This is not an exhaustive history by any means. Rather, I tried to indicate key moments that had an impact on the contemporary or future relations between the two nations. I also tried to identify international events that would also affect the relations. For more information and detail, please see the list of sources. For my essay on Cuban-American relations, click here.
1791-1804 François Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture organizes a slave revolt to take over Hispaniola. Some of the French landowners fled to Cuba, creating more plantations with subsequent increased demand for slaves. To meet this demand, Spain allows foreign vessels to transport slaves to the island. Most of the slave transports are American-owned.
1795: A slave revolt in Cuba horrifies American slave owners because whites and Negroes joined together and demanded equality between black and white.
1796: After Spain suppresses the revolt, it ends commercial relations between Cuba and the USA. Over the next seven years, Cuban ports would be opened and closed to trade several times. During the Napoleonic era (1792-1815), trade between the USA and Cuba increased considerably as Cuba’s sugar harvest grew in size.
1809: US President Thomas Jefferson sent General James Wilkinson to Spain to try and purchase Cuba. “I candidly confess that I have ever looked upon Cuba as the most interesting addition that can be made to our system of States,” Jefferson wrote to his successor, James Madison. With Cuba and Canada, he said, “we should have such an empire for liberty as she has never surveyed since the creation.”
Joaquín Infante plans to overthrow the Spanish government in Cuba. In response, the Spanish authorities use prison, exile, torture and death to quell insurrections.
1810: US President James Madison instructs his minister to Great Britain to warn the British that the United States will not sit idly by if Britain were to try to gain possession of Cuba.
1817: Thomas Jefferson wrote, “If we seize Cuba, we will be masters of the Caribbean.”
1818: The King of Spain issues a royal decree declaring free trade in Cuba. Spain allows Cuban ports to open for international trade. Within two years, over half of Cuba’s trade is with the United States, her largest trading partner.
1823: U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams defines US policy towards Cuba, writing, “These islands (Cuba and Puerto Rico) are natural appendages of the North American continent, and one of them (Cuba) almost within sight of our shores, from a multitude of considerations has become an object of transcendent importance to the commercial and political interests of our Union… These are laws of political as well as physical gravitation.” Later as President, Adams predicted Cuba would fall “like a ripening plum into the lap of the union.”
In a letter to Minister to Spain Hugh Nelson, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams says the US will annex Cuba within half a century, despite obstacles: “Cuba, forcibly disjoined from its own unnatural connection with Spain, and incapable of self support, can gravitate only towards the North American Union, which by the same law of nature cannot cast her off from its bosom.” Cubans calls this policy la fruta madura (ripe fruit).
1823: In December, US President James Monroe declares the Western Hemisphere as a US sphere of influence and warns Europe not to interfere in the affairs of any American nations that have recently become independent. This became known as the Monroe Doctrine, or “manifest destiny.”
1824: Some Cuban landowners, fearful that independence would mean the end of slavery as in Haiti, become annexationists allied with US slave owners who also want Cuba to remain as a slave state.
1825: Governments in recently independent countries of Mexico and Venezuela plan a military expedition to support Cuban independence. US Secretary of State Henry Clay, warns them the USA will block any move to liberate Cuba from Spain. The US government believed that Cuba would become part of the United States. The US also feared an independent Cuba would lead to the end of slavery that could have repercussions in the Southern states.
1846: The US starts a war with Mexico (1846-48) and as victor, takes half the country as spoils.
1847: In January, US citizens and "manifest destiny" advocates Moses Beach and John O'Sullivan meet in Havana to conspire with members of the Club de la Habana, a group of wealthy Cubans seeking annexation to the US.
1848: Against the counsel of democrats opposed to extending slavery, US President James Polk secretly offers to buy Cuba from Spain for $100 million. Spain refuses. In May, American Democrats nominate Senator Lewis Cass, who has publicly advocated the purchase of Cuba, for president.
1850: Spanish general Narciso Lopez gathers a mercenary force of 600 and leaves from New Orleans in an attempt to conquer Cuba on behalf of Americans who wanted to annex the island. Lopez failed and fled. He returned a few months later to try again, but he was caught and executed.
1851: Associates of the late López formed a secret society called the "Order of the Lone Star." Their goal is to incorporate Cuba into the US. Starting in New Orleans, they soon have 50 chapters in eight Southern states with an estimated membership of 15,000 to 20,000.
1852: The Order of the Lone Star plans to invade Cuba in the summer, in conjunction with the "Conspiracy of Vuelta Abajo," a revolt organized by Francisco de Frías, López's wealthy brother-in-law. Spain discovers the conspiracy and executes Frias, while some of the conspirators escape to the US. This year Spain refuses a second request from the USA to sell Cuba. On October 22, the New York Times declares, "The Cuban question is now the leading one of the time."
1853: Spain appoints Marquis Juan de la Pezuela as Captain General of Cuba in 1853 - a vocal and active opponent enemy of slavery who suppressed the slave trade in Cuba. General John Quitman, Governor of Mississippi, accepts $1 million from a group of New York businessmen to invade Cuba. He planned to declare a republic then accept annexation from the USA, and promises to protect the slave trade on the island Quitman spent the money on himself instead of invading.
1854: US President Franklin Pierce offers to buy Cuba for $130 million, based on the “Ostend Manifesto” recommendations. The manifesto warns against permitting “Cuba to be Africanized… with all its attendant horrors to the white race.” It also suggests the US “shall be justified in wresting it from Spain...” if Spain refuses to sell, “…upon the very same principle that would justify an individual in tearing down the burning house of his neighbor if there were no other means of preventing the flames from destroying his own home.”
In April influential Cuban slave owners met in Havana with US Consul William H. Robertson and urged him to persuade US President Pierce to send American troops to Cuba to prevent slave emancipation.
1865: The victory of the north in the US Civil War ends importation of slaves from the USA into Cuba. Instead, Cuban landowners and businessmen import 120,000 Chinese labourers as well as many Mexican Indians to work the fields. Although the African slave trade to Cuba ends, slavery itself continues on the island.
1868: The Ten Years’ War, or Cuba’s First War of Independence, begins on October 10 when plantation owner Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, accompanied by 37 other planters, proclaims the independence of Cuba in the Grito de Yara issued from his plantation. Céspedes frees and arms his slaves. Two free Black brothers, Antonio and José Maceo, join the rebel ranks.
1869: On April 10, 1869, the first constituent assembly prepares the first Constitution of the Republic of Cuba and elects Carlos Manuel de Céspedes as the first president. US President Grant and his cabinet, led by Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, oppose recognition of the new Cuban government under Cespedes. Fish tells the Cuban revolutionary representative the US will "observe perfect good faith to Spain." The US House of Representatives adopts a resolution to recognize the new Cuban government by a vote of 98 to 25, but the President ignores it. While rebel and Spanish forces are still fighting, former Confederate officer, General Thomas Jordan, lands in Cuba and is made Cuban Chief-of-Staff.
1872: US President Ulysses S. Grant rejects a proposal that offers Cuban independence and the abolition of slavery. Despite official sanctions, American civilians profit by selling guns to the rebels. Late in 1872, Spanish officials boarded an American vessel, the Virginius, and arrested several Americans for running guns to the Cuban rebels. In November, twelve of them are executed.
In September, Colombian Foreign Minister Don Gil Colunje proposes all Latin American republics and the United States work together to for Cuban independence and the abolition of slavery. The Latin American governments agree, but US President Ulysses S. Grant rejects the plan.
1874: Following the death of their charismatic leader, Cespedes, Cuban rebels try to get support from US President Grant for their fight for independence. Grant declines and in 1878, the rebels reluctantly sign a peace agreement with Spain.
1875: US Secretary of State, Hamilton Fish, asks England to lead a European force to restore peace in Cuba – adding that such peace would be without either the abolition of slavery or Cuban independence.
1878: The remaining Cuban forces surrender and the Ten Years’ War officially ends.
1879-80: The “Little War” ("La Guerra Chiquita") continued the rebellion in parts of Cuba.
1880: The US is Cuba’s largest trading partner: 83 percent of Cuban exports are sold to the USA, compared to only 6 percent sold to Spain.
1881: US Secretary of State James G. Blaine writes of Cuba, "that rich island, the key to the Gulf of Mexico, and the field for our most extended trade in the Western Hemisphere, is, though in the hands of Spain, a part of the American commercial system… If ever ceasing to be Spanish, Cuba must necessarily become American and not fall under any other European domination." From 1881 to 1895, Cuban exile José Martí, lived in New York City where he reported on life in the United States for Latin American newspapers, and critiqued US imperialism.
1886: Slavery officially becomes illegal in Cuba.
1890s: US newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst seeds his newspapers with phony stories about atrocities in Cuba to incite America to intervene in Cuba.
1891: The Detroit Free Press writes in an editorial, May 16: "Cuba would make one of the finest states in the Union, and if American wealth, enterprise and genius once invaded the superb island, it would become a veritable hive of industry in addition to being one of the most fertile gardens of the world. There is a strong party growing up in the island in favor of reciprocity with and annexation to the United States. We should act at once and make this possible."
1892: Marti forms the Cuban Revolutionary Party in the US.
1894: An economic collapse in the USA brings Cuba’s tobacco industry down with it, leaving Cuba with a single-crop economy – sugar - with a single country to sell to: the USA. Fewer than 20 percent of sugar mill owners in Cuba are Cubans, while more than 95 percent of Cuban sugar exports are sold to the US.
1895: On the eve of another Cuban war of independence, the US government detains three Cuban ships laden with arms and supplies for the rebels. This costs the rebels nearly three years of work and $58,000. While US President Grover Cleveland proclaimed "neutrality" in the conflict between Cuba and Spain, America was openly selling arms and munitions to Spain. In February, fighting breaks out in Cuba under the leadership of the Cuban Revolutionary Party and the Second War of Cuban Independence begins. On his first day in battle, Cuban patriot Jose Marti is killed.
Secretary of State Richard Olney, in warning Britain away from Venezuela, announced that “the United States is practically sovereign on this continent.”
1896: The US and Spain discuss granting Cuba autonomy, but not independence.
1897: Despite the rebels’ success and their declaration they had won the war, US President William McKinley refused to recognize Cuban independence. US Undersecretary of War, J.C. Breckenridge writes a memo (the Breckenridge Memorandum) outlining US policy towards Cuba. In it he states, “…we must clean up the country, even if this means using the methods Divine Providence used on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. We must destroy everything within our cannons’ range of fire. We must impose a harsh blockade so that hunger and its constant companion, disease, undermine the peaceful population and decimate the Cuban army… we must create conflicts for the independent government…. These difficulties must coincide with the unrest and violence among the aforementioned elements, to whom we must give our backing… our policy must always be to support the weaker against the stronger, until we have obtained the extermination of them both, in order to annex the Pearl of the Antilles.” In November, Spain’s queen regent offers autonomy to Cuba, but both the rebels and Cuban loyalists reject the offer.
1898: US President McKinley offers to buy Cuba for $300 million just before the US invaded.
The US sends the battleship USS Maine to Havana during the Second War of Independence on a “friendly visit” and to protect American citizens - and its corporate interests - in Cuba. The captain and most of the officers conveniently left the ship once anchored, and the Maine subsequently exploded, killing 266 American sailors. It was the excuse President McKinley needed for intervention, later known as the Spanish-American War.
Spain conceded to every US demand except Cuban independence to avoid war, but McKinley wants to fight. Although Spain declared a ceasefire in Cuba in late February, McKinley ordered US ships to blockade the islands’ ports in violation of international law.
In April, the US Congress declared Cuba has the “right to be free and independent,” and authorized the President to use military force to oust Spain from the island. The Teller Amendment declared the USA had no “intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said Island except for the pacification thereof.” US President McKinley signed the declaration and sent it to Spain.
Shortly after, President McKinley declared a blockade of the northern coast of Cuba and the port of Santiago. Spain said this was an act of war according to international law and declared war on the USA. In response, Congress formally declared war – known in the USA as the “Spanish-American War.” Cubans call it the American intervention in Cuba’s War of Independence.
Assistant Secretary of State Theodore Roosevelt, a neophyte in military matters, urged US intervention. He personally led 6,000 “Rough Riders” into attack at Santiago de Cuba where he took a full day to overcome 700 Spanish defenders. In June, a battalion of US Marines camps in Guantánamo Bay. That month an editorial in the Chicago Tribune writes about Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines as future American colonies: "All of these islands will belong to us by sovereign right of honorable conquest. They will be American soil from the moment the Stars and Stripes float over them. Annexation of all three is the natural outcome" The US attacks and sinks several Spanish ships attempting to break the blockade, and captures 1,670 soldiers. Spain admits defeat.
