was 3,284; by 1871 it was approximately 4,000; and by 1877 the total number of expropriated individuals had risen slightly to 4,492.121 As can be seen, by early 1871 most expropriations had already been decreed.122 Expropriation decrees were published without delay in Cuba’s newspapers, effectively barring those persons affected from exercising their civil rights or conducting any further legal business. By 1870 and 1871, the immediacy of expropriation and its effects had paralyzed the economic activities of some 4,000 individuals and their families. However, administrative deficiencies and legal problems limited the number of sequestrations actually carried out. Thus by August 1869, of the 1,184 persons affected by expropriation decrees a mere 382 had been formerly expropriated. And of these only 177 actually had properties that could be sequestered (with an estimated value of 17.4 million pesos) while 194 did not have any properties to expropriate.123 A similar situation can be found two years later. In April 1871, of 4,000 expropriated individuals only 1,254 individuals had been effectively expropriated. Of these only 527 had properties; these were valued at 120 million pesos, which yielded 4.8 million pesos in gross annual revenue to the colonial government.124

In 1871 colonial officials in Cuba were freed from the direct supervision of the ministro de ultramar in Madrid, and henceforth Cuban authorities assumed sole responsibility for the administration of the seized properties. But administrative neglect, abuse, and corruption continued unabated. By 1876 and 1877, after deducting the considerable administrative expenses, and with income further depleted by official abuse and the cost of the restitutions (desembargos) of expropriated properties and funds, the gross annual revenue from some 4,500 expropriations that had been decreed (although only 1,950 of the affected individuals possessed properties that could be effectively seized) amounted to approximately 366,000 pesos.125 As compared to the figures from 1871, the sum of 366,000 pesos in revenue generated for the state represents a drastic decline in the total estimated value of the properties held by the Administración de Bienes Embargados e Incautados to only about 10 million pesos by the last years of the war, down from the 120 million pesos of 1871.126

The data on the racial categories of those subjected to expropriation that are derived from official published sources are also remarkably similar to those derived from manuscript sources. From a total of 3,284 individuals officially listed in 1870 as having been subjected to expropriation, 3,158 (96 percent) were recorded as white and only 126 (4 percent) of color.127 The sample of 97 expropriation cases yields a similar proportion: 93 individuals (96 percent) were white and 4 persons (or 4 percent) of color. If we take in consideration an official report on those confined to the Isla de Pinos in October 1870, of 195 detainees there were 151 (77 percent) whites and 44 (23 percent) individuals of color.128 Again, the archival documentation reveals similar statistics among those deported, confined, and imprisoned; in a total of 73 sampled cases, 54 (74 percent) were white and 19 (26 percent) were of color. 129

Evidence on the racial composition of the victims of socioeconomic repression during the Ten Years’ War reveals some interesting points. First, whites predominated among those punished either by expropriation or by imprisonment, confinement, and deportation. Whites constituted the overwhelming majority of those who suffered expropriation but were somewhat less dominant among those who faced other types of punishment. Second, individuals of color were more often punished by privation of liberty than expropriation. But, even so, the share of individuals of color among those deprived of their liberty was far less than their share of the island’s total population.130 The fact that property in Cuba was held mostly by whites is not a sufficient explanation for the overwhelming predominance of whites among those who were expropriated, given that expropriations were decreed regardless of whether the targeted individual owned property. Indeed, more than half of those expropriated between 1869 and 1877 did not hold any property. Expropriation was enforced not only to collect funds for the government but mainly to deprive a distinct group in Cuba of their resources; above all, expropriation had a sociopolitical motive.

One possible explanation for the fact that virtually all those expropriated were white would be that socioeconomic punishment was correlated with insurrectionary participation and support, and that Cuban-born whites participated heavily in the insurrection, either as active insurrectionists or as their supporters. There is, however, little evidence in favor of this hypothesis, particularly in light of the fact that most of those punished did not necessarily support or aid the insurrection. A more plausible explanation is that white creoles were simply targeted for repression, especially in the early phase of the war, as part of a political move to re-Hispanize Cuba and reassert the socioeconomic domination of a growing sector of peninsulares and loyalists.

At the regional level, analysis of the number of individuals affected by expropriations reveals differences between the island’s three main regions.131 Once again the numbers involved demonstrate the similarities between this study’s sample sources and the official publication of 1870.132 As shown in table 1, the central provinces (particularly Puerto Príncipe) accounted for the highest percentage of expropriations, 69 percent among the sample total and 57 percent of the official list. According to the official list, the province of Puerto Príncipe accounted for the largest share of affected individuals, 25 percent of cases from the entire island—while holding only about 6 percent of Cuba’s population—and 43 percent of those in the central region, the region hardest hit by expropriations considering that it only accounted for 26 percent of the island’s total population at the time. With the exception of Havana in the western region (with 9 percent of the total cases on the island), the next highest shares were all from provinces of the central region: Santa Clara (9 percent), Morón (6 percent), and Cienfuegos (5 percent).

The second highest number of expropriations were decreed in the western provinces, especially Havana and Matanzas. The western region, inhabited by 55 percent of Cuba’s people, accounted for only 17 percent of the total number of expropriations, a figure that is reflected in both the sampled cases and the official list. The eastern region, comprising 19 percent of Cuba’s population, yielded 10 percent of the sample total and 16 percent of the official list. These numbers refute the claim that most expropriations were carried out in the far eastern region of Cuba although, in terms of its share of total population, it was the second hardest hit after the central region.133

If we take into consideration scattered information on the value of the properties effectively expropriated in different regions, it becomes apparent that the colonial government obtained greater revenue from expropriations in the western provinces than elsewhere. The sample cases provide information on property values not available in the official publication. The expropriation files that actually report estimates of the value of expropriated property (16 out of 97 cases), show that expropriations in the western provinces (mostly in Havana) netted 401,500 pesos (56 percent of the total of 716,028 pesos from the entire island). The central provinces, especially Puerto Príncipe, accounted for 261,742 pesos (37 percent of the total), whereas the eastern provinces, especially Manzanillo, accounted for only 52,786 pesos (7 percent of the total). Other evidence supports the conclusion that the value of properties expropriated in the western provinces greatly exceeded that of other regions. For example, an 1874 inventory of expropriated male and female slaves reveals that there were 984 slaves expropriated in the central provinces (Santa Clara and Puerto Príncipe) and only 278 in the eastern provinces. But the western provinces, which included the urban center of Havana as well as many expropriated sugar mills, yielded 1,746 slaves (58 percent of the total of 3,008).134 Likewise, according to official estimates for the years 1872 and 1873, the annual revenue of seized properties in Puerto Príncipe (mainly generated by urban house rentals, slaves, and cattle) amounted to 267,738 pesos. The parallel figure for the eastern provinces was only 33,131 pesos. Again revenue from the western provinces far outstripped that from other regions: rent from nine expropriated sugar mills alone produced 602,914 pesos annually, a sum that does not include rent from houses seized in Havana, Matanzas, and Cárdenas.135 According to the official in charge of elaborating these figures, “In this Departamento Occidental [the western provinces], which has been spared the ravages of war, the Administración [de Bienes Embargados e Incautados] has been conducted with more regularity and its yields have been more abundant. The properties in these provinces have been, so to speak, the major source of revenue that the treasury of the Junta [de la Deuda del Tesoro] has used to satisfy numerous expenditures.”136

