Cuba–United States relations

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Cuba–United States relations
Cuba USA Locator 2.svg
Flag of Cuba.svg
Cuba
Flag of the United States.svg
United States
Diplomatic mission
Cuban Embassy, Washington, D.C. United States Embassy, Havana
Envoy
Ambassador Jessica Rodríguez Chargé d'affaires Mara Tekach
The Embassy of Cuba to the United States in Washington, DC. Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Washington, D.C.jpg
The Embassy of Cuba to the United States in Washington, DC.
The Embassy of the United States to Cuba in Havana. U.S. Flag Flaps Outside U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba (25998479275).jpg
The Embassy of the United States to Cuba in Havana.

Cuba–United States relations are bilateral relations between the Republic of Cuba and the United States of America. Cuba and the United States restored diplomatic relations on 20 July 2015, relations which had been severed in 1961 during the Cold War. U.S. diplomatic representation in Cuba is handled by the United States Embassy in Havana, and there is a similar Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. The United States, however, continues to maintain its commercial, economic, and financial embargo, making it illegal for U.S. corporations to do business with Cuba.

Cuba Country in the Caribbean

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometers (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometers (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of more than 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Diplomacy art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states

Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of states. It usually refers to international diplomacy, the conduct of international relations through the intercession of professional diplomats with regard to a full range of topical issues. International treaties are usually negotiated by diplomats prior to endorsement by national politicians. David Stevenson reports that by 1900 the term "diplomats" also covered diplomatic services, consular services and foreign ministry officials.

Contents

The hold of the Spanish Empire on possessions in the Americas was reduced in the 1820s as a result of the Spanish American wars of independence; only Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule until the Spanish–American War (1898) that resulted from the Cuban War of Independence. Under the Treaty of Paris, Cuba became a U.S. protectorate from 1898–1902; the U.S. gained a position of economic and political dominance over the island, which persisted after it became formally independent in 1902.

Spanish Empire world empire from the 16th to the 19th century

The Spanish Empire, historically known as the Hispanic Monarchy and as the Catholic Monarchy, was one of the largest empires in history. From the late 15th century to the early 19th, Spain controlled a huge overseas territory in the New World and the Asian archipelago of the Philippines, what they called "The Indies". It also included territories in Europe, Africa and Oceania. The Spanish Empire has been described as the first global empire in history, a description also given to the Portuguese Empire. It was the world's most powerful empire during the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries, reaching its maximum extension in the 18th century. The Spanish Empire was the first empire to be called "the empire on which the sun never sets".

Spanish American wars of independence Series of armed conflicts in the Americas between 1808 and 1835

The Spanish American wars of independence were the numerous wars against Spanish rule in Spanish America with the aim of political independence that took place during the early 19th century, after the French invasion of Spain during Europe's Napoleonic Wars. Although there has been research on the idea of a separate Spanish American ("creole") identity separate from that of Iberia, political independence was not initially the aim of most Spanish Americans, nor was it necessarily inevitable. After the restoration of rule by Ferdinand VII in 1814, and his rejection of the Spanish liberal constitution of 1812, the monarchy as well as liberals hardened their stance toward its overseas possessions, and they in turn increasingly sought political independence.

Puerto Rico Unincorporated territory of the United States

Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and briefly called Porto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Miami, Florida.

Following the Cuban Revolution of 1959, bilateral relations deteriorated substantially. In 1961, the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Cuba and began pursuing covert operations to topple the Cuban government. [1] In October 1960, the U.S. imposed and subsequently tightened a comprehensive set of restrictions and bans against the Cuban government as retaliation for the nationalization of U.S. corporations' property by Cuba. The 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, the 1962 missile crisis, and American efforts to stand up to Fidel Castro's attempts to spread communism throughout Latin America and Africa, are main highlights of U.S. antagonism towards Cuba during the Cold War, although Nixon, Ford, Kennedy, and Johnson resorted to back-channel talks with the Cuban government during the Cold War. [2]

Cuban Revolution Revolution in Cuba between 1953 and 1959

The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt conducted by Fidel Castro's revolutionary 26th of July Movement and its allies against the military dictatorship of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista. The revolution began in July 1953, and continued sporadically until the rebels finally ousted Batista on 31 December 1958, replacing his government with a revolutionary socialist state. 26 July 1953 is celebrated in Cuba as the Day of the Revolution. The 26th of July Movement later reformed along communist lines, becoming the Communist Party in October 1965.

United States embargo against Cuba Economic sanctions imposed by the US on Cuba in 1958 and again in 1960.

The United States currently imposes a commercial, economic, and financial embargo against Cuba. The United States first imposed an embargo on the sale of arms to Cuba on March 14, 1958, during the Fulgencio Batista regime. Again on October 19, 1960 the U.S. placed an embargo on exports to Cuba except for food and medicine after Cuba nationalized American-owned Cuban oil refineries without compensation and as a response to Cuba's role in the Cuban missile crisis. On February 7, 1962 the embargo was extended to include almost all exports.

