Color-printed handkerchief commemorating the independence of Cuba by repurposing the famous symbol of liberty of its new liberator and oppressor.
"This is not the Republic we fought for [...] What we must study with profound attention is the manner to save what remains of the redemptive Revolution." – Máximo Gómez, 1902
After decades of revolutionary efforts, Cubans' fight for independence was sucked into an international conflict: when the USS MAINE was bombed in Havana Harbor in 1898, President McKinley declared war on Spain with the stated goal of helping Cuba obtain independence. The US defeated Spain (which also ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine islands) – and promptly occupied Cuba itself, finalizing the country's independence only in 1902 and with the daringly ironic provision that the US "may exercise the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence." In 1906, after armed uprisings following a tumultuous presidential election in Cuba, the US would indeed intervene, occupying the country again through 1908. It is unclear whether this handkerchief design is meant simply to pay homage to the country that granted Cuba (qualified) independence, or whether the use of the famous symbol is meant to subtly criticize the imperialist activities of the United States in the Caribbean. Regardless, a striking document of Cuban sentiment during a major historical event.
Read more: Pérez, Cuba Between Empires, 1878-1902 (Gómez quote).
1902. 17'' X 17.5''. Single woven cloth printed in grey and red. Central image of the Statue of Liberty in red, surrounded by circular text: "¡Viva la Republica! / Independencia de Cuba," with "1902" underneath. Grey striped border and cornerpiece patriotic icons. Only a little faint spotting.
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