The income produced for the colonial treasury by seized properties is only one way of measuring the negative impact of socioeconomic repression on expropriated individuals and the regions they inhabited. The extent of economic damage caused to individual interests by government policy is not reflected simply by the amount of revenue the expropriated properties generated. Most of the rural properties of Puerto Príncipe were only nominally seized; having already been abandoned, damaged, or destroyed as a result of the war, they produced little, if anything, and barely generated any revenue. For example, among the properties seized in the central province of Santa Clara, were 3 sugar mills, 86 potreros, and 131 sitios that covered a total of 1,906 caballerías of land; all were either abandoned or destroyed, and therefore could not be rented to civilians, and generated no income.137 In 1877 officials drew up a list of properties that the insurrectionists had burned to the ground in the province of Sancti Spíritus; the total value of the destroyed properties was estimated at over two million pesos.138

Figures on the regional distribution of the victims of confinement, imprisonment, and deportation also reveal the spatial aspects of repression. The numbers vary according to the type of punishment. Table 2, for example, shows the origins of individuals confined to the Isla de Pinos. The majority (57 percent) came from the central region, followed by those from the eastern (25 percent) and western (18 percent) regions. However, if we look at the total number of individuals who were imprisoned and deported, and not simply those confined to Pinos, the percentages change. Now the western region was the most affected (49 percent), followed by the central (34 percent), and then eastern (17 percent) regions. This shift can be explained by the fact that deportations (as opposed simply to confinement) were more numerous in the western provinces.

Finally, there is the question of the social composition of those who were victimized by socioeconomic repression in Cuba, a question that is more difficult to resolve given that official documentation is silent on this point. Nevertheless, 97 cases from the sample research data do provide some statistics on the value and type of property expropriated. This information can be used to divide the expropriated individuals into three separate socioeconomic categories, as shown in table 3.

The data reveals that owners of large properties were highly represented among those whose properties were effectively expropriated. However, the most numerous group actually expropriated were owners of medium-sized and, to a lesser extent, small properties, with a combined share of 79 percent. The expropriation policy dealt a drastic blow to creole proprietors of mediumsized properties in the central provinces and to wealthy proprietors in the western provinces. Expropriations thus curtailed long-term wealth distribution and the democratization of the Cuban socioeconomic structure.139

Despite legislation that eventually granted most expropriated owners the right of property restitution, the devolution process was slow, delayed by the dwindling of funds that had been obtained from expropriation. In September 1873, strict priorities governing the repayment of amounts owed by the Junta de la Deuda were established: devolutions of seized properties ranked last. The colonial treasury used most of the funds from expropriation for military expenditures and other urgent expenses. In 1874 the island’s treasury already owed the Junta de la Deuda four million pesos, a sum that it had obtained in cash transfers from the revenues generated by seized properties. Additionally, the Junta had allocated five hundred thousand pesos for urgent aid in the central and eastern provinces.140 Comparatively, the total fiscal expense to the Spanish government for military and administrative costs during the ten years of war (approximately 247 million pesos) was just over twice the estimated total value expropriated by 1871 (120 million pesos).141 The colonial government financed the war through various means: 1) internal voluntary or forced credit extensions to the government (including loans guaranteed by the value and revenue of properties seized after 1873) that were later repaid by taxes imposed in Cuba after 1878; 2) monetary depreciation, which burdened domestic consumers; and 3) expropriations. Destruction caused by the war, expropriation, imprisonment, confinement, deportation, forced relocation, fiscal and financial pressures, and “voluntary” exile that affected mostly the middle sectors, need to be considered together to arrive at an overall estimate of the total material and human costs of the Ten Years’ War for Cuba.


Close analysis of the original files of individual cases, as well as aggregate information, indicate that a majority of those who were expropriated and—to a lesser extent—deported, confined, or imprisoned during the Ten Years’ War were neither active insurrectionists nor supporters of the insurrection. They were common individuals and their families, who were caught in the middle of a cruel struggle fueled by belligerent and militant hostility against reformist creoles by conservative peninsular sectors and by active military campaigns against the separatist insurrection. Spanish repressive policies were applied with little regard to legality; they were aimed at attacking and alienating sectors perceived as potentially dangerous to Spanish interests but not necessarily in favor of radical separation from Spain. Under the guise of preventing Cuban independence, socioeconomic repression was consistent with peninsular attempts to radically re-Hispanize the island.

Evidence shows that in practice white creoles were targeted for expropriation in order to eradicate their possible influence on Cuban society and government. By 1869 thousands of alarmed creole families in fear of their lives and liberty were hastily exiting the island, leaving behind their properties, which became easy prey to official expropriation. Approximately 96 percent of those who suffered expropriation were white creoles; only 4 percent were of color or black. Drastic relocation of people from rural to urban areas was also enforced by expropriations, especially in the central region, where most expropriations occurred. Those who were persecuted and did not have the means to leave Cuba were imprisoned or banished; among these, approximately 25 percent were people of color or blacks.

The social sectors most affected by the Spanish socioeconomic repression were middle-level and small proprietors, especially those from the central regions of Cuba. A significant number of wealthy creole Cubans—especially in the western region—were expropriated. This pattern of expropriation resulted in a considerable intensification of the trend, noticeable since the 1840s, toward the increasing economic domination of recent immigrants from Spain. Most of the revenue actually obtained by the colonial treasury from expropriations originated in the confiscated properties of wealthy creoles that had been publicly auctioned, and the proceeds then appropriated by the Spanish treasury. However, expropriations were not the only reason that the balance of economic wealth passed from creoles to peninsulares. The economic opportunities that the war offered—land speculation, financial machinations, and the provisioning of goods to the army—contributed to peninsular accumulation, whereas expropriation, exile, and persecution thoroughly weakened the creoles.142 Due to the lack of clarity in official accounts and records, it is not possible to precisely calculate the value of the property actually restituted, in accordance with legal procedures, to expropriated owners in the years 1872 to 1878 and later. But the evidence indicates that the destruction and devaluation of the property seized meant that the value of the restituted property must have been only a small fraction of the original value.

The total cost of the destruction caused by the war, as well as by expropriation and repression, caused the greatest material and human losses for the middle social sectors of central and east-central Cuba. The colonial reform promised by the peace treaty of Zanjón in 1878 had very little chance of being implemented under such adverse social conditions. In the long term, moreover, the stunting and weakening of the island’s middle sectors contributed not only to the continued colonial domination of Spain but also to the perpetuation of social conditions that were adverse for democratic and nonelite reformist solutions to Cuba’s problems.

There were four main consequences of the socioeconomic repression carried out during the Ten Years’ War. First, despite the efforts of its able leaders, José María Gálvez and Rafael Montoro, among others who suffered repression or exile during the war, the reformist movement, under the banner of the new Autonomist party since 1878, did not succeed. In part this was due to the relative political, economic, and social weakness of the middle sectors. Because of this weakness, a historic opportunity was lost to bring about a truly peaceful, gradualist transition toward Cuban independence.143 Second, despite their internal divisions and their loss of political clout by the early 1890s, conservative loyalists continued their economic and social domination of the island. They constituted the social base for the conservative and repressive policies directed by Antonio Cánovas del Castillo and Francisco Romero Robledo from Spain, and implemented by captain generals Camilo Polavieja and Valeriano Weyler in Cuba. Third, the Cuban radical groups that were in exile in the United States became a permanent fixture in Cuban politics, exerting pressure from abroad and influencing political affairs in Cuba through the organizing and political abilities of José Martí and Tomás Estrada Palma, among others. And finally, the repressive strategies learned during the Ten Years’ War, especially reconcentración, which the separatist forces, led by Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo, countered through their strategy of wreaking economic havoc on the island by burning plantations, contributed to the general climate of violence that led to an ultimately frustrating outcome: United States intervention during the Second War for Independence (1895-98).

