Posted March 12, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
I thought it would be a treat to read about Cuba from a 1906 magazine. Below is the scanned text from National Geographic Magazine, Vol. XVII, No. 10, October, 1906. (Hit the Printer Friendly button just above this text and take this with you.)
This article is derived from the following authorities, all of which are particularly recommended to those desiring further information on the subject
“Commercial Cuba in 1905,” by O. P. Austin, published by Bureau of Statistics, Department of Commerce and Labor ; ” Handbook of Cuba,” by Senor Gonzalo de Quesada, Minister of Cuba ‘to the United States, published by the Bureau of American Republics, 1905 ; ” Census of Cuba, 1899,” by Gen. J. P. Sanger, Henry Gannett, and W. F. Wilcox, published by the War Department ; ” Commercial Cuba,” by Edwin V. Morgan, U. S. Minister to Habana, Consular Reports No. 2629, August 1, 1906 ; ” Trade Conditions in Cuba,” by Charles M. Pepper, published by the Department of Commerce and Labor, 1906.
CUBA- “The Pearl of the Antilles*
THE island of Cuba is especially favored by nature in point of both geographical position and material resources. It lies at the gate-way of the Gulf of Mexico, midway between the United States on the north and Mexico and South America on the south, and is the largest and by far the richest in natural resources of all the scores of islands and islets on the north, east, and south, and forming collectively what is generally termed the West Indies.
Cuba is entirely within the Torrid Zone, but not so far south as to make its climate characteristically torrid. The temperature does not differ materially from that of our own Gulf states, though the rain-fall is greater. Its insularity insures a moist, equable atmosphere, as in the case of Great Britain, and the sea breezes of the afternoons and evenings tend to make the nights cool and comfortable, even in the warmest months. The outlying Bahaman chain of islands and banks shelters it in a great measure from the cold Atlantic gales of winter, and about its only climatic disadvantage consists in its exposure to the occasional Caribbean hurricanes.
The island is long and narrow and its longitudinal trend is nearly easterly and westerly. It is 730 miles long and its width varies from about 25 miles to about Too miles. Its area comprises about 44,000 square miles. In respect to these features and dimensions, as well as in some other respects, there is a striking similarity between Cuba and Java, in the East Indies. In area it is about as large as Pennsylvania or Louisiana. The coast lines are exceedingly jagged and irregular, and the coasts themselves are generally either rocky or marshy and in many places menaced by outlying reefs and sand banks, notwithstanding which there are a number of safe and commodious harbors, notably those of Habana, Matanzas, Cardenas, Nuevitas, Cienfuegos, Manzanillo, Santiago de Cuba, and Guantanamo. The harbor of Habana, as is well known, is one of the largest and finest in the world. The Cienfuegos harbor is also a very fine one.
Measuring from the points of nearest approach to its neighbors, Cuba is about Too miles from Key West, Florida; 54 miles from Haiti, 85 miles from Jamaica, and about 130 miles from Yucatan, on the north, east, south, and west respectively. Habana is distant from Tampa, Florida, 306 miles ; from New Orleans, 597 miles; from New York City, 1,227 miles; from Plymouth, England, 3,527 miles, and from Gibraltar, 4,323 miles.
The island is divided into six provinces, each extending entirely across the width of the island. Beginning at the west and proceeding in order toward the east, these provinces are named as follows : Pinar del Rio, Habana, Matanzas, Santa Clara, Camaguey (known as Puerto Principe until recently changed by vote of the people), and Oriente (formerly known as Santiago de Cuba). The “backbone” of the island consists of a range of hills or mountains, attaining an elevation of 2,500 feet in Pinar del Rio, and 5,000 feet, with an extreme instance of about 8,300 feet, in Oriente, but much lower altitudes in the other four provinces. Except in Oriente, these hills or mountains are in no case formidable or unavailable for cultivation, and the greater part of the island consists of broad, rolling plains or gently undulating hills, interspersed with stream-drained valleys, and already proved to be susceptible of a high degree of cultivation.
