- Platt Amendment
The Platt Amendment was a rider appended to the Army Appropriations Act, a
United States federal lawpassed on March 2, 1901, which stipulated the conditions for the withdrawal of United States troops remaining in Cubasince the Spanish-American War, and defined the terms of Cuban-U.S. relations until the 1934 Treaty of Relations. Formulated by the American Secretary of War Elihu Root, the amendment was presented to the Senate by, and named for, ConnecticutRepublican Senator Orville H. Platt(1827-1905). It replaced the earlier Teller Amendment.
The amendment stipulated that Cuba would not transfer Cuban land to any power other than the United States, mandated that Cuba would contract no
foreign debtwithout guarantees that the interest could be served from ordinary revenues, ensured U.S. intervention in Cuban affairs when the United States deemed necessary, prohibited Cuba from negotiating treaties with any country other than the United States "which will impair or to impair the independence of Cuba" or "permit any foreign power or powers to obtain ... lodgement in or control over any portion" of Cuba.
It also stipulated that Cuba had only a limited right to conduct its own foreign policy and debt policy. It also gave the United States an open door to intervene in Cuban affairs. The Isle of Pines (now called
Isla de la Juventud) was deemed outside the boundaries of Cuba until the title to it was adjusted in a future treaty. Cuba also agreed to sell or lease to the United States "lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points to be agreed upon." The amendment ceded to the United States the naval base in Cuba (Guantánamo Bay) and provided for a formal treaty detailing all the foregoing provisions.
Havana was seething as a result of the Platt Amendment and gave formal protest to General
Leonard Wood, the U.S. Military Governor of Cuba at the time. Juan Gualberto Gómez, a Cuban senator at the time the Platt Amendment was passed, denounced the amendment stating, "To reserve to the U.S. the faculty of deciding for themselves when independence is menaced and when therefore they ought to intervene, to preserve it, is equivalent to delivering up the key of our house so that they can enter it at all hours when the desire takes them, day or night."
A cartoon drawn by
Jesus Castellanoson April, 12, 1901, in the Cuban paper "La Discusión" showed "The Cuban People" represented by a crucified Jesus Christ between two thieves, General Wood and American President William McKinley. Cuban public opinion was depicted by Mary Magdalene on her knees crying at the foot of the cross and Senator Platt, depicted as a Roman soldier, is holding a spear that says "The Platt Amendment" on it. Governor Wood, who saw in Castellanos's drawing an unfriendly gesture toward the United States, gave order to apprehend Dr. Manuel M. Coronado, editor of "La Discusión", and Castellanos. Both were arrested for criminal libel and held in the Vivac prison of Havana, and the offices of "La Discusión" were sealed (Wood was persuaded to release them on the following day).
Later in 1901, under U.S. pressure, Cuba included the amendment's provisions in its constitution. After U.S. President
Theodore Rooseveltwithdrew federal troops from the island in 1902, Cuba signed the Cuban-American Treaty(1903), which outlined U.S. power in Cuba and the Caribbean. Tomás Estrada Palma, who had earlier favored outright annexation of Cuba by the United States, became president on May 20, 1902.
Following acceptance of the amendment, the U.S. ratified a
tariffpact that gave Cuban sugarpreference in the U.S. market and protection to selected U.S. products in the Cuban market. As a result of U.S. action, sugar production came into complete domination of the Cuban economy, while Cuban domestic consumption was integrated into the larger market of the United States.
Except for U.S. rights to Guantánamo Bay, the Platt Amendment provisions, which many Cubans considered to be an imperialist infringement of their
sovereignty, [Thomas, Hugh. "Cuba: The Pursuit for Freedom". p. 277] were repealed in 1934, when the Treaty of Relationswas negotiated as a part of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's " Good Neighbor policy" toward Latin America. The long-term lease of Guantánamo Bay still continues, and according to the treaty that right can only be revoked by the consent of both parties. The Cuban government strongly denounces the treaty on grounds that article 52 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treatiesdeclares a treaty void if its conclusion has been procured by the threat or use of force. However, Article 4 of the same document states that Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties shall not be retroactively applied to any treaties made before itself.
The Platt Amendment was incorrectly identified as an
amendmentto the US Constitutionin the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083929/goofs]
* [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1901platt.html Modern History Sourcebook: The Platt Amendment, 1901] (full text)
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