This work was made possible by a sabbatical grant from the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, and research support by the American Philosophical Society, the PSC-CUNY Award Program, and the CUNY-Caribbean Exchange Program. I thank the helpful comments and suggestions of Manuel Moreno Fraginals, Eduardo Moyano, Louis Pérez, Inés Roldán, Linda Salvucci, Rebecca Scott, Mark Szuchman, and an anonymous evaluator.


Technically, a distinction existed between two types of expropriation: 1) embargo or sequestration (temporary seizure); and 2) incautación or confiscation (permanent seizure subject to enajenación or auction). In this study the generic word “expropriation” is used most of the time. However, most property seizures between 1869 and 1878 consisted of sequestrations that lasted an average of several years, sometimes beyond 1878. Desembargos, or restitutions of “temporarily” seized property, were almost always incomplete due to the destruction, deterioration, consumption, or sale of the seized property; see “Expediente promovido por orden del Gobierno Supremo reclamando una nota de los bienes secuestrados y enajenados,” Archivo Histórico Nacional, Madrid (hereafter AHN), Ultramar, Cuba, Insurrección, leg. 43491, exp. 7 (superscript numbers denote the volume or part of legajos).


See especially Justo Zaragoza, Las insurrecciones en Cuba: apuntes para la historia política de esta isla en el presente siglo, 2 vols. (Madrid: Impr. M. G. Hernández, 1872-73), 2:377-85, 388-89; and Antonio Pirala, Andes de la Guerra de Cuba, 3 vols. (Madrid: F. Gonzalez Rojas, 1896), 2:379-97. See also Joaquín Llaverías y Martínez, El Consejo Administrativo de Bienes Embargados: discurso leido . . . en la sesión solemne celebrada el 10 de octubre (Havana: Impr. “El Siglo XX,” 1941), 6-7; Ramiro Guerra Sánchez, Guerra de los Diez Años: 1868-1878, 2 vols. (Havana: Cultural, 1950-52), 2:103-5, which provides the best exposition of Cuban nationalist historiography on the subject; and María D. Domingo Acebrón, “Proyección social y política de la Guerra de los Diez Años: Cuba (1868-1878)” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. Autónoma de Madrid, 1987), 484-94.


There exist approximately 4,000 expedientes de embargo y desembargo (expropriation and restitution files) in the fondo Bienes Embargados (formerly under the administration of the Consejo Administrativo de Bienes Embargados), as well as in the expedientes de infidencia (disloyalty files) and other reports now held in the fondo Asuntos Políticos of the Archivo Nacional de Cuba, Havana (hereafter ANC). Due to the Spanish administrative practice of sending copies of original administrative documents to the different branches of the Ministerio de Ultramar in Madrid, a similar amount of duplicated expedientes de embargo y desembargo and expedientes de infidencia exist in the Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno section of the AHN, together with complementary reports that were filed in the Ultramar, Cuba, Secretaría and the Ultramar, Cuba, Hacienda sections of the same archive. As far as I know, only Joaquin Llaverias and Manuel Moreno Fraginals, the latter in a yet unfinished project, have worked systematically in the Bienes Embargados section of the ANC. Antonio Pirala, as early as the 1890s, and María D. Domingo Acebrón, more recently, have probably done the same for the corresponding sections of the AHN. Although I have consulted some material at the ANC, most of the information for this study on socioeconomic repression was collected in the AHN.


See, for example, the works by Ramiro Guerra, Leví Marrero y Artiles, and Francisco Ponte Domínguez cited below.


On stern repressive measures that began in the 1820s and 1830s, see Joaquín Llaverías y Martínez, La Comisión Militar Ejecutiva y Permanente de la Isla de Cuba (Havana: Impr. “El Siglo XX,” 1929).


See Félix Varela, Observaciones sobre la constitución política de la monarquía española seguidas de otros trabajos políticos (Havana: Univ. de la Habana, 1944), especially his essays “Proyecto de gobierno autonómico,” ibid., 181-87, and “Memoria que demuestra la necesidad de extinguir la esclavitud . . . ,” ibid., 157-79; and José Antonio Saco, Obras de don José Antonio Saco, 2 vols. (New York: R. Lockwood & Sons, 1853), esp. 1:149-70, 177-275, 2:1-29, 151-78.


Consider, for example, the abolitionist pamphlet “Al Gobierno Provisional,” Madrid, 3 Oct. 1868, which was opposed by antiabolitionist merchant and shipping interests in the manuscript petition “Al Gobierno Provisional de la Nación,” Barcelona, Oct. 1868, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno (Esclavitud), leg. 35532 exp. 5, docs, 1 and 3. See also José Antonio Piqueras Arenas, La revolución democrática (1868-1874): cuestión social, colonialismo y grupos de presión (Madrid: Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social, 1992), chap. 6. Spanish interests in Spain and Cuba, of the élite hispano-cubana, are thoroughly analyzed in Angel Bahamonde and José Cayuela, Hacer las Americas: las élites coloniales españolas en el siglo XIX (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1992).


A conservative criticism of the reformist economic program of 1865-66 may be found in “Reformas-Junta de Información-Noviembre 1865. Artículo de D. R. P. Garricho,” Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid (hereafter BNM), Manuscritos, ms. 202844; in Gil Gelpi y Ferro, La regeneración de Cuba y los regeneradores (Havana: La Propaganda Literaria, 1878), 15; and in José García Barzanallana, El derecho diferencial de bandera en la isla de Cuba (Madrid: Revista de Legislación, 1878).


Gabriel Tortella, “El desarrollo de la industria azucarera y la guerra de Cuba,” Moneda y Crédito 91 (1964): 131-63, and “La industria azucarera cubana, 1868-1895,” Moneda y Crédito 96 (1966): 15-31; Manuel Moreno Fraginals, The Sugarmill: The Socio-economic Complex of Sugar in Cuba, 17 60-1860 (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1976); Laird W. Bergad, Cuban Rural Society in the Nineteenth Century: The Social and Economic History of Monoculture in Matanzas (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1990); Pedro Fraile, Linda Salvucci, and Richard Salvucci, “El caso cubano: exportación e independencia,” in La independencia americana: consecuencias económicas, eds. L. Prados and S. Amaral (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1993), 80-101; and Eduardo L. Moyano Bazzani, La nueva frontera del azúcar: el ferrocarril y la economía cubana del siglo XIX (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1991).


Franklin W. Knight, “Origins of Wealth and the Sugar Revolution in Cuba, 1750-1850” HAHR 57 (1977): 371-73; and Louis A. Pérez jr., Cuba between Empires, 1878-1902 (Pittsburgh: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1983), 18-23.


Dating from the 1840s, the natural growth of the island’s white population, immigration from Spain, and the relative decline of the slave trade all contributed to altering the racial composition of the island. According to the census figures for 1841-42, the population of individuals of color—including slaves and free people—constituted 58 percent of the island’s population whereas the white population—consisting of peninsulares, Canarians, and creoles (the latter constituting an overwhelming majority among whites)— accounted for only 42 percent. Two decades later the white population was in the majority with 54 percent of a total population of 1,359,238; individuals of color followed with 44 percent of the total population, and then Asians with 2 percent; see Cuba, Comisión de Censo, Resumen del censo de población de la isla de Cuba afin del año 1841 (Havana: Impr. del Gobierno, 1842); Vicente Vásquez Queipo, Informe fiscal sobre fomento de la población blanca en la isla de Cuba y emancipación progresiva de la esclava . . . (Madrid: Impr. de J. M. Alegría, 1845), 6; Rebecca Scott, Slave Emancipation in Cuba: The Transition to Free Labor, 1860-1899 (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1985), 7; and Jacobo de la Pezuela, Diccionario geográfico, estadístico, histórico de la isla de Cuba, 4 vols. (Madrid: Impr. Mellado, 1863-66).


