Betancourt Cisneros, Gaspar (1803–1866)

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Betancourt Cisneros, Gaspar (1803–1866)

Gaspar Betancourt Cisneros (b. 28 April 1803; d. 20 December 1866), Cuban advocate of annexation to the United States. Born in Camagüey, Betancourt Cisneros, also known by his pen name El Lugareño, was a progressive businessman who sponsored the establishment of schools, built bridges, and promoted the construction of the first railroad in his native province of Camagüey. A firm believer in constitutionalism and deeply influenced by physiocratic ideas, he distributed a large portion of his estate to peasants at a minimal cost. He also rejected slavery as the worst evil. Always concerned with Cuba's future, in 1823 Betancourt Cisneros went in search of Simón Bolívar in order to request his support for overthrowing the Spanish yoke. Later he advocated Cuba's annexation to the United States, although, in his view, "Annexation is not a sentiment but a calculation … it is the sacred right of self-preservation." Toward the end of his life, however, he returned to his advocacy of independence as he came to distrust U.S. intentions. Betancourt Cisneros died in Havana.

See alsoCuba: The Colonial Era (1492–1898) .


For a discussion of some of Betancourt Cisneros's ideas, see Geraldo E. Poyo, "With All, and for the Good of All" (1989); also, Ramiro Guerra, Manual de historia de Cuba (1975).

Additional Bibliography

Monal, Isabel, and Olivia Miranda Francisco, eds. Pensamiento cubano, siglo XIX. La Habana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 2002.

                                  JosÉ M. HernÁndez