Today marks 124 years since the explosion that destroyed the US battleship Maine, a pretext used by the imperialism to intervene in the war of independence between Cuba and Spain.

In the accident that occurred on February 15, 1898, three quarters of the crew, some 261 US Marines, perished, but almost all of the 26 officers were saved because they had gone ashore.

The yellow press of the United States at that time justified the need for a military intervention in the conflict and began to directly accuse Spain of having caused the explosion.

That media campaign led in a few days to the desired declaration of war against Spain in 1898, to the approval of the deceitful Joint Declaration and to the start of the so-called Spanish-Cuban-North American war, where they prevented the mambises from entering Santiago de Cuba and 30 years of armed struggle for independence were frustrated.

As a result of the explosion of the Maine, Cuba went from being a colony of Spain to a neo-colony of the United States, whose occupation lasted until 1902.

In 1911, the remains of the Maine were refloated to recover the bodies of the victims and carry the hull of the ship that was blocking the entrance to the Havana port four miles out to sea.

The United States never allowed an international commission to inspect the remains of the ship. But in 1978 American experts, with Admiral H.G. Rickover to the front, after reviewing the report they published a new opinion stating that the explosion was accidental and produced from the interior by spontaneous combustion of coal.

The Maine was perhaps the largest warship that had ever entered Havana Bay. Anchored in the center of the cove, her appearance was imposing.

The violent explosion that she suffered was an imperialist pretext that had only one objective: to take over Cuba.

Elsa Gómez Valle

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