Nationalization, or nationalisation, is the process of transforming private assets into public assets by bringing them under the public ownership of a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets or assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being transferred to the state. The opposites of nationalization are privatization and demutualization. When previously nationalized assets are privatized and subsequently returned to public ownership at a later stage, they are said to have undergone renationalization. Industries that are usually subject to nationalization include transport, communications, energy, banking, and natural resources.

On 17 December 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the beginning of a process of normalizing relations between Cuba and the U.S., which media sources have named "the Cuban Thaw". Negotiated in secret in Canada and the Vatican City [3] over preceding months, and with the assistance of Pope Francis, the agreement led to the lifting of some U.S. travel restrictions, fewer restrictions on remittances, access to the Cuban financial system for U.S. banks, [4] and the establishment of a U.S. embassy in Havana, which closed after Cuba became closely allied with the USSR in 1961. [5] [6] The countries' respective "interests sections" in one another's capitals were upgraded to embassies on 20 July 2015. [7] On 20 March 2016, President Barack Obama visited Cuba, becoming the first U.S. President in 88 years to visit the island. [8]

Barack Obama 44th president of the United States

Barack Hussein Obama II is an American attorney and politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the first African American to be elected to the presidency. He previously served as a U.S. senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008 and an Illinois state senator from 1997 to 2004.

Raúl Castro First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba

Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz is a Cuban politician who is currently serving as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, the most senior position in the socialist state, succeeding his brother Fidel Castro in April 2011. He has also been a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Cuba, the highest decision-making body since 1975. In February 2008, he was appointed the President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers. He stepped down as President on 19 April 2018, but remains the first secretary of the Communist Party, still holding considerable influence over government policy.

Cuban thaw

The Cuban thaw was a warming of Cuba–United States relations that began in December 2014 ending a 54-year stretch of hostility between the nations. In March 2016, Barack Obama became the first U.S. President to visit Cuba since 1928.

On 16 June 2017 President Donald Trump announced that he was suspending the policy for unconditional sanctions relief for Cuba, while also leaving the door open for a "better deal" between the U.S. and Cuba. [9] [10] On 8 November 2017, it was announced business and travel restrictions which were loosened by the Obama administration would resume [11] and went into effect on November 9. [12] On 4 June 2019, the Trump administration announced new restrictions on American travel to Cuba. [13]

Donald Trump 45th and current president of the United States

Donald John Trump is the 45th and current president of the United States. Before entering politics, he was a businessman and television personality.

Presidency of Donald Trump administration beginning 2017

The presidency of Donald Trump began at noon EST on January 20, 2017, when Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, succeeding Barack Obama. A Republican, Trump was a businessman and reality television personality from New York City at the time of his 2016 presidential election victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. While Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, he won the Electoral College vote, 304 to 227, in a presidential contest that American intelligence agencies concluded was targeted by a Russian interference campaign. Trump has made many false or misleading statements during his campaign and presidency. The statements have been documented by fact-checkers, with political scientists and historians widely describing the phenomenon as unprecedented in modern American politics. Trump's approval rating has been stable, hovering at high-30 to mid-40 percent throughout his presidency.

A 2016 survey shows that 77% of Cubans have a favorable view of the United States, with only 4% expressing an unfavorable view. [14]

Historical background

Pre-1800

John Quincy Adams, who as U.S. Secretary of State compared Cuba to an apple that, if severed from Spain, would gravitate towards the U.S. John Quincy Adams.jpg
John Quincy Adams, who as U.S. Secretary of State compared Cuba to an apple that, if severed from Spain, would gravitate towards the U.S.

Relations between the Spanish colony of Cuba and polities on the North American mainland first established themselves in the early 18th century through illicit commercial contracts by the European colonies of the New World, trading to elude colonial taxes. As both legal and illegal trade increased, Cuba became a comparatively prosperous trading partner in the region, and a center of tobacco and sugar production. During this period Cuban merchants increasingly traveled to North American ports, establishing trade contracts that endured for many years.

The British occupation of Havana in 1762 opened up trade with the British colonies in North America, and the American Revolution in 1776 provided additional trade opportunities. Spain opened Cuban ports to North American commerce officially in November 1776 and the island became increasingly dependent on that trade.