In July, an editorial in the Cleveland Leader favours annexing Cuba: "While our government disavowed a purpose of conquest, it may be absolutely necessary for us to keep Cuba and make it a part of the United States." In mid-August, Spain and the USA signed a bilateral armistice to end the war. Cuba was not represented at the negotiations.
Immediately after Spain surrendered, the US-owned "Island of Cuba Real Estate Company" opened for business to sell Cuban land to Americans. In December, the US-administered Cuban Educational Association declares that only certain Cubans are considered fit to be "Americanized," and that darker skinned Cubans "could not gain admission" to many American universities and colleges.
At the Treaty of Paris, in December, the US is granted control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam. Although the treaty officially grants Cuba independence, the US flag, not the Cuban flag, is raised over Havana. Americans would not allow it to be flown over Cuba until 1902. Cuban representatives are not allowed at the signing. Cuban dreams of independence are frustrated by American control.
In 1898, the US stake in Cuba was about $50 million. By 1906, it would top $200 million.
1899: In January, American military takes over control of Cuba as a “protectorate” and will rule the island until 1902, and return again 1906-09. The first military governor is General John R. Brooke. He pays the rebels $3 million to disband, about $75 each. The American empire expands into the Pacific and Caribbean in the former Spanish colonies. US Major Cartwight warns striking workers in Matzanas that anyone who tries to interfere with his strikebreakers will be shot.
Official recruiting posters for the US Army ask for recruits to join "Uncle Sam's Personally Conducted Excursion to his new possessions Manila, Cuba and Porto Rico." The American dollar is used as official currency after the US takeover.
In December, US President McKinley says in his annual address to Congress, "the destinies of Cuba are in some rightful form and manner irrevocably linked to our own…”
1900: General Leonard Wood, the new US military governor in Cuba, drafts a constitution that includes an amendment by US Senator Orville Platt that guaranteed America’s right to intervene in Cuban domestic affairs. It also forced Cuba to lease in perpetuity to the USA a naval base at Guantanamo Bay and required the Cuban government to: "maintain a low public debt; refrain from signing any treaty impairing its obligation to the United States; to grant to the United States the right of intervention to protect life, liberty, and property; validate the acts of the military government; and, if requested, provide long-term naval leases. Platt would later write “Cubans are incapable of stable self-government. In many respects, they are like children."
Cubans were so antagonized by the proposed amendment that they sent a delegation from the constitutional convention to Washington to oppose it, only to find that McKinley had already signed the bill into law. When delegates to the constitutional convention tried to modify the Platt Amendment before adding it to the Cuban Constitution, Wood refused to allow modifications. He threatened that U.S. soldiers would remain in Cuba until the convention enacted the amendment.
Wood created the Rural Guard, permitted creation of new political parties, and planned the constitutional convention in November 1900. He also reduced taxes on US imports, setting the stage for the almost complete domination of the island's trade by the USA.
1901: General Wood calls for elections in Cuba, but doesn’t allow women, the poor, or blacks (Afro-Cubans) to vote.
1902: The US ends military rule when a Cuban Republic is declared, following Wood’s elections. The Cuban electorate, as limited by Wood, chose Tomás Estrada Palma as Cuba's first president. Estrada was a proponent of US annexation of Cuba, saying he saw, "little advantage and no future for an independent Cuba."
1903: The United Fruit Company is allowed to buy 200,000 acres on Cuba’s cost for $400,000. The base at Guantanamo is opened and Cuba is paid $2,000 a year for it, in gold coin. In March, Cuba and the USA signed a commercial reciprocity treaty that ensured American control of Cuban markets. In July a treaty is signed to allow the US to create coaling and naval bases in Cuba. That same day, the USA also signed a treaty with Cuba agreeing to relinquish all claim to the Isle of Pines, but the US Senate refused to ratify the treaty within the stipulated seven months, and would not relinquish control for another 20 years.
The US invades and occupies the Canal Zone in Panama.
1905: One quarter of all Cuban land is owned by Americans – roughly 13,000 American colonists have purchased $50 million in Cuban land. President Roosevelt stated that since the United States did not allow European nations to intervene in Latin America (the Monroe Doctrine), then the USA alone was responsible for preserving order and protecting life and property in those countries.
1906: When the Cuban president is accused of election fraud, Tomás Estrada Palma invokes the Platt amendment and requests US intervention. The USA sends in 2,000 Marines and 5,600 Army soldiers to re-occupy the country and military rule extends until late 1908, overseen by Secretary of War, William Taft. Taft declares himself Acting Governor until replaced by a civilian, Charles Magoon. The Cuban treasury had a $13 million surplus when Magoon took over, but only $3 million when he left. US President Roosevelt issues an executive order in which Cuba's provisional governor comes under the direct supervision of the Secretary of War. Taft (later US president) removed representatives elected in 1905 and 1906 and declared new elections would be held when "tranquility and public confidence are fully restored."
1908: Magoon established a commission to organize and compile Cuban law, previously a morass of Spanish codes, military orders, and public decrees, into a single canon. He also created of the Cuban Armed Forces, which would later become involved in Cuban politics.
1909: The US government puts Jose Miguel Gomez, the National Liberal leader, in power and Magoon steps down. US President Taft and Secretary of State Philander Knox feared that Americans would not support a third intervention, so they opted for a "preventive" interpretation of the Platt Amendment to allow US diplomatic intervention to avoid military intervention. That "diplomatic" intervention meant more troops sent in the protect American citizens and property.
1911: US President William Taft, had Secretary of State Philander Chase Knox put pressure on English bankers not to loan money to Cuba for port dredging; Taft wanted US bankers to have the business. A US inquiry into the explosion on the Maine determines the cause was likely an accidental fire inside a coal bunker that spread to a nearby powder magazine.
1912: Cuban president General Jose Miguel Gomez brutally suppresses an Afro-Cuban rebellion of the Agrupación Independiente de Color (Independent Coloured Party) with the help of US Marines, killing 3,000 rebels. Cuban Negroes were excluded from much of Cuba's national life, although, Gómez had given them government jobs in the Rural Guard and the army. However, as members of these organizations, they were unable to participate in politics.
US military forces take control of the Cuban government in order to "protect American interests." US Marines landed in Cuba and two US battleships anchored in Havana harbour. US President William Howard Taft declares this act does not constitute intervention.
1916: General Mario García Menocal (Conservative Republicans) won the presidential election by padding the electoral rolls and by violence. The US ordered that new elections be held, saying it would not tolerate revolt.
1917: US President Woodrow Wilson sends US troops to Cuba to "protect American interests" and protect pro-US leader General Mario Garcia Menocal who was accused election fraud by his opponents. Menocal won after more votes were cast than there were voters. A grateful Menocal entered Cuba into World War I on the American side the day after the USA declared. He allowed US Marines to train on the island - some of whom remained there until 1922. The US negotiated a new sugar policy for American and British refiners at 4.6¢ per pound, below the market price of 6¢. They bought the entire export crop.
1918-1919: Cuba produced 4 million tons of sugar and sugar constituted 89% of all exports.
1920: Sugar prices rose to 22 cents per pound. The post-war boom was known as "The dance of the millions." Prices quickly plummeted to less than four cents per pound. Many Cuban plantations went bankrupt and US investors bought up property at bargain rates.
In the 1920 elections, García Menocal cheated to win.
1921: US President Woodrow Wilson sends General Enoch Crowder to force new Cuban elections in January. Crowder stayed on as the personal representative of the new US President, Warren Harding until 1922. Crowder used the financial crisis in Cuba as leverage to force Cuban domestic affairs to change more favorably to US business interests and exerted control in exchange for loans. Alfredo Zayas won.
1922: Crowder picked the 1922 Cabinet for Zayas. He made many other decisions and improved the government.
1923: General Crowder negotiates a loan of $50 to the Cuban government from J.P. Morgan, and is rewarded by being named permanent ambassador to Cuba. Zayas dismissed the Crowder Cabinet and appointed his own.
In March, after a delay of more than two decades, the US Senate ratified the 1903 treaty to return the Isle of Pines to Cuban control. In August the Communist Party of Cuba is formed. In May, General Gerardo Machado Morales is elected on a platform of nationalism, but is soon exposed as a friend of American business interests.
The US government allows the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston and Atlanta to open branches in Havana to control the nation’s cash flow.
1924: US investment in Cuba is $1.24 billion.
1925: US interests controlled over one-half of the sugar produced in Cuba. By 1925, Crowder wanted to get rid of President Alfredo Zayas who was not cooperative enough. Crowder worked with historian Charles Chapman to write A History of the Cuban Republic: A Study in Hispanic American Politics which would attack Zayas. Gerardo Machado, a rich man who had used American connections to make a fortune in electrical utilities, won the election. He was tough, vicious, and lionized by the US business community. It liked his bringing "order" to Cuba and his anti-labour views. He deported 400 labor leaders.
1926: The US Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta transports $26.5 million to Havana to stem a crisis in low funds – a run on the banks emptied the federal reserve in Havana!
1927: The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston closes its Havana operations. The US invades Nicaragua.
1928: US heiress Irenee Dupont purchases several hundred acres at Varadero Beach to build her mansion, named Xanadu.
1929: The Cuban Congress approves a bill stating "any Cuban who seeks the intervention or interference of a foreign power in the internal or external development of the national life" will be imprisoned for life. Under US pressure, the pro-American Cuban president, General Gerardo Machado Morales, vetoes the proposal.
During the Great Depression, foreign trade dropped to one-tenth its previous level. American bankers no longer bought Cuban bonds. Unemployment was widespread. Bankruptcy was common. Government revenues fell by one-half.
1933: General Machado Morales, president since 1925 and supported by the USA, faced a general strike and a revolt of his own military. He ended his notoriously brutal rule by fleeing to the USA with his fortune. He left the country leaderless. With the support of US Ambassador Sumner Welles, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes is appointed provisional president. The military, militant students and revolutionary groups oppose this US choice. In September, the “Sergeants’ Revolt” breaks out, supported by students and led by Sergeant Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar. Batista quickly overthrows President Céspedes.
When a group of five liberal citizens take power with a collective government, Welles calls them “communistic.” Ramon Grau-San-Martin is named provisional President in September. He establishes an eight-hour workday with a minimum salary, maternity benefits, and paid vacations. He enacts child labor laws, and female suffrage laws, and declares 50 percent of all employees in work places had to be Cuban nationals. Grau also confiscated several sugar mills for refusing to pay the minimum salary. The President refused to swear to a Constitutional Law with the Platt Amendment.
In September Welles asked for US military intervention. President Roosevelt, who had previously supported the “Good Neighbour Policy” towards Latin America, ordered 29 warships to Cuba and to Key West. He put the US Marines and bombers on standby. The US refused to recognize the new administration.
Prohibition in the USA ends and kingpin Meyer Lansky becomes the Mafia boss of Cuba, quickly spreading Mafia control and increased corruption through the administration.
The new US President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, emphasized cooperation and trade rather than military force to maintain stability in the hemisphere. In his inaugural address, Roosevelt stated: "In the field of world policy I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbour - the neighbour who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others." At the Montevideo Conference in December, Roosevelt’s Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, backed a declaration favoured by most nations of the Western Hemisphere: "No state has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another."In December, Roosevelt also stated, "The definite policy of the United States from now on is one opposed to armed intervention."
US troops leave Nicaragua.
1934: US-backed and recently self-appointed Colonel, Fulgencio Batista overthrows the liberal Grau after 120 days in office. Batista was president for 32 hours, before putting Carlos Mendieta in the presidency. The US immediately recognized his government. Batista remained the army chief while appointing five new presidents until 1940.
The US modified the treaty for Guantanamo Bay to 99 years at an annual lease of $4,085 US President Roosevelt abrogated the 1903 treaty with Cuba (based on the Platt amendment) that gave the United States the right to intervene to preserve internal stability or independence. US troops leave Haiti, where they have been stationed since 1915.
Another new treaty included Cuba in the “New Deal” quota system. Cuba would be allowed to export 22% of the sugar the US imported, paying .9¢ a pound tariff duty. In return, little or no duty would be levied by Cuba on goods imported from the US. US investment in Cuba had fallen to $500 million and the US loaned money to the Cuban government.
After continued losses, the US Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta petitions the US government to shut its Havana operations. All 12 US Federal Reserve Banks have to cover the losses of the Atlanta Reserve Bank’s Cuban fiasco.
1936-1939: More than 1,000 Cuban volunteers joined the internationalist brigades in Spain to defend the Republic against the fascists under Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
1938: Batista offers Meyer Lansky and the Mafia control of Havana’s racetracks and casinos in exchange for kickbacks. The US Federal Reserve Bank closes all Cuban operations.
1940: Batista wins election for president.
