About Cuba

A quick overview of major events in Cuban history as they relate to the United States of America.

1898: The U.S. Government issues an ultimatum to the Spanish Government to leave Cuba. The Spanish Government rejects the ultimatum and the Spanish-American War is declared between the U.S. and Spain, lasting from April 25 to Aug. 12.

Later in 1898: Spain grants Cuba its independence on Dec. 10.

1899-1901– U.S. military government in Cuba.

1934: General Fulgencia Batista rises to power. He is elected president of the country from 1940-1944 and dictator from 1952-1959.

1953: Fidel Castro leads first rebellion against Batista. He fails and is imprisoned until 1955.

1956: Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and a band of revolutionaries set out from Mexico to Cuba to launch guerilla warfare against the Batista regime, forcing them to flee the country in 1958.

1960: U.S. reduces Cuban sugar imports in response to expropriations of U.S. property. A partial embargo is imposed on Cuba.

1961: Castro officially declares his adherence to Marxist-Leninist political philosophy. U.S. cuts all diplomatic relations with Cuba.

1962: The U.S. imposes a trade embargo after Cuba aligns itself with the Soviet Union. Cuban Missile Crisis begins when President Kennedy announces the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba to the American public. Travel is restricted the following year after the missile crisis.

1977: President Carter’s administration relaxes travel restrictions.

1980: Castro relaxes emigration restrictions. Mariel Boatlift begins a massive migration of approximately 125,000 Cubans to the U.S.

1982: The Reagan administration tightens the embargo.

1993: Cuba holds first popular election since the Revolution. Elections consist of one candidate per position with voters choosing either to elect or reject the candidate.

1998: The U.S. eases restrictions on the sending of money to relatives by Cuban Americans.

2001: U.S. exports food to Cuba for the first time in more than 40 years after a request from the Cuban government to help it cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Michelle.

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

2008: Fidel Castro retires, his brother, Raul Castro, is now President of the Council of the State of Cuba. He has indicated several times he may be open to a warming of relations with the U.S.

April 2009: President Obama lifts restrictions on family travel and remittances to Cuba. Under current regulations, Americans are able to enter Cuba to visit immediate family, or for educational, religious, journalistic or humanitarian purposes.