Detail of 1591 map of Florida and Cuba Florida Moyne 1591.jpeg
Detail of 1591 map of Florida and Cuba

19th century

After the opening of the island to world trade in 1818, trade agreements began to replace Spanish commercial connections. In 1820 Thomas Jefferson thought Cuba is "the most interesting addition which could ever be made to our system of States" and told Secretary of War John C. Calhoun that the United States "ought, at the first possible opportunity, to take Cuba." [15] In a letter to the U.S. Minister to Spain Hugh Nelson, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams described the likelihood of U.S. "annexation of Cuba" within half a century despite obstacles: "But there are laws of political as well as of physical gravitation; and if an apple severed by the tempest from its native tree cannot choose but fall to the ground, 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." [16]

In August 1851, 40 Americans who took part in Narciso López's filibustering expedition in Cuba, including William L. Crittenden, were executed by Spanish authorities in Havana. [17] In 1854, a secret proposal known as the Ostend Manifesto was devised by U.S. diplomats, interested in adding a slave state to the Union. The Manifesto proposed buying Cuba from Spain for $130 million. If Spain were to reject the offer, the Manifesto implied that, in the name of Manifest Destiny, war would be necessary. When the plans became public, because of one author's vocal enthusiasm for the plan, [18] the manifesto caused a scandal, and was rejected, in part because of objections from anti-slavery campaigners. [19]

The 10th United States Infantry Regiment - The Army of Occupation in Havana circa 1898. Cubanoccupation.jpg
The 10th United States Infantry Regiment – The Army of Occupation in Havana circa 1898.

The Cuban rebellion 1868-1878 against Spanish rule, called by historians the Ten Years' War, gained wide sympathy in the United States. Juntas based in New York raised money and smuggled men and munitions to Cuba while energetically spreading propaganda in American newspapers. The Grant administration turned a blind eye to this violation of American neutrality. [20] In 1869, President Ulysses Grant was urged by popular opinion to support rebels in Cuba with military assistance and to give them U.S. diplomatic recognition. Secretary of State Hamilton Fish wanted stability and favored the Spanish government and did not publicly challenge the popular anti-Spanish American viewpoint. Grant and Fish gave lip service to Cuban independence, called for an end to slavery in Cuba, and quietly opposed American military intervention. Fish worked diligently against popular pressure, and was able to keep Grant from officially recognizing Cuban independence because it would have endangered negotiations with Britain over the Alabama Claims. Daniel Sickles, the American Minister to Madrid, made no headway. Grant and Fish successfully resisted popular pressures. Grant's message to Congress urged strict neutrality and no official recognition of the Cuban revolt. [21]

By 1877, Americans purchased 83 percent of Cuba's total exports. North Americans were also increasingly taking up residence on the island, and some districts on the northern shore were said to have more the character of America than Spanish settlements. Between 1878 and 1898 American investors took advantage of deteriorating economic conditions of the Ten Years' War to take over estates they had tried unsuccessfully to buy before while others acquired properties at very low prices. [22] Above all this presence facilitated the integration of the Cuban economy into the North American system and weakened Cuba's ties with Spain.

1890s: Independence in Cuba

As Cuban resistance to Spanish rule grew, rebels fighting for independence attempted to get support from U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. Grant declined and the resistance was curtailed, though American interests in the region continued. U.S. Secretary of State James G. Blaine wrote in 1881 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." [23]

1900 Campaign poster for the Republican Party depicting American rule in Cuba The Administration's Promises Have Been Kept.jpg
1900 Campaign poster for the Republican Party depicting American rule in Cuba

After some rebel successes in Cuba's second war of independence in 1897, U.S. President William McKinley offered to buy Cuba for $300 million. [24] Rejection of the offer, and an explosion that sank the American battleship USS Maine in Havana harbor, led to the Spanish–American War. In Cuba the war became known as "the U.S. intervention in Cuba's War of Independence". [16] On 10 December 1898 Spain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris and, in accordance with the treaty, Spain renounced all rights to Cuba. The treaty put an end to the Spanish Empire in the Americas and marked the beginning of United States expansion and long-term political dominance in the region. Immediately after the signing of the treaty, the U.S.-owned "Island of Cuba Real Estate Company" opened for business to sell Cuban land to Americans. [25] U.S. military rule of the island lasted until 1902 when Cuba was finally granted formal independence.

Opening page of the Platt Amendment. Platt amendment page 1.jpg
Opening page of the Platt Amendment.

Relations 1900–1959

The Teller Amendment to the U.S. declaration of war against Spain in 1898 disavowed any intention of exercising "sovereignty, jurisdiction or control" over Cuba, but the United States only agreed to withdraw its troops from Cuba when Cuba agreed to the eight provisions of the Platt Amendment, an amendment to the 1901 Army Appropriations Act authored by Connecticut Republican Senator Orville H. Platt, which would allow the United States to intervene in Cuban affairs if needed for the maintenance of good government and committed Cuba to lease to the U.S. land for naval bases. Cuba leased to the United States the southern portion of Guantánamo Bay, where a United States Naval Station had been established in 1898. The Platt Amendment defined the terms of Cuban-U.S. relations for the following 33 years and provided the legal basis for U.S. military interventions with varying degrees of support from Cuban governments and political parties.

Despite recognizing Cuba's transition into an independent republic, United States Governor Charles Edward Magoon assumed temporary military rule for three more years following a rebellion led in part by José Miguel Gómez. In the following 20 years the United States repeatedly intervened militarily in Cuban affairs: 1906–09, 1912 and 1917–22. In 1912 U.S. forces were sent to quell protests by Afro-Cubans against discrimination.