1941: Batista joins the US in declaring war on the Axis, and allows US ships to refuel in Cuban ports. In return, the US bought the entire Cuban sugar output at 2.65¢ a pound. Cuban production, stimulated by such high prices, rose to 5 million tons.
1943: General Batista legalized the Communist Party of Cuba and establishes diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, which is allied with the United States against Nazi Germany.
1944: Urged by US President Franklin Roosevelt through Meyer Lansky to retire, Batista takes his fortune and moves to Daytona Beach, Florida.
1945: Cuba joins the United Nations on the day the UN Charter takes effect.
1946: A summit of Mafia bosses is held in the Hotel Nacional to plan for more control of Cuba, including using it as a transition point for drug shipments.
The US establishes the “School of the Americas” in Panama as a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. It will soon be nicknamed the “School of Assassins” because it trains in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. Sixty thousand soldiers will be trained in the school in almost 60 years.
1947: Mafia chieftain “Lucky” Luciano arrives in Havana from Italy to meet with US organized crime bosses, including Meyer Lansky.
1948: Cuban students train to invade the nearby Dominican Republic and depose the brutal, US-backed dictator Trujillo. Washington learns of the plans and pressures the Cuban army to clamp down on the students and stop the operation. Fidel Castro was one of the students who escaped the army’s roundup. Batista runs in the Cuban elections from his home in Miami and wins a seat in the Cuban Senate.
1950: Cuba’s ambassador to the United Nations provides critical support for the administration of President Harry Truman in the Security Council vote on taking action in Korea. But when Cuban President Prío offered to send troops to the war, Cubans organized a successful campaign to prevent involvement. Their slogan was “No cannon fodder for Yankee imperialists.”
1952: Batista puts his name forward to run for president, but polls show him running in last place. Meyer Lansky gives elected Cuban President Carlos Prio Socarras a bribe of $250,000 to step down so Batista can return to power. Batista, instead decides to simply take over. He is unopposed in his almost bloodless coup. Immediately after US President Eisenhower recognizes the new Cuban government, Batista suspends Cuba’s constitution, and cancels upcoming elections. The US administration under Harry Truman recognizes Batista’s rule and sends economic aid, while allowing Cuba into the Organization of American States (OAS).
1953: In return for kickbacks, Batista hands out contracts to dozens of US corporations for massive construction projects, such as the Havana-Varadero highway, the Rancho Boyeros airport, train lines, the power company and a planned canal dug across Cuba.
On July 26, Fidel Castro and other rebels attacked the Moncada Army Barracks, in Santiago de Cuba. At least 70 participants died, and most of the remaining rebels were imprisoned, including both Fidel and Raúl Castro. This is the birth of the July 26 Movement. Castro’s defense speech at his secret trial later becomes the basic program of the Cuban revolution (reprinted later as History Will Absolve Me).
Santos Trafficante Jr. is sent by his father to take control of several mob casinos in Havana.
1954: US Vice President Richard Nixon visits Havana to congratulate Batista on winning presidential “elections” in which he was the only candidate. Nixon is photographed with Batista and Mafia allies at a lavish party. Santos Trafficante Jr. takes over his father’s gang when his father dies of cancer.
1955: CIA director Allen Dulles visits Havana and helps Batista open an intelligence bureau, funded and supervised by the CIA. The CIA administration has heavy ties with the United Fruit Company. Dulles’ brother, John, was US Secretary of State and legal counsel for the United Fruit Company. Dulles’ predecessor as CIA head, Walter Bedell Smith, was appointed president of the United Fruit Company when he left the CIA.
Batista is re-elected, and offers amnesty to political prisoners. Castro is released from prison and with several supporters, flees to Mexico where he organizes a resistance group.
1956: Mayer Lansky opens his 212-story, 383-room Hotel Riviera in Havana – a $14 million project mostly paid for by the Cuban government.
Castro and 81 men return to Cuba on the boat Granma to start their rebellion. Many are killed and captured, but Castro and the survivors flee into the Sierra Maestra mountains where they regroup.
1957: US Senator John Kennedy visits Havana as the guest of Mafia kingpin Santo (“Sam”) Trafficante, who provides three prostitutes to entertain the senator one night, while observing the action through a two-way mirror in the hotel. The US Ambassador to Cuba, Arthur Gardener, recommends US President Eisenhower have the rebel Fidel Castro assassinated. In February, US journalist Herbert Matthews meets with Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra and his sympathetic reports are published in the New York Times. US President Eisenhower’s representative, Arthur Gardner, recommends the CIA assassinate Castro. US Ambassador Smith offended General Batista by calling police violence excessive when he saw them beating up women at one of the demonstrations in Santiago. Smith also reported that a victory by Castro would be contrary to US interests. The US government, while officially neutral, supplied arms and training to Batista’s forces, and maintained military missions in Cuba until 1959. The US Ambassador personally handed over seven Sherman tanks to Batista this year.
1958: Rebel leader Fidel Castro and his forces defeat Batista’s forces in several small battles. Cuban military faces an arms embargo imposed by the USA. In February, the USA indicted former Cuban President Carlos Prío Socarrás, who was overthrown by General Batista, and eight other Cubans on charges of conspiring to violate US neutrality laws by financing and taking part in military expeditions to be carried out from US territory against Batista. In December, William Pawley, an emissary from Eisenhower’s administration, met with Batista to suggest exile back in Daytona Beach, Florida. Pawley wanted Batista to put the Cuban government in the hands of a US-approved junta. Batista refused until year end when it was obvious he couldn’t continue in power without the USA’s support.
In 1958, US interests controlled 80% of Cuba’s railroads and 90% of its electrical and telephone services.
The US Supreme Court declares US citizens have a constitutional right to travel abroad. The opinion in Rockwell Kent and Walter Briehl v. John Foster Dulles holds that "the right to travel is a part of 'liberty' of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment."
1959: Batista flees to the Dominican Republic (later to Miami then Spain) with his fortune. Castro arrives in Havana with his army to cheering crowds but a looted treasury and a bankrupt nation. Before he leaves Cuba, gangster boss Santos Trafficante meets with Jack Ruby in Havana. Trafficante is briefly jailed in Cuba, but is deported in June.
Manuel Urrutia, a Cuban judge, takes over as president and Miro Cardona, head of the Havana Bar Association, as Prime Minister. Fidel Castro was named Commander in chief of the Cuban armed forces. By 1959, 75 per cent of Cuban land is controlled by non-Cubans, mostly US interests. Castro soon replaces Cardona as Prime Minister. After increasing friction between Castro and Urrutia over Communist influence in Cuba, Urrutia resigns.
In February, an American assassin, Robert Nye, working for US crime syndicates, is arrested with a sniper rifle before he can shoot Castro. A CIA memo from J.C. King, head of the Western Hemisphere Division of the CIA, to Allen Dulles recommends “dirty tactics” to destabilize Cuba. King says America must do away with Fidel Castro if they wanted to overthrow the Cuban revolution.
In March, Castro nationalized the Cuban Telephone Company, an affiliate of the American company International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT), and reduced telephone rates.
In April, Prime Minister Castro made an unofficial visit to the United States. He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that good relations could exist only on the basis of “full equality.” At a luncheon of newspaper editors broadcast on radio and television, he explained the disadvantages to Cuba of current US regulations on the sugar trade. Eisenhower, who won’t meet with Castro, sends US Vice-President Richard Nixon, who later describes Castro as a “Communist.” Castro tells Nixon, “Dictatorships are a shameful blot on America, and democracy is more than just a word,” adding that there is no democracy while there is hunger, unemployment and injustice.
Castro spoke at Columbia, Harvard and Princeton universities and told UN correspondents the Cuban revolution was “not for export,” and revolutions occur because of internal conditions, but that Cuba’s example may prove helpful. He says Cuba will take an independent position at the United Nations.
In late April, Cuba opened beaches to the public that had previously been open only to Americans and their business friends.
In May, Cuba signed an agreement with the USA for technical cooperation in the development of agrarian reform. The Cuban government passed its first Agrarian Reform Law, putting a limit on land holdings and expropriating the remainder with compensation offered in 20-year fixed-term government bonds paying an annual interest rate of 4.5 percent. (US investment-grade corporate bonds paid an average of 3.8 percent in 1958.) The basis for compensation is the value of the land as assessed for taxes. Foreigners owned 75 percent of Cuba’s arable land and five American sugar companies owned or controlled more than two million acres. The new law limited land ownership to 1,000 acres for farming or 3,333 acres for land used for livestock, sugar, or rice production. The expropriated land along with land already owned by the state was transferred to cooperatives or distributed free of charge to workers.
In June Che Guevara took a three-month trip to Africa, Asia and Europe to organize new economic and cultural agreements for Cuba. That month, US Senator George Smathers demanded a reduction in the Cuban sugar quota. The US government protested the Agrarian Reform Law and its compensation, claiming it was based on tax assessment rates which had not been adjusted to current land value for 30 or 40 years (thus allowing the owners to pay very low taxes). Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Mexico, Spain and Sweden accept the compensation, but the USA does not. Cuba outlaws gambling in June.
In June, Cuba broke off diplomatic relations with the Dominican Republic for plotting to overthrow the Cuban government. In August, Dominican Republic radio broadcast an appeal to Cubans to revolt by setting fires and killing. A counterrevolutionary plot, directed by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo and former General Batista, was exposed.
In October, Havana hosted a convention for the American Society of Travel Agents.
In November, Che Guevara was appointed director of the National Bank of Cuba. He sold off Cuban gold reserves held at Fort Knox and transferred the money to Swiss and Canadian banks to prevent US confiscation.
1960: In January, Cuba expropriated 70,000 acres of property owned by US sugar companies, including 35,000 acres owned by United Fruit Company (UFC owned approximately 235,000 acres more). United Fruit (later United Brands and Chiquita Brands) was a powerful organization with strong ties in the US administration and the CIA. The UFC was instrumental in overthrowing the elected Arbenz government in Guatemala, in 1954. US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was both a stockholder and longtime legal adviser for the company. He prepared contracts in 1930 and 1936 between UFC and the Ubico dictatorship in Guatemala. Allen W. Dulles, his brother and director of the CIA, was once president of the company. UN Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge was a member of its board of directors. Walter Bedell Smith, head of the CIA before Dulles, became president of United Fruit after the overthrow of Arbenz. The US government protested the seizure of the land, but Cuba rejected the protest.
In February, Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan visited Havana. Castro negotiated a deal with the USSR to trade sugar for crude oil. The USSR began an extensive program of shipping goods such as wheat, fertilizer, iron, and some machinery, and extending $100 million credit to Cuba. On the advice of the US State Department, US oil firms in Cuba refuse to refine oil purchased from USSR. Castro then nationalizes many foreign-owned companies, including US refineries. In response, the US cancels Cuban sugar orders (half the crop) and prohibits most exports to Cuba. Castro expropriates foreign-owned property, offering compensation based on the companies’ own under-valued assessments. While most nations accept, the USA refuses to agree. Approx. $1 billion worth of US-owned assets are nationalized.
J.C. King again recommends the CIA assassinate Castro. In March, US President Eisenhower tells CIA head Dulles to train Cuban exiles for an invasion of Cuba and endorses a plan to overthrow Castro in favour of a regime “more acceptable to the US... in such a manner as to avoid any appearance of US intervention.” The plan called for a “massive propaganda offensive,” including radio broadcasts. That summer, the CIA formed the Democratic Revolutionary Front, the first of many Cuban exile political front groups. The group launched several propaganda projects with CIA funds.
In February, US pilot Robert E. Frost was killed when his plane blew up while he attacked a sugar mill in Matanzas province. Documents found in the wreckage revealed that he had invaded Cuban territory on three previous occasions. The US State Department acknowledged the flight originated in the USA, and expressed regrets.
In March, a consortium of Western European banks yielded to US pressure and cancelled a $100 million loan to Cuba.
In April, Cuba started expropriation of the remainder of the land owned by United Fruit. That day, a plane flying out of the US naval base at Guantánamo attacked Cuba, dropping incendiary material in Oriente province. Castro formally declares Cuba a socialist state this month.
In June, Castro started to nationalize the oil refineries which refuse to refine Soviet-supplied crude. Texaco, Esso and Shell refineries are nationalized within a few days.
In July 3, the US Congress voted to terminate Cuba’s sugar quota. In response, Cuba authorized nationalization of all remaining US business and commercial property in Cuba. That month, China agreed to buy 500,000 tons of Cuban sugar annually for five years.
In September, the US government advised its citizens living in Cuba to send their families home and warned citizens not to travel to Cuba. Prime Minister Castro responded by urging US citizens living in Cuba to stay.