The soil in the main, and except in the most marshy and most mountainous regions, is rich and easily cultivable. It is principally of the best varieties of the Tertiary and Secondary geological formations and adapted to the production of bountiful crops of many valuable staples. Certain sections of the land that are not particularly suitable for arable purposes are nevertheless admirably adapted for grazing uses, and the more elevated tracts, if in some localities unfitted for either cultivation or grazing, are still rich in mineral wealth, so that it may be said with truth that practically the whole island is overflowing with natural riches.
Furthermore, most of the higher lands are covered with a virgin forest containing immense quantities of valuable timber. The list of the native flora of the island includes more than 3,350 plants, including many of the best and most useful species of wood known to mankind. Game is abundant, such as deer, rabbits, wild boars, wild turkeys, pheasants, snipe, etc., and there are more than 20o species of native birds, many of them wearing gorgeous plumage. As usual in tropical countries, there are some unwelcome in-habitants, such as crocodiles, snakes, tarantulas, scorpions, and various annoying insects, but none of the snakes are venomous and there are no dangerous wild beasts.
The rivers are short, small, and mainly unnavigable, but they are quite numerous and all-sufficient for the purposes of drainage and irrigation, and in some cases for water power.
So richly endowed with natural advantages, Cuba, not without reason, has been entitled the “Pearl of the Antilles” and the “Gem of the Seas.”
The original Indian ‘native race of Cuba has entirely disappeared. The exact number of inhabitants at the time of the appropriation of the island by Spain is of course not known, even approximately ; they may have numbered several hundred thousand; but they met the usual fate of the weaker race in the onward march of the stronger.
In the course of a century or there-about the place of the natives had been filled by imported negro slaves. The present colored inhabitants of Cuba are, in general, the descendants of these slaves. They are now free, slavery having been abolished in 1880.
The white Cubans, or Cubans proper, are mainly the descendants of the original Spanish settlers from Spain, Haiti, Florida, and Louisiana, and of the French settlers who fled to Cuba from Haiti during the race wars in that island a century ago. The Spanish Cubans remained devotedly loyal to Spain during many decades of oppressive misrule, enduring all their injuries and sacrifices with a noble patience which has become proverbial and which won for Cuba the sobriquet of “the ever-faithful isle.” At last the time came when even this patience was exhausted, and the isle was lost to Spain.
PRESENT POPULATION ABOUT I,700,000
The population of Cuba, according to the census taken under the direction of the United States War Department in 1899, was 1,572,797. Twelve years earlier, in 1887, according to a census under Spanish authority, the number was 1,631,687, or nearly 59,000 greater. After allowing for the probable increase of the population between 1887 and 1895, the date on which the insurrection broke out, the loss of life, as indicated by these two censuses, may be estimated at nearly 200,000, a loss which may be attributed to the war and to the accompanying re-concentration. The loss of population incident to the insurrection was sustained entirely by the three western provinces, the three eastern provinces having gained during the period between 1887 and 1899, although Santa Clara, one of the largest provinces of the island, gained but a trifling amount.
In 1903 the population was estimated at 1,653,486, and taking into consideration the natural increase and the number of immigrants which have settled in Cuba, it may be safely said that the population reaches, in 1906, 1,700,000 souls, and that Habana has more than 275,000 The center of population of Cuba in 1899 was situated in Santa Clara Province, 30 miles southwest of the city of Santa Clara and 8 miles northwest of Cienfuegos. It is at a distance of 75 miles northwest of the geographic center of the island.