By 1926 U.S. companies owned 60% of the Cuban sugar industry and imported 95% of the total Cuban crop, [26] and Washington was generally supportive of successive Cuban governments. However, internal confrontations between the government of Gerardo Machado and political opposition led to his military overthrow by Cuban rebels in 1933. U.S. Ambassador Sumner Welles requested U.S. military intervention. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, despite his promotion of the Good Neighbor policy toward Latin America, ordered 29 warships to Cuba and Key West, alerting United States Marines, and bombers for use if necessary. Machado's replacement, Ramón Grau assumed the Presidency and immediately nullified the Platt amendment. In protest, the United States denied recognition to Grau's government, Ambassador Welles describing the new regime as "communistic" and "irresponsible". [16] [27]

The rise of General Fulgencio Batista in the 1930s to de facto leader and President of Cuba for two terms (1940–44 and 1952–59) led to an era of close co-operation between the governments of Cuba and the United States. The United States and Cuba signed another Treaty of Relations in 1934. Batista's second term as President was initiated by a military coup planned in Florida, and U.S. President Harry S. Truman quickly recognized Batista's return to rule providing military and economic aid. [16] The Batista era witnessed the almost complete domination of Cuba's economy by the United States, as the number of American corporations continued to swell, though corruption was rife and Havana also became a popular sanctuary for American organized crime figures, notably hosting the infamous Havana Conference in 1946. U.S. Ambassador to Cuba Arthur Gardner later described the relationship between the U.S. and Batista during his second term as President:

Batista had always leaned toward the United States. I don't think we ever had a better friend. It was regrettable, like all South Americans, that he was known—although I had no absolute knowledge of it—to be getting a cut, I think is the word for it, in almost all the things that were done. But, on the other hand, he was doing an amazing job. [28]

As armed conflict broke out in Cuba between rebels led by Fidel Castro and the Batista government, the U.S. was urged to end arms sales to Batista by Cuban president-in-waiting Manuel Urrutia Lleó. Washington made the critical move in March 1958 to prevent sales of rifles to Batista's forces, thus changing the course of the revolution irreversibly towards the rebels. The move was vehemently opposed by U.S. ambassador Earl E. T. Smith, and led U.S. State Department adviser William Wieland to lament that "I know Batista is considered by many as a son of a bitch ... but American interests come first ... at least he was our son of a bitch. [29] "

Post-revolution relations

Until Castro, the U.S. was so overwhelmingly influential in Cuba that the American ambassador was the second most important man, sometimes even more important than the Cuban president.

Earl E. T. Smith, former American Ambassador to Cuba, during 1960 testimony to the U.S. Senate [30]

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially recognized the new Cuban government after the 1959 Cuban Revolution which had overthrown the Batista government, but relations between the two governments deteriorated rapidly. Within days Earl E. T. Smith, U.S. Ambassador to Cuba, was replaced by Philip Bonsal. The U.S. government became increasingly concerned by Cuba's agrarian reforms and the nationalization of industries owned by U.S. citizens. Between 15 and 26 April 1959, Fidel Castro and a delegation of representatives visited the U.S. as guests of the Press Club. This visit was perceived by many as a charm offensive on the part of Castro and his recently initiated government, and his visit included laying a wreath at the Lincoln memorial. After a meeting between Castro and Vice-President Richard Nixon, where Castro outlined his reform plans for Cuba, [31] the U.S. began to impose gradual trade restrictions on the island. On 4 September 1959, Ambassador Bonsal met with Cuban Premier Fidel Castro to express "serious concern at the treatment being given to American private interests in Cuba both agriculture and utilities." [32]


The Escambray rebellion was a six-year rebellion (1959–1965) in the Escambray Mountains by a group of insurgents who opposed the Cuban government led by Fidel Castro. The rebelling group of insurgents was a mix of former Batista soldiers, local farmers, and former allied guerrillas who had fought alongside Castro against Batista during the Cuban Revolution. As state intervention and take-over of privately owned businesses continued, trade restrictions on Cuba increased. The U.S. stopped buying Cuban sugar and refused to supply its former trading partner with much needed oil, with a devastating effect on the island's economy, leading to Cuba turning to their newfound trading partner the Soviet Union for petroleum. In March 1960, tensions increased when the freighter La Coubre exploded in Havana Harbor, killing over 75 people. Fidel Castro blamed the United States and compared the incident to the sinking of the Maine , though admitting he could provide no evidence for his accusation. [33] That same month, President Eisenhower quietly authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to organize, train, and equip Cuban refugees as a guerrilla force to overthrow Castro. [34]

Each time the Cuban government nationalized American citizens properties, the American government took countermeasures, resulting in the prohibition of all exports to Cuba on 19 October 1960. Consequently, Cuba began to consolidate trade relations with the USSR, leading the U.S. to break off all remaining official diplomatic relations. Later that year, U.S. diplomats Edwin L. Sweet and William G. Friedman were arrested and expelled from the island having been charged with "encouraging terrorist acts, granting asylum, financing subversive publications and smuggling weapons". On 3 January 1961 the U.S. withdrew diplomatic recognition of the Cuban government and closed the embassy in Havana.

Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy believed that Eisenhower's policy toward Cuba had been mistaken. He criticized what he saw as use of the U.S. government influence to advance the interest and increase the profits of private U.S. companies instead of helping Cuba to achieve economic progress, saying that Americans dominated the island's economy and had given support to one of the bloodiest and most repressive dictatorships in the history of Latin America. "We let Batista put the U.S. on the side of tyranny, and we did nothing to convince the people of Cuba and Latin America that we wanted to be on the side of freedom". [35]

In 1961 Cuba resisted an armed invasion by about 1,500 CIA trained Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs. [36] President John F. Kennedy's complete assumption of responsibility for the venture, which provoked a popular reaction against the invaders, proved to be a further propaganda boost for the Cuban government. [37] The U.S. began the formulation of new plans aimed at destabilizing the Cuban government. These activities were collectively known as the "Cuban Project" (also known as Operation Mongoose). This was to be a coordinated program of political, psychological, and military sabotage, involving intelligence operations as well as assassination attempts on key political leaders. The Cuban project also proposed attacks on mainland U.S. targets, hijackings and assaults on Cuban refugee boats to generate U.S. public support for military action against the Cuban government, these proposals were known collectively as Operation Northwoods.

A U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee report later confirmed over eight attempted plots to kill Castro between 1960 and 1965, as well as additional plans against other Cuban leaders. [38] After weathering the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuba observed as U.S. armed forces staged a mock invasion of a Caribbean island in 1962 named Operation Ortsac. The purpose of the invasion was to overthrow a leader whose name, Ortsac, was Castro spelled backwards. [39] Tensions between the two nations reached their peak in 1962, after U.S. reconnaissance aircraft photographed the Soviet construction of intermediate-range missile sites. The discovery led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Trade relations also deteriorated in equal measure. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy broadened the partial trade restrictions imposed after the revolution by Eisenhower to a ban on all trade with Cuba, except for non-subsidized sale of foods and medicines. A year later travel and financial transactions by U.S. citizens with Cuba was prohibited. The United States embargo against Cuba was to continue in varying forms. Despite tensions between the United States and Cuba during the Kennedy years, relations began to thaw somewhat after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Back channels that had already been established at the height of tensions between the two nations began to expand in 1963. Though Attorney General Robert Kennedy worried that such contact would hurt his brother's chances of re-election, President John Kennedy continued these contacts resulting in several meetings U.S ambassador William Atwood and Cuban officials such as Carlos Lechuga. Other contacts would be established directly between President Kennedy and Fidel Castro through media figures such as Lisa Howard and French reporter Jean Daniel days before the Kennedy Assassination with Castro stating "I am willing to declare Goldwater my friend if that will guarantee Kennedy's re-election".


Castro would continue efforts to improve relations with the incoming Johnson Administration sending a message to Johnson encouraging dialogue saying:

I seriously hope that Cuba and the United States can eventually respect and negotiate our differences. I believe that there are no areas of contention between us that cannot be discussed and settled within a climate of mutual understanding. But first, of course, it is necessary to discuss our differences. I now believe that this hostility between Cuba and the United States is both unnatural and unnecessary – and it can be eliminated. [40]

Continued tensions over various issues would hamper further efforts to normalization relations that started at the end of the Kennedy Administration such as the Guantanomo dispute of 1964,or Cuba's embrace of American political dissidents such as Black Panther leaders who took refuge in Cuba during the 1960s. Perhaps the biggest clash during the Johnson Administration would be the capture of Che Guevara in 1967 by Bolivia forces assisted by the Cia and U.S Special forces.

Through the late 1960s and early 1970s a sustained period of aircraft hijackings between Cuba and the U.S. by citizens of both nations led to a need for cooperation. By 1974, U.S. elected officials had begun to visit the island. Three years later, during the Carter administration, the U.S. and Cuba simultaneously opened interests sections in each other's capitals. In 1980, after 10,000 Cubans crammed into the Peruvian embassy seeking political asylum, Castro stated that any who wished to do so could leave Cuba, in what became known as the Mariel boatlift. Approximately 125,000 people left Cuba for the United States.

Poster in Bay of Pigs Propaganda a Cuba 07.jpg
Poster in Bay of Pigs

In 1977, Cuba and the United States signed a maritime boundary treaty in which the countries agreed on the location of their border in the Straits of Florida. The treaty was never sent to the United States Senate for ratification, but the agreement has been implemented by the U.S. State Department.

In 1981 President Ronald Reagan's new administration announced a tightening of the embargo. The U.S. also re-established the travel ban, prohibiting U.S. citizens from spending money in Cuba. The ban was later supplemented to include Cuban government officials or their representatives visiting the U.S. In 1985 Radio y Televisión Martí, backed by Ronald Reagan's administration, began to broadcast news and information from the U.S. to Cuba.