The Cuban delegation at the UN asks the Security Council to stop US aggression in that country, providing a list of more than 20 incidents including bombings. The Cubans are asked to leave their downtown hotel and are offered free accommodations at Hotel Theresa in Harlem. Castro is visited there by Malcolm X, Gamel Nasser and Nikita Khrushchev, who tells the media he doesn’t know if Castro is a Communist, but says he is a “Fidelist.”
On Sept. 29 while at the UN, Castro's Cubana Airlines plane was impounded because of non-payment of debts to American creditors. Khrushchev supplied a Soviet plane to fly the Cubans home.
In September 1960 Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana, took part in talks with Allen W. Dulles, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), about the possibility of murdering Fidel Castro.
In October, the Urban Reform Law ends landlord ownership of housing for profit and nationalizes all commercially owned real estate, as well as all large industrial, commercial and transportation companies, including 20 owned by the US. Electrical, bank and phone companies are nationalized. About 200 small US-owned companies remained in private hands.
In October, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sent a memo to the CIA’s chief of covert operations, Richard Bissell, indicating that Hoover was aware of Chicago crime boss Sam Giancana’s involvement with the CIA in a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro. The USA approached Canada about preventing US exports from going to Cuba through Canada.
In October, the US imposes an embargo on exports to Cuba (except for medicine and food). The embargo includes foreign subsidiaries of US firms. The initial purpose of the sanctions is stated "to destabilize the Castro regime, causing its overthrow, or, at a minimum, to make an example of the regime by inflicting as much damage on it as possible." The US also blacklists vessels carrying US government-financed cargo to and from Cuba. In October, President Eisenhower endorses the embargo and bans all exports to Cuba, partly to assist Richard M. Nixon's presidential bid. In response, Nixon’s opponent, John F. Kennedy, promised "to do something about Fidel Castro."
In November, the Guatemalan Army rebelled against the regime of Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes, objecting to US use of Guatemala as a base for a planned invasion of Cuba. The US uses some of the CIA’s B-26 bombers to put down the rebellion, many are piloted by Cuban exiles trained by the CIA for use against Cuba.
Canada's Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, refused to meet with Fidel Castro during an official visit to Montreal.
1961: Justifying American policy in Cuba, US author Arthur Whitridge wrote, “Either the United States had to support corrupt governments in office or permit revolutions that were bound to cause suffering to the population.”
In 1961 Johnny Roselli persuaded for Havana mob boss Santos Trafficante to join the conspiracy between the CIA and American mafia to murder Castro. Meyer Lansky also became involved in this plot and was reportedly offering a million-dollar reward for the Cuban leader's murder.
In March, the CIA forms a new exile coalition, the Cuban Revolutionary Council, to serve as cover the upcoming invasion and the psych-war/propaganda measures that will accompany it.
US President John Kennedy approves an invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs – 1,400-1,500 Cuban exiles landed from their US-funded and supplied training camps in Nicaragua. Before the invasion, US-based terrorists burned thousands of acres of Cuban sugar cane, blew up a Belgian ship in Havana harbour and at least 8 American B-26 bombers bombed airfields, killing hundreds of Cuban civilians (“Operation Puma”). The invaders are defeated in 72 hours without anticipated US military support (US naval and airforce craft participated, but Cuban exiles would call Kennedy's failure to provide combat forces a "betrayal"). Twelve hundred of the invaders are captured, 114 killed. The CIA had predicted a popular uprising against Castro among the Cuban people, but it never materialized.
The CIA trained and equipped Cuban exile Felix Rodriguez to murder Castro, but he fails in three attempts after being landed on Cuban shores. Rodriguez would later oversee the execution of Che Guevara in Bolivia. In May, the CIA creates ‘ZR Rifle,’ a plan to assassinate Castro. Another CIA plan this year was to create a phony invasion at Guantanamo to force US intervention into Cuba.
In January, the US breaks off all diplomatic relations with Cuba. Castro acknowledges his revolution is Marxist-Leninist. US President John Kennedy launches a verbal attack on Cuba at the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 20, in Washington, DC. Castro calls this the “Year of Education” and launches his Great Campaign for Literacy this year, reducing Cuban illiteracy from over 20 per cent to 4 per cent within a couple of years.
The CIA makes several unsuccessful attempts to kill Fidel and Raul Castro this year. In late 1961, US President Kennedy approves Operation Mongoose to topple Castro, using “terrorism and subversion” and finally invoking US military intervention to “overthrow the Castro regime.” The Mexican ambassador to the USA rejects Kennedy’s attempt to organize collective action against Cuba, saying “if we publicly declare that Cuba is a threat to our security, 40 million Mexicans will die laughing.” One-quarter of the island's buses were out of operation for want of spare parts late in 1961.
The CIA and the Catholic Church launch “Operation Peter Pan,” the largest exodus of children in the West. From December 26, 1960 through October 22, 1962, 14,048 unaccompanied children between 6 and 18 years old were taken out of Cuba for the US. The CIA spread the rumour that the Cuban government was taking children away from their Cuban parents for indoctrination in Communist schools. The US State Department assisted the removal of the children, many of whom never reunited with their parents or families.
1962: Early in the year, US spy planes (U-2s) begin flying over Cuba airspace to photograph the island.
Under pressure from the USA still smarting over its failed invasion, Cuba is thrown out of the OAS (members claiming that Marxist-Leninist ideology is incompatible with the inter-American system). The USA also starts a full trade embargo against Cuba, banning all Cuban imports by presidential decree. The OAS votes to suspend trade in military goods with Cuba. Cuba asks the UN Security Council to suspend OAS measures but the UN doesn’t intervene.
Cuba turns to the USSR for support – despite Castro’s resistance, the Soviets put nuclear missiles in Cuba, but are forced to remove them after the US enforces a naval quarantine (supported by the OAS) against the island. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev is forced to back down when nuclear war looms over his gamble.
Pope John XXIII excommunicates Castro. Another CIA operation, approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in February - Operation Bingo - called for faking a Cuban attack on the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, "thus providing the excuse for use of U.S. military might to overthrow the current government." There was even suggestion of blowing up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay to create an incident similar to the Maine in 1898. The CIA has a box of cigars laced with botulism delivered to Castro through a Mafia operative. The CIA drops leaflets over Cuba offering rewards for assassinating Cuban leaders - $150,000 for Fidel, $120,000 for Che.
In August, US President Kennedy escalates terrorist attacks against Cuba, which include strafing tourist hotels and British ships. He issues National Security memorandum No. 181 to “engineer an internal revolt that would be followed by US military intervention” in Cuba. Although Kennedy ostensibly cancelled the terrorist operations in October, on Nov. 8, a terrorist team from the USA blew up a Cuban industrial facility, killing 400 workers. This sent a clear message to the Soviets that the US was backpedaling on assurances not to attack Cuba.
Congress passes the Foreign Assistance Act, including an amendment barring aid to "any country which furnishes assistance to the present government of Cuba." This provision is further amended the following year to withhold foreign aid from countries that allow ships under their flag to carry goods to or from Cuba. This begins the full trade embargo against Cuba.
Only one-half of Cuba's 1,400 railroad passenger cars were functioning in 1962. The sugar industry was particularly affected, especially by the failure of the transport system and mill breakdowns.
Cuba releases the remaining 1,000 prisoners from the US-sponsored invasion at the Bay of Pigs in exchange for $53 million in baby food and medical supplies. The prisoners return home in time for Christmas.
In early 1962, US military leaders, working with the NSA proposed “Operation Northwoods,” a secret plan to commit terrorist acts against Americans and blame Cuba to create a pretext for invasion and the ouster of Fidel Castro. "We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington," said one document reportedly prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Northwoods plan also proposed that if the 1962 launch of John Glenn into orbit were to fail, resulting in the astronaut's death, the U.S. government would publicize fabricated evidence that Cuba used electronic interference to sabotage the flight.
1963: US President Kennedy prohibits travel to Cuba, and makes financial and commercial transactions with Cuba illegal. He authorizes the CIA to renew support for exiles’ attacks on selected Cuban targets and all Cuban-owned assets in the USA are frozen.
Castro uses Soviet equipment to jam anti-Cuban broadcasts from the USA. The CIA uses a Cuban operative to try to poison Castro at the Havana Libre Hotel. After that fails, they develop a poison pen for use against Castro by Cuban dissident and exile, Rolando Cubela.
Kennedy prohibits shipments of cargoes paid for by the US government on foreign-flag ships that have called on a Cuban port. He also encourages maritime unions to boycott ships named on US government blacklist because of their trade with Cuba. Invoking Trading with the Enemy Act, US the freezes all Cuban assets in the US (about $33 million). Enforcement of the Cuban sanctions is transferred from the Department of Commerce to the Treasury Department. Treasury requires all American management employees and officers to oppose transactions with Cuba Under US pressure, NATO countries agree to embargo military items, but continues its economic trade with Cuba. The American policy of blacklisting ships increases Cuban freight costs by $50 million annually (equal to about 15 percent of the value of trade with non-socialist countries in that year).
In November, Kennedy is assassinated. White House papers declassified in 2003 showed Kennedy was planning a secret meeting with Fidel Castro to negotiate normalization of Cuban-American relations. Castro attempted to restart the talks with Lyndon Johnson, but was rebuffed because Johnson didn't want to appear "soft" on Communism. Recent literature and declassified material ties anti-Castro exiles, the Mafia and the CIA together as conspirators in Kennedy's assassination.
1964: Castro offers to stop material aid to Latin American revolutionaries if the American ends its activities against Cuba. Washington rejects the offer and instead demands Cuba end its dependency on the Soviet Union first. Under US pressure, the OAS also adopts sanctions against Cuba, and demands all members sever diplomatic and trade relations. Only Mexico refuses to comply.
In December, anti-Castro Cuban exiles fire a bazooka at UN headquarters in New York during a speech by Che Guevara to the General Assembly, in an attempt to assassinate Che. CIA frogmen plant two bombs on a Cuban navy vessel at the Isle of Pines. The explosion kills four and injures 17.
The Commerce Department revokes the general license permitting the export of food and medicine to Cuba, and makes these transactions subject to approval. The Department’s policy is to deny license requests for commercial transactions and only approve humanitarian donations.
Following the discovery of an arms cache of Cuban origin in Venezuela, the OAS calls for mandatory sanctions covering all trade with Cuba except food and medicine (about $18 million annually). Under US guidance, the OAS recommends severing of diplomatic relations with Cuba – but Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico dissent.
1965: Cuba opens the fishing port of Camarioca to allow foreign boats to remove anyone wanting to leave the island. About 7,500 refugees leave for the USA. In December, the Cuban airlift allows more people to leave - about 45,000 refugees flee in the next year. The US claims to halt the terror campaign against Cuba – but only until 1969. By 1965 nine sugar mills had been cannibalized for parts required by the others.
1966: US President Lyndon Johnson signs a law to exempt Cuban immigrants from general US immigration laws, and allows any Cuban who reached US territory since January 1, 1959 to become eligible for permanent residency after two years. 123,000 Cubans immediately apply for permanent status. In December, US Air Force pilot Everett Jackson is shot down over Cuba after dropping arms and equipment meant for counterrevolutionaries. Jackson is captured.
1967: While in Bolivia attempting to foment a socialist revolution, Che Guevara is captured and executed.
1968: Castro nationalizes 55,000 small Cuban businesses. The state now controls nearly all trades and services.
1969: Castro announces a campaign to produce ten million tons of sugar in the next harvest. In solidarity, dissident American students and workers, as well as many international volunteers, form the Venceremos Brigade, to help with the harvest. The harvest did not reach its target. Newly elected US President Richard Nixon directs the CIA to intensify covert actions against Cuba, ending the hiatus in terrorist operations.
1970: Although it had its own naval base at Guantanamo, the US warned the USSR to discontinue construction of a nuclear submarine base in Cienfuegos.
1971: Cuba experiences negative growth of 1.2 percent per year over the 1960-71 period. Castro visits newly-elected Chilean President Salvadore Allende in Santiago.
1972: The Center for Cuban Studies is established in New York to promote cultural and academic exchanges. Cuba and the USA begin formal negotiations over the problem of airline hijackings – they sign an agreement in early 1973. Of the 161 sugar mills existing in 1969, only 115 still functioned by spring, 1972. The CIA introduces the virus causing African swine fever into Cuba, and over half a million hogs had to be slaughtered and the carcasses burned, which both harmed the economy and deprived the people of food.
1973: The Cuban airlift ends. Since it started in 1965, 3,049 flights had flown 260,561 Cubans to the USA. The CIA backs a right-wing military coup in Chile to overthrow the legally elected left wing president, Salvadore Allende. Under Chile’s new dictator, Agosto Pinochet, the country would undergo its most oppressive, brutal government.
