Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-xii

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xvi

This book was first published by Mexico’s prestigious Siglo XXI Editores, thanks to a 2003 UNESCO/State of Quintana Roo/Siglo XXI Book Prize for Caribbean Thought, Environmental Category. The opportunity presented by this new English-language edition has given me time for a critical rereading. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-6

In April 1926 the president of the Republic of Cuba prohibited the indiscriminate cutting and burning of forests to clear fields for sugarcane. His decree reversed a policy more than one hundred years old. In August 1815, after a long struggle with his royal navy, the Spanish king had granted property owners complete freedom to fell trees on their land. ...

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1. The Omnipresent Forest and the Beginnings of the Sugar Industry

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pp. 7-38

When Christopher Columbus and his retinue landed on the coast of Cuba in 1492, the landscape they found was that of an almost entirely wooded island. During his first voyage, the Admiral described valleys and mountains “full of tall, cool trees that it was a glory to see,” landscapes in which one saw “everything full of palm trees and groves,” ...

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2. Shipbuilding and the Sugar Industry, 1772–1791

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pp. 39-82

Spain’s reforms of its colonial system, begun after it signed a peace treaty with the British in 1763, stimulated sugar production in the Havana region. The number and size of ingenios in the area increased significantly, and in the 1790s the slave revolt in Haiti allowed the Cuban sugar industry to make its great leap forward. ...

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3. The Struggle over Private Ownership of Forests, 1792–1815

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pp. 83-126

The collapse of the French colony in Haiti allowed Havana’s sugar and plantation economy to take off definitively after several decades of increasing production. The coincidence of this event with the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, which led to increased demand for raw materials and foodstuffs, technological advances, and the liberalization of commerce, ...

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4. Sugar and the Absolute Freedom to Clear Forests, 1815–1876

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pp. 127-178

The royal edict of August 30, 1815, left the expanding sugar industry completely free to invade Cuba’s wooded areas. Until the 1790s ingenios generally kept behind the front lines of the Royal Forest Reserves and thus affected forests that already had been harvested for shipbuilding and other uses. ...

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5. Centralization of the Sugar Industry and the Forests, 1876–1898

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pp. 179-216

In the last third of the nineteenth century Cuba experienced a technical and organizational transformation known as the concentration and centralization of the sugar industry. It was not entirely unprecedented, and the process did not end with the beginning of the twentieth century, but this first phase was decisive.1 ...

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6. North American Capital and Sugar’s Final Assault on the Forest, 1898–1926

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pp. 217-262

In 1898 the end of the Cubans’ war of independence against Spanish colonial domination opened a new phase in sugar’s impact on the forests. The Republic of Cuba was formally established on May 20, 1902, but its sovereignty was limited by the Platt Amendment, approved by the U.S. Congress the year before and incorporated as an appendix into the Cuban constitution. ...

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Conclusion: From Forests to Sugar: An Insignificant Change?

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pp. 263-276

In the mid-nineteenth century Ramón de La Sagra asked whether Cuba’s forests could be destroyed without compromising the island’s admirable fertility, characterized by lush perennial and woodland vegetation. Although it was still far from generalized, since the history of Cuban agriculture “was very recent,” ...

Appendix 1: Scientific Names of Plants and Animals

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pp. 277-280

Appendix 2: Temperature and Precipitation in the Natural Regions of Cuba

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pp. 281-282

Appendix 3: Units of Measure, with Equivalents

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pp. 283-284

Notes

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pp. 285-328

Glossary

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pp. 329-332

Bibliographic Essay

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pp. 333-342

Index

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pp. 343-358