After the Cold War

The Cold War ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, leaving Cuba without its major international sponsor. The ensuing years were marked by economic difficulty in Cuba, a time known as the Special Period. U.S. law allowed private humanitarian aid to Cuba for part of this time. However, the long standing U.S. embargo was reinforced in October 1992 by the Cuban Democracy Act (the "Torricelli Law") and in 1996 by the Cuban Liberty and Democracy Solidarity Act (known as the Helms-Burton Act). The 1992 act prohibited foreign-based subsidiaries of U.S. companies from trading with Cuba, travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens, and family remittances to Cuba. [41] Sanctions could also be applied to non-U.S. companies trading with Cuba. As a result, multinational companies had to choose between Cuba and the U.S., the latter being a much larger market.

On 24 February 1996, two unarmed Cessna 337s flown by the group "Brothers to the Rescue" were shot down by Cuban Air Force MiG-29, killing three Cuban-Americans and one Cuban U.S. resident. The Cuban government claimed that the planes had entered into Cuban airspace.

Some veterans of CIA's 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, while no longer being sponsored by the CIA, are still active, though they are now in their seventies or older. Members of Alpha 66, an anti-Castro paramilitary organization, continue to practice their AK-47 skills in a camp in South Florida. [42]

In January 1999, U.S. President Bill Clinton eased travel restrictions to Cuba in an effort to increase cultural exchanges between the two nations. [43] The Clinton administration approved a two-game exhibition series between the Baltimore Orioles and Cuban national baseball team, marking the first time a Major League Baseball team played in Cuba since 1959. [44]

At the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000, Castro and Clinton spoke briefly at a group photo session and shook hands. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan commented afterwards, "For a U.S. president and a Cuban president to shake hands for the first time in over 40 years—I think it is a major symbolic achievement". While Castro said it was a gesture of "dignity and courtesy", the White House denied the encounter was of any significance. [45] In November 2001, U.S. companies began selling food to the country for the first time since Washington imposed the trade embargo after the revolution. In 2002, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter became the first former or sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba since 1928. [46]

Tightening embargo

Relations deteriorated again following the election of George W. Bush. During his campaign Bush appealed for the support of Cuban-Americans by emphasizing his opposition to the government of Fidel Castro and supporting tighter embargo restrictions [47] Cuban Americans, who until 2008 tended to vote Republican, [48] expected effective policies and greater participation in the formation of policies regarding Cuba-U.S. relations. [47] Approximately three months after his inauguration, the Bush administration began expanding travel restrictions. The United States Department of the Treasury issued greater efforts to deter American citizens from illegally traveling to the island. [49] Also in 2001, five Cuban agents were convicted on 26 counts of espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, and other illegal activities in the United States. On 15 June 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of their case. Tensions heightened as the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John R. Bolton, accused Cuba of maintaining a biological weapons program. [50] Many in the United States, including ex-president Carter, expressed doubts about the claim. Later, Bolton was criticized for pressuring subordinates who questioned the quality of the intelligence John Bolton had used as the basis for his assertion. [51] [52] Bolton identified the Castro government as part of America's "axis of evil," highlighting the fact that the Cuban leader visited several U.S. foes, including Libya, Iran and Syria. [53]

Following his 2004 reelection, Bush declared Cuba to be one of the few "outposts of tyranny" remaining in the world.

Cuban propaganda poster in Havana featuring a Cuban soldier addressing a threatening Uncle Sam. The translation reads: "Imperialist sirs, we have absolutely no fear of you!" Billboard opposit USA interest office.jpg
Cuban propaganda poster in Havana featuring a Cuban soldier addressing a threatening Uncle Sam. The translation reads: "Imperialist sirs, we have absolutely no fear of you!"

In January 2006, United States Interests Section in Havana began, in an attempt to break Cuba's "information blockade", displaying messages, including quotes from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on a scrolling "electronic billboard" in the windows of their top floor. Following a protest march organized by the Cuban government, the government erected a large number of poles, carrying black flags with single white stars, obscuring the messages. [54]

On 10 October 2006, the United States announced the creation of a task force made up of officials from several U.S. agencies to pursue more aggressively American violators of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, with penalties as severe as 10 years of prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for violators of the embargo. [55]

In November 2006, U.S. Congressional auditors accused the development agency USAID of failing properly to administer its program for promoting democracy in Cuba. They said USAID had channeled tens of millions of dollars through exile groups in Miami, which were sometimes wasteful or kept questionable accounts. The report said the organizations had sent items such as chocolate and cashmere jerseys to Cuba. Their report concluded that 30% of the exile groups who received USAID grants showed questionable expenditures. [56]

After Fidel Castro's announcement of resignation in 2008, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said that the United States would maintain its embargo. [57]

Vision for "democratic transition"

Condoleezza Rice convenes a meeting of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba in December 2005 Rice Cuba Commission.jpg
Condoleezza Rice convenes a meeting of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba in December 2005

