Admiral Segismundo Bermejo y Merelo (1832–1899) served as the Spanish Minister of the Navy during the first part of its war with the United States. In addition to his military career, Bermejo was a noted author, particularly of works of science fiction. Although he well knew the dangers to the Spanish fleet headed by his good friend Pascual Cervera y Topete, he was forced by political circumstances to adopt a posture of unwarranted optimism. He ordered Cervera to sail for Cuba to what Cervera and most of the navy considered would almost certainly result in a humiliating defeat for the underprepared and inadequate force. Further, he was equally optimistic about Spain's ability to repel the U.S. threat to the Philippines.
Once word of Commodore George Dewey's rout of Admiral Montojo's fleet on May 1 at the Battle of Manila Bay reached the Caribbean, Spanish officials there panicked. Popular riots in Madrid ultimately forced the removal of Bermejo from office two weeks later on May 16, 1898.
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