History of the Independance Movement One of the most important forces that governed the course of Cubaâ€™s colonial history was the concept of racism. From the moment that Christopher Columbus ignored the presence of indigenous peoples, and claimed the island for Spain on his first voyage in 1492, to the day Carlos Manuel de CÃ©spedes began the first revolution to independence, there was a strong tradition of separation and objectification (Franklin 1,4). Diego VelÃ¡zquez was appointed governor of Cuba in 1511 (Franklin, 1). He founded the first European settlement, Nuestra Senora de la AsunciÃ³n de Baracoa, on the Northeastern coast of the island. The European settlement of the Nuestra Senora de la AsunciÃ³n was established in the middle of a pre-existing indigenous settlement, from which it got the name Baracoa (La Rosa Corzo, 35). Similar situations occurred in many of the other original settlements, such as the town of San Salvador de Bayamo. Christian prefixes were added to the indigenous names of towns. Europeans settled the center of these villages and natives were moved to the outskirts (La Rosa Corzo). During the fist one hundred years of colonization, the Native American population was greatly reduced, and gradually replaced by African workers (36). However, the pattern of settlement remained a constant. In a 1605 census two per cent of the total population was considered Indian, and thirty-six percent were African slaves. Most of these Indians lived outside of major cities under the jurisdiction of their own tribal leaders (36). As the French, Dutch and British began their exploration of the Caribbean, Spain was encouraged expedite its settlement of its existing colonies. Rapid settlement, coupled with Charles IIIâ€™s 1789 policy of free trade in African slavery, led to the development of plantations, and a slave society (Howard, 2). By the beginning of the nineteenth century the stage was set for Cuba to become the biggest sugar producer in the world. The previous leading producer, San Domingue had almost lost its hold on the sugar trade altogether, due to the revolution. The United States was newly independent form European rules and looking for new trade partners; there was an opening in the market.
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