In 2003, the United States Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba was formed to "explore ways the U.S. can help hasten and ease a democratic transition in Cuba." The commission immediately announced a series of measures that included a tightening of the travel embargo to the island, a crackdown on illegal cash transfers, and a more robust information campaign aimed at Cuba. [31] Castro insisted that, in spite of the formation of the Commission, Cuba is itself "in transition: to socialism [and] to communism" and that it was "ridiculous for the U.S. to threaten Cuba now". [58]

In a 2004 meeting with members of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, President Bush stated, "We're not waiting for the day of Cuban freedom; we are working for the day of freedom in Cuba." The President reaffirmed his commitment to Cuban-Americans just in time for his 2004 reelection with promises to "work" rather than wait for freedom in Cuba. [49]

In April 2006, the Bush administration appointed Caleb McCarry "transition coordinator" for Cuba, providing a budget of $59 million, with the task of promoting the governmental shift to democracy after Castro's death. Official Cuban news service Granma alleges that these transition plans were created at the behest of Cuban exile groups in Miami, and that McCarry was responsible for engineering the overthrow of the Aristide government in Haiti. [59] [60]

In 2006, the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba released a 93-page report. The report included a plan that suggested the United States spend $80 million to ensure that Cuba's communist system did not outlive the death of Fidel Castro. The plan also featured a classified annex that Cuban officials mistakenly claimed could be a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro or a United States military invasion of Cuba. [61] [62]

The "Cuban Thaw"

While relations between Cuba and the United States remained tenuous, by the 2000s, they began to improve. Fidel Castro stepped down from official leadership of the Cuban state and Barack Obama became president of the United States. [63]

The Capitolio Nacional in Havana, built in 1929 and said to be modeled on the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Capitolio havana.jpg
The Capitolio Nacional in Havana, built in 1929 and said to be modeled on the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

In April 2009, Obama, who had received nearly half of the Cuban Americans vote in the 2008 presidential election, [48] began implementing a less strict policy towards Cuba. Obama stated that he was open to dialogue with Cuba, but that he would only lift the trade embargo if Cuba underwent political change. In March 2009, Obama signed into law a congressional spending bill which eased some economic sanctions on Cuba and eased travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans (defined as persons with a relative "who is no more than three generations removed from that person") [64] traveling to Cuba. The April executive decision further removed time limits on Cuban-American travel to the island. Another restriction loosened in April 2009 was in the realm of telecommunications, which would allow quicker and easier access to the internet for Cuba. [65] The loosening of restrictions is likely to help nonprofits and scientists from both countries who work together on issues of mutual concern, such as destruction of shared biodiversity [66] and diseases that affect both populations. [67] At the 2009 5th Summit of the Americas, President Obama signaled the opening of a new beginning with Cuba. [68]

Obama's overtures were reciprocated, to some degree, by new Cuban President Raúl Castro. On 27 July 2012, Raúl Castro said that the Government of Cuba is willing to hold talks with the United States government to "discuss anything". [69] On 10 December 2013, at a state memorial service for Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and Raúl Castro shook hands, [70] with Castro saying in English: "Mr. President, I am Castro." Though both sides played down the handshake (much like the Clinton handshake of 2000), [71] an adviser to Obama said that Obama wanted to improve relations with Cuba, yet had concerns about human rights on the island. [72]

US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, in Havana, March 2016. Obama's visit to Cuba was the first by an American president in more than 80 years. Press conference, Havana.jpg
US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, in Havana, March 2016. Obama's visit to Cuba was the first by an American president in more than 80 years.

Beginning in 2013, Cuban and U.S. officials held secret talks brokered in part by Pope Francis and hosted in Canada and Vatican City [73] [74] [75] to start the process of restoring diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States. On 17 December 2014, the framework of an agreement to normalize relations and eventually end the longstanding embargo was announced by Castro in Cuba and Obama in the United States. Cuba and the United States pledged to start official negotiations with the aim of reopening their respective embassies in Havana and Washington. [76] As part of the agreement, aid worker Alan Gross and Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, a Cuban national working as a U.S. intelligence officer, were released by the Cuban government, which also promised to free an unspecified number of Cuban nationals from a list of political prisoners earlier submitted by the United States. For its part, the U.S. government released the last three remaining members of the Cuban Five. Reaction to this change in policy within the Cuban-American community was mixed, [77] [78] [79] and Cuban-American senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) all condemned the Obama administration's change in policy. [80] [81] [82] [83] [84] [85] However, opinion polls indicated the thaw in relations was broadly popular with the American public. [86]

High-level diplomats from Cuba and the United States met in Havana in January 2015. While the talks did not produce a significant breakthrough, both sides described them as "productive", and Cuban Foreign Ministry official Josefina Vidal said further talks would be scheduled. [87]

Under new rules implemented by the Obama administration, restrictions on travel by Americans to Cuba are significantly relaxed as of 16 January 2015, and the limited import of items like Cuban cigars and rum to the United States is allowed, as is the export of American computer and telecommunications technology to Cuba. [88]