1974: OMEGA 7, a violent anti-Castro terrorist group is founded in the USA. US Senators Claiborne Pell and Jacob Javits visit Cuba, the first American elected officials to visit the island since diplomatic relations were severed. In November, American officials conducted secret normalization talks with Cuban officials, but broke them off over Cuban involvement in Angola.
George Bush Sr. becomes head of the CIA,. He asks Orlando Bosch to unite all the Cuban exile - the “Miami mafia” groups into one organization, CORU. CORU would be responsible for more than 100 terrorist acts in 25 countries, including the bombing of a Cubana airplane in 1976, that killed 73 people, mostly teenagers.
1975: The OAS voted to end political and economic sanctions against Cuba.
Angola is invaded by the apartheid forces of the Republic of South Africa. The leftist Angolan government begs for Cuban military support and Castro agrees to send in troops and equipment in response to South Africa's invasion. Washington claimed at the time that South Africa invaded in order to prevent a Cuban take-over of the country.
The US announced that it would allow foreign subsidiaries of US companies to sell products in Cuba, and that it would no longer penalize other nations for trade with Cuba. However, US President Gerald Ford warned that Cuban involvement in Angola prevented restoring full diplomatic relations. US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reiterated that there was no possibility of relations with Cuba while Cuba has troops in Africa. Cuba had 36,000 combat troops in Angola. The US threatens military action if Cuba sends more troops elsewhere, and makes withdrawal of troops from Angola a condition for normalizing economic relations. A US government investigation, presided over by Senator Frank Church, confirms that Castro is one of the CIA’s prime targets for assassination in the 1960s.
1976: Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau visits Cuba, the first of many visits both officially and unofficially. Castro would visit Canada to attend Trudeau’s funeral in 2000. Trudeau was the first NATO leader to visit Cuba after Castro took power and led the way in challenging US trade sanctions against Cuba.
A CIA-trained anti-Cuban terrorist named Luis Posada Carrilles bombs a Cuban plane, killing 73 passengers, mostly teenagers. In 1998, Carrilles admitted to being paid for a decade of terrorist activities by the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), a Miami-based non-profit organization with powerful lobbyists in Washington.
1977: US President Jimmy Carter lifted the ban on travel to Cuba and on US citizens spending dollars in Cuba. Cuba and the USA signed a maritime boundary and fishing rights accord. But before summer, the US State Department warned that Cuba's recent deployment of military advisors in Ethiopia could "impede the improvement of US-Cuban relations." Some Cuban troops withdraw from Angola;
Diplomatic interests sections are opened in Havana and Washington and discussions between the two countries are initiated on broad range of issues. Congress also repeals the provision of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 banning aid to countries permitting their vessels to trade with Cuba. The National Security Council rescinds the ship blacklist.
1978: Castro demanded the closing of US bases in Guantanamo Bay. Anti-Castro terrorists bomb the Cuban mission in the UN, then also bomb the Cuban Interests Section, and the Soviet UN Mission. Cuban exile terrorists again bombed the Cuban Mission to the UN a month later. No arrests were ever made. Treasury regulations are revised to permit remittances up to $500 per quarter to close relatives in Cuba. Cuba deploys 20,000 troops in Ethiopia, and purchases Soviet MiG-23 fighter planes for air defence. Inspired by Cuba, Katangan rebels attack government forces in Zaire, ruled by the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
1979: Cuba allows exiles and refugees to return to visit their families in Cuba - more than 100,000 visit in the coming year. US Representative Ted Weiss attempted to bring in legislation to end the US trade blockade against Cuba and re-establish diplomatic relations, but was unsuccessful. A Soviet "combat brigade" is observed in Cuba. US starts its list of states it believes sponsors terrorism, includes Cuba – but American-sponsored terrorism in Cuba is ignored.
Castro visits Harlem, his first return to the New York community that gave him free accommodations in 1960.
Cuba serves as president of the association of Non-Aligned Nations, and does so for several years.
1980: Castro announces that anyone who wishes to leave the country would be allowed to leave from the port of Mariel. The Mariel Boatlift eventually removes 125,000 Cubans refugees to the USA over several months. In September, anti-Castro terrorists assassinated a Cuban attaché to the UN mission in New York.
Junta Patriotica Cubana (Cuban Patriotic Coalition) replaced CORU as the self-proclaimed central organizational structure of the anti-Castro terrorist community.
Anti-Cuban terrorist group Omega 7 bombs the Cuban consulate in Montreal, Canada. In 1980, Omega 7 also helped drug dealers collect money in order to fund their own activities.
1981: Newly-elected US President Ronald Reagan announces a tightening of the embargo “in response to Cuban promotion of leftist revolution in Central America, especially El Salvador.” His administration proposes Radio Martí (anti-Castro radio broadcasts to the island). Regan accused Cuba as being the instigator of Marxist control in Nicaragua, and supporter of El Salvador insurgents against the pro-US dictatorship. Regan called Grenada a "virtual surrogate" of Cuba. He campaigned to obtain Latin American cooperation against Castro.
In the USA, Jorge Mas Canosa founds the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), a lobbyist group for a hard line against Castro and financial backer of several terrorists and terrorist groups. When the US Navy begins four weeks of exercises in the Caribbean in the fall, Cuba mobilized its reserves and went on full alert in preparation for an anticipated U.S. invasion. Cuba would double its military force in the next few months in response to the threat.
Between 1979 and 1981, four destructive plagues were introduced into Cuba that attacked people and crops: hemorrhagic conjunctivitis; dengue; sugarcane smut; and blue-mold blight, which affected tobacco plants. Hemorrhagic dengue, alone, attacked 344,203 people, 158 of whom (including 101 children) died.
1982: US President Ronald Reagan reestablished the travel ban against Cuba, prohibited US citizens from spending money in Cuba, and ended the 1977 fishing accord. In May, the US bans all business, tourist travel to Cuba. After 8 years of terrorist activities, the FBI finally investigates Omega 7. Its leader, Eduaro Arocena is arrested, admits to numerous acts including bombings and murders/ Arocena escaped to continue bombings, and hid until his arrest in 1983. Many of the others named by Arocena as responsible for terrorist acts are never caught until 2000, and some remain at large today.
Cuba declares its inability to repay the principal on its debt, estimated at $10.5 - $11 billion, including a hard-currency debt of about $3 billion. Cuba also announced it was unable to repay the principal $1.3 billion of debt to Western banks. The Reagan Administration warned “it would disapprove of too generous terms being conceded to Cuba by Washington's allies."
1983: Shortly after a coup by a pro-Castro Marxist leader in Grenada (ironically a coup against an already pro-Soviet government), the US invaded Grenada with 8,000 troops. They attack 43 Cuban military personnel and 636 construction workers building a new airfield for the island. The US marines captured 642 Cubans, killed 24, and wounded 57. The invaders occupied the island and set up a pro-US puppet provisional government. Within the first week, 79 world governments condemned or expressed disapproval of the invasion, including Britain. The United Nations General Assembly later voted 108 to 9 to condemn the American action as a clear violation of international law.
In the case of Regan v. Wald, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rule U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba are invalid. The U.S. government appealed.
1984: Despite Castro’s continued demands that the US abandon the base, the US Department of Defence spent $43 million to refurbish the naval base at Guantanamo Bay. US Presidential candidate Jesse Jackson visited Cuba and attained some small victories for normalizing relations. After Jackson’s visit, Cuba and the USA agreed on a new immigration program, but it only lasted a few months.
Eduardo Arosena, a Cuban-born CIA agent and leader of the Omega-7 terrorist group, told a US jury he had participated in a biological warfare operation in which germs were introduced in Cuba.
In May, President Reagan appointed the controversial Jorge Mas Canosa, a Miami businessman, veteran of CIA propaganda operations, and leader of the anti-Castro lobbying/terrorist group CANF, as chair of the President’s Advisory Board for Broadcasting to Cuba.
The US terrorist-training camp, the “School of the Americas” is kicked out of Panama under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, calls the School the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.” The US protests and demands a 15-year extension to operate the school, but Panamanian President Manuel Noriega refuses unless the school is reconstituted to teach lessons in health care, rural medicine and creating peasant cooperatives. America would never forgive Noriega for this. It relocates at the US Army base at Fort Benning, Georgia. The US then chose to support and fund Panamanian opposition leader Nicolas Barletta in his bid for presidency.
After the US administration appealed a court decision that challenged US citizens’ rights to travel, the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to uphold Treasury Department restrictions on travel to Cuba on the grounds that they are part of the embargo rather than “political control of the right to travel.”
1985: Anti-Castro Cuban exiles get the support of US President Ronald Regan to broadcast hard-line anti-Castro news and information from the US to Cuba on Radio Marti, funded by American tax dollars. In protest, Cuba cancels the existing immigration agreement with the US. Bowing to continued pressure from right-wing lobbyists, Reagan bans travel to the US by Cuban government or Communist party officials or their representatives, including students, scholars, and artists.
Following Angola's announcement of willingness to phase out Cuban troop presence in return for South African withdrawal from Namibia, Castro expresses support for US mediation effort in region. He also says number of Cuban troops in Ethiopia has fallen to a "symbolic" level. As popular support for the military adventure wanes, Castro hints at "substantial lowering of Cuban military ambitions in Africa."
Reports prepared by Cuban National Bank for its Paris Club creditors reveals that Cuba has been buying cheap sugar on world market, and reselling it to Soviets at several times world price, using profits to purchase cheap Soviet oil, which it then resold for hard currency. The USSR suspended Cuba's payments on its $9 billion debt, but said it would restart payments in 1986. Cuba's total debt to the USSR was estimated at $22 billion.
1986: The Reagan administration plugs holes in its embargo by cracking down on circumvention through front companies in third countries. The US also revokes permission for Cubans to obtain US visas in third countries, reduces the value of gifts that Cubans living in US can send annually to relatives back home from $2,000 to $1,200. The US begins a campaign to de-stabilize Panama by vilifying its leader, Manuel Noriega, and supporting his opponents.
1987: The US proposes a motion at the UN that harshly criticizes Cuba for alleged human rights violations. It is voted down by the UN Human Rights Commission. Cuban General Rafael del Pino defects to the USA and speaks on Radio Martí against Castro and the Cuban leadership. In response, Cuban television airs a documentary about continued American espionage activities in Havana.
When Castro agrees to withdraw his military advisers from Central America, the US and Cuba restore the earlier immigration agreement. According to the US Treasury Department, trade between US foreign subsidiaries and Cuba averaged $260 million a year from 1982 to 1987.
1988: When a delegation of American human rights leaders inspect Cuban prisons, they report conditions in the prisons are generally no worse than those in U.S. prisons, that there is no evidence of systematic abuses, and that some practices such as conjugal visits are more humane than those in the US.
In December, Cuba, Angola, South Africa reach agreement under which Cuban troops will leave Angola, and South Africa will withdraw troops from Namibia, implement UN plan for Namibian independence. The failure of the South African Army to conquer Angola is a prime cause in the downfall of the apartheid government and will win Cuba lasting respect and affection throughout Africa. More than 2,000 Cubans lost their lives defending Angola from the invaders. South African President Nelson Mandela would become a steadfast friend of Castro.
A 1988 study estimates that US embargo has cost US firms $30 billion in lost exports over the past 25 years.
1989: Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev visits Cuba. When the Berlin Wall is torn down, the Soviet bloc began to disintegrate. The US moved quickly to normalize relations with many of the Communist and formerly Communist countries. China, the largest Communist country, was granted "most favoured nation" status. The embargo was even lifted against Vietnam, with whom the USA had fought a brutal war in which hundreds of thousands of Americans died. But the embargo against Cuba, one of the smallest, remains.
Cuba begins a spiral into a severe economic crisis accelerated by the American embargo. Castro, apparently seeking to improve relations with US, offers to cooperate in curbing drug trafficking and other matters of mutual interest. President George Bush, campaigning for a Cuban-American congressional candidate in Miami, says he would like to normalize relations with Cuba but not until it "reforms its political system and ends human rights abuses."
Political upheaval, attempted economic reforms disrupt Soviet and East European trade, and aid relations with Cuba. In December, after an extensive campaign to demonize its leader in order to justify military intervention, the US invades Panama, 11 days before treaties require the US to turn the Canal over to Panamanian rule. The US forces deposed their former ally and CIA operative, General Manuel Antonio Noriega. In the process, the US military bombed civilian homes and killed thousands of Panamanian civilians. This constrained Cuba's ability to use both Panama's banking system, and the free trade zone at Colon, to circumvent US trade embargo. Panamanians would later recognize December 20, the day of the invasion as a national day of mourning.
On the advice of his friend, Nobel Prize-winning author writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Castro appears at public functions in a business suit, or dressed in other than his familiar army fatigues.
