Spanish Perspectives toward the War

From the Spanish perspective, an anti-Yankee rhetoric would be adopted as Spain understood America’s intervention as a violation of international law and America’s perception of Spanish colonial rule being oppressive and brutal toward Cuban’s to be insidious lies and patent hypocrisy. Throughout the war, Spain’s monarchical regime would strive to remain fiercely nationalistic. Since the Restoration of the monarchy in 1874, Spanish political life had been dominated by the power of conservatives led by Antonio Canavas del Castillo and liverals headed by Praxedes Matco Sagasta. Spanish socialist doubted that Cuban nationalism would improve Cuban working class conditions due to the American influence. America was seen as a nation with immigrant outcasts, one without culture or honor. However, many Spanish Republicans also viewed the U.S as rich, strong, and better organized than imperial Spain. When President McKinley signed the Joint Resolution passed by Congress on April 19, 1898, demanding Spanish withdrawal from Cuba, Spain understood it as a declaration of war. In order to maintain national honor and secure colonized lands in Latin America, Spain declared war against the U.S. on April 23, 1989.

As war was declared on both sides the Spanish fleet would be caught wholly unprepared in Manila and was destroyed by Admiral Dewey’s fleet in Cavite on May 1. Admiral Pascual Cervera sailed towards the Caribbean all the while recognizing that his mission was hopeless. The Spanish government, however, felt that it had to fight a war to protect against a military revolt or a Carlist putsch that would have toppled the royal dynasty and the new constitutional system. General Blanco ordered Cervera s fleet to sail out of Santiago de Cuba, in the mistaken belief that the fleet could perhaps escape having to surrender to the United States without a fight. It was sunk in only a few hours on July 3. The land battle was not so spectacular and much more difficult. The battles of El Caney and San Juan caused great losses and wounded on both sides. Spanish troops defended Santiago mightily, but since they were cut off from supplies and reinforcements, they decided to capitulate on July 17 in the belief that further resistance would be useless. By this time, everyone in Spain had to accept defeat. The Conservatives, naturally, were only too glad to have the Liberals sign the armistice on August 12, and the Treaty of Peace in Paris, on December 10, by which Spain had to accept each and every demand of the United States. Even the Spanish request for a new and impartial investigation of the U.S.S. Maine’s destruction was denied.



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