Winds of Change Analysis


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Sunny Ross 1 Winds of Change Analysis Winds of Change Hurricanes the Transformation of Nineteenth Century Cuba was written by Louis A Perez Jr in 2001 to discuss the happenings and the effects of specifically the 1842 1844 and 1846 hurricanes that devastated the Cuban region Perez describes the hurricanes in a way that illustrates them as major reformation points in Cuba s history Several various effects came of the severe weather conditions and important historical events followed The hurricanes were influential in the building of Cuba s current state Louis A Perez refers to the devastating hurricanes as flash points in Cuba s history The author uses the term flash point to refer to the epic changes that occurred following the hurricanes of 1842 1844 and 1846 by which to illuminate the colonial landscape during a brief but revelatory moment when complex relationships suddenly appeared with a clarity never before imagined pg 11 The complex relationships that Perez is referring to are ones between the moral and material production systems and political structures and national character and historical context pg 11 Perez uses several different personal accounts historical records and documentation in order to prove his opinion of these flash points in history There are several journal entries and quotes used from people who lived through the hurricanes and these examined how daily life changed for them as a whole after the storms Perez includes various tables and records throughout his work to show the correlations of different aspects of Cuban life over the years before during and after the hurricanes He also incorporates historical documents to study the non social aspects of daily life in Cuba in the 1840 s There were several different aspects of life that were affected during this hard time Sunny Ross 2 Slavery was a major topic of issue in Cuba during the 1800 s Several countries and territories were beginning the abolishment of slaves during this time putting Cuba under scrutiny to do the same After the hurricanes it was evident that slavery was dramatically affected From different personal accounts it was stated that rural areas were the hardest hit The plantations and small farming towns witnessed the most destruction and had the hardest time reconstructing and regrouping Land that farmers had relied on for so many years to produce coffee and tobacco was completely destroyed Because of the destroyed farmland several slaves saw this as an opportunity to run away and try to gain freedom The farmers were focused on recovering their land and crops and didn t pay much attention to keeping their slaves in line Sugar was on the rise in the farming world during the earlier years before the hurricanes and afterwards it was later referred to as the crop that saved Cuba Sugar was the only crop to quickly recover and this quickly influenced the community to recapture runaway slaves and return them to plantations Around the world slavery was on a fast track to being completely cut out so Cuban farmers had to rely on the internal source of slaves as Africa was becoming a very low source of exporting slaves This led to a decrease in the amount of slaves that were being used because the hurricanes killed off a significant amount of them and there was no longer a large amount of slaves being imported into the region After the 1844 hurricane Spain was not informed of the storm and its effects until two months after it happened Even when Spain was informed they were not a very big system of support Spain was all but useless as a source of supplies in part because it lacked sufficient resources and in part because the distance made fast delivery all but Sunny Ross 3 impossible pg 135 The people of Cuba were left to their own devices Officials in Cuba immediately enacted laws and regulations in order to maintain the economic structure The councils prevented any price raises lowered taxes and called for a reconstruction plan to be put into place in cities and towns The whites of Cuba had the easiest time rebuilding with all of these policies to back them The black slaves however had the most difficult time 85 percent of Cuban slaves lived in areas that were the most devastated after the storms Slave quarters were typically wooden and old being the first structures to fall Slaves also faced a major decline in food because of the massive destruction to indigenous game and farmlands The loss of slaves lives during this reconstruction period is predicted to be extremely significant There were no policies set into place to assist slaves during the aftermath of the hurricanes No matter the way in which things were handled the recovery period was seen as a time to come together as a community and to support those who needed it Since the hurricanes of the 1840 s they have been a significant source of a sense of community among Cubans The hurricane was transformed into a social experience at once a source of community solidarity and the means by which shared elements of a common past were forged pg 143 The experience of going through something so devastating together pulled everyone from their community and gave them a shared event to connect them Louis Perez describes all of the things that the Cubans did to help each other out from feeding the homeless to caring for those who were injured Perez refers to several different songs and poem written about the storms that allowed the meaning of the devastation and reconstruction live on The people of Cuba even go as far as to celebrate the hurricane People invite friends to await the arrival of the hurricane in their homes as Sunny Ross if it were an occasion for celebration The Cuban believes that Christmas Eve and the hurricane are occasions in which to be reunited with family pg 154 A sense of extreme nationality became of the hurricanes and Perez ensures to preserve this attitude with his book In 2005 Katrina hit the state of Louisiana in a very poverty stricken area Emma L West was a survivor of the 2005 hurricane who gave her personal account West accredits her life with a stranger who helped her out of her flooding house and into an upstairs apartment After reading several accounts from the Katrina storm there is an overwhelming amount of sense of community and togetherness from encountering this devastation together Strangers went out of their ways to help those who needed it and the closeness in the community emitted almost immediately There were several similarities between the hurricanes of the 1840 s in Cuba and the 2005 hurricane in Louisiana The difference though was the amount of national help that was instantaneously provided in 2005 compared to the divide of racial classes and the amount of help that was offered in Cuba The people of the United States offered assistance to anyone and everyone in need but Cubans were restricted to their own racial classes when it came to aid Despite the differences people are inclined to come together as a nation to help those in need Cubans pulled together to weather out the aftermath of three devastating hurricanes as best they could A sense of community developed and there were various historical flash points to be accredited to the hurricanes of 1842 1844 and 1846 4

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