1990: Washington uses tax dollars to launch TV Marti, to broadcast anti-Castro messages to Cuba. It is jammed in Cuba. June. The Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture in Miami is bombed by anti-Cuban terrorist for exhibiting work by artists living in Cuba.
Orlando Bosch, convicted international terrorist and former CIA operative who helped mastermind the bombing of the Cuban airline in 1976, is granted a presidential pardon by US President George Bush, and released. He had been jailed for a 1968 bazooka attack on a Polish ship in Miami (for trading with Cuba) and for sending death threats to the heads of state of France, Italy and Spain because their countries trade with Cuba.
Two armed anti-Cuban terrorists from Miami infiltrate Cuba via Santa Cruz del Norte with orders to commit acts of violence. They are caught with weapons and forged documents issued in Miami. They were also carrying flyers inviting people to join a “Cuban Liberation Army.”
The US Congress passed the Mack Amendment to prohibit all trade with Cuba by subsidiaries of US companies located outside the US, and proposed sanctions or cessation of aid to any country that buys sugar or other products from Cuba. Canada and the United Kingdom expressed strong opposition to the extraterritorial nature of the proposed trade restriction measure. Subsidiaries of US companies exported $700 million to Cuba in 1990, up from an average of $270 million over the previous decade.
US-funded and supported conservatives win the Nicaraguan election with 55% of the popular vote, defeating the socialist Sandanistas.
1991: Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev announces the withdrawal of all Soviet troops from Cuba. By year end, the Soviet Union disbands, ending $6 billion in annual economic subsidies and subsidized petroleum deliveries. The Cuban administration approves the establishment of an email connection between Cuba and Canada (established in 1992).
José Basulto, former Bay of Pigs mercenary, known terrorist and former CIA agent, founded the so-called “Brothers to the Rescue.” US President Bush gave the group three United States Air Force 0-2 aircraft, the military version of the Cessna. Congresswoman Ileana Ros campaigned publicly and lobbied for the aircraft. Two other anti-Cuban terrorists from Miami infiltrated Cuba to sabotage shops frequented by tourists and spread terror among foreign tourists. They were caught with weapons and a radio transmitter. In December, three more anti-Cuban terrorists from the US-based terrorist group Comandos L were caught with weapons and other military equipment.
Cuba completes the withdrawal of its troops from Angola. Cuban officials estimate that US sanctions have cost its economy $15 billion from 1961 to 1991.All Cuban troops outside Cuba are withdrawn.
Cuba hosts the Pan-American Games, despite strong US opposition. However, the cost of building the new sports facilities seriously hurts Cuba's already damaged economy.
1992: Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton endorses the “Cuban Democracy Act” while on a Florida campaign stop. President Bush issues an executive order restricting access to US ports of third-country vessels servicing Cuba. In order to limit Cuba's hard-currency earnings, President Bush also permits direct air charters between Miami and Havana for shipments of humanitarian packages. Previously, the Cuban government received high fees for US packages routed through Mexico.
US President George Bush clamps down on Cuba by signing the “Torricelli” act to tighten the embargo despite the severe economic and social crisis in Cuba following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. This so-called “Cuba Democracy Act” deprives Cuba of the right to trade with US subsidiaries (worth $700 million in annual trade). Its author, anti-Cuban US Congressman Robert Torricelli, boasts the bill is designed to "wreak havoc on the island" and will bring down Castro "within weeks."
The bill forbids foreign subsidiaries of US companies from dealing with Cuba, prohibits any ship that has docked in Cuban harbors from entering US ports for 180 days, and calls for a termination of aid to any country that provides assistance to Cuba. The UK and Canada bar US subsidiaries located in their countries from complying with CDA provisions.
US-based anti-Cuban terrorist group "Comandos L" fires shots at the Hotel Melia on Varadero Beach and carries out at least eight terrorist raids against Cuba this year. The US Coast Guard violates Cuban waters to rescue Comandos L crew on a boat that malfunctioned during one of their raids. They were released by the FBI and not charged.
When a Cuban pilot and his accomplices hijack a Cuban plane and force it to fly to Miami, the US Department of Justice refuses to take any action against the hijackers despite previous agreements with Cuba (the 1973 bilateral anti-hijacking agreement).
Russia signs a series of trade agreements with Cuba, including a new oil-for-sugar barter agreement. Russia offers to trade 2.3 million tons of oil in exchange for 1.5 millions tons of sugar in 1993 (down from 13 million tons of oil in 1990 and 10 million tons in 1991). The UN General Assembly votes 59 to 3, with 79 abstentions, to lift economic sanctions against Cuba. Only Romania and Israel join the US in opposing the measure. Opposition to the embargo increases each year, with only Israel consistently voting with the US. By 1992 the value of total trade turnover (exports plus imports) between Cuba and the former Soviet bloc countries had fallen to $830 million about 8% of its 1989 level.
Cuba ends its military backing for revolutionary movements in other countries. The new 1992 Constitution and new laws provided some property rights to foster international investment. References to the Soviet Union and the international socialist community were purged from the Constitution. The state would no longer be atheist though it would remain secular. Religious believers were welcomed into the Communist party.
Cuba takes the initiative to recognize and establish diplomatic relations with Grenada. A month later, the Caribbean Tourism Organization admitted Cuba as a member.
1993: Tony Bryant, leader of the anti-Cuban terrorist group “Comandos L,” gave a press conference in Miami where he announced plans to carry out more attacks against targets in Cuba, especially hotels. He said “from now on, we are at war with Cuba” and warned foreign tourists to “stay away from Cuba.” The US administration did nothing.
In April the Cypriot-owned tanker Mikonos was fired on in Cuban waters from a vessel manned by terrorists of Cuban origin operating from the United States. The American-based anti-Cuban terrorist group, “Brothers to the Rescue” publicly encouraged attempts on the life of President Fidel Castro and violence against Cuba, and confirmed their willingness to accept the “resulting risks.” Andrés Nazario Sargén, head of the American-based anti-Cuban terrorist group, Alpha 66, announced in the United States that his organization had recently completed five operations against Cuba. Humberto Pérez, spokesman for Alpha 66 in Miami, announced at a press conference that its war against Cuba would shortly be extended to any tourist visiting the island. He stated “those who stay in Cuban hotels are considered as enemies.” US security services do nothing.
Cuba ends ban on the use of American dollars as currency and makes it legal for its people to possess and use the US dollar. The dollar becomes the major currency in use. The Clinton administration announces that it will permit companies to invest in improving telephone service between Cuba and the US.
Cuban Ambassador to the UN Fernando Remirez de Estenoz estimates that US sanctions cost Cuba $970 million in 1993.
Castro gives French spirits corporation Pernod Ricard a monopoly on the island’s rum manufacturing, which will bring in more than $20 million in profit annually until 2004.
1994: US tightens immigration laws against Cuba. The United Nations again condemns the US blockade of Cuba, and will do so every year to the present.
Aircraft owned by “Brothers to the Rescue” flew over Havana at low altitude and dropped smoke bombs. In first months of 1994, there were at least seven other violations by the same group. Two terrorists from the United States were caught with weapons and large amounts of ammunition. Another armed group in a vessel coming from Florida fired automatic weapons against the Guitart Cayo Coco Hotel.
In October, a group of armed terrorists from the United States landed on the causeway to “Cayo Santa Maria” near Caibarién, Villa Clara, and assassinated a Cuban national. “Brothers to the Rescue” also planned to make an attempt on the life of President Fidel Castro and other Cuban leaders of the Revolution, and to smuggle weapons and explosives into Cuba.
Terrorist Luis Posada Carriles and five accomplices smuggled weapons into Cartagena, Colombia, during the Ibero-American Summit for an attempt on the life of President Fidel Castro, but the security forces kept them away. Posada Carriles later boasted about the attempt to the New York Times.
Four terrorists were arrested in Varadero, Matanzas with weapons and ammunition.
In November, a report issued by Americas Watch and the Fund for Free Expression (Dangerous Dialogue: Attacks on Freedom of Expression in Miami's Cuban Exile Community) details attacks on academic freedoms and other serious restrictions on freedoms of expression in America’s Cuban community for those who dissent from a rigid anti-Castro stand.
A tugboat stolen in an attempt to escape the island sinks and 32 Cubans drown. Cuba claims it was an accident, while American anti-Cuban groups claim it was a deliberate sinking by Cuban coastguard authorities.
This is the first year since 1989 that Cuba sees economic growth. US lifts a ban on the import of nickel from states of the former Soviet Union, which had been banned because of the inability of US customs officials to determine whether nickel sold from the Soviet Union was re-exported from Cuba. In an effort to improve ties with its neighbours, Cuba joins the Association of Caribbean States. Mexican President Carlos Salinas announces that a Mexican company, Grupo Domos, invested $1.5 billion to purchase a 49 percent share of Cuba's national telephone company because Cuba needs foreign technology to update its antiquated telecommunications infrastructure.
The Canadian Foreign Ministry announces that it will resume development assistance to Cuba after a 16-year ban; the aid is channeled through private relief organizations.
Food shortages lead to political disturbances in Cuba, which in turn result in large numbers of refugees attempting to enter the US. Reversing previous favorable treatment, the US bars entry of Cuban refugees fleeing the island by sea and begins to intern them at its Guantanamo Naval Base in southeastern Cuba. More than 27,000 Cubans are detained. In response to Cuba's refusal to stem the tide of refugees, the Clinton administration tightens controls on travel to Cuba and bans dollar remittances from Cuban-Americans to family members in Cuba.
Cuba and the US sign an immigration accord to stem the exodus of refugees. The US will not accept Cuban refugees who flee over water, but agrees to grant at least 20,000 immigrant visas at its diplomatic offices in Havana each year, up from an average of 11,000 issued annually over the previous decade.
The CIA declassifies their 1967 Inspector General’s report that documents eight assassination attempts against Castro, with the US government in conspiracy with right-wing terrorist groups and the Mafia.
The Association of Caribbean States was founded in 1994, with Cuba as a charter member.
1995: Two anti-Cuban terrorists from the USA are caught carrying 51 pounds of C-4 explosives and other equipment. Terrorists on a fast launch originating in the US launched another attack on the Guitart Cayo Coco Hotel.
The Cuban National Assembly passes a foreign investment law that permits foreign companies and individuals, including Cuban exiles, to own 100 percent of equity in Cuban investments, replacing joint-venture requirements involving the Cuban government. All sectors except health, education, and defense are open under the new regulations. However, most foreign employers are still required to hire employees through the Cuban government and to pay employees in dollars through the government, which then paid the workers in pesos.
President Clinton eases restrictions on travel to Cuba for educational, religious, and human rights purposes. The move is strongly criticized by anti-Castro members of Congress, who pledge to redouble their efforts to tighten sanctions on Cuba.
Andre Ouellet, Canadian Foreign Minister, tells the media "We cannot accept that our Canadian firms, who are legitimately doing business in other countries, be restricted by foreign legislations."
Cuba owes Japan $2 billion in loans, which have not been repaid since Japan rescheduled the debt in 1989.
The British government establishes the British Cooperation Fund-Small Grants Scheme in Cuba to fund small-scale capital projects on the island.
The US administration makes plans to continue US military occupation of the Panama Canal through 2000, although they had signed a treaty to turn it over to Panamanian control by Dec. 31, 1989. However, US military presence ends Dec. 31, 1999.
1996: Andre Ouellet, Canadian Foreign Minister, says, "We have made it clear time and time again to the US Congress and Administration that Canada will not tolerate any interference in the sovereignty of Canadian laws."
US President Bill Clinton signs the Helms-Burton Act (so-called “Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act”) that allows the USA to penalize foreign companies that invest in Cuban properties seized after the Revolution. Clinton ties the end of the embargo with the establishment of a US-approved “democracy.” The Helms Burton Act also deprived the President of any discretionary power to end any aspect of the embargo. The bill permits Americans with claims to property expropriated by the Cuban government to sue for damages foreign corporations or individuals that "traffick" in such property. The US also denies entry to the executives and major shareholders, as well as their immediate families, of firms found to be "trafficking" in expropriated property. The legislation also restricts US aid to independent states of the former Soviet Union if they provide assistance for intelligence facilities in Cuba, or for completion of the Juragua nuclear facility, but also provides waivers for humanitarian aid or aid to promote market reforms and democratization. It reaffirms the embargo under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Work on the nuclear power plant was shut down in the early 1990s and the plant mothballed.
Cuban Air Force shoots down two of three small US-registered planes violating Cuban airspace after they ignore radio warnings and refuse to turn back. Planes belong to Cuban exile group, "Brothers to the Rescue." President Clinton condemns the action, suspends charter travel from the US. There are 25 violations of Cuban airspace in 20 months by American-based terrorist groups.
