The Truth Behind Imperialism
The United State’s goal of colonization has been succeeded as America has conquered many foreign lands. Even though the effects of colonization have resulted in oppression and the marginalization of many people, the United States continues to control and imperialize other lands for the purpose of economic gain and military control. In order to hide the true intent behind the imperialism that has taken people’s land and freedom, the United States has passed bills and published bias news in the press to cover up the true objective of colonial practices. Imperial domination has been occurring for centuries and is still occuring today. It’s effects can be seen by the oppressed communities that have been colonized as they are given little power over their own lives and the land in which they live on. Foreign policies implying independence and liberty have instead enforced domination and repression leaving the colonized hopeless, dominated, and exploited.
America’s all too well-known knowledge of colonization and imperialism contributed to the passing of the Monroe Doctrine so that European powers could not colonize or interfere in the affairs of the nations of the Americas. It essentially was telling the world not to influence the Western hemisphere while the U.S. could still influence the rest of the world.?»? About seventy years after this doctrine was signed, the US declared that Spain was violating the Monroe Doctrine because Spain was in control of Cuba. However, the true intent behind this declaration was really for capital gain toward the U.S. since Cuba was an ideal country to sell products to, with it being only ninety miles offshore. The United State’s way of convincing its citizens to annex Cuba was done in manipulative and disguised ways. The very start of this occurred in 1898 when the U.S.S Maine, an American ship, sunk. The United States blamed Spain for this disaster and declared war on Spain. Many people believed the ship was demolished on purpose to give the U.S. a justified reason to declare war, but it remains controversial and unknown. Nonetheless, it was one of the catalyst to the Spanish-American War. During this time, anti-imperialists were fearsome that the true intentions of the US were to take control of Cuba’s land and people for economic gain. To disguise the true intentions of the US and give the anti-imperialists peace, the Teller amendment was passed, declaring that America would help Cuba in its struggles against Spain and then give Cuba its independence once the war was over, leaving it unoccupied. However, this was a guise for the Platt amendment, which was passed three years later. The Cubans had to accept the Platt amendment in order for the US military to be removed. It was a one-sided and a forced deal because Cuba could not win no matter if they chose to reject or accept the Platt amendment. This amendment also gave the U.S. the ability to intervene with treaties that Cuba made with other countries, intrude when the military thought it was necessary and gave the U.S. Guantanamo Bay, a base for the U.S. military. The Platt amendment would not have existed if the Teller amendment had not been put into place. The Teller amendment, although it seemed like it had good intentions, was really just a way to get the US military into Cuba so that the Platt amendment could be enforced. Using the Teller amendment amendment to cover up the true intentions of the Platt amendment was a deceiving way to gain imperial power in Cuba and is a direct representation of how the U.S. used the idea of freedom and independence as a mask for control and domination.
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At the same time of these deluding policies being passed in Congress, Yellow Journalism was taking over the press and influencing public opinion. Yellow Journalism was another key factor contributing to the start of the Spanish-American war and responsible for America’s public support. The idea of Yellow Journalism was to sell the concept of war. Sensationalist claims were sold instead of factual stories, leading to lies and flawed news. One of the most influential pieces of Yellow Journalism was when the U.S.S Maine sunk in the Havana Harbor. According to the Northwestern University Press, almost every newspaper ran the headline Destruction of the War Ship Maine was the Work of an Enemy. An image in the newspaper in the New York Journal written by William Randolph Hearst had the words, $50,000 Reward for the Conviction of the Criminals who Sent 258 Sailors to their Death all over the pages. This tactic of headlining the newspapers with distorted claims made the American public think the U.S. was a victim to the sinking, despite the lack of evidence presented. The non factual headlines in aggression toward Spain deluded the public into believing there must be war to receive justice for the catastrophe. Although there were other intentions of going into war such as military control and economic control of Cuba, the tragedy of the U.S.S. Maine distracted the public eye from seeing the true colonial goal of the United States. the The sinking of the U.S.S Maine was and still is controversial, but regardless, there is no evidence in either direction, making the claims of Yellow Journalists deceiving to the public. Yellow Journalism highlighted the common theme of how the American public was fed lies in order to be in favor with a war that’s true intent was imperialistic domination of Cuba.
