Longest and most cruel

Hunger is the most deadly tool of state terrorism. Since the days of the Roman empire or even before, hunger has proven to be the most devastating of all weapons of mass destruction. In more recent times, specifically on 6 April 1960, a certain Lester D. Mallory declared: “We should immediately use any possible measure to cause hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the Government.” Mr. Mallory was then deputy Under Secretary of State for InterAmerican Affairs of the USA. He was referring to Cuba. Two years later on 3 February 1962, the USA imposed an economic blockade, extraterritorial in nature, on that puny island republic. One wonders why the most powerful country in the world could, to this day, pummel a small nation and perpetuate virtual genocide. History always explains why, I found answers in an official memorandum sent by Undersecretary of War J. C. Breckenridge to US Army commander, Lt. Gen. Nelson Miles in 1897.

Allow me to lift portions of the 19th century memo: “This department, in accordance with the Departments of Foreign Trade and the Navy, feels obligated to complete the instructions on the military organization of the upcoming campaign in the Antilles with certain observation on the political mission that will fall to you as General in charge of our troops. Until now the annexation of territories to our Republic has been that of vast, sparsely populated regions, and such annexation has always been preceded by our immigrants’ peaceful settlement, so the absorption of the existing population has been simple and swift.”

The Antilles refers to Cuba and Puerto Rico, plus surrounding islands, the last of the Spanish colonies in the Gulf of Mexico. Breckenridge assessed Puerto Rico as a “very fertile island…within reach for the nation that possesses it to rule over the most important communications route in the Gulf of Mexico.” He also said the occupation of Puerto Rico, “would be easy for us [USA] because they [Puerto Rico] have more to gain than lose by changing their sovereignty since the interests there are more cosmopolitan than peninsular.” He recommended gaining the sympathy of the colored people, obtaining their support for the annexation, thereby accomplishing the main “motive and goal” of the USA which is “to efficiently and rapidly solve our internal race conflict, a conflict which is escalating daily due to the growth of the black population,” by flooding Puerto Rico with “an overflow of black immigrants.”

However, Cuba was an entirely different story because, unlike Puerto Rico, it is only 90 kilometers from the USA, larger and more densely populated with “whites, blacks, Asians, and people who are a mixture of these races.” As expected, Breckenridge denigrated Cubans as “generally indolent and apathetic” with education ranging from “…the most refined to the most vulgar and abject…” and despite four centuries under Catholic Spain, “indifferent to religion…immoral and simultaneously have strong passions and are very sensual…with a vague notion of what is right and wrong…tend to seek pleasure not through work, but through violence.”

Breckenridge must have caused shock and awe among members of the Anti-Imperialist League. “It is obvious that the immediate annexation of these disturbing elements into our own federation to such large numbers would be sheer madness, so before we do that we must clean up the country, even if this means using the methods Divine Providence used on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. We must destroy everything within our cannons’ range of fire. We must impose a harsh blockade so that hunger and its constant companion, disease, undermine the peaceful population and decimate the Cuban army. Undoubtedly, the longest and most cruel blockade in human history has very deep roots.