However, unrest grew, especially in those places where the Africans began to outnumber all other people in the islands. Slaves in Haiti mounted a successful revolution and achieved political independence from the French in 1804. The slaves in Cuba might have followed their lead except that Spain was loosing its colonies on the mainland, and was able to exert more control on the island.
Another problem arose for the Spanish as their former colonies in Latin America won their independence. The market for the products of their cattle industry in Cuba began to diminish, and the island also was no longer as important as a link in Spain's lines of communication and logistics with their Latin American colonies.
Christopher Columbus brought sugar cane cuttings to the Caribbean during one of his later voyages. They thrived in the lush soil and copious rainfall on Cuba. The demand for sugar was growing in Spain and elsewhere in Europe. Thus, Cuba's commitment to sugar was as natural as falling off a log. It would remain their dominant cash crop into modern times.
Like cotton in the American south, growing and harvesting sugar cane is labor intensive, and Spain imported even more African slaves to the island to satisfy the demand. Unlike America, the slaves had nowhere to escape to. The nearest land was America, and slavery was dominant in that part of the new nation. Their only recourse to attain freedom was revolution. However, when Hidalgo mounted his successful revolution in Mexico in 1810, the Spanish retreated to Cuba and their rule became even more despotic.
Ironically, as their empire crumbled on the mainland, the Spanish began referring to Cuba as their “ever faithful isle.” Yes, it remained faithful, but only under an iron-fisted rule.