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In Chapter 7, the anarchist drama turns savagely to tragedy with still growing repression by Latin American governments and the United States to crush radicalism. Yet, not all was lost. Anarchists continued to work in their communities while maintaining transnational linkages, especially with the Spanish-language press in New York City. Longtime anarchists in Cuba and Puerto Rico, exiles in Mexico City, small groups and individuals in Panama City, Guatemala, and Colombia, a newspaper in Costa Rica, and others struggled in the early years of the global Great Depression to keep alive traditional anarchist critiques while confronting what they saw as the latest threats to humanity: Socialist Parties, Stalinist Communist Parties, and fascism – both European and tropical varieties.
Chapter 4 examines how anarchists handled the ramifications of the 1917 Russian Revolution. The revolution shaped the next decade and a half of anarchist agitation in the region as radicals attempted to figure out not only how to engage the new Communist state in Moscow, but also how to attract Marxists with whom anarchists worked and lived side by side. The post-1917 era also forced anarchists to confront the spread of US-backed anti-Communist surveillance. US intelligence agencies and their Caribbean partners tracked down and tried to suppress radicalism by expanding the Red Scare’s surveillance and repression into the Caribbean and targeting Caribbean anarchists who, from the heights of officialdom, were now seen as “Bolshevikis.”
Chapter 6 focuses on Panama and “Pan-Americanism.” US-based ideas of Pan-American unity rivaled a more Latin American ideal founded by Simón Bolívar in the 1820s. Yet, both were premised on the concept of nation-states cooperating to achieve particular ends. Anarchists envisioned a hemispheric-wide anarchist Pan-Americanism that functioned below the nation-state level and which they witnessed daily in Panama as multinational radicals from around the Americas traveled to work on the canal. But here the twin demons of Pan-American state repression (the Panamanian and Canal Zone governments) thwarted a leftist-inspired rent strike and anarchist efforts to launch the first hemisphere-wide anarchist congress.
This brief biography of Blazquez de Pedro illustrates not only his central ideas but more importantly how he was representative of Caribbean transnational anarchism. As a Spanish soldier in the 1890s, he fought against anarchist-supported independence for Cuba. After the war, he discovered anarchism and became an important literary and educational figure in the movement. In 1914, he moved to Panama and helped the isthmus maintain regional linkages with Havana. He combined literary with labor anarchism in the 1910s and 1920s, becoming the most recognizable face of anarchism in Central America. His deportation to and death in Cuba was not the end of his transnational wanderings as comrades returned his remains to Panama in 1929.
In Chapter 3, we see how Caribbean anarchists closely followed and engaged with the Mexican Revolution of 1910. They published manifestos from the Partido Liberal Mexicano (Mexican Liberal Party; PLM) and raised money for the magonistas. Yet, the revolution also revealed fissures in the regional anarchist network as individualists and communists waged a global war (literally) on each other over whether the PLM was truly an anarchist group.
Chapter 5 reflects on the role of US neocolonialism from the eve of the Great War to the mid-1920s. In 1916, anarchists launched the first general strike against the US-controlled Panama Canal. Several months later, both Panama and Cuba declared war on Germany within hours of President Wilson’s war declaration. Cuba developed a military draft law modeled on the US law. Puerto Rico’s residents acquired US citizenship in 1917, and thus the island’s male population became eligible for the draft. Anarchists throughout the network emerged to challenge this new wave of regional militarism. Around the same time in Puerto Rico, a pro-independence movement began forming. Anarchists debated the meaning of the island’s independence from the USA, asking just how “free” and independent could a nation be in the “American Mediterranean”? Finally, anarchists began a campaign to counter the growing US friendship with dictators who ruled so-called “banana republics” for the benefit of US corporations. As such, anarchists continued their long critique of US expansionism in the Caribbean, reflecting their long role as anti-imperialist actors in Latin America.
Chapter 2 explores the decade and a half following the Cuban War, noting how anarchists emerged and evolved across the region. In Cuba, the visit by Errico Malatesta and the creation of ¡Tierra! helped anarchists build Havana into the network hub. Meanwhile, anarchists in Florida and Puerto Rico developed dual relationships by working with the anti-anarchist American Federation of Labor (AFL) unions on the ground while communicating with and funding ¡Tierra! as their newspaper. By the early 1910s, anarchists in Florida abandoned the AFL associations and forged the first Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Locals in the network. In Panama, anarchists migrated to the construction project shortly after it began, organized anarchist groups throughout the Canal Zone, linked themselves with Havana, and in 1911 created the isthmus’s first anarchist publication. Throughout all of this, anarchists – no matter where they were – attacked US intervention, capitalism in the region, oversight of the canal, and US-designed political systems then being developed across the Caribbean.
The Introduction explores the origins and growth of the Caribbean anarchist network on the backs of US imperial expansion after 1898. Anarchist migration around the Caribbean, the creation and distribution of anarchist cultural productions, and the key production and distribution of the anarchist press (especially out of Havana) enabled anarchists to forge and maintain a network with its hub in Havana that radiated to New York, Tampa, Mexico, Los Angeles, Panama, the Canal Zone, and Puerto Rico.
Chapter 1 focuses on the Cuban War for Independence in the 1890s. As Anderson noted, the war in Cuba itself was linked to global resistance in Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and even Barcelona. But this chapter draws the focus to the particular roles of anarchists in Florida and the connections between them and their comrades in Havana. The side of the Florida Straits you were on could make a world of difference. While Havana’s anarchists faced severe repression by late 1896, anarchists in Florida operated in a climate of almost benign imperial neglect as Washington gave anarchists the space to support the war against Spain with supplies, men, and money. This trans-Strait symbiotic relationship gave birth to the Caribbean network which came to be centered mostly in Havana after the war but in which Tampa played an enormous role during the war and in the first years of Cuban political independence after 1902.
While anarchists across the Caribbean – especially in Cuba – were being deported, jailed, and killed in the 1920s and early 1930s, Cuban anarchist authors Marcelo Salinas and Adrián del Valle found the height of their literary success. Both won national literary prizes during the dictatorship while keeping the spirit of anarchism alive in their fiction. The epilogue concludes by looking at the long dry spell of anarchism from the 1930s to the 1990s when global anarchism reemerged. In the Caribbean, anarchist groups began rediscovering their roots and new organizations began to emerge to challenge capitalist globalization in the twnety-first century.
Anarchists who supported the Cuban War for Independence in the 1890s launched a transnational network linking radical leftists from their revolutionary hub in Havana, Cuba to South Florida, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Panama Canal Zone, and beyond. Over three decades, anarchists migrated around the Caribbean and back and forth to the US, printed fiction and poetry promoting their projects, transferred money and information across political borders for a variety of causes, and attacked (verbally and physically) the expansion of US imperialism in the 'American Mediterranean'. In response, US security officials forged their own transnational anti-anarchist campaigns with officials across the Caribbean. In this sweeping new history, Kirwin R. Shaffer brings together research in anarchist politics, transnational networks, radical journalism and migration studies to illustrate how men and women throughout the Caribbean basin and beyond sought to shape a counter-globalization initiative to challenge the emergence of modern capitalism and US foreign policy whilst rejecting nationalist projects and Marxist state socialism.