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Cultural Influences During the Spanish-American War
Eusebio Solis, Amy Bolton, Lorie Marshall
Space Coast Junior/Senior High School
Brevard County, Florida
Caribbean Diversity Brevard Public Schools
Title: Cultural Influences and history of Cuba
Overview: Cultural identity of Cubans, the history of relations between Cuba and the
United States, and the influential writings of noted writer and poet, Jose Marti.
Time Required: 4-5 days
SS: 11th and 12th grade students
LA: 11th and 12th grade students
WL: 9 -11th grade students
SS: The class will need the following:
Large index cards (one for each pair of students)
Print and online resources about Cuba
LA: Essay "My Race"
WL: The class will need the following:
A verse of"Guantanamera" in Spanish and also in English
A verse of Jose Marti's Versos Sencillos
Paper and pencil
Handouts of "Guantanamera"
SS: The cross-curricular connections students will explore in Social Studies will include
analyzing the literature and cultural background of the era.
LA: The cross-curricular connections students will explore in Language Arts will include
analyzing the history and cultural background.
WL: The cross-curricular connections students will explore in world language will
include analyzing the history and literature of the era.
Lesson objectives and SSS:
SS: Explore the history of relations between Cuba and the United States. Examine in
detail one event or period to be included on a class time line of U.S.-Cuba relations
LA: Students will become familiar with the writings of Jose Marti. Students will develop
discussion, reading, historical perspective skills.
WL: Students will become familiar with the song "Guantanamera" and its meaning to
Cubans and also the meanings of the "Versos Sencillos" written by Jose Marti. Students
will then write their own version of the poem using a template.
1. Point out Cuba on a map of North America and on a map of the Caribbean. Ask
students what they notice about Cuba's location. Then display a map of Cuba that shows
its physical features and major cities. Write students' observations on a piece of
newsprint. (They may notice that it's an island, it's the largest country of the Caribbean,
it's very close to the United States, it has a lot of rivers, the names of its cities are
Spanish, and the capital is Havana.)
2. Ask students what images, names, or events come to mind when they think about
Cuba. Write their answers on the chart paper. They could also do this activity through
VoiceThread (www.voicethread.com) or Typewith.me (www.typewithme.com). If
students have difficulty, you may want to prompt them to mention Fidel Castro, Elian
Gonzalez, Communism, or the Bay of Pigs.
3. As a class, look over your list and consider what some of these items reveal about the
relationship between Cuba and the United States. If using VoiceThread or Typewith.me,
comments could be recorded there. After a brief discussion, explain that the U.S. has had
a long, complicated, and often tense relationship with Cuba, which lies only 90 miles
from Florida. It has been ruled by a Communist government since 1959.
4. Explain that the class will create a time line highlighting the history of the relationship
between the U.S. and Cuba from 1898 to the present. Students will work in pairs to learn
about an important event, person, or policy associated with this relationship. Each pair
will write a summary of the event, person, or policy on an index card, including basic
facts and its significance in U.S.-Cuba relations. Then students will pin their cards along
a time line. (You or a few students can create the blank time line with a long piece of
newsprint; mark 10-year intervals.) Students could also use TimeRime to create the
5. Have students work in pairs. Assign one or two of the following topics to each pair.
(You may write these dates and terms on the index cards they will use for the time line.)
1868-78: Ten Years' War
1898: U.S. battleshipMaine/Spanish-American War
1901: Platt Amendment
1902: Tomas Estrada Palma
1903: Guantanamo Bay
1906-9: Charles E. Magoon
1959: Fidel Castro
1961: Bay of Pigs
1962: U.S. trade embargo
1962: Cuban missile crisis
1980: Mariel boat lift
1991: Dissolution of the Soviet Union
1993: Domestic economic reforms
1994: U.S.-Cuba immigration agreement
1998: Visit to Cuba by Pope John Paul II
1999: Elian Gonzalez
1. Discuss what racism is. Give examples. You can use a K-W-L chart or have students
post comments to VoiceThread or Typewith.me
2. Students will read "My Race" by Jose Marti. (attached)
3. Students will discuss Jose Marti's ideas concerning racism.
4. Students will analyze how this essay relates in today's society through class discussion
1. Give students handouts of Guantanamera and Versos Sencillos and discuss the
2. We will discuss the meaning of the song to the Cubans and also who wrote the
These lyrics are the ones based on the Marti poem; as described above, many other
Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma
Guantanamera, guajira, Guantanamera
Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmin encendido
Mi verso es de un ciervo herido
I am an honest man
From where the palm tree grows
And before dying I want
To share the verses of my soul.
My verse is a clear green
And it is flaming crimson
My verse is a wounded deer
Que busca en el monte amparo
Guantanamera, guajira, Guantanamera
This third verse of "Versos Sencillos" is usually not part of the song
Cultivo una rosa blanca
Enjulio como en enero
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca
Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera
This fourth verse is translated during the song as sung by Pete Seeger
& Arlo Guthrie
Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo
Cardo ni ortiga cultivo
Cultivo la rosa blanca
Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera
Final verse of song, as published:
Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
El arroyo de la sierra
Me complace mas que el mar
Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera
Who seeks refuge in the woods.
