During the 1820s through the 1840s a generation of Cuban leaders and thinkers publicly inquired into the meaning of Cuban identity. The next generation included José D. Poyo, who, like Latin Americans in the 1810s before him, experienced the transformation of cultural nationalism into a powerful force for political separation. In his newspaper El Yara, published in Key West, Poyo defined nationalism as Cuba’s absolute independence and included a social dimension that called for the abolition of slavery, a socially unified Cuban identity, and empowered working classes. He also consistently argued for a revolutionary rather than an evolutionary end to Spanish colonialism. Poyo associated himself with the militarist sector of the Cuban separatist movement that insisted on defeating Spain and rejecting a United States mediated diplomatic solution or purchase preferred by those interested in annexation. This required an aggressive, well conceived and executed military strategy with a popular following which for thirty years formed the cornerstone of Poyo’s revolutionary nationalist, liberal, and Masonic political thought.
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