The urban population of Cuba, including in that term the inhabitants of all cities of more than 8,000 population, was 32.3 per cent of the entire population, or a little less than one-third, being but a trifle smaller than that of the United States. Including, however, all cities down to I,000 each, the proportion of urban population rises to 47.1 per cent, that of the United States being the same. The capital and chief city of the island is Habana, situated on the north coast near its western end. Other important cities are Santiago, the capital of Oriente Province, on the south coast, near the eastern end of the island, population 43,090 ; Matanzas, the capital of Matanzas Province, on the north coast, population 36,374 ; Cienfuegos, in Santa Clara Province, on the south coast, population 30,038 ; Camaguey, the capital of the province of the same name, situated in the interior, population 25,102; Cardenas, on the north coast, in Matanzas Province, population 21,940. Most of the larger cities are situated on the seacoast rather than in the interior, indicating their commercial character.
In former times the Cuban cities were unhealthful, owing to insanitary conditions, and yellow fever was prevalent ; but by the adoption of energetic and scientific measures during and since the re-cent United States occupation, these conditions have been materially improved and the fever has almost disappeared. The health status of the island is now quite satisfactory. The mortality in the island during 1902 was 25,512, and in 1903, 23,982, and the annual death rate diminished from 15.43 in 1902 to 14.52 in 1903. If a comparison is made with the lowest rate in the Spanish regime, 29.30 per thousand in 1885, and with the average rate for the thirty years ending 1900, of 41.95 per thousand, the wonderful progress made can be seen.
The figures as to the density of population are significant. They indicate a population of 153 persons to the square mile in the Province of Habana, 55 in Matanzas, 37 in Santa Clara, 35 in Pinar del Rio, 26 in Oriente, and only 8 in Camaguey. In other words, Havana Province is as thickly inhabited as New York State and Camaguey about as much so as Washington State. The density of population throughout the two republics is nearly equal, that of Cuba being some-what greater than that of the United States. A relatively larger area remains uncultivated or unsettled in Cuba, and practically all the unsettled area in the island is available for high cultivation, whereas vast expanses of territory in the United States are unavailable for this purpose on account of aridity or inaccessibility. It has been estimated that Cuba is capable of supporting in comfort and prosperity a population of at least 15,000,000. That would be 340 to the square mile, which is less than the density of population in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, where life is on a very comfort-able and civilized plan, and much less than the density in most tropical countries. Allusion has been made to Java as affording many points of resemblance to Cuba. In respect to population it affords at least one point of decided difference. The area of Java is about 49,000 square miles ; that of Cuba about 44,000. The population of Java is about 28,000,000; that of Cuba about I,63o,000. The density of population of Cuba is about 36 to the square mile ; that of Java is about 570 to the square mile.
ABOUT ONE-THIRD OP POPULATION ARE COLORED
As to sex, the population was distributed in the proportions of 51.8 per cent males and 48.2 per cent females, the excess in number of males being probably due to immigration.
As to race, there were 58 per cent native white, 9 per cent foreign white, and 32 per cent colored. The colored formed less than one-third of the population, and their proportion has for many years been diminishing. Three-fourths of all the foreign-born in Cuba came from Spain. Of the remainder, the countries which most frequently contributed were China, Africa, and the United States.
The illiteracy of the population, though deplorable, is not surprising in consideration of the history of the island. Ac-cording to the census of 1899, the pro-portion of illiteracy (inability to read or write any language) among the white native citizens was 51 per cent and among the colored citizens 74 per cent. The later reports from the island, however, contributed by Gen. Leonard Wood in 1902, and since then by the Cuban authorities, show a great and constant improvement in this important respect. The Cubans are very intelligent and quick to learn, and are now also ambitious to learn, and the stigma of illiteracy will not much longer deface the island in a notice-able degree.
The census of 1899 reports nearly 40 per cent of the Cuban population as en-gaged in gainful occupations, as against about 38 per cent in the United States by the census of 1900. This, it must be con-ceded, is a praiseworthy showing on the part of the Cubans. Of their 640,000 or so of bread-winners, about 48 per cent are classified as engaged in agriculture, fisheries, and mining ; about 23 per cent in domestic and personal service ; about 15 per cent in manufacturing and mechanical pursuits ; about 13 per cent in trade and transportation, and about 1 per cent in professional service. These were the percentages of 1899, and it is understood that about the same proportions are observable now, although the professional class is apparently increasing its percent-age of late and the manufacturing and transportation interests are undoubtedly drawing recruits from the purely agricultural ranks.
