Liberal Revolt in Cuba 1917

[ 1917 ]

In 1916, Mario Garcia Menocal (1866-1941), Cuba's incumbent conservative president, was reelected to office, defeating Alfredo Zayas (1861-1934), the liberal candidate, in an election torn by strife and marred by fraud. The liberals protested Menocal's reelection because more votes were cast than there were qualified voters and some provincial returns were lost or altered. After Cuba's supreme court upheld the protest, new elections were scheduled for February 1917 in several provinces, but before they were completed, the liberals rose in revolt. Jose Miguel Gomez (1858-1921) prepared to lead liberal forces from Santa Clara to Havana, the Cuban capital, to overthrow the government, but Menocal enlisted volunteers, purchased arms from the United States, assembled an army, and blocked Gomez's advance. Various skirmishes ensued; a small force of US Marines landed at Santiago in Oriente province, a liberal center, and restored order; within a few weeks (March 1917) Menocal's forces had crushed the rebels. US president Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) sought to maintain order in Cuba now that the United States was involved in World War I and believed Menocal was more sympathetic to the Allies. Cuba declared war on Germany on April 7, 1917. Menocal, inaugurated as president on May 20, 1917, asked for and received US troops, which remained in Cuba until 1923.

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