Children of Colonial Despotism: Press, Politics, and Culture by Larry R. Jensen

By Larry R. Jensen

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Extra resources for Children of Colonial Despotism: Press, Politics, and Culture in Cuba, 1790-1840

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Their ardent periódicos, however, could not counteract the ever-present specter of Haiti and the growing perception of an intimate con- Page xii nection between constitutionalism and conspiracy. The Soles y Rayos de Bolívar conspiracy of 1823, added to the uprising of 1812, effectively silenced the adherents of moderate constitutionalism. It revealed the contradiction of an elite that desired greater political autonomy under a system of constitutional liberties that, at the same time, threatened the structure of Cuban society, skewed as it was by race and class distinctions.

Partisans of the royal heir, Ferdinand, took advantage of the political crisis and compelled Charles IV to abdicate in favor of his son on 19 March. On 2 May 1808 French troops brutally crushed a popular uprising in Madrid and on 10 May forced Ferdinand to renounce the throne and join his father in exile in Bayonne. 84 Official word of the royal family's capture circulated in Havana by 17 July 1808, although the news already had become commonplace. The situation was explosive, aggravated by deteriorating economic conditions occasioned by international conflicts, particularly the British maritime retaliation for Spain's 1804 alliance with the French.

O'Farrill became the son-in-law of a marquis, the Page 3 brother-in-law of a count, and eventually saw four sons-in-law gain titles. 7 Reform of imperial communications after the English occupation also redounded to Havana's favor. The Crown selected Havana as the pivotal point in a reorganized mail system designed to integrate those areas most vulnerable to foreign encroachment. By 1764, cargo-supplemented mailboats were plying the Atlantic between Spain and Havana. As printed gazettes were already an essential element in mail communication, it is no surprise that this innovation prompted the first application to publish a gazette in Cuba.

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