The first of the reconcentration orders issued by Cuban Governor-General Valeriano Welyer was issued on February 16, 1896. The reconcentration policy led to deaths of many Cubans, with estimates reaching about 400,000 casualties. The deaths were the result of starvation, poor sanitary conditions, and communicable diseases. The reconcentration policy and its effect received strong coverage in the American press and helped to sway public opinion against Spain.
is the text of the first reconcentration order.
Don Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau, Marquis of
Teneriffe, Governor and Captain-General of the Island of Cuba, General
in Chief of the Army, etc., desirous of warning the honest inhabitants
of Cuba and those loyal to the Spanish cause, and in conformity to the
laws, does order and command:
ARTICLE I. All inhabitants of the district of Sancti Spiritus and the provinces of Puerto Principe and Santiago de Cuba will have to concentrate in places which are the headquarters of a division, a brigade, a column, or a troop, and will have to be provided with documentary proof of identity, within eight days of the publication of this proclamation in the municipalities.
ART. 2, To travel in the country in the radius covered by the columns in operation, it is absolutely indispensable to have a pass from the mayor, military commandants, or chiefs of detachments. Any one lacking this will be detained and sent to headquarters of divisions or brigades, and thence to Havana, at my disposition, by the first possible means. Even if a pass is exhibited, which is suspected to be not authentic or granted by authority to person with known sympathy toward the rebellion, or who show favor thereto, rigorous measures will result to those responsible.
ART. 3. All owners of commercial establishments in the country districts will vacate them, and the chiefs of columns will take such measures as the success of their operations dictates regarding such places which, while useless for the country's wealth, serve the enemy as hiding places in the woods and in the interior.
ART. 4. All passes hitherto issued hereby become null and void.
ART. 5. The military authorities will see to the immediate publication of this proclamation.
HAVANA, February 16, 1896.
Report of the Committee
on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Relative to Affairs in
Cuba. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1898), 549.