Revolutionary ideals rarely find immediate practical and satisfying implementations and Cuba’s separation from Spain was no exception, producing additional revolutionary turmoil in the twentieth century. With his political career behind him, José D. Poyo returned to Havana, secured a living apart from politics as the director of the Cuban National Archives, and at the time of his death in 1911 fully understood that the nationalist project ultimately fell short. As the United States consolidated its occupation and militant discourses faded in the wake of compromises necessary to achieve a withdrawal of American troops, nationalist intransigence dissipated. The economic system fell mostly into the hands of Americans, and Cubans succumbed to political divisions and infighting ultimately mediated by the United States. Poyo had never envisioned a Cuban republic politically and economically beholden to the United States and his expectations fell to the cruel realities of a nation plagued by the chaotic aftermath of war. The legacy for exiles, whether they remained in Key West or returned to Cuba, was a grave sense of disappointment that revolutionary nationalism failed to transform Cuba into a democratic sovereign nation with an inclusive economic and social system.
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