Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The bombing of Maine, US battle for Cuba

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The bombing of Maine, US battle for Cuba
In 1911 the remains of the Maine was sunk and the history of Cuba and Spain changed forever. Since 1895, Spain was at war with the Cuban insurgents. The Madrid government clung tightly to the last large colony of America, not in vain was the first world producer of sugar and there is taxes collected reported to government coffers than any region of the Peninsula. From the military point of view, the race was far from decided and Spain had sent 212,000 soldiers ready to defend its sovereignty. Meanwhile, a few kilometers away, the United States hoped the victory of the Cuban independence forces.

For decades, Americans were eager to incorporate Cuba into its territory and, on several occasions, had been raised to Spain their desire to buy the island. They knew, as so happened that an independent Cuba easily fall under their influence, which spared no support for the secessionist cause. Moreover, from the very outbreak of the war, they had not stopped sending more or less openly arms and ammunition to the rebels, while his press launched constant smear campaigns against the Spanish army and authorities, with the clear aim to inflame public opinion and predispose it in favor of a military intervention against the separatists and Spain.

The perfect excuse
However, he lacking a clear excuse, a casus belli to give arguments to the US to declare war. And that came into play timely bombing of Maine. At the request of the US consul in Havana, Fitzhugh Lee, who was an ardent supporter of intervention in the island, he was sent to the port city the battleship Maine. On the morning of 25 January 1898, and only a few hours after communicate to Spain, the ship docked at the port. Officially he arrived in courtesy, but no one escaped him that the reason was simply to put pressure on the Spanish authorities to abandon the island, as well as having one foot in Cuba at what could happen. The Americans did not want a possible sudden the separatist victory would surprise no military presence without intervention capacity. At the same time, the US fleet in the Pacific and Florida were ordered to arm themselves and prepare for military action, warning that something bigger was preparing. During the following weeks he reigned inactivity and even thought Washington was inclined to withdraw the vessel from Cuba, to which the consul Lee strongly opposed.

The calm was broken at 21:40 pm on February 15, 1898, when a terrible explosion-there were witnesses who claimed they were two- opened a gaping hole in the bow of Maine, throwing it sank in a few minutes. The slaughter was horrific: 261 dead and 19 injured crew; only 75 men were unharmed, some of whom were officers who were alternating in Havana. The Spanish authorities turned to the victims, but knew that the consequences would be terrible. Both the captain of Maine, Charles Sigsbee, as the consul Lee reported the next day that the causes of the explosion were indeterminate, but everything pointed to an accident. In fact, several US ships had suffered similar accidents caused by spontaneous combustion of coal deposits, then lit in santa bárbaras popping ammunition.


Almost immediately, controlled by Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer American tabloids began directly accusing Spain of causing the explosion. Specifically, the New York Journal also showed a drawing invented and manipulated photos that had nothing to do with the incident, but that showed how he had allegedly committed the alleged sabotage. With this campaign, the American public began to cry vengeance and seek the intervention. Interestingly, only a week before the explosion, Hearst's yacht, the Buccaneer, had been funded by the Maine taking pictures.

Dubious research
Obviously, if someone had not been sure it was Spain and immediately asked permission to Madrid divers they found out their causes, but the United States refused to cooperate and organized themselves an investigative commission that began work day 20. His work, although rigorous initially pointing to the accident and was turning to pressure from the press and the authorities in Washington, so that on March 28 ruled it a mine. Spain replied that this was impossible because there had been no water column, or dead fish, surf or any other sign that the explosion had been due to the explosion of a device.

But the US had decided the intervention and, upon receiving the report of the commission in Congress, ran around the country the cry of "Remember the Maine, to hell in Spain". In this situation, President William McKinley Spain accused without proof of the attack and demanded its immediate withdrawal from Cuba before 25 April. Otherwise, they declare war. Obviously, Madrid did not bow to the demand and the war broke out, ending with the Spanish defeat and the signing of the Peace of Paris in December 1898.

In 1911, the remains of the Maine was sunk, so it was impossible to conduct further research on the wreck. But in 1978 the American admiral H. G. Rickover, after reviewing the work of the commission of inquiry, released a new report stating that the explosion was accidental and caused from the inside. Other research on the centenary of the explosion turned out to sow doubts, until another in 2002 reaffirmed the thesis of spontaneous combustion accident. Despite this, doubts persist; In history there are few chances and it is clear that the incident was a wonderful Maine expansionist policy for the US gift, he was longing to enter Cuba and thereby succeeded. ¿Accident spontaneous, induced or mine? The mystery remains.

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