RESULTS OR UNITED STATES OCCUPATION
The occupation of the island by the United States authorities, or “intervention,” as it is termed in Cuba, lasted for about three years and a half—from January 1, 1899, to May 20, 1902. The intervention was undertaken solely in order to protect the Cubans from molestation from outside while they were recovering from the wounds and ravages of war, and to assist them in putting their new house in order. As soon as this was accomplished and a “stable government” established in the new republic, the intervention was withdrawn.
The closing paragraphs of Gen. Leonard Wood’s final report of 1902 contain an effective summary of the principal services rendered to the people of Cuba by the United States temporary government in the island, as follows:
“The government was transferred as a `going concern;’ all the public offices were filled with competent, well-trained employees; the island was free from debt, other than such obligations as were of a current character, and had a surplus of over a million and a half dollars available for allotment; was possessed of a thoroughly trained and efficient personnel in all departments and completely equipped buildings for the transaction of public business; the administration of justice was free; habeas corpus had been put in force; old prison abuses had been stopped ; police courts had been established; a new marriage law on lines pro-posed by the Roman Catholic bishop of Havana, giving equal rights to all denominations, was in operation ; a general electoral law embodying the most enlightened principles of modern electoral laws had been put in force, and the people were governed in all municipalities throughout the island by officials of their own choice elected under this law ; trials in Cuban courts were as prompt as in any state in the Union, and life and property were absolutely safe; sanitary conditions were better than those existing in most parts of the United States; yellow fever had been eradicated from the island; a modern system of public education, including a reorganized university, high schools, and nearly 3,700 public schools, and laws for its government, was in successful operation; well-organized departments of charities and public works operating under laws framed by the military government had been established ; a new railroad law had been promulgated; the customs service had been thoroughly equipped ; the great question of church property had been settled ; a basis of settlement between mortgage creditors and debtors had been agreed upon and in successful operation for a year ; municipalities had been reduced from 138 to 82 in number ; public order was excellent ; the island possessed a highly organized and efficient rural guard ; an enormous amount of public works had been under-taken and completed ; ports and harbors had been much improved ; old light-houses had been thoroughly renovated and new ones built ; Cubans and Spaniards were living in harmony ; in short, the government as transferred was in excellent running order; the people were making rapid progress; beggars were practically unknown ; the courts had the confidence and respect of the people. * * *
“The work called for and accomplished was the building up of a republic by Anglo-Saxons in a Latin country where approximately 70 per cent of the people were illiterate; where they had lived al-ways as a military colony ; where general elections, as we understand them, were unknown; in fact, it was a work which called for practically a rewriting of the administrative law of the land, including the law of charities and hospitals, public works, sanitary law, school law, railway law, etc. ; meeting and controlling the worst possible sanitary conditions ; putting the people to school ; writing an electoral law and training the people in the use of it ; establishing an entirely new system of accounting and auditing; the election and assembling of representatives of the people to draw up and adopt a constitution for the proposed new republic ; in short, the establishment in a little over three years, in a Latin military colony in one of the most unhealthy countries in the world, of a republic modeled closely upon lines of our great republic, and the transfer to the Cuban people of the republic so established, free from debt, healthy, orderly, well equipped, and with a good balance in the treasury. All of this work was accomplished without serious friction. The island of Cuba was transferred to its people as promised, and was started on its career in excellent condition and under favorable circumstances.”
