‘’The Lively One, With a Mind of Its Own.’’
Factors Encouraging & Supporting the Growth & Development Of The Cuban Sugar Industry (1880-1910)
By: Kidisa Matthew
Cuba was the leading competitor for sugar against the British West Indies. The Cuban industry was heavily merchandised while many of the territories of the British West Indies had not yet began to use even the simplest tools, example: plows. This was one of the main reasons why Cuba was top notch in producing sugar. What advantages did this former Spanish colony have? (i) They had an abundance of natural resources for fuel and building timber, (ii) Cuba had railways, railways revolutionized transportation
within the plantation sector. They connected the fields to the factories and connected the plantations to the towns. By the second half of the century, this was how the modern plantation sector functioned. In contrast, the traditional plantations depended upon oxen and mule carts, in addition to the use of humans as beasts of burden. Railways allowed for the faster and greater transportation of canes to the mills. This was
important for the new mills needed larger quantities of cane supplied at a faster rate. The railways also allowed workers to live away from the plantations. In fact they could now live in towns and travel to work, as many did in Cuba and in Puerto Rico. This separation of work place and living quarters had a huge effect on workers ‘social life.’ In some areas it broke down the traditional tying of workers to estate villagers and allowed them to have far greater social and cultural freedom. There were also some improvements in field operations and agricultural methods. Cultivators rationed less, used more fertilizer, used the plough where the land was level enough to allow it to be effective, and planned the rows thinner to give canes space to grow. By the 1960’s farmers used mechanically-driven ploughs,...