Ch 1: Cuba - The Need for British Enterprise

In the average Atlas the "Pearl of the Antilles" appears only as a small crescent on the map of the Western Hemisphere, and our sense of proportion suffers. Few people realise that the national area of Cuba is 46,000 square miles, with a coast line of more than 2,000 miles, or that Havana is a more pretentious city than many famous European capitals. There are 2,650 miles of railroads in the Island, the chief of which are owned by British companies. When Alexis de Tocqueville convinced Europe by his history of American achievement, the United States had existed for half a century. Such an historian could make an astonishing record of progress in Cuba today, though the Island has had less than a generation of independence, which started with a population smaller than that of the early United States; with vast areas devastated during the struggle for freedom, and with its people ruined and reduced by fighting at great odds and by starvation.

Some Significant Figures
Since its inception the Republic has increased its commerce by some 500%. Today, commercially, Cuba ranks fourth in the New World. Her imports are the largest in Latin America. Her total foreign commerce in 1918 was $710,947,466. Her rapidly advancing volume of trade will soon place her next to the United States and Canada. Yet while exports from the United Kingdom to Cuba are hovering near $10,000,000, those of the United States last year were approximately $223,000,000. Through our pre-war apathy it is practically impossible to get a direct passage from the British Isles to Cuban ports, though you can go to Havana direct from Havre or Cadiz. It is also difficult to dispatch goods with certainty and promptness except through the United States.
   During the war, reduced space and pressure of events prevented the Press from giving the war efforts of Cuba the notice that they deserved. When Dr. Bustamente, the leader of the Cuban Peace Delegation was placed on important international committees at the Conference, one London editor found that the Island had been omitted from his list of co-belligerents. President Wilson, Mr. Clemenceau and many French editors knew by repute one of the most brilliant men of contemporary Latin America. But past training and tradition turns British eyes chiefly eastward, hence our wide recognition of the notable war efforts of Siam. We are strangely slow in adjusting ourselves to the growth of Western nations achieved during our parish-pump decade prior to 1914.Mr. Barrett, Director of the Pan American Union, says:
"It is no exaggeration to speak of Cuba as the ‘key to the Western Hemisphere.' Her strategic position between North and South America, commanding the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, as well as her rare quality as a country, entitles her to this definition. Her influence in the cause of Pan-Americanism, her record in the history of the New World, her large commerce, her extraordinary wealth of resources and products, in proportion to area and population, her unique geographical position, support this description. Just as the influence of men does not depend upon their stature, but upon their brain quality, so Cuba's place in the family of nations depends not on her area but on what she really is, has, and does."
   In the dark hours of April, 1918, France officially celebrated Cuba's first war anniversary. There were appropriate functions in Paris, the press under headlines L'Anniversaire Cubain re-echoed official expressions of gratitude, and Le Grand Cordon de la Legion d'Honneur was conferred on President Menocal, with decorations for other prominent Cubans. When the British War Mission was received with honour and enthusiasm in Havana only one London newspaper mentioned it. Belgium has just sent a special mission to thank Cuba for her work. In the United States the Island has had unstinted praise. In a private message to the writer last year Colonel Roosevelt expressed the pride that he felt in the stand made by the nation for whose liberation he fought when the United States struck the final blow in the Island's bitter fight for Independence. It is obvious that we are the only sufferers if we neglect our friends however small, and it is neither good breeding, nor good business if trade has to be one of our gods.
   The very efficient Commission of Propaganda in Havana, passing over its opportunities for national advertisement abroad, has devoted its entire energies to preaching the cause of the Allies in Latin America, and in stimulating the generosity of its own people in the dispatch of money and supplies for the wounded and homeless in Europe. Our commercial interests have suffered for many years because of our apathy, obsolete notions, and lack of information regarding Cuba. I have, therefore, prepared this unpretentious account of her war efforts supplemented by some general facts of our commerce and of modern conditions in this progressive country.

Our Lack of Interest
As one of a small group of Englishmen who from motives of simple patriotism have attempted for several years to create at home a greater knowledge of Cuba, when each month produced fresh evidence of the strides made there by the United States and Germany, some of the statistics now presented seem to be a sad commentary on the lack of interest of the British public in foreign affairs which are closely identified with the welfare of our commerce. This should be stimulated by the Government through the Press, as in America during the past decade. What does the average man know or care about Latin America, its culture, progress, or its opportunities? His ideas of the leading countries there are based on crude misconceptions gathered from the temporary chaos of one or two small and retrogressive republics. This is like taking a small unfortunate Balkan State as a standard for European civilization.
   Glancing recently at a small file of a leading New York newspaper, I counted over a hundred columns of general news, conditions, and trade opportunities in Latin America. Nearly one half of these dealt with Cuba. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the United States is getting the lion's share of trade in markets where a few years ago we held a promising place. The war has only aggravated a condition created by neglect.

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To Kumass with Scott Under Three Flags in Cuba In South Africa with Buller The Peking Legations Under Four Flags for France Cuba - Land of Opportunity

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