THE LABOR QUESTION
Cuba is entirely dependent upon the products of her fields for her economic prosperity. She does not carry and ex-change merchandise for other countries, nor does she manufacture except to sup-ply certain special and local demands or to place her crops most easily and economically upon the market. These conditions determine the character of her industrial life. Her highly skilled work-men have mostly come from beyond the seas. The labor question has not assumed a social aspect. It has simply been a problem of supply and demand of field hands. There is little special skill, little organization, little class spirit among her working people. A tinge of paternal-ism, prolonged in Cuba by the late continuance of slavery and the Spanish tendency to organize commercial enter-prises upon a domestic basis, pervades the relations of employer and employee. Even in urban. centers the industrial characteristics of an agricultural community prevail.
The real labor supply of Cuba is inadequate to the needs of the island. It does not permit the exploitation of resources already in sight, much less does it afford a social motive for developing new industries. The intelligent people of the island appreciate this condition. They have tried to remedy it by encouraging the importation of labor from abroad. Now that their national aspirations appear to be realized, they desire that this labor shall be composed, so far as possible, of permanent settlers, who will become identified with Cuban sentiments and interests and raise the prevailing standard of intelligence and citizenship.
There is no trait more marked in the Cuban workman in every employment than his preference for contract or piece work over a regular wage. The former seems to appeal to a speculative tendency in his nature that adds interest to his occupation. It also flatters a certain sentiment of self-esteem. He feels himself more independent, more his own master in the former instance. Perhaps there is a prejudice against hired service that has come down from the days of slavery and contract labor. There are few workmen harder to drive and easier to lead than the Cubans. Whatever the reason, employers all emphasize the preference of the people for contract work.
THE COMMERCE OF CUBA
The foreign commerce of Cuba, ac-cording to the latest returns received by the Bureau of Statistics of the Department of Commerce and Labor, amounts to 200 million dollars per annum, the imports being 95 million dollars and the exports 110 millions.
There has been a steady gain in the share of the imports drawn from the United States, the share in 1894 being 39 per cent ; in 1902, 42 per cent, and in 1906, 50 per cent. The share of the ex-ports sent to the United States was, in 1894, 85 per cent; in 1902, 77 per cent, and in 1906, 87 per cent.
Of the exports, which are composed chiefly of sugar, tobacco, and fruits, nearly all of the sugar and a large pro-portion of the fruits are sent to the United States, and the exports of tobacco are divided between the United States and Europe.
Of the 48 million dollars’ worth of imports from the United States, iron and steel manufactures amounted to practically lo million dollars, meat and dairy products about 6 millions, flour a little over 3 millions, lumber 2/ millions, leather and its manufactures about 2 mil-lions, cattle about 2 millions, coal a little less than 2 millions, coffee (from Porto Rico) about 1 1/2 millions, cotton manufactures about 1 1/2 millions, and vegetables about 1 million.
BRITISH AND AMERICAN INVESTMENTS IN CUBA
The British investment, estimating railroads at $90,000,000, shipping at $5,000,000, and real estate and industries at $5,000,000, may be approximated at $Ioo,OOo,000, as against nearly $120,000,000 of American money in the island.
The oldest and most profitable rail-roads in Cuba are owned and operated by British capital, namely, the Western Railroad of Habana, the United Railways of Habana, and the Cuban Central Railroad, which are owned by one group, while the stocks of the United, Marianao, Cardenas and Jucaro, and Matanzas railways are held by another group of London financiers. These lines form a network of communication through the 1 west-central portion of the island, the great sugar and tobacco producing and c the most fully developed and thickly populated part of Cuba, and serve Habana, Matanzas, Cardenas, Cienfuegos, Caibarien, Sagua, and Batabano. Sugar shipments constitute the bulk of the freight to the coast. Inward loads and passenger traffic are also dependent upon this staple, for the power of the rural population to purchase general merchandise and the ability of the country folk to travel over the lines is regulated by their sugar profits, direct or indirect.