Canadian Trade Minister Art Eggleton announces that Canada will seek consultations with the US under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) regarding the legality of the Helms-Burton bill. Mexico soon joins in the request. Canadian officials also say they will try to include provisions in the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) that would prevent the US from imposing secondary sanctions on its trading partners.
The European Union suspends discussions with Havana on an economic cooperation agreement because of Cuba's failure to enact political reforms and economic liberalization. The US denies visas to some shareholders and senior executives of the Canadian mining company Sherritt International under the Helms-Burton law. President Clinton invokes the national interest waiver and imposes a moratorium of at least six months on the filing of suits.
The State Department threatens to ban executives of the Mexican telecommunications company Grupo Domos from entering the USA under the Helms-Burton Act. The other 34 members of the OAS pass a resolution declaring that the Helms-Burton Act "does not conform to international law." The Mexican Congress overwhelmingly approves a Helms-Burton "antidote" law that imposes fines of up to $301,000 on Mexican companies that comply with the US legislation.
The severe Hurricane Lili inflicts considerable damage on the sugar harvest in Cuba. Estimated losses for the affected provinces are 20 percent, or a minimum of 70,000 tons. Washington announces that aircraft carrying emergency relief supplies to Cuba will be allowed to fly directly from US territory. The European Commission approves a $10.5 million humanitarian aid package for Cuba.
The European Union (EU) Council of Ministers approves anti-boycott legislation that forbids compliance with the Helms-Burton Act unless an EU firm receives a waiver on grounds that refusing to comply will seriously injure either a company's or the EU's interests. US court awards under Helms-Burton will not be recognized, and can be recovered in the EU if a successful American claimant has property there.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) agrees to establish a dispute settlement panel to review the EU's complaint about the Helms-Burton law. The Canadian Parliament passes anti-Helms-Burton legislation penalizing companies for obeying the US law, allowing the attorney general to block US court judgments, and allowing Canadians to recoup penalties. President Clinton responds by waiving Title III of the Helms-Burton Act for another six months.
The Canadian Federation of Students, together with religious and other activist groups in Canada, urge Canadian tourists to boycott Florida and consider Cuba when planning their winter vacations. In the nineties, tourism has become the Cuban economy's most dynamic sector. In 1994 gross foreign-exchange earnings from tourism took first place, overtaking the sugar industry. In 1996 tourism accounted for 35% of revenue from goods and services.
ING, the Dutch bank, whose subsidiaries have substantial interests in the US, stops financing the Cuban sugar industry and does not renew $30 million in loans to Cubazucar, the state-owned trading company.
A previously unknown potato plague, Thrips palmi, suddenly appeared in the western part of the Cuba, in Matanzas and Havana Provinces, a few weeks after a plane with US registration and operated by the State Department flew over that area from north to south, seen intermittently spraying an unknown substance seven times.
The US Congress passed a bill to 'compensate' anti-Castro exiles and their families in Florida by selling Cuban assets previously frozen.
By 1996, Cuba’s military budget has fallen 74%, down to only 3.9% of the country’s total budget.
Castro visited the Santiago grave of his friend, Salvadore Allende, Chile’s president overthrown by a CIA-backed coup in 1973.
1997: US-supported Cuban exile groups engage in terrorist bombings in hotels in Havana, killing several people. Bombs exploded in the Melia Cohiba Hotel, in Havana, an explosive device was found in the Melia Cohiba Hotel, bombs exploded in the Capri and National hotels, another bomb exploded in the Melia Cohiba Hotel, a bomb exploded in the Sol Palmeras Hotel in Varadero, bombs exploded in the Tritón, Chateau Miramar and Copacabana hotels. The explosion in the latter killed Fabio Di Celmo, a young Italian tourist. That same day, another bomb went off in the El Bodeguita del Medio restaurant. The Cuban Government arrested Raúl Cruz León, a citizen of El Salvador, responsible for planting six of the bombs, including the one that killed the Italian tourist. Cruz León admitted that he had been paid US$ 4,500 for each bomb.
In August, the Miami press published a statement by the terrorist group, Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), giving unconditional support to terrorist bomb attacks on civilian and tourist targets in Cuba. The president of CANF stated, “We do not consider these to be terrorist acts” and added that any action against Cuba was “legitimate.”
Walter Van der Veer, a US citizen, was arrested in Cuba for working undercover for Comandos-L a Cuban exile terrorist group. He faced charges of plotting to overthrow the government, subversion and importing U.S. Army-style weapons onto the island, plus possessing incendiary devices.
The American Association for World Health reports that the embargo has “severe health effects” on Cuba and only the country’s excellent health care system has avoided a “humanitarian disaster.”
In January, the Cuban government passes a law that permits Cuban citizens to sue the US for damages from the 34-year embargo.
The US administration releases a report describing the economic aid that would be available to Cuba once Castro is out of power and the island moves toward a multiparty democracy. Castro angrily accuses the US of "trying to purchase the day of would-be surrender."
WTO Director General Renato Ruggiero names a three-member panel to rule on the Helms-Burton dispute. Within hours, the Clinton administration announces that the US will not "show up" for such proceedings, arguing that Helms-Burton is based on foreign policy rather than commercial concerns and therefore should not be judged in the WTO.
Cuba's government establishes a new central bank as part of its modernization program in the finance and banking sectors, but denies that the bank reflects a move toward a market economy. Noting that Cuba has failed to improve its human rights record, the EU extends by six months its freeze on cooperation with Cuba.
Citing financial problems, the Mexican company Grupo Domos relinquishes its investment in Cuba's telecommunications system. The Italian company Stet replaces Grupo Domos in the Cuban telephone joint venture after reaching a financial settlement with ITT. The company had been expropriated from ITT after the Revolution. The US State Department exempted Stet from sanctions for 10 years.
Senator Jesse Helms noted that "the price of doing business in Castro's tropical gulag has just gone up."
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairman of the House Subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade, introduced legislation that would deny foreign aid (other than humanitarian assistance) and trade preferences to countries that sign free trade agreements with Cuba. Caribbean Community and Common Market (Caricom) countries protest, and warn they will not allow the proposed US legislation to affect their relationship with Cuba.
The US government agrees to ease temporarily its travel ban and embargo against Cuba during the visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba in January 1998. Catholics will be allowed to travel to Cuba from the US, and Catholic churches and charities will be able ship supplies and equipment to help organize the visit. The State Department declares the B.M. Group of Israel has violated Helms-Burton Act and bars the firm's officials from US territory.
TV Martí’s broadcasts are switched from VHF to UHF, in an effort to strengthen the station’s signal in Cuba.
The remains of Che Guevara are returned to Cuba from Bolivia for a state funeral. At the conclusion of the 1997 Party Congress, only six of the 24 Political Bureau members (Cuba’s equivalent to the Soviet Presidium) had belonged prior to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Cuba.
Castro makes Christmas an official Cuban holiday for the first time since the Revolution.
1998: Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien meets Castro in Havanaon a two-day visit to Havana. The two countries start negotiations toward a bilateral investment treaty and the settlement of expropriation issues. Human rights violations and reform issues are also raised by the Canadian prime minister.
The Government of Cuba gives the FBI and other agencies of the United States Government information on terrorist activities and groups working in the United States against Cuba, with specific information, including films, tapes and other material evidence on the activities of 40 terrorists operating from US territory. After they receive the evidence, the FBI instead arrested several Cubans who had infiltrated the terrorist groups in the USA. Five Cubans receive long prison terms and the terrorist groups continued unmolested.
In an interview with the New York Times, Luis Posada Carriles admitted that he organized the bombing campaign against tourist sites in Cuba, that the leaders of the Cuban American National Foundation had financed his operations and that Jorge Mas Canosa, the Foundation’s president, had personally overseen the flow of money and logistical support.
US President Bill Clinton is told by his intelligence advisors that Cuba no longer poses a threat to US national security.
In January, The Pope visits Cuba for the first time since Castro came to power; attributes Cuba's "material and moral poverty" to "limitations to fundamental freedoms" and "discouragement of the individual," as well as to "restrictive economic measures-unjust and ethically unacceptable-imposed from outside the country." Eleven Cuban political prisoners, whose release the Pope requested, are freed and sent to Canada. The Pope strongly condemns the embargo as “monstrously immoral.”
Canadian company Sherritt International, sanctioned under the Helms-Burton law, announced it would build a $150 million natural gas generating plant and invest $38 million in a cell phone company in Cuba.
The Clinton administration eases controls on humanitarian shipment of food and medicine and reinstates the provision allowing Cuban-Americans to send up to $1,200 a year to their relatives in Cuba. Cuban Foreign Minister Roberto Robaína says that Havana will refuse all direct humanitarian aid from the US as long as the US government maintains its embargo on Cuba.
US magazine Forbes put Castro 11th on a recent list of the world's richest “Kings, Queens and Dictators”' with a personal fortune of $100 million. In an interview broadcast Castro indignantly denies he or others had enriched themselves at the expense of the Cuban people.
Cuba reaches an agreement to reschedule its $769 million debt with Japanese private banks, improving bilateral trade and investment relations with Japan.
The Clinton administration announces that it is up to the members of Caricom to decide whether Cuba should become a member of their organization, signaling a softening of US policy toward Cuba.
For the first time in seven years, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights fails to pass a resolution condemning the Castro regime for its human rights violations. The move is a major setback for US foreign policy.
Cuba and the Dominican Republic normalize diplomatic relations, which had been broken off in 1959. This move follows Cuba's restoration of diplomatic relations with Guatemala in 1996, and Haiti and Spain in 1998.
A report of the US Defense Intelligence Agency concludes that Cuba does not pose "a significant military threat to the US and to other countries in the region."
In April the EU lets its WTO challenge to Helms-Burton lapse. The Clinton administration and EU officials reach an agreement that provides for penalties to be imposed on companies that invest in expropriated property, including denial of government export credits and other assistance. In exchange for EU action on expropriated property, US officials agree to seek changes to the Helms-Burton law. In addition, an international registry is established for claims on expropriated property to serve as the basis for government action against subsequent investors. Opponents in Congress maintain that the US-EU agreement is not effective enough in preventing investment in expropriated property in Cuba.
World Food Program Executive Director Catherine Bertini calls for $20.5 million in assistance to Cuba because of drought. The US says it will contribute only if the aid is not disbursed through the Cuban government, but Castro rejects funding not disbursed through Cuban authorities.
The UN General Assembly, for the sixth year in a row, passes a resolution calling for an end to the US embargo against Cuba. The vote of 157 to 2 (US and Israel, 12 abstentions) is the most lopsided yet.
A number of senators and a group of former foreign relations officials, including former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Lawrence Eagleburger, urge President Clinton to authorize a bipartisan commission to review US Cuba policy.
1999: An international treaty banning landmines was signed by 137 nations. The United States is not among them. Neither are Russia, China, Cuba, Libya and Iraq.
President Clinton rejects the plan for a bipartisan commission to review Cuba policy, but allows the resumption of direct postal services and increased air service. He authorizes any US citizen, not just family members, to send $1,200 a year to Cuba, and permits, on a case-by-case basis, sales of food and agricultural inputs to private and nongovernmental organizations in Cuba.
The Cuban government launches a crackdown on political opponents. The National Assembly passes a new law restricting access to, possession of, and dissemination of "subversive" information produced by the US or seeking to assist the US in "subverting the revolution and reinforcing the embargo." The OAS strongly criticizes this legislation.
For the first time since 1953, Major League Baseball comes to Cuba. The Baltimore Orioles play an all-star Cuban team in Havana in a game is authorized by the Clinton administration as part of its effort to improve relations with the Cuban people - but only after assurances that the Cuban government will not receive any revenues from the game.
In May, eight organizations representing the Cuban people issued a lawsuit against the Government of the United States, seeking a total of $181.1 billion in damages for the loss of life and human injury as a result of US acts of aggression against Cuba over the past 40 years. The lawsuit filed in Havana, identified war crimes such as the Bay of Pigs invasion, the use of biological warfare, bombings and air attacks, military provocations from the US Naval Base at Guantánamo, and US support for terrorist actions.
In May 1999, US drug czar General Barry McCaffrey, former Commander- in-Chief of the U.S. Southern Command, declared that Cuba was not an accomplice of drug traffickers.
2000: US President Bill Clinton eases sanctions and allows shipments of food and agricultural products to Cuba for the first time 40 years. Castro makes a return visit to Harlem where he had been given hotel space in 1960. He is greeted by cheering thousands.
For the ninth year, the UN General Assembly voted to lift the blockade by a vote of 167 to 3, with 4 abstentions.
