In World War II, Japan conquered the Philippines. Sixty-thousand Americans and more than a million Filipinos were killed driving the Japanese from the islands. Soon after, the United States granted the Filipinos their independence. The U.S. military withdrew from Havana in 1902. While the Cubans could govern their day-to-day affairs, the Platt Amendment allowed the United States to intervene whenever its interests were threatened; the first time was in 1906.
There was political instability in Cuba and President Theodore Roosevelt sent troops into the island. And I think this was a major turn. Because at that point the Cubans began to see the United States as a kind of big brother who would only let them do certain things under certain limitations.
Cuba was given its independence in 1934, but the United States remained a powerful influence in the island’s affairs. Resentment in Cuba grew, culminating in another nationalist revolution. Fidel Castro, the son of a Spanish sugar planter, overthrew U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
It is not coincidence that in the final hours of the fall of the Batista government, Fidel Castro on January 1st issues a proclamation talking about the, the fall of the regime. And then makes this illusion, makes this remarkable allusion, that this time the Cuban Army will not be kept out of the city of Santiago—a resonating reference to 1898. It is as if somehow now, Cuban history now, in some sort of existential way, has resumed.
To the Maine memorial in Havana, Castro’s government added an inscription: “to the victims of the Maine who were sacrificed by imperialist greed in its mission to conquer the island of Cuba.”
“WE HAVE REMEMBERED THE MAINE”
We have remembered the Maine, wiped out the old flag’s stain,
In 1911, the Navy decided that it was not what they wanted to have the Maine on the bottom of Havana harbor with its superstructure sticking up out of the water. And they thought it would be more seemly to re-float the Maine, and take it out to sea and sink it there. And that’s where things stayed until the 1970s when the late Admiral Rickover came up with the conclusion that it was not an external explosion, but that it was probably set off by a spontaneous combustion fire in the coal bunker. It’s ironic because the explosion set off this series of events and changed us in ways that that could never be reversed.
“WE HAVE REMEMBERED THE MAINE”
We have remembered the Maine.
TITLE CARD: “We Have Remembered the Maine”
WEB SITE ON-AIR ANNOUNCEMENT
“BEFORE THE MAINE WENT DOWN”
Before the Maine went down. Mothers and matrons and sweethearts,
In hamlet and village and town, prayed for and wrote to their darlings,
Love-laden home, swift o’er the foam, before the Maine went down.
A production of South Carolina ETV. Major funding for “Crucible of Empire” was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Funding was also provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the annual financial support of viewers like you, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
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