The sugar crop of the four provinces traversed by these railroads has been estimated for 1906 at 7,746,800 bags. It is probably not unsafe to say that fully 8o per cent of the total, or 6,197,240 bags, were carried by the British railroad lines at an average rate of between 20 and 8o cents, or 50 cents a bag, giving an approximate annual earning of $3,098,620 from this source alone.
EXTENSION OF RAILWAY SYSTEMS
Habana, the principal port of the island, with a population of 275,000 and a total trade worth $105,025,676, of which $65,183,479 are imports and $39,842,197 exports, is served by both the Western and the United Railways. The former runs through a rich tobacco and pineapple country to Pinar del Rio. The Cuban Central connects Cienfuegos, whose imports and exports aggregate $19,367,000, with Sagua, with a like total of $6,611,000, and then with Caibarien, where foreign trade reaches $5,755,000. Other cities on the line are small in size, such as Santa Clara, Cruces, Camajuani, and Placetes. This district produces 38 per cent of the sugar output as well as a considerable tobacco crop.
The United Railways connect Habana with Matanzas, the foreign trade of which reaches $11,750,000, and also with the small cities of Batabano on the south
coast, Guanajay, Guines, Regla, Jovellanos, and Guanabacoa. The company controls the Marianao suburban passenger line and the Cardenas and Jucaro Railway, the latter running through a cane and tobacco country, the principal port of which is Cardenas, where the imports and exports aggregate $12,241,459. It is stated that the United Railways interests have in addition purchased the Matanzas Railroad for $10,000,000. Matanzas is the only point at which it reaches the coast, but it connects with other roads and its inclusion in the system greatly strengthens the whole.
The Habana Electric and Habana Central are under aggressive American management, but their capitalization, including the investments represented by the Insular Railroad Company and the Cuba Electric Company, totaling $16,000,000, is to a considerable extent English and Canadian. The Habana Electric is the older company, while the Habana Central, having been organized for little over a year, is as yet in course of construction. It is hoped that when the latter is completed it will be able successfully to compete with the established roads which now handle the tobacco and sugar in Habana Province. A large proportion of the year’s pineapple shipments has been made over the company’s newly laid tracks, and the fruit farmers in the vicinity of Habana have been well satisfied with their treatment.
The Cuba Company, with an authorized capital of $2o,000,000, is controlled by a Canadian president, Sir William Van Horne, although 8o per cent of the stock is supposed to be held in the United States. It runs from Santa Clara to Santiago, a port handling $10,771,000 in foreign trade.
The road has been hastily built, and the company, by the erection of sugar mills and special inducements to settlers, is endeavoring to develop the country in order to create its own traffic. An extension to Holguin, to connect with the Holguin and Gibara Railroad, reaching the coast at the latter place, is under construction, and a branch has already been completed to Antilla, the port on Nipe Bay, which the company intends to make one of the most important shipping points in Cuba.
REVIEW OF AGRICULTURAL WEALTH
Cuba is essentially an agricultural country, and prior to the last war there were nearly a hundred thousand (90,960) plantations, farms, orchards, and cattle ranges, valued at 220,000,000 pesos ($200,000,000). Of manufactories there were practically none, if we except the cigar factories and the sugar mills producing raw sugar, molasses, and rum.
In early colonial days the principal industry was cattle raising, very little attention being paid to agriculture for two hundred and fifty years after the settlement of the island. The chief agricultural products of Cuba are sugar, tobacco, and fruit, and the cultivation of oranges for exportation has of late augmented. Very little more coffee is cultivated than is required for home consumption, although it was once a promising industry. The soil and climate of the eastern provinces are well adapted to the growth of the coffee berry, and it is said to equal in flavor the best coffee of the West India Islands. No doubt coffee culture will again be revived and extensively developed, and we may expect to see in Cuba a revival of the once famous “cafetales,” or coffee plantations.
