Reconcentration Camps (Modified)

Some of the language and phrasing in this document has been modified from the original.

Head Note: By the late 1800ís, the Spanish were losing control of their colony, Cuba. Concerned about guerilla warfare in the countryside, they moved rural Cubans to "reconcentration" camps where the Spanish claimed they would be better able to protect them. However, people around the world saw newspaper reports that described horrible conditions in the camps for the Cuban people, who were called "reconcentrados." This account was forwarded to Washington D.C. by Fitzhugh Lee, who said its author was "a man of integrity and character."


We will tell you what we saw with our own eyes: 460 women and children thrown on the ground, heaped in piles like animals, some in a dying condition, others sick and others dead, dirty and helpless.

Among the many deaths we witnessed, there was one scene impossible to forget. There was a young girl of 18 years, whom we found seemingly lifeless on the ground; on her right-hand side was the body of a young mother, cold and rigid, but with her young child still alive clinging to her dead breast; on her left-hand side was also the corpse of a dead woman holding her son in a dead embrace.

Bodies were piled up, dead and alive, so that it was impossible to take one step without walking over them; it was very dirty, there was little light, air, and water; there was not enough food to live on.

From all this evidence, we think that the number of deaths among the reconcentrados has amounted to 77 percent.

[Some of the language and phrasing in this document has been modified from the original.]

Source: Excerpt from an unsigned enclosure included with a telegram sent by Fitzhugh Lee, U.S. Consul-General in Cuba, November 27, 1897. Havana, Cuba.