Valeriano Weyler was born in 1838 in the Canary Islands. Weyler joined the Spanish military and his career quickly took off.
His first major job was in Washington, D.C. as the Spanish Military Attaché. He commanded Spanish troops during the Ten Years' War. When it ended, Weyler was promoted to General.
When the Cuban War of Independence began, the Spanish had many difficulties. In January of 1896, the Spanish Government sent Weyler in to replace General Martínez Campos.
Weyler soon recognized that the old style of fighting would not work against
the Cuban guerillas. The revolutionaries entered cities during the night, taking food and enlisting new members.
To put an end to this, Weyler established concentration camps throughout Cuba. The Spanish surrounded towns with barbed wire and trenches. The Conservative Spanish Government backed this policy, but its consequences became disastrous.
"I order and command all the inhabitants of the country now outside of the line of fortification of the towns, shall, within the period of eight days, concentrate themselves in the town so occupied by the troops. Any individual who after the expiration of this period is found in the uninhabited parts will be considered a rebel and tried as such."
Many people died of starvation and disease while in the camps. Of the 1.6 million who spent time in them, 200,000 died in a few weeks, and 30% would eventually die.
The results of Weyler's term caused the United States to demand his replacement, and significantly affected American public opinion. When the Spanish Liberals came into power, they removed Weyler from his post.
After returning to Spain, Weyler went to a couple Spanish colonies in Africa before retiring in 1910.