Manuel Moreno Fraginals and José J. Moreno Masó, Guerra, migración y muerte: el ejército español en Cuba como vía migratoria (Gijón, Spain: Ediciones Júcar, 1993), 55-72; and Jordi Maluquer de Motes Bernet, Nación e inmigración: los españoles en Cuba (ss. XIX y XX) (Oviedo, Spain: Ediciones Júcar, 1992), 15-20, 34-35.


The re-Hispanization designs are evident in pamphlets such as the anonymous Cuba española (Madrid: Impr. y Lib. Universal, 1869); and in Juan de Aimante y Tavira, La revolución de Cuba y el elemento español (Havana: Impr. Sociedad de Operarios, 1870).


“Memoria sobre una parte de la historia de los voluntarios de Cuba,” Inspección General de Voluntarios de la Isla de Cuba, Antonio R. Batista, Havana, I Apr. 1884, BNM, Manuscritos, ms. 20191. This force comprised between forty and fifty thousand men in the 1870s (of which fifteen to twenty thousand were based in Havana), and 66,775 in See also José Joaquín Ribó, Historia de los voluntarios cubanos, 2 vols. (Madrid: Impr. y Lit. de N. González, T. Fortanet, 1872-76).


For an example of common peninsular derogatory perceptions of Cuban-born creoles, see Zaragoza (a high-ranking Spanish official, voluntario, and historian), lnsurrecciones en Cuba, 1:163-64.


Reports by Secretaría del Gobierno Politico to Cánovas del Castillo, Havana, 14 Apr., 29 Apr., 15 May, and 13 June 1866, BNM, Manuscritos, ms. 202844.


Lersundi to Ayala (Ministro de Ultramar), Havana, 30 Dec. 1868, BNM, Manuscritos, ms. 202833, doc. 11. Lersundi stated that the island had been driven into turmoil “al llegar por el cable el triunfo en todo de las ideas radicales en la Metrópoli,” and that his authority had been harmed “por la discordia que el país adivina entre mis opiniones y las del gobierno.” In regard to the insurrectionists, in the same document Lersundi stated that “a poco de pronunciarse empezaron por quemar ingenios y llevarse como libres los esclavos haciendo desde luego la cuestión social y concitando con su conducta el espíritu de la gente de color,” while the peninsular sector, fearing the end of slavery, was on his side; see Lersundi to Minister of War, Havana, 24 Oct. 1868, Fondo Caballero de Rodas, Real Academia de la Historia, Madrid (hereafter FCR-RAH), doc. 9/7536, fols. 71-74. Domingo Dulce’s interpretation of the insurrection’s origins differed greatly. He believed that initially the rebels were simply demanding for Cuba the treatment it deserved as a Spanish province. But Lersundi’s sense of authority led him to repress what Dulce referred to as “aquella explosión de un sentimiento natural y legítimo.” Only then did the insurrection take on a different character in favor of independence; see Dulce to Ministro de Ultramar, Havana, 9 Jan. 1869, FCR-RAH, doc. 9/7536, fols. 132-33.


Some Cuban authors do not hesitate to charge that Castañón and his followers aimed to exterminate the Cubans; see Fermín Valdés Domínguez, Los voluntarios de la Habana en el acontecimiento de los estudiantes de medicina por uno de ellos condenado a seis años de presidio (Madrid: Impr. S. Martínez, 1873), 26. Other conservative newspapers at the time included the Diario de la Marína, El Voluntario de Cuba, La Integridad Nacional, and La Constancia.


Following diplomatic pressure exerted in 1869 by the United States ambassador to Madrid, General Daniel E. Sickles, General Juan Prim, the leader of the September Revolution until his assassination in 1870, seriously contemplated granting Cuba its independence upon payment of indemnization to Spain. Prim wrote a letter with detailed instructions to the captain general of Cuba, Antonio Caballero de Rodas, who was closely linked to the voluntarios, in which he mentioned the possibility of “el desarme simultáneo de los insurgentes y voluntarios, es decir, de los dos bandos hostiles y enconados, quedando sólo el Ejército Español guardando la Isla hasta que se hiciesen las elecciones y se resolviese de su suerte futura”; Prim to Caballero de Rodas, Vichy, 10 Sept. 1869, BNM, Manuscripts, ms. 7339, p. 2. See also Agustín Martínez de las Heras, “La crisis cubana, en el arranque del sexenio democrático” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. Complutense de Madrid, 1984), 1:614-54; and Javier Rubio, La cuestión de Cuba y las relaciones con los Estados Unidos durante el reinado de Alfonso XII: los orígenes del “desastre” de 1898 (Madrid: Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, 1995), 91-96.


See the press campaign by Havana voluntarios against a liberal representative to the Cortes, Francisco Diaz Quintero, in June 1870: “Con sin igual audacia los traidores de la patria / Nos hacen cruda guerra allí en España”; conservative popular rumors in Havana spread the notion that money collected by separatists was being used to pay off politicians in Spain. See Joaquín Palomino, Merecido ramillete que dedican los voluntarios de la Isla de Cuba al mal aconsejado diputado a Cortes Diaz Quintero . . . (Havana: Impr. Sociedad de Operarios, 1870), 5, 13; and Luis Otero y Pimentel, Memoria sobre los Voluntarios de la Isla de Cuba: consideraciones relativas a su pasado, su presente y su porvenir (Havana: La Propaganda Literaria, 1876), 44-46.


At the beginning of the separatist movement its major leaders included Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and Francisco Vicente Aguilera (Oriente), as well as Ignacio Agramonte, Salvador Cisneros Betancourt, and Manuel de Quesada (Puerto Príncipe); see Guerra Sanchez, Guerra de los Diez Años, 1:95-101; FranciscoJ. Ponte Domínguez, Historia de la Guerra de los Diez Años, 2 vols. (Havana: Impr. “El Siglo XX,” 1944-58), 1:105.


The areas of insurrectionary upheaval were, demographically speaking, different from those that remained under Spanish control in 1868 and 1869. Southwestern Oriente (Manzanillo, Bayamo, and Jiguaní), Puerto Príncipe, and Santa Clara had the lowest percentage of slaves and the highest percentage of whites and free individuals of color. Unlike the city of Santiago de Cuba, which had a considerable peninsular sector, the majority of whites in southwestern Oriente, Puerto Príncipe, and Santa Clara were Cuban-born and rural. The strong presence of peninsulares and slaves in Occidente (Matanzas, Havana, and Pinar del Río) tempered insurrectionary support there; see Guerra Sánchez, Guerra de los Diez Años, 1:7-8, 19-27.


Dulce informed that “parciales de la causa española, [quienes] no ven otro sistema para conseguir la paz, que una política de violencias y una guerra de exterminio,” were causing massive emigration; Dulce to Ministro de Ultramar, Havana, 15 Feb. 1869, FCR-RAH, doc. 9/7536, fols. 163-65.


Notwithstanding that the Spanish constitutions of 1837 and 1845 abolished expropriation as a legal means to punish political offenders, Dulce ordered the expropriation of infidentes through several decrees issued on 1, 15, and 20 Apr. 1869, that took advantage of the legal loophole that Cuba was ruled by “special laws” and not the Spanish Constitution; see “Resumen de las instrucciones referentes a embargo de bienes por infidencia,” AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, leg. 36553; and Cuba, Capitanía General, Datos y noticias oficiales referentes a los bienes mandados embargar en la isla de Cuba por disposición del Gobierno Superior Político (Havana: Impr. del Gobierno y Capitanía General, 1870), 3-9.


