Weyler y Nicolau, Valeriano (1838–1930)

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Weyler y Nicolau, Valeriano (1838–1930)

Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau (b. 17 September 1838 d. 20 October 1930), captain-general of Cuba (1896–1898) who supervised the Spanish war effort to subdue the independence movement on that island. His mission was twofold: to end the Cuban conflict by military means and to restore colonial consensus through political methods. He instituted what would become the model by which colonial powers responded in their colonies: the reconcentration policy.

The reconcentration policy divided Cuba into war zones. In these zones the entire population was ordered into concentration camps located in the major cities. The Spanish Army then assumed that all those found in these areas were rebels and dealt with them accordingly. The concentration camps were not meant to punish their residents, but Spanish and local officials were not prepared to care for the displaced peasants. Inadequate food supplies and sanitary facilities led to the spread of disease and the death of tens of thousands of the 300,000 inhabitants.

Under General Weyler the royalist army inflicted widespread destruction of life and property. In addition to the reconcentration policy and the attacks on the rebels, the army burned entire villages, homes, fields, and food reserves. They also slaughtered the livestock. Vast stretches of the countryside were reduced to wasteland. The new offensive led by Weyler succeeded in containing the revolutionaries but was unable to defeat them. Weyler's tactics proved to be counterproductive, as the atrocities resulted in more Cubans supporting the revolution and caused a public outcry in the United States and even in Spain. In January 1898 Weyler was replaced and a more conciliatory Spanish policy was adopted.

See alsoCuba, War of Independence .


Enciclopedia universal illustrada, vol. 70 (1958), pp. 153-156.

Frank Freidel, The Splendid Little War (1958).

Louis A. Pérez, Jr., Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution (1958).

Hugh Thomas, Cuba; or, the Pursuit of Freedom (1971).

Additional Bibliography

Ferrer, Ada. Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868–1898. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.

Izquierdo Canosa, Raúl. La reconcentración, 1896–1897. Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba: Ediciones Verde Olivo, 1998.

Tone, John Lawrence. War and Genocide in Cuba, 1895–1898. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

                                                David Carey Jr.