Fruits and vegetables of all kinds are being exported in large quantities, especially pineapples, cocoanuts, bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, etc. The Cuban potato, hitherto unknown to the world, has made its appearance in the United States markets during the last few years, and is already a dreaded rival of the once famous Bermuda tuber.
The fact that frost is unknown in Cuba, which greatly diminishes the dangers to crops, and the unquestionable excellence of the Cuban fruits and vegetables, are all-powerful factors, which will no doubt contribute toward the spreading of the Cuban fruit and vegetable trade.
THE PURPOSE OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT AS DEFINED BY SECRETARY TAFT IN THE PROCLAMATION ESTABLISHING IT, SEPTEMBER, 1906
The provisional government hereby established will be maintained only long enough to restore order, peace, and public confidence, by direction of and in the name of the President of the United States, and then to hold such elections as may be necessary to determine on those persons upon whom the permanent government of the republic should be devolved. In so far as is consistent with the nature of a provisional government established under the authority of the United States, this will be a Cuban government, conforming with the constitution of Cuba. The Cuban flag will be hoisted as usual over the government buildings of the island ; all the executive departments and provincial and municipal governments, including that of the city of Havana, will continue to be ad-ministered as under the Cuban republic; the courts will continue to administer justice, and all the laws not in their nature inapplicable by reason of the temporary and emergent character of the government will be in force.
ADDRESS OF SECRETARY TAFT AT THE OPENING OF THE UNIVERSITY OF HAVANA, OCTOBER 2
I count it a peculiar honor, as representing the executive of this island, to take part in the exercises of this university. It is of special interest and an honor to me because it was my good for-tune when exercising executive functions in the Philippine Islands to take part in a similar function in the university founded by the same order and under similar influences more than a hundred years before this one. Members of the Latin race, not without reason, characterize the Anglo-Saxon race as abrupt and conceited in our view of our power in pushing civilization, but those who have had occasion to come close to the Spanish race know that the Anglo-Saxon race has much to learn from the intellectual refinement, logical faculties, artistic temperament, poetic imagery, high ideals, and courtesy of the Spanish race.
THE TREMENDOUS FORCE OF SPANISH CIVILIZATION
One must know the history of these colonies to realize the tremendous force Spain exerted in civilization and progress. The great public works Spain erected the world over testify to her patience and enterprise in the centuries when the Anglo-Saxon world was struggling with something much less pretentious ; but the civilization of Spain was founded on the idea of control by one man or a few men in the state, and that idea has ceased to have force in the world. In the Anglo-Saxon world the principle was early brought to the front that those who had education enough to know what their interests were were more safely to be trusted with determining how those interests should be preserved than one man or a few men. Because in that respect and in the development of that idea we have the advantage of 200 years of education in self-government, we plume ourselves with superiority in the matter of knowledge of government.
Now we have arrived at a stage where the attention of the world is being directed toward the tropics, and along with this attention conies the movement toward popular government. Cuba, established as a republic four years ago, made such rapid progress as almost intoxicated those of us who believed in popular government. It was very much like the growth of a tropical plant that needed, possibly, to be cut back in order that the stem gain strength. It was perhaps necessary that this people should have warning, sad as the warning was, that the foundation upon which popular self-government must be laid must be broad and solid rather than high and conspicuous.
It was sad to me to be called to this island (it was still sadder to my chief, President Roosevelt, who was so identified with the liberation of this island), to be here at a time of a stumble in progress toward self-government. But, however that may be, it has given us an opportunity, which I am now glad to be able to take, to assure you in the name of President Roosevelt and the American people that we are here only to help you on, with our arm under your arm, lifting you again on the path of wonderful progress you have traveled.
I any confident that we will be able again to point with pride to the fact that the United States is not an exploiting nation, but only has such deep sympathy with the progress of popular government as to be willing to expend its blood and treasure in making the spread of such government in the world successful.