Zaragoza, InsutTecciones en Cuba, 2:366-68.


Ildefonso Antonio Bermejo, Historia de la interinidad y guerra civil de España desde 1868, 3 vols. (Madrid: R. Labajos, 1876-77), 1:99-100, cited by Ponte Domínguez, Historia de la Guerra, 2:132. The notion that during the Caballero de Rodas administration Prim was contemplating granting Cuba its independence upon payment of a monetary compensation prompted peninsular loyalists to issue incendiary appeals, such as that of the Casino Español de la Habana on 23 Mar. 1870: “¡Al Pueblo Español! Los españoles que están en Cuba podrán ser vencidos, cedidos o vendidos jamás: CUBA SERA ESPAÑOLA O LA ABANDONAREMOS CONVERTIDA EN CENIZAS”; see FCR-RAH, doc. 9/7537, fol. 290.


Valmaseda’s campaigns were criticized as intransigent and ultimately ineffective by military authors Félix Echauz y Guinart, Lo que se ha hecho y lo que hay que hacer en Cuba: breves indicaciones sobre la campaña (Madrid: Impr. Viuda de Soler, 1873); and José María Velasco, Guetra de Cuba (Madrid: Impr. El Correo Militar, 1872).


Melchor Loret de Mola, Episodio de la guerra de Cuba: el 6 de enero de 1817 (Puerto Príncipe: Impr. La Luz, 1893); and Valdés Domínguez, Voluntarios de la Habana.


Lucas Lamadrid y Larriba, La venganza de un régimen: discurso leído . . . para conmemorar el 54° aniversario del fusilamiento de los estudiantes de medicina (Havana: R. Velasco y Cia., 1926), 17-18; and Valentín Cuesta Jiménez, Historia de un gran crimen: el fusilamiento de los estudiantes [el] 27 de noviembre de 1871 (Güines, Cuba: Valdés, 1944), 4. Caballero de Rodas stated that “En las escuelas, en los colegios, [y] en las Universidades se ha sembrado la semilla subversiva que no podrá menos de dar fruto, y prueba de ellos es que los catedráticos y los profesores en considerable número se hayan [sic] hoy en el extranjero o en el campo de la insurrección, habiendo obligado a mi antecesor a cerrar la mayor parte de las escuelas de educación primaria”; Caballero de Rodas to Ministro de Ultramar, Havana, 8 Sept. 1869, FCR-RAH, doc. 9/7537, fols. 95f-95v.


Adolfo Jiménez Castellanos, Sistema para combatir las insurrecciones de Cuba, según lo que aconseja la experiencia (Madrid: Establecimiento Tipográfico, 1883), 6-19.


Exiled reformists turned supporters of the insurrection, active in New York, included José Morales Lemus, Miguel Aldama, Antonio Fernández Bramosio, José Manuel Mestre, and José Antonio Echevarria, among others; see Guerra Sánchez, Guerra de los Diez Años, 1:183; Enrique Piñeyro, Morales Lemus y la revolución de Cuba (New York: M. M. Zarzamendi, 1871); and Francisco Calcagno, Diccionario biográfico cubano (New York: N. Ponce de León, 1878).


Guerra Sánchez, Guerra de los Diez Años, 1:115; and Antonio Zambrana y Vásquez, La República de Cuba (New York: N. Ponce de León, 1873).


According to Dulce, peninsular interests in Cuba demanded extreme repression, as a means to separate and divide men of the same “race,” and practiced a brutal rigor of unlawful violence. He also claimed that the insurrection was kept alive because it permitted “que los embargos se multiplicaran de una manera violenta, caprichosa y absoluta, bastardeando el espíritu que dictó aquella medida” and that this led to injustice, frauds, and excesses; Dulce to Ministro de Ultramar, aboard the Guipúzcoa, 18 June 1869, FCR-RAH, doc. 9/7536, fols. 238t-48V.


According to Zaragoza, 300 families (1,500 people) left Cuba between 26 and 30 Jan. 1869. He also estimated that between February and September of the same year some 2,000 to 3,000 families left the island every month, yielding an estimated total of 100,000 people (one-twelfth of Cuba’s total population); see Zaragoza, Insurrecciones en Cuba, 2:374, 774.


Zaragoza, Insurrecciones en Cuba, 1:374; Ponte Domínguez, Historia de la Guerra, 1:163-64.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43431, exp. 27. This and subsequent texts have been translated from the Spanish by this author.




See the cases of Javier de Varona Zayas, Fernando Valdés y Valdés, Juan Gualberto Martínez, and Emilio Rivas y Primelles, in AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43432, exps. 33, 49; leg. 43462, exp. 39; leg. 43431, exp. 26.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43431, exp. 10.


Martínez’s properties were still being held in May 1871; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43462 exp. 42. Likewise, Pedro Osorio, brother of the executed “pirate” Juan Bautista Osorio, was unjustly detained by a voluntario officer and then imprisoned by a voluntario judge; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4345, exp. 12.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43432, exp. 48; and leg. 43431, exp. 11. See also the cases of Rafael Sarria and Esteban Rodríguez; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43431, exps. 15 and 32.


Caballero de Rodas to Chief of the Consejo de Administración de Bienes Embargados, Havana, 19 Sept. 1879, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43431, exp. 3.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43411, exp. 2.


With regard to currency, all figures given in pesos refer to silver pesos fuertes unless otherwise indicated as pesos billetes (depreciated bank bills).


The expropriation of Mora’s property also affected the assets of the local Sociedad Mora y Arango, which continued to demand reparation as late as 1875; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43462, exp. 36.


For the Howard y Gatier case, see “Expediente promovido por el Consul General de los Estados Unidos sobre la sentencia recaída contra D. Juan Emilio Howard y Gatier,” AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4344, exp. 42. Howard, born in Philadelphia and a resident of Cienfuegos, had his property expropriated in 1870; he was imprisoned for a year without trial, allegedly because he had a family relationship with executed insurgent general Federico Cavada (also a United States citizen). It later came out that one of Howard’s accusers had declared falsely and under pressure against him. Howard’s case was highlighted by United States publications such as Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, which ran titles such as “Dr. John E. Howard, a United States Citizen, Victim of Spanish Tyranny in Cuba.” In 1872, after considerable diplomatic pressure, Howard was freed. For more on this case, see Herminio Portell-Vilá, Historia de Cuba en sus relaciones con los Estados Unidos y España, 4 vols. (Havana: J. Montero, 1939), 2:349, 358.


The worst diplomatic incident involved the seizure and execution of crew members from the rebel steamship Virginias in October 1873; see Rubio, Cuestión de Cuba, 107-41; and Richard H. Bradford, The Virginius Affair (Boulder: Colorado Associated University Press, 1980).


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43461, exp. 2.




Administrator and owner Rafael López Hernández was also accused of supporting the insurrection in his potrero La Unión, located in rural Puerto Príncipe. Records in his expropriation files show that although the evidence was insufficient for conviction, “witnesses” testified that López cultivated land to provide food for the rebels (using the forced labor of black workers supplied by the insurrectionists themselves) and cared for the horses of leaders Manuel Quesada and Ignacio Agramome; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43462 exp. 27.


See El Fanal (Puerto Príncipe), 28 July 1870, vol. 27, no. 179, included in Cosío’s disloyalty and expropriation file.


“Expediente de desembargo de Agustín Zayas Bazán y Romero,” Puerto Príncipe, 5 May 1870, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43431, exp. 29.


Case of don Miguel Fornés; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43432 exp. 36.