I cultivate a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his honest hand.
And for the cruel one
who would tear out this heart with which I live
I do not cultivate nettles nor thistles
I cultivate a white rose
With the poor people of the earth
I want to share my fate
The brook of the mountains
Gives me more pleasure than the sea
Adaptation from the "Versos Sencillos" by Jose Marti
The better known "official" lyrics are based on the first stanza of the first poem of the
collection "Versos Sencillos" (Simple Verses) by Cuban nationalist poet and
independence hero Jose Marti, as adapted by Julian Orb6n
Word has it that Orb6n considered Marti's poems as fitting, and thus dignifying, to such a
popular song. Given Marti's significance to the Cuban people, the use of his poem in the
song virtually elevated it to unofficial anthem status in the country.
Please look at these websites for more information about "Versos Sencillos" and Jose
Marti. I am citing their work with these websites.
SS: Ask students to research their topic and write a descriptive summary explaining why
the topic was significant in the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. Provide the
following Web sites for their research:
U.S. State Department: Cuba
LA: Students will write a compare/contrast essay, comparing and contrasting "My Race"
essay and how this essay relates in today's society.
WL: Students will write their own version of the song using verbs and grammar that they
already know, using a template.
Template will be attached.
Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate how well students participate in
class discussion, research and write about their topic, and present their findings to
Three points: participated actively in class discussion; exhibited strong research
and writing skills; gave a thorough, clear presentation with several important facts
about U.S.-Cuba relations.
Two points: participated to an average degree in class discussion; exhibited on-
grade research and writing skills; gave a presentation that included some
important facts about U.S.-Cuba relations.
One point: participated little in class discussion; exhibited weak research and
writing skills; gave a presentation that included few or no important facts about
Fodor's Exploring Mexico (4th ed.)
Fodor's Travel Publications, 2001.
There's nothing quite like a travel guide to transport you to exciting places! Here's
a chance to visit Mexico with lots of color photographs and plenty of information.
An introductory section talks about Mexico-as it is today and as it was in the
past-including informative discussions about the Aztecs and the Maya. The
following sections cover Mexico, piece by piece, with highlights of each area to
start things off. A closing summary of travel facts makes this a practical guide as
The National Geographic Traveler: The Caribbean
Nick Hanna and Emma Stanford. National Geographic Society, 1999.
With its usual lush photographs, this National Geographic guide covers a host of
beautiful islands scattered in the Caribbean-from Jamaica to Aruba to Martinique
and more. Each section provides a brief introduction to an area and to some of its
highlights. The descriptions are detailed and absorbing. Maps of each featured
island are clear and carefully marked, just as you'd expect from National
Geographic! The final section, Travel wise, overflows with information for the
tourist on money, travel, festivals and holidays, who to contact in an emergency, as
well as suggestions for lodging, dining, and places to shop.
Definition: A period of intense rivalry that developed after World War II between
groups of Communist and non-Communist nations, most notably the Soviet Union
and the U.S.
Context: The invasion of the Bay of Pigs was one of the most serious incidents of
the Cold War.
Definition: A political and economic system in which a single party controls state-
owned means of production with the aim of establishing a classless society; a
social system in which property and goods are owned in common.
Context: The ideas of Communism grew from the writings of Karl Marx, a
German social philosopher who lived in the 1800s.
Definition: A brief conflict between the United States and Spain that took place
between April and August 1898 over the issue of the liberation of Cuba.
Context: In the course of the Spanish-American War, the U.S. won Guam, Puerto
Rico, and the Philippine Islands.
Josd Marti, the 'Father of the Cuban Nation' was born in Havana in 1853.
Throughout his short lifetime he was imprisoned three times in Cuba for
revolutionary activity (1869, 1870, 1879), deported to Spain twice (1871, 1879), and
actively pursued Cuban independence in many countries, including the U.S.
Ironically, his programs that Castro neglected to put into practice were an impetus
in Castro's rise to power. Under Reagan's administration, Radio Marti was aired
from Miami. Castro banned the station.
As well as being a political activist, Marti was a noted writer and poet. Many of his
later works reflected his reactions to the nationalistic movements he was
participating in. His works Political Imprisonment (1871) and The Spanish Republic
and the Cuban Revolution (1873) typify his early revolutionary ideals. Originally
smitten with the U.S., in 1880 he wrote, "I find myself at last in a vast country where
everyone appears to be master of himself.. ." (Abel, p. 68). Seven years later he
would sever ties with the American ideal due to the Haymarket Incident. Chicago
had been a center for workers advocating an 8-hour work day. Anarchists joined in
stirring up radical ideology. When one striker was killed, the anarchist called for a
mass meeting at Haymarket Square. Police tried to break up the meeting. Someone
threw a bomb at them, killing seven. Seven anarchists were arrested, four were put
to death. The workers movement lost ground after this incident.