ALL CLASSES MUST TAKE AN INTEREST IN POLITICS
Your difficulty was that you were brought up under the fifteenth and sixteenth century ideas of government, the government of one man or a few men, and that you were taught to look to some-body else for the responsibility of government. You exercised only the function of criticism, and most of your people, especially those of the wealthy and educated classes, trained themselves to occupy a position not of indifference but of inactivity with reference to political and govern-mental matters.
Now it seems I find here a relic, although the reasons for it have disappeared, of that condition, and I find the law committed one class to medicine, left another class to commercial interests, a third class to political matters. I venture to suggest that all classes did not take an active part and insist upon exerting their influence in politics.
The question naturally arises, What was the necessity for changing your form of government? The theory of popular government is that all classes shall exercise decided political influence. Now I have discovered, it seems to me, that your ideals were too high, so high as to reach beyond the real. Ideals so high that they are beyond the reach of the real are not very useful. Soaring in the blue ethereal without knowledge of the ground beneath is dangerous. The higher you go the more disastrous the fall, as a distinguished speaker of the day said.
The hope of this country is in the generous, educated youth who are graduating from this and other institutions. Now, I do not want to say anything that is going to deter these young men, and yet I must speak the truth. There are one or two traditions that still persist in this civilization, the first of which is that the learned professions are the only pursuits worthy of the graduates of universities and of educated men. This is a great mistake.
In the first place, a university education is not an obstruction to success in commercial and mercantile life. I am afraid the young Cubans coming forward are not sufficiently infused with the mercantile spirit, of which we have too much in America. What you need here among the Cubans is a desire to make money, to found great enterprises to carry on the prosperity of this beautiful island, and young Cubans ought, most of them, to begin in business. In the next generation the banks, commercial houses, and shipping interests of this country should be in Cuban hands, not those of foreigners.
It is quite true that in order to develop Cuba you must have foreign capital, and a profound debt of gratitude this country owes to that great man, Tomas Estrada Palma. He realized more than any of the Cuban people the necessity for bringing capital into the island.
But the coming of foreign capital is not at all inconsistent with the gradual acquirement of capital by industrious, intelligent and energetic Cubans. There-fore I urge upon the young men who are going out into life today that they devote their attention, if they have estates, to the betterment of those estates, and upon the others, who have no estates, that they get into commercial houses and commercial pursuits, so that when twenty-five years hence sympathetic strangers come here they will not find the governing or political class, the commercial class, and the class representing the sciences and professions all different and divided.
It gives me great pleasure in saying this much to you, and I wish to thank the rector of the university and the faculty. I have only to say, be not discouraged. No one ever achieved a high ideal with-out failing two or three times. The only way to make failures successes is to make those failures a vehicle leading on to success. Take to your hearts the lesson that each stumble, each failure, ought to teach, and the next time avoid that particular danger. When everything is smooth, when the winds blow the right way, when you seem on the high road, then is the most dangerous time. It is when hum-bled by the lesson taught by disappointment that you win success. I thank you.
Viva la Republica de Cuba.
The immigration into Cuba has in-creased very rapidly. In 1902 it was 11,898 ; in 1903, 17,844 ; in 1904, 28,467 ; and in 1905, 54,221. The figures do not include colonists and settlers from the United States who are not classed as immigrants and of whom no statistics are kept. About 87 per cent of the immigrants, or 48,000, in 1905 were from Spain. The number of Americans in Cuba, excluding the Isle of Pines, probably does not exceed 6,000. Of the $120,000,000 of United States money in-vested in Cuba, probably one-half is in sugar and tobacco, one-fourth in rail-roads and street railways, and the balance in real estate, mortgages, mines, commercial interests, and fruit culture.
If you made it this far, your reward is more photos and text scanned from this issue here in our 1906 National Geographic photo gallery category.
And lastly, I couldn’t resist scanning and posting this article because the Havana Journal owns PearlOfTheAntilles.com and it now points to this page. So, if you want to return to this page, simply type in that domain name into your browser and you’ll end up here.
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