See the cases of Federico Rodríguez of Cádiz, Pelegrino Rivas of Catalonia, and the voluntario Felipe García of Puerto Príncipe; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43431, exps. 14, 18, and 17, respectively.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43432, exp. 46.


On the legal issue of whether the labor contracts with Asian coolies (colonos asiáticos) expired with the expropriation of the holders, authorities clarified that “los chinos son objetos utilizables como cualquier otra propiedad,” and thus their contracts remained active; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43472, exp. 7. In May 1873 the Spanish navy, for example, requested and obtained Asian coolies from a holding station (depósito) to unload coal in Sagua La Grande; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4352 1, exp. 5.


Marín had paid the previous owner in annual installments of 2,000 pesos and a 5 percent interest on the principal. Marín also paid 6 percent yearly interest on a lien of 993 pesos that had been charged to the property since 1858; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg 43411 exp. 3.




Additional cases of proprietors who had their medium-sized properties expropriated can be found in AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43462 exp. 27; leg. 43461, exp. 1; leg. 43431, exp. 7; and leg. 47731, exp. 9.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4345, exps. 3-5.


Case of Gaspar Montalbán of Puerto Príncipe, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43462, exp. 34.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43471, exp. 2.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43411, exp. 10.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43462, exp. 27.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4347, exp. 6.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43432 exp. 40.


These are the case of Carmen Morales, a former slave of Gabriel Bachiller Morales, who petitioned for the freedom of her son Felipe in 1872; AHN, Gobierno, leg. 4347, exp. 24; and the case of Brígida Portuondo, who petitioned for the freedom of her godchild Victoriano together with the income generated by his labor, which had been rented out for several years; Santiago de Cuba, 11 May 1877, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Secretaría, leg. 36572.


Leví Marrero published three separate lists of individuals who had their property expropriated, one of women, another of insurrectionists, and a third of infidentes. The lists were based on research by Andrés Castellanos, who compiled information from the Diario de la Marína (Havana) and La Revolución (New York) for 1869-70. Of Marrero’s three lists only that of the insurrectionists, totaling 108 males, indicates active participation in the insurrection. These individuals constitute a small minority of the official total of approximately 4,000 expropriated individuals; see Leví Marrero y Artiles, Cuba: economía y sociedad, vols. 9-15: Azúcar, ilustración y conciencia (1763-1868) (Río Piedras, Puerto Rico; Madrid: Ed. San Juan; Ed. Playor, 1972-92), 15:320-38.


For example, insurrectionist leader Vicente García “sold” his restituted properties in Las Tunas to the Spanish state for 50,000 gold pesos at the end of the war; “Terrenos vendidos al Estado por el cabecilla Vicente García al terminarse la la. campaña de Cuba,” 9 June 1878, Archivo General de Indias, Diversos, Colección Polavieja, leg. 7, nos. 85-86.


On this date the captain general conde de Valmaseda reserved for himself the right to return properties in cases in which he considered it appropriate to do so; “Resumen de las órdenes referentes a embargos por infidencia,” AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Secretaría, leg. 36551.


Many property restitution arrangements followed the first amnesty decrees by Captain General Arsenio Martínez Campos toward the end of the war. Such restitutions occurred in the case of Carlos del Castillo, a separatist leader living abroad who owned expropriated stock in the Caja de Ahorros and two railway companies; see “Memorandum para Dn. Cecilio de la Maza Arredondo,” San Agustín, Florida, 13 July 1878, New York Public Library, Manuscript Collection, Moses Taylor Papers, vol. 812, p. 5. Records of self-declared or repentant insurrectionists, often young creoles who attributed their rebellious activities to the indiscretions of youth, exist for Féliz Valón González of Matanzas (AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43432, exp. 50), as well as Fernando Céspedes y Arteaga (ibid., leg. 43461, exp. 4) and Severino Vega Betancourt (ibid., leg. 43432, exp. 38), both of Puerto Príncipe. See also the case of Fernando Varela, a young man from Puerto Príncipe who was executed (ibid., leg. 43432, exp. 41), and José Felipe Ozeguera (ibid., leg. 43431, exp 2) of Cienfuegos. The records of widows or wives of insurrectionists include those for Isabel Quintana, Antonia Bachiller viuda de Francisco José de Céspedes, and Leandra Yera viuda de Manuel León of Santa Clara (see, respectively, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4347, exp. 8; leg. 47731, exp. 2; and leg. 43432, exp. 51).


Guerra Sánchez, Guerra de los Diez Años, 1:219-31.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43411, exp. 18.


See the written statement by Celso G. Riega, 19 June 1878: “The conditions that forbid the sale, transfer, exchange, or charge of formerly seized properties are a true encumbrance for the owners of such properties. In the humble opinion of this administration these conditions have no reason for existing and constitute a significant hindrance to the advancement of work and the reconstruction of the country”; ibid.


For example, in November 1869 the pardo Cristóbal León was unable to buy a house in Güines because its owner was in prison; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4345, exp. II. Also, in 1871-72 Lorenzo Cabrisas continued to petition unsuccessfully for the authorization necessary to resume production in the soap factory “La Estrella,” which he had bought after it had been expropriated from M. Riquelme y Cía.; ibid., leg. 43472, exp. 65.


Llaverías y Martínez, Consejo Administrativo, 20, based on Zaragoza, Insurrecciones en Cuba, 2:388-89; AHN, Ultramar, Gobierno, leg. 4347, exps. 15 and 16.


“Apuntes acerca de los bienes embargados que se dirijen por el secretario de la Junta de la deuda al Exmo. Sr. D. Julián de Zulueta,” 15 May 1878, signed by Luciano P. de Acevedo, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Secretaría, leg. 36572.


Llaverías y Martínez, Consejo Administrativo, 27, based on Pirala, Anales de la Guerra, 2:379-97. For complaints of inefficiency and neglect of the local expropriations administrators by the teniente gobernador of Holguín on 28 May 1871, see AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43491, exp. 23. For complaints on waste and lack of maintenance on 15 April 1871, see ibid., exps. 2 and 14; and for complaints on abuses by Puerto Príncipe’s Junta de Vigilancia de Bienes Embargados (low value estimates of properties, unauthorized expenditures, etc.) in April 1871, see ibid., exp. 4.


“Estado general de las fincas y bienes embargados e incautados . . . a cargo de la administración delegada,” Matanzas, 15 May 1874, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno (Insurrección), leg. 4345, exp. 8, doc. 3. Morales Lemus owned 16 houses in Havana; the printing press of El País, valued at 5,990 pesos; 50,000 pesos in various stocks (e.g. in the gas company of Matanzas); and 10,000 pesos in cash deposited in the Caja de Ahorros; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, leg. 3657, cited in Acebrón, “Proyección social,” appendix. Other notable Cubans of Havana and Matanzas who had their properties expropriated included Félix Govín Pintó, Joaquín María Delgado, Gabriel Bachiller Morales, and Ramón Fernández Criado. Through expropriation Govín lost 25 houses in Matanzas, credits in sugar mills, and 100,000 pesos in personal loans to others; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 3623. Delgado lost 8 houses in Havana valued at 75,744 pesos, the finca La Vieja valued at 196,600 pesos, and railroad stock; Cuba, Datos y noticias, 177. Bachiller Morales lost several houses in Havana, 1 potrero, 120,000 pesos deposited in the merchant house of Moses Taylor, stock of the Caja de Ahorros, and approximately 500,000 pesos in mortages placed in Havana; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, leg. 3580. Fernández Criado lost 9 houses in Havana, the ingenio Neda in Colón, 2 potreros, 384 slaves, 74 coolies, cattle, 255,000 pesos, stock in the Cárdenas-Jícaro railroad, as well as additional stock in banks, credit institutions, and other railroads; see Cuba, Datos y noticias, 180. Information on expropriated property for all these cases is also found in Domingo Acebrón, “Proyección social.”


