ASF Editorial: History of Cuba and US relations

Madison Ward

With Obama’s visit to Cuba, we’re taking a look back at the volatile history between our two nations that ultimately led to this historic trip.

1898: US defeats Spain, which gives up all claims to Cuba and cedes it to the US

1902: Cuba becomes independent with Tomas Estrada Palma as its president. The Platt Amendment keeps the island under US protection and gives the US the right to intervene in Cuban affairs

1906-09: Estrada resigns and the US occupies Cuba following a rebellion led by Jose Miguel Gomez.

1909: Jose Miguel Gomez becomes president following elections supervised by the US, but is soon tarred by corruption.

1934: The US abandons its right to intervene in Cuba’s internal affairs, revises Cuba’s sugar quota and changes tariffs to favour Cuba.

1953: Fidel Castro leads an unsuccessful revolt against the Batista regime.

1959: Castro leads a 9,000-strong guerrilla army into Havana, forcing Batista to flee. Castro becomes prime minister.

1960: All US businesses in Cuba are nationalised without compensation; US breaks off diplomatic relations with Havana and imposes a trade embargo in response to Castro’s reforms.

1961: US backs an abortive invasion by Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs; Castro proclaims Cuba a communist state and begins to ally it with the USSR. CIA forms plans to assassinate Castro.

1962: Cuban missile crisis ignites when, fearing a US invasion, Castro agrees to allow the USSR to deploy nuclear missiles on the island.

1994: Cuba signs an agreement with the US according to which the US agrees to admit 20,000 Cubans a year in return for Cuba halting the exodus of refugees.

1996: US trade embargo made permanent in response to Cuba’s shooting down of two US aircraft operated by Miami-based Cuban exiles.

Oct 2003: US President George Bush announces fresh measures designed to hasten the end of communist rule in Cuba, including tightening a travel embargo to the island, cracking down on illegal cash transfers, and a more robust information campaign aimed at Cuba.

Aug 2006: US President George W Bush – in his first comments after President Castro undergoes surgery and hands over power to his brother Raul – urges Cubans to work for democratic change

July 2007: Acting leader Raul Castro again indicates he may be open to a warming of relations with the US

Feb 2008: Raul Castro officially takes over as president.

April 2009: President Obama lifts restrictions on family travel and remittances to Cuba.

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May 2015: US State Department removes Cuba from Terrorism list

July 2015: The United States and Cuba reopen embassy’s.

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