His affinity for the working man had taken another turn in 1884 when Marti
severed ties with Cuban revolutionaries Gomez and Macao. He feared they were
losing track of the revolutionary ideals of helping native Cubans and replacing the
cause with personal gain. In 1895 the middle class, frustrated over their tax burden,
rose up and began to back the revolutionaries. Marti felt compelled to return to
Cuba in order to join the actual fighting. Gomez ordered him to remain in a
precarious military position-the rear guard. Jos6 Marti was killed on May 19, 1895
never realizing his dream of an independent Cuba.
by Jos6 Marti
From Patria, April 16 1893
"Racist" is a confusing word, and it should be clarified. Men have no special rights
simply because they belong to one race or another. When you say "men," you have
already imbued them with all their rights. Negroes, because they are black, are not
inferior or superior to any other men. Whites who say "my race" commit the sin of
redundancy; so do Negroes who say the same. Everything that divides men, everything
that specifies, separates or pens them, is a sin against humanity. To what sensible white
person would it occur to be vain about being white, and what do Negroes think about
whites who are vain about being white and think they have special rights as a result?
What must whites think about Negroes who are vain about their color? To insist on racial
divisions, on racial differences, in an already divided people, is to place obstacles in the
way of public and individual happiness, which can only be obtained by bringing people
together as a nation. Nothing inherent in Negroes prevents them from developing their
souls as men, and nothing that happens to them can limit their innate ability. This fact
should be stated and demonstrated, for there is much injustice in this world and ignorant
prejudice which passes for wisdom: there are still those who, in good faith, believe that
Negroes are not capable of the same intelligence and courage as whites. It does not matter
if you call this defense of Nature racism, because it is no more than natural honesty and
heartfelt cry for peace and the country's well being. It is alleged that slavery does not
imply inferiority in the enslaved race, since Gauls with blue eyes and blond hair were
sold as serfs with shackles around their necks in the markets of Rome. This example
helps make ignorant whites less prejudiced. Negroes have the right to maintain and prove
that their color does not deny them any of the skills and rights of the rest of the human
What right do white racist, who believe their race is superior, have for complaining about
black racists, who see something special in their own race? What right do black racists,
who see a special character in their race, have for complaining about white racists? White
men who think their race makes them superior to black men admit the idea of racial
difference and authorize and initiate black racists. Black men who proclaim their race-
when what they are really proclaiming is the spiritual identity that distinguishes one
ethnic group from another-authorize and incite white racists. Peace demands of Nature
the recognition of human rights; discrimination is contrary to Nature and to the enemy of
peace. Whites who isolate themselves also isolate Negroes. Negroes who isolate
themselves incite and isolate whites.
In Cuba, there is no fear of a racial war. Men are more than whites, mulattos or Negroes.
Cubans are more than whites, mulattos or Negroes. On the field of battle, dying for Cuba,
the souls of whites and Negroes have risen together into the air. In the daily life of
defense, loyalty, brotherhood and shrewdness, Negroes have always been there, alongside
whites. Negroes, like whites, are divided by their character-timid or brave, self-
sacrificing or selfish-into the diverse parties in which men group themselves. Political
parties form around common concerns, aspirations, interests and characters. Essential
similarities are sought and found beneath superficial differences; the common purpose is
the fusion of that which is basic in the analogous characters, even though they may
different in incidentals. In sum, the similarity of characters, which is a superior uniting
factor, outweighs the inner frictions between men of varying color and the difficulties
that, at times, result. Affinity of character is more powerful than the affinity of color.
Negroes, consigned to the unequal or hostile pursuits of the human spirit, will never be
able to join, nor will they want to join, against whites in like position. Negroes are too
weary of slavery to enter voluntarily into the slavery of color. Ostentatious men who are
governed by self-interest will combine, whether white or black, and the generous and
selfless will similarly unite. True men, black and white, will treat one another with
loyalty and tenderness, out of a sense of merit and the pride of everyone who honors the
land in which we were born, black and white alike. Negroes, who now use the word
"racist" in good faith, will stop using it when they realize it is the only apparently valid
argument that weak men, who honestly believe that Negroes are inferior, use to deny
them the full exercise of their rights as men. White and black racists would be equally
guilty of racism. Many whites have already forgotten their color, as have many Negroes.
Whites and Negroes are working together to develop men's minds, to spread virtue and to
promote the triumph of creative work and sublime charity.
In Cuba, there will never be a racial war. The Republic cannot go backwards. Ever since
the day of redemption for Negroes in Cuba, ever since the declaration of independence in
Guaimaro on April 10, civil rights, granted by the Spanish Government for political
expedience, were already practiced prior to Cuba's independence and cannot now be
denied-either by the Spaniards who, as long as they breathe in Cuba, will continue
dividing black from white Cubans, or by those fighting for independence, who could
never deny in freedom the rights which the Spaniards recognized in servitude.
As for the rest, everyone will be free in the sanctity of his home. Merit, the manifest and
continuous evidence of culture, and inexorable trade will eventually unite all men. In
Cuba, there is much greatness, in both Negroes and whites.
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