Rivas owned the tobacco factory El Fígaro, which had employed the Cuban martyrs Francisco León and Agustín Medina, executed in April 1869. Intransigent peninsulares viewed the factory as a center of patriotic protest in Havana. Rivas left Cuba “por grave enfermedad de su hermano, así como [para] calmar los ánimos de su familia que vivía en la mayor inquietud y apartarse de los compromisos políticos . . . los que tal vez pudieran perjudicar sus intereses comerciales”; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43431, exp. 16.


Newspaper clipping attached to Cancio Bello’s expropriation file; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43461, exp. 3, doc. 4.


For one example, the 1844 deportation of emancipados to Fernando Póo, see Francisco Javier Balmaseda, Los confinados a Fernando Póo e impresiones de un viaje a Guinea, 2d ed. (Havana: A. M. Lamy, 1899), 188. See also a book by an individual who himself had been deported to Fernando Póo: Juan B. Saluvet, Los deportados a Fernando Póo en 1869: memoria escrita por Juan B. Saluvet (una de las víctimas) (Matanzas: Impr. “Aurora del Yumurí,” 1892).


The young dissident José Martí, who suffered imprisonment and deportation to Spain in 1870, wrote an emotional indictment, based on his harsh experience, against the Spanish prison system in Cuba, originally published in 1871; see “Political Prison in Cuba,” in Our America by José Martí. ed. Philip Foner (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977), 155-89.


Penal reformers in Spain included the Cuban-born lawyer Francisco Lastres y Juiz, author of La colonización penitenciaria de Las Marianas y Fernando Póo . . . memoria laureada por el Real Academia de Ciencias Morales y Politicas en el concurso ordinario de 1875 (Madrid: Impr. E. Martínez, 1878).


Zaragoza, Insurrecciones en Cuba, 2:328-29; and Guerra Sánchez, Guerra de los Diez Años, 1:221.


Such was the case of José Roseli; see Balmaseda, Los confinados; and AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43431, exp. 20.


Aguilera was from Holguín and 44 years old. He had lost two brothers, executed by the Spaniards in Cuba, and his haciendas had been burned by the insurrectionists; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4765.


While in prison Maceo’s family received the meagre support of 6 reales per day; “Expediente personal del deportado cubano José Maceo y Grajales,” AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Hacienda, leg. 4585, exp. 164.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 47651.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Insurrección, leg. 43502, exp. 46. Cayetano Montoro was the father of Rafael Montoro, an important autonomist leader after 1878. Repression and surveillance of opinion in Cuba also affected the clergy. In 1870 the military authority of Yaguajaz initiated an inquiry against the parish priest Ramón Ferro y Bolle Durán for saying to his parishoners “que no se fiásen de las autoridades pues éstas se presentaban con un manto bajo el cual se encontraba más que la hipocrecía”; AHN, Ultramar, Gobierno, Cuba, leg. 4340, exp. 9, doc. 2.


See the case of the confinada doña Dolores Vázquez y Garibaldi, age 75; “Gime encarcelada en el estrecho recinto del cuarto de un hotel,” 2 Nov. 1871, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43502, exp. 53.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4340, exp. 31.


Navarrete was implicated in the problematic case of the consul of Sweden, Juan Neniger, and other passengers of the steamship Liberty arriving from the United States.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43421, exps. 11 and 13.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4345, exp. 20.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43501, exp. 52. Torres’s petition of innocence was not granted until Feb. 1872.


According to Cuban historian Francisco Ponte Domínguez, in 1870 Gálvez published articles in La Revolución under the pseudonym “Bainoa”; Ponte Domínguez, Historia de la Guerra, 2:279.


“Secretaría del Gobierno Superior Político, Negociado de Política, expediente número 1204 promovido por el Gobernador Político . . . a Isla de Pinos,” Havana, 1 June 1870, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4351, exp. 4. Federico Gálvez, a surgeon, fled to New York in 1869.




AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43501, exps. 1, 10, 22, 23, 27, 28, 33, 36, and 39; and leg. 43502, exp. 69. Among these reformists, José María Gálvez, José Cárdenas y Gassie, and José Luna y Parra later came to constitute the leadership of the reformist Partido Liberal Autonomista, founded in 1878.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43501, exp. 33.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43501, exp. 38; the same fate was suffered by notaries Antonio Mendoza y Aranda and Gabriel Salinas, and the prosecutors Estanislao Sainz and Juan José Herrera; ibid, leg. 43502, exps. 42, 49, and 48; and leg. 43501, exp. 29.


For Jiménez, see AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43501, exp. 30; for Teclo y Muro, whose protest is dated Mar. 1872, see ibid., leg, 43502, exp. 40.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43542, exp. 70.


“Noticias de las medidas adoptadas para indultar a los deportados de la Isla de Pinos,” Havana, 11 December 1877, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 36551. The towns where the “suspects” were arrested included Santiago de las Vegas, Santa María del Rosario, Jaruco, Guanabacoa, San Antonio de los Baños, San Cristóbal, and Güines.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43421, exps. 7 and 9.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43532, exp. 47.


Reconcentración, or forced relocation of people, was implemented by the then general Bias Villate, conde de Valmaseda, during his military campaign in the region of Bayamo in 1869; it was also carried out in 1871, during Valmaseda’s administration as captain general, in other areas, such as that of Sancti Spíritus; see Ponte Domínguez, Historia de la Guerra, 1:99-100.


Petition by Francisco de Acostas Albear in Sancti Spíritus, 29 Apr. 1871; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43491, exp. 26.


See, for example, the cases of the slave Juanillo de Castro, executed by a firing squad in Aug. 1871, and the free person of color Severo González, executed in January 1871, both in Santiago de Cuba; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4345, exp. 19; and leg. 43422, exp. 29.


According to Cuba’s jail ordinances, prisons were divided into four categories: 1) jails in Havana, Puerto Príncipe, and Santiago de Cuba; 2) those in Matanzas, Cárdenas, Santa Clara, Trinidad, Sancti Spíritus, Cienfuegos, San Juan de los Remedios, and Pinar del Río; 3) those in Baracoa, Holguín, Manzanillo, Guanabacoa, Güines, San Antonio de los Baños, Bejucal, Mariel, and Sagua la Grande; and 4) those in other lesser towns; see Reglamentos de cárceles (Havana: Impr. del Gobierno, 1861). The parda Baldomera Quesada died while serving ten years in Manzanillo, and the slave Carlos Lucumi died while serving a two-year sentence in Cárdenas; AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43502, exps. 83 and 84.


13 May 1871, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43422, exp. 20.


Havana, 17 May 1871, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43422, exp. 19. Another free woman of color, Asunción Martínez, was sentenced to one year of reclusion in Santiago de Cuba; ibid., leg. 43502, exp. 79.


“Condena de la causa . . .” Havana, 21 Mar. 1871, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4342, exp. 24.


“Expediente promovido por el Gobierno del centro sobre sentencia de 10 años de presidio. . .” Puerto Príncipe, 21 Dec. 1871, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43502, exp. 78.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4345, exp. 27.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43422, exp. 33.