Panamanian authorities arrested a group of terrorists, including former members of the violent anti-Cuban group, Omega 7, along with terrorist kingpin Posada Carriles (with false documents) who intend to attack Fidel Castro during the tenth Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government. Weapons, explosives and sketches of the Cuban President’s route and scheduled public appearances were seized. The Cuban American National Foundation financed the team of lawyers hired to defend the terrorists.
Cuban Security announced it has investigated, documented and neutralized 638 plans to assassinate Fidel Castro. The official report was presented in November 2000.
The US Congress took legal action on behalf of families and relatives of three Cuban-American terrorists whose plane was shot down while invading Cuban airspace. Congress voted to sell $90 million of frozen Cuban assets and give the families compensation for their relatives’ invasion. The three were members of the terrorist group, “Brothers to the Rescue” which later sued Cuba under America's anti-terrorism law and won $187.6 million in damages against the Cuban government, but were unable to collect.
In January, Havana hosted the US Healthcare Exhibition, the first American trade show in Cuba since trade sanctions were imposed, 40 years earlier. Among the 100 companies showing off their wares to local doctors were ADM, Pfizer and Eli Lilly.
In November, George W. Bush seizes power in the USA in a bloodless coup, following elections in which contender Al Gore received more votes but is manipulated out of the presidency by a series of illegal actions that included preventing registered voters from casting ballots, fraudulent ballots and Supreme Court intervention during a recount that would have vindicated Gore's victory. Abetted in his coup by brother Jeb Bush (governor of Florida), Katherine Harris (Secretary of State for Elections in Florida, and co-chair of the Bush presidential campaign), and several Supreme Court judges whose family worked for or had financial ties with Bush. For a full account of the coup, refer to Stupid White Men by Michael Moore).
2001: Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Cuba, alarming Washington. Approximately 1.2 million Cubans join Castro in a parade that makes a visible protest against the embargo.
Fidel’s brother, General Raul Castro, 69, is confirmed as the next in line, should Fidel die in office. Raul, known as a hardliner, warned in an interview the United States should normalize relations with Cuba while Fidel Castro is still alive, because it will get "more difficult" later on.
Following terrorist attacks that kill 3-4,000 people in the World Trade Centre, New York, the US announces a “War on Terror.” Congress approves the use of force in response to the attacks and releases $40 billion emergency spending. US Congress approves anti-terrorism legislation that gives law enforcement agencies sweeping new powers to monitor and detain suspected terrorists. However, the US does nothing about known anti-Cuban terrorist groups or terrorist operatives acting with US support and operating from US soil. Instead, the Bush administration demonstrated its tolerance of Miami-based terrorism by approving maximum prison sentences handed down on five pro-Castro Cuban anti-terrorist monitors following highly controversial conspiracy convictions imposed by a Miami federal court.
In April, World Bank President James Wolfensohn extolled the Communist government of President Fidel Castro for doing "a great job" in providing for the social welfare of the Cuban people.
Cuba signed and ratified all 12 international counter terrorism conventions in 2001. On September 11, the Cuban government firmly condemned the attacks on New York and Washington, offered to deploy health care personnel to assist in caring for the wounded, opened its blood banks, noting that at such times especially rare blood types may be unavailable, and opened its airports for emergency landing by US or other aircraft.
A US court ordered the Cuban Government to pay $7 million in damages to a Miami woman who said she unknowingly married a Cuban intelligence agent.
In June, the Canadian government abruptly and without public explanation took a pro-US stance on Cuba and refused to invite Cuba to the third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.
The School of the Americas (SOA, nicknamed the “School of Assassins”) is renamed the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.” The WHISC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, specializing in covert activities for terrorists, located at Fort Benning, Georgia.
2002: US President George Bush, heavily funded by exiled Cuban opponents of Castro, vetoes any further easing of sanctions.
Twenty Democratic and 20 Republican US representatives created the Cuba Working Group and released a nine-point plan calling for specific changes in US-Cuba policy. In addition to lifting the travel ban and allowing unrestricted sales of food and medicine, the plan recommends increased security cooperation with Cuba, including efforts to thwart international crime, drug smuggling, terrorism, and environmental disasters. Bush ignored the recommendations and instead spoke out for continuing a hard line on Cuba.
In May, John Bolton, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, stated, “The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort.” Gen. Gary Speer, the acting commander in chief of Southern Command, tells reporters he has seen no evidence that Cuba was producing biological weapons. On National Public Radio, Gen. Charles Wilhelm, USMC (ret.), the former commander in chief of U.S. Southern Command, whose purview included Cuba, stated “During my three year tenure, from September 1997 until September 2000 at Southern Command, I didn’t receive a single report or a single piece of evidence that would have lead me to the conclusion that Cuba was in fact developing, producing or weaponizing biological or chemical agents.”
Two planes were hijacked from Cuba to Key West. Rather than return the planes to Cuba with the passengers, and suspects, the US government violates the 1973 bilateral agreement on hijacking and kept the aircraft to auction them off to give the proceeds to claimants against the Cuban government.
A third group attempted to hijack a slow moving Cuban ferryboat, but it ran out of gas. Cuba summarily executed three of the hijackers in an attempt to dissuade further hijackings.
James Cason, the top US diplomat in Havana, met publicly and often with dissidents, and traveled extensively around the island in a way that deliberately provoked the Cuban administration.
Cuban Oswaldo Payá Sardiña won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and dedicated it to all the Cuban people. Paya created the “Varela Projec” in 1996 to gather the 10,000 signatures that the Cuban Constitution requires for a bill of law to be tabled. This bill called for a national referendum on the economic and social reforms that are needed to turn Cuba into a democracy. Paya presented the signatures to the National Assembly in May 2002, but it was ignored by the Cuban government.
In May, the Bush administration charged the Cuban government was ''impeding our efforts to defeat terrorism'' by feeding US officials misleading information ''fabricated by Castro's intelligence apparatus.'' The administration claims Cuban agents gave US officials “false leads seeking to misdirect the investigation.”'
In 2002, Cuba permitted up to 20 Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) members to reside in Cuba and provided haven to members of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) groups. ETA members had received asylum in Cuba in the 1980s in response to a request from the Spanish Government, which wanted ETA terrorists out of Spain. Cuba’s contemporary relations with the FARC and the ELN are coordinated with the Colombian government. Cuba has also hosted many informal and formal meetings between Colombian officials and the ELN and the FARC to facilitate an end to the decades-old Colombian civil war and worked with various Colombian presidents, including incumbent President Álvaro Uribe, on this aspect of the peace process.
In February, the World Trade Organization ruled in Cuba’s favour on the Havana Club trademark dispute between the United States and the European Union. The US company Bacardi was illegally using the trademark, arguing that it was confiscated after the 1959 victory of the Cuban Revolution. The brand Havana Club is jointly owned by Havana Rum and Liquors and the French company Pernod Ricard. The owners contended that the USA was violating the basic principles of the World Trade Organization.
By 2002, more than $100 million of Cuban assets frozen by the US government is sold and paid out each year American phone companies, such as AT&T and WorldCom.
Russian shuts down its intelligence centre at Loudres, Cuba (open since 1964) and stops paying rent to Cuba. Cuba closes 45% of its remaining sugar mills for inefficiency.
2003: The USA expels 14 Cuban diplomats who were attached to the UN delegation. Argentina opens full diplomatic relations with Cuba, despite strong US disapproval.
The UN General assembly votes 179 to 2 (with two abstentions) to demand an end to the embargo against Cuba. In a clear slap to the UN’s authority, the Bush administration, responded to the vote through a mid-level diplomat, Sichan Siv. The US/UN ambassador, John Negroponte, disdained to reply. Siv told the General Assembly the Cuban embargo was a "bilateral issue" and none of the UN's business. Siv ended with a quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, “Cuba's best is when the Cuban people have terminated Castro's evil, communist, dictatorial regime and say to him "Hasta la vista, baby!" Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Roque told the UN the blockade has cost Havana over $72 billion in lost revenue.
The State Department releases its annual report on international terrorism, “Patterns of Global Terrorism 2002” where it includes no mention of a Cuban bioweapons effort.
Forty American tourist industry representatives toured Cuba and look at tourism potential in October, and return demanding the Bush administration loosen travel bans for Americans.
Despite tightened sanctions, the USA becomes Cuba’s largest supplier of food, with $300 million in sales.
In a speech to the media, US President George Bush announces a crackdown on travel to Cuba, including travel from countries where such visits are legal, “I've instructed the Department of Homeland Security to increase inspections of travelers and shipments to and from Cuba… We will also target those who travel to Cuba illegally through third countries, and those who sail to Cuba on private vessels in violation of the embargo.” Bush also announced the US would incite and encourage illegal immigration from Cuba, “We will better inform Cubans of the many routes to safe and legal entry into the United States through a public outreach campaign in southern Florida and inside Cuba itself. We will increase the number of new Cuban immigrants we welcome every year.”
Bush threatened the escalation of propaganda broadcasts aimed at the Cuban people, “Radio and TV Marti are bringing the message of freedom to the Cuban people. This administration fully recognizes the need to enhance the effectiveness of Radio and TV Marti. Earlier this year, we launched a new satellite service to expand our reach to Cuba. On May 20th, we staged the historic flight of Commando Solo, an airborne transmission system that broke through Castro's jamming efforts.”
Despite 45,000 baggage searches of American visitors to Cuba to date, only 600 violations were found, mostly for bringing cigars and rum back to the US.
In a speech for the 50th anniversary of the Revolution, Castro claims the European Union is a Trojan Horse for the United States and Cuba does not need EU aid. Cuba accuses the US of running a “concentration camp” at its Guantanamo Base.
2004: Cuba signed an agreement with the Port of Houston to ship more of its American food purchases through Texas, in a deal that could give the Communist-run country trade clout in a key political state. U.S. agricultural products can be sold to Cuba for cash, and Cuba has spread its purchases through more than 35 states to increase domestic pressure against the embargo. The Port of Houston, the second largest in the United States and the world's sixth largest in tonnage handled, is the 18th American port to ship food to Cuba. Texas is also the home state of President Bush, and part of the port lies in the district of House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who last year helped block an attempt to ease a ban on travel to Cuba.
The United Nations General Assembly again condemns the US blockade of Cuba by a vote of 157-2.
Forbes magazine again includes Fidel Castro on its list of millionaire rules, estimating his personal fortune at $150 million, including what it calls his lavish homes throughout the country and the $50 million proceeds of the sale of the Havana Club rum company in 1993. See notes regarding this questionable propaganda source.
In January, relations between Argentina and the US deteriorated when a US official castigated Argentina for normalizing relations with Cuba in 2003. Later, at the Summit of the Americas (to which everyone in the hemisphere but Cuba was invited), President Bush attacked Latin American states that had improved relations with Cuba, calling them "corrupt" and threatening to ban them from future summits. This strained relations between the USA and several Latin American states.
In February at a meeting of hard line anti-Castro Cuban exiles, US Treasury Secretary John Snow announced that Cuban-owned or Cuban-controlled business groups that promote travel and trade with Cuba are in violation of the embargo and are now illegal for Americans to deal with. The US Treasury Department froze the assets of several companies, including Canadian-based Hola Sun Travel which organizes holidays in Cuba.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury charged with tracking and freezing terrorist assets, enforcing the embargo on Cuba and other ‘rogue’ nations, reports it is spending more time and resources on cracking down on people who travel to Cuba and cutting off remaining categories of legal travel. In a written response to a Senate committee, OFAC’s director, Richard Newcomb, reported the agency has committed close to 17 percent of its workforce to enforcing the embargo on Cuba instead of monitoring terrorist assets. OFAC has been pursuing and threatening people who have travelled to Cuba over the last ten years. In letters to the ‘accused,’ the agency threatens enormous fines (up to $55,000 per violation), with a hearing process in which guilt is a foregone conclusion. Then the OFAC offers to settle for less. Read the recent story at: story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20040430/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/terrorism_financing&cid=542&ncid=1480
In late 2004, Castro rescinds the use of the American dollar in Cuba for future transactions, citing increased restrictions made by the Bush administration to limit money sent to Cuban families from American relatives. At the same time, the American government fined the Swiss Bank $100m USD for sending money to Cuba (see www.globalexchange.org/countries/cuba/2627.html).
Cuban military engage in a large military exercise as a show of force against continued American threats (news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4092647.stm).
For the 13th consecutive year the UN voted in favour of ending the punitive blockade, 179 to 4 (voting against were the USA, Israel, and two US colonies, Palau and the Marshall Islands). Even US-controlled Afghanistan voted against the blockade. The blockade is estimated to have caused $79B in losses to Cuba, and caused more than 3,500 Cuban deaths. America, retaining its role as rogue state above international law, refused again to comply with the decision by the world body.
For a my essay on Cuban-American relations, click here.
For my list of sources, click here.