Another prevalent example of imperialism in the Caribbean region was the colonization of Puerto Rico. Like Cuba, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United-States in 1898 as a result of the Spanish-American War. U.S. military troops invaded Puerto Rico in that year, and against the will of the people, established a military regime that lasted for two years. Between 1898 and 1900, Puerto Rico demanded the establishment of a military civil government, but the U.S. ignored these demands and passed the Foraker Act, which was essentially the basis of colonial practices in Puerto Rico. Seventeen years after the Foraker Act was passed, it was replaced with the Jones Act, which imposed citizenship upon Puerto Ricans. The imposition of citizenship against the will of the Puerto Rican people made it easier for the United States to carry out imperialist and racists policies. The location of Puerto Rico was also ideal for the U.S. to carry out military interventions in the region. Under the power of the United States, Puerto Ricans were citizens of the United States and could be drafted for war, but could not vote or have senators. They were basically puppets to the United States, forced to do whatever was imposed. The people and land of Puerto Rico were property of the U.S. with no voice or power. The U.S. control resulted in the transformation of an agricultural economy to an industrial economy that was completely dependent upon the U.S. The profits of the economic production gave very little back to Puerto Rico and made the pockets of the U.S. capitalists even fuller.
El Comit?© de Mujeres Puertorrique?±as, a group of Puerto Rican women working to end the injustices in Puerto Rico imposed by America, wrote an article about challenging colonialism. They declared that the effects of colonialism have resulted in unemployment, low and unlivable wages, housing shortages, infant mortality, poverty, health problems, and control of reproduction. They explain that this is all due to “the profits of economic production line[ing] the pockets of U.S. investors, and giving little back to the people” (127). Because of America’s capitalistic economy, those without power and money are left oppressed and at an extreme disadvantage. The monopolization of Puerto Rico has not stopped even in the twenty-first century. In 2016, Barack Obama signed the PROMESA Act, standing for Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act. According to Juan Gonzalez, a journalist known for advocating for the rights of Puerto Ricans, PROMESA enforced a political board of non Puerto Ricans to make decisions and set policies. In order to reduce Puerto Rico’s debt, healthcare and public transportation services were reduced, public sector workers were fired, and hundreds of schools were closed. The PROMESA Act, according to Barack Obama, was supposed to help get Puerto Rico out of their debt. The U.S., yet again, made it look like they wanted to help Puerto Rico get out of debt, when in reality, the U.S. was the reason for it in the first place. According to Juan Gonzalez’s research, a main example of how the U.S.influenced such debt is because of Medicaid reimbursements. Even though Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, Congress limited the amount of money Puerto Ricans can receive from medicaid reimbursements, having the lowest funds for medicaid compared to any other state. Because of this, The Puerto Rican government must spend more money on health insurance than any other state would. This is one of the many examples that show how Puerto Rico has been put at a disadvantage and how the U.S. passes deceiving policies to cover up the mistakes they have made.
The driving logic to control the land and citizens of foreign nations such as Cuba and Puerto Rico come from the political, military and economic interests of the United States and have resulted in a colonial relationship of exploitation, racism, and oppression. The United State’s goal of imperial domination has been occurring for centuries and to this day, harming the lives of the colonized. The United State’s hidden agenda of using freedom as a source to cover up the underlying target of domination and oppression has been deceiving to the public eye and resulted in racist and unjust policies. In a time where such a powerful government like the U.S. believes capitalism and imperialism is more important than freedom and independence to all, there must be change. Organizing together for justice, continually questioning deceiving policies, and educating the public is the first step toward justice and liberty for every citizen of every nation.