Conde de Valmaseda to Ministro de Ultramar, Havana, 30 Dec. 1871, “Remitiendo relación de los negros esclavos declarados libres por servicios prestados a la causa nacional,” AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, leg. 3551, exp. 12, docs. 15 and 16. Slaves served the Spanish army mainly as “acemileros y prácticos.” By December 1871, according to the official list, 112 slaves had been declared free. One of these emancipation files shows that 30-year-old Marcelino Santelices (nominally the slave of expropriated insurgent leader Salvador Cisneros Betancourt, marqués de Santa Lucía) of Puerto Príncipe submitted a petition in 1876 and obtained his liberty “por servicios prestados al gobierno durante la actual campaña.” In January 1874 Santelices, a former insurrectionist, had voluntarily joined the Spanish forces as a guerrilla (Batallón Contra-Guerrilla del Centro núm. 2) and was involved in many armed actions against the insurrection; “Expediente instruido por la vía militar en averiguación de los servicios prestados al Gobierno por el pardo Marcelino Santelices esclavo de don Salvador Cisneros,” Junta Protectora de Libertos, Puerto Príncipe, 26 Sept. 1876, ANC, Asuntos Políticos, leg. 72, doc. 4.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 4344, exp. 33.


AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Gobierno, leg. 43491, exp. 31, doc. 1.


Information for 1869 is found in Zaragoza, Insurrecciones en Cuba, 2:508. For 1870, see Cuba, Datos y noticias, 109-61. Expropriation expedientes listed in Datos y noticias were assigned a number up to 3,331. However, 45 numbers were not assigned and 2 cases referred to Puerto Rico; thus the corrected total number of cases was 3,284. Furthermore, Zaragoza states that the official list was not completed due to the departure from Cuba of the superintendent of the treasury, José E. Santos, and that by the end of 1870 the total surpassed 4,000 cases. For 1871, see “Arrendamiento de bienes embargados . . . Resumen estadístico,” Havana, 20 Apr. 1870, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Hacienda, leg. 789, exp. 19; and Zaragoza, Insurrecciones en Cuba, 2:582. For 1877, see Inés Roldán de Montaud, La hacienda en Cuba durante la Guerra de los Diez Años (1868-1880) (Madrid: Instituto de Estudios Fiscales, 1990), 72, table V, based on Heinrich Friedlænder, Historia económica de Cuba (Havana: J. Montero, 1944).


The following is a breakdown of the number of expropriations under different administrations until 1871: under Captain General Domingo Dulce, 183 expropriations were sanctioned; there were an additional 344 during the 26-day administration of Felipe Ginovés Espinar; there were slightly more than 2,700 under Antonio Caballero de Rodas; and more than 770 under Blas Villate, conde de Valmaseda.


Zaragoza, Insurrecciones en Cuba, 2:509.


“Arrendamiento de bienes embargados . . . Resumen estadístico,” Havana, 20 Apr. 1870, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Hacienda, leg. 789, exp. 19; Zaragoza, Insurrecciones en Cuba, 2:582; Roldán de Montaud, Hacienda en Cuba, 73.


Revenues in 1876 were recorded as 128,210 pesos fuertes and 594,491 pesos in billetes (equivalent then to 237,796 pesos fuertes); see Llaverías y Martínez, El Consejo Administrativo, 39; and Roldán de Montaud, Hacienda en Cuba, 73.


This figure has been estimated by assuming the same proportion of annual revenue to total expropriated value as in 1871, i.e. 4 percent.


Of the 3,158 whites, 3,027 were white males whose names were recorded with the address term of “don,” while another 26 males had professional titles usually associated with whites (yielding a total of 3,053 white males); the remaining 105 whites were females, accompanied by the address term “doña” or “señora.” Of the 126 individuals listed as of color, there were 100 pardos, 2 mulattos, 16 morenos, and 3 negros (i.e. 119 males of color), as well as 4 pardas and 1 morena (i.e. 5 females of color); Cuba, Datos y noticias, 109-61.


“Jurisdicción de la Isla de Pinos. Relación nominal de los individuos extrañados en la misma por delito de infidencia,” Nueva Gerona, 15 Oct. 1870, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Secretaría, leg. 36483.


These included 14 free pardos and 5 negros.


Rebecca Scott considers that Franklin Knight underestimates the participation of individuals of color among the insurrectionists despite quantitative research based on records of trials, executions, and exiles, in his Slave Society in Cuba daring the Nineteenth Century (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1970), 168. According to Scott, based on qualitative references, captured insurrectionists of color were mostly shot on the spot or sent back to their masters without any legal formality; Scott, Slave Emancipation, 57. Also, new studies have striven to show conscious Afro-Cuban political and military participation in insurrectionary movements, especially the Guerra Chiquita (1879-80) and later conflicts; see Aline Helg, Our Rightful Share: The Afro-Cuban Struggle for Equality, 1886-1912 (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1995), 47-59; and Ada Ferrer, “Social Aspects of Cuban Nationalism: Race, Slavery, and the Guerra Chiquita, 1879-1880,” Cuban Studies/Estudios Cubanos 21 (1991): 37-56.


Although until 1878 the official geography of Cuba divided the western provinces from the eastern provinces along the frontier of Santa Clara and Puerto Príncipe, radical rearrangements during the war resulted in a military division into three regions. As a result, it makes more sense to utilize the following division: 1) the West (Pinar del Río, Havana, Matanzas); 2) the Center (Santa Clara, Puerto Príncipe); and 3) the East (Santiago de Cuba).


The degree of concurrence between sample and official sources is apparent by the fact that out of 97 expropriation cases considered in the sample (independently recorded from archival manuscript sources), at least 53 names (i.e. 55 percent) were also listed—albeit without socioeconomic information—in the official publication of 1870, Cuba, Datos y noticias.


María D. Domingo Acebrón quotes different numbers of expropriations per region. Her figures, while coinciding more or less with mine for Puerto Príncipe, are inflated for the eastern provinces of Bayamo, Santiago de Cuba, and Holguín, as well as for Santa Clara, Cienfuegos, and Sancti Spíritus, while they are deflated for Havana. However, in her table, “Relación de ciudadanos afectados por la circular de 20 de abril en la isla de Cuba por jurisdicción,” she does not cite the sources used despite her laborious archival research in other parts of her study; see her “Proyección social,” 300.


“Esclavos embargados e incautados,” in “Apuntes acerca de los bienes embargados . . .” AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Secretaría, leg. 36572.


Ibid. The nine ingenios were first managed by the state and then leased to private interests to avoid “abuse and corruption.” They included the ingenios named Santa Rosa, San José, Santo Domingo, Concepción, Armonía, Colombia, Desempeño, San Rafael, and Fartesio.




Ibid. “Estado de las fincas rústicas . . .” Havana, 12 May 1874.


“Relación de las fincas incendiadas en esta jurisdicción por los insurrectos desde el principio de la Guerra hasta la fecha,” Sancti Spíritus, 7 June 1877, signed by Cándido La Torre, AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, leg. 35182.


Asimilar evaluation of the effects of expropriation, war, and postwar decline on small planters and owners is found in Pérez, Cuba between Empires, 21-22.


“Apuntes acerca de los bienes embargados . . .” AHN, Ultramar, Cuba, Secretaría, leg. 36572.


Roldán, Hacienda en Cuba, 261, based on Pirala, Anales de la Guerra.


Inés Roldán de Montaud, “La Unión Constitucional y la política colonial de España en Cuba (1868-1898)” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. Complutense de Madrid, 1991), 122-23, 128—32; Aurea Matilde Fernández, España y Cuba, 1868-1898: revolución burguesa y relaciones coloniales (Havana: Ed. Ciencias Sociales, 1988), 167-70.


Earl R. Beck, “The Martínez Campos Government of 1879: Spain’s Last Chance in Cuba,” HAHR 56 (1976): 268-89.