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American Sugar Kingdom

The Plantation Economy of the Spanish Caribbean, 1898-1934

César J. Ayala

Publication Year: 1999

Engaging conventional arguments that the persistence of plantations is the cause of economic underdevelopment in the Caribbean, this book focuses on the discontinuities in the development of plantation economies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic in the early twentieth century. César Ayala analyzes and compares the explosive growth of sugar production in the three nations following the War of 1898--when the U.S. acquired Cuba and Puerto Rico--to show how closely the development of the Spanish Caribbean's modern economic and social class systems is linked to the history of the U.S. sugar industry during its greatest period of expansion and consolidation. Ayala examines patterns of investment and principal groups of investors, interactions between U.S. capitalists and native planters, contrasts between new and old regions of sugar monoculture, the historical formation of the working class on sugar plantations, and patterns of labor migration. In contrast to most studies of the Spanish Caribbean, which focus on only one country, his account places the history of U.S. colonialism in the region, and the history of plantation agriculture across the region, in comparative perspective. This comparative study of the development of plantation economies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic in the early 20th century shows how their economic and social class systems were shaped by the explosive growth of American sugar companies. Engaging conventional arguments that the persistence of plantations is the cause of economic underdevelopment in the Caribbean, this book focuses on the discontinuities in the development of plantation economies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic in the early twentieth century. César Ayala analyzes and compares the explosive growth of sugar production in the three nations following the War of 1898--when the U.S. acquired Cuba and Puerto Rico--to show how closely the development of the Spanish Caribbean's modern economic and social class systems is linked to the history of the U.S. sugar industry during its greatest period of expansion and consolidation. Ayala examines patterns of investment and principal groups of investors, interactions between U.S. capitalists and native planters, contrasts between new and old regions of sugar monoculture, the historical formation of the working class on sugar plantations, and patterns of labor migration. In contrast to most studies of the Spanish Caribbean, which focus on only one country, his account places the history of U.S. colonialism in the region, and the history of plantation agriculture across the region, in comparative perspective.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4

Contents

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pp. v-vi

Tables

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pp. vii-viii

Figures and Maps

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

The idea for this research project emerged out of common work with my friend Felix Cordova lturregui of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, when we started examining the listings of the directors of Puerto Rico's sugar companies in the Firestone Library of Princeton University more than a decade ago. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-4

In the Spanish-American War of 1898 the United States seized Cuba and Puerto Rico. In 1905 it seized the customs of the Dominican Republic, and it occupied that country from 1916 to 1924. Cuba became an independent state in 1902, under the tutelage of the United States and under the shadow of the Platt Amendment. ...

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1. A Caribbean Plantation System

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pp. 5-22

Sugar plantations have been central institutions in the economic development of the Caribbean for the last five hundred years. All the islands of the Antilles experienced the growth of plantation agriculture. The comparative study of plantation societies has provided important insights into the development of economy and society in this region. ...

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2. The Horizontal Consolidation of the U.S. Sugar Refining Industry

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pp. 23-47

The invasion of Cuba and Puerto Rico in 1898 took place at a time when capitalist enterprise in the United States was undergoing a momentous transformation into its modern, corporate structure. The wave of mergers and consolidations of 1898-1904 firmly established the limited liability, ...

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3. The Sugar Tariff and Vertical Integration

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pp. 48-73

The price war of 1890 pitted sugar refiners from the East Coast of the United States against those of the West Coast. The process of horizontal consolidation was a struggle for control of the market for refined sugar in the United States. ...

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4. Vertical Integration in the Colonies

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pp. 74-120

It is commonly recognized that the sugar economies of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico in the period 1898-1934 were dominated by large foreign corporations. The corporations were absentee owned. The structure of ownership of these corporations, however, has not been studied. ...

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5. The Colonos

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pp. 121-147

The penetration of U.S. capital into the economies of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico transformed the technological base of sugar production. The new mills featured increased grinding capacities, internal railroad networks, the introduction of internal combustion engines, and electrification in the plantation zones. ...

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6. Labor and Migration

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pp. 148-182

The expansion of the sugar industry in the Spanish Caribbean in the twentieth century was so dramatic that it changed the economic balance between regions in each island, established new demographic patterns of settlement, and resulted in the settlement of lands that had hitherto remained largely depopulated. ...

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7. The Twentieth-Century Plantation

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pp. 183-230

The occupation of Cuba and Puerto Rico by the United States in 1898 and the gradual expansion of imperial influence over the Dominican Republic culminating in the occupation of that island by U.S. Marines in 1916-24 led to an impressive expansion of sugar production across the Spanish Caribbean. ...

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8. Economic Collapse and Revolution

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pp. 231-247

World War I increased the demand for Caribbean sugar in Europe and drove up its international price. Before the war, the European allies of the United States were either self-sufficient in sugar or had drawn their supplies from continental Europe. The outbreak of war with Germany cut off the United Kingdom's sources of sugar in central Europe. ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 248-250

Sugar production is practically nonexistent today in Puerto Rico. Between 1950 and 1960 the Constancia mill in Ponce, Central San Jose, Pasto Viejo in Humacao, and Centrales Rochelaise and Victoria closed. In the first half of the 1960s El Ejemplo, Guamani, Juanita, and Plazuela shut down. Centrales Canovanas, Cayey, Machete, Rio Uano, ...

Notes

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pp. 251-286

Bibliography

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pp. 287-308

Index

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pp. 309-320


E-ISBN-13: 9781469605050
E-ISBN-10: 1469605058
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807825068
Print-ISBN-10: 0807825069

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 35 tables, 3 maps, 3 figs.
Publication Year: 1999