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Much of the Cuban independence movement was based on justice for residents, both Black and white. But following the Spanish-American War, American imperialism on the island brought over the United States’ racial ideas at the time, meaning more systematic discrimination against Cubans of color, said Louis Perez, a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

“These are people who fought for racial justice and social justice. When the United States arrived, the U.S. undid all the aspirations of this population,” he said.

USA Today