On 14 April 2015, the Obama administration announced that Cuba would be removed from the United States "State Sponsors of Terrorism" list. The House and Senate had 45 days from 14 April 2015 to review and possibly block this action, [89] but this did not occur, and on 29 May 2015, the 45 days lapsed, therefore officially removing Cuba from the United States' list of state sponsors of terrorism. [90] [89] On 1 July 2015, President Barack Obama announced that formal diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States would resume, and embassies would be opened in Washington and Havana. [91] Relations between Cuba and the United States were formally re-established on 20 July 2015, with the opening of the Cuban embassy in Washington and the U.S. embassy in Havana. [92] Barack Obama visited Cuba for three days in March 2016. [93] In August 2016, JetBlue Flight 387 landed in Santa Clara, becoming the first direct commercial flight to travel between the two countries since the early 1960s. [94] On 28 November 2016, the first normally scheduled commercial flight after more than 50 years landed in Havana from Miami on an American Airlines jet. [95]

Trump administration

With the election of Republican Donald Trump as U.S. president, the state of relations between the United States and Cuba was unclear as of January 2017. While a candidate for the presidency, Trump criticized aspects of the Cuban Thaw, suggesting he could suspend the normalization process unless he can negotiate "a good agreement". [96]

On 16 June 2017, President Trump announced that he was suspending what he called a "completely one-sided deal with Cuba". Trump characterized Obama's policy as having granted Cuba economic sanctions relief for nothing in return. Since then, the administration's new policy has aimed to impose new restrictions with regards to travel and funding, however traveling via airlines and cruise lines has not been prohibited completely. Moreover, diplomatic relations remain intact and embassies in Washington D.C. and Havana stay open. [97] [98] [99]

Health issues of U.S. diplomats in Cuba

In August 2017, reports surfaced that American and Canadian diplomats stationed in Havana had experienced unusual physical symptoms affecting the brain—including hearing loss, dizziness, and nausea. American investigators have been unable to identify the cause of these symptoms. In September 2017, the U.S. ordered nonessential diplomats and families out of Cuba as a result of these mysterious health issues. [100] [101]

Trade relations

Under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Enhancement Act of 2000, exports from the United States to Cuba in the industries of food and medical products are permitted with the proper licensing and permissions from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the United States Department of the Treasury. [57]

The Obama administration eased specific travel and other restrictions on Cuba in January 2011. [102] A delegation from the United States Congress called on Cuban president Raúl Castro on 24 February 2012 to discuss bilateral relations. The Congress delegation included Patrick Leahy, Democratic Senator from the state of Vermont and chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and Richard Shelby, Republican Senator from the state of Alabama and ranking member of the Committee of Banking, Housing and Urban Matters; they went to Cuba as part of a delegation of Senators and Representatives of the Congress of United States. [103]

Travel and import restrictions imposed by the United States were further relaxed by executive action in January 2015 as part of the Cuban Thaw. [88]

Guantánamo Bay

A U.S. Navy sailor during a live-fire exercise at the Mobile Inshore Underwater Warfare Site (MIUW) at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 030104-N-7676W-058 M60.jpg
A U.S. Navy sailor during a live-fire exercise at the Mobile Inshore Underwater Warfare Site (MIUW) at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The U.S. continues to operate a naval base at Guantánamo Bay under a 1903 lease agreement "for the time required for the purposes of coaling and naval stations". The U.S. issues a check to Cuba annually for its lease, but since the revolution, Cuba has cashed only one payment. [104] [105] The Cuban government opposes the treaty, arguing[ citation needed ] that it violates article 52 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, titled "Coercion of a State by the threat or use of force". However, Article 4, titled "Non-retroactivity of the present Convention" of the same document states that Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties shall not be retroactively applied to any treaties made before itself. [106]

The leasing of land like the Guantánamo Bay tract was one of the requirements of the Platt Amendment, conditions for the withdrawal of United States troops remaining in Cuba following the Spanish–American War.

U.S. public opinion on Cuba–United States relations

Over time, the United States' laws and foreign policy regarding Cuba has changed drastically due to strained relationship. Beginning with opposition to the Castro led Independence Revolution in Cuba, the Spanish–American War, naval use of Guantanamo Bay, trade restrictions imposed by Nixon, and a trade embargo opened in the year 2000.

Since the 1990s, American public opinion of Cuba has overall become more favorable, and people became more supportive of ending the trade embargo as well as re-establishing diplomatic ties to Cuba. Gallup's poll that asked, "Is your overall opinion of Cuba very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable or very unfavorable?," began in 1997 with only 10% of people voting favorable, or mostly favorable and in 2015, Cuba's favorability reached 46%, almost half of the population believing Cuba to be very or mostly favorable, the highest percentage since the question has been asked. That question has had a constant rise in favorability, while asking whether or not Cuba was a serious threat had a constant decrease. According to the Roper Center, 68% of people in 1983 viewed Cuba as a serious or moderately serious threat to the United States, while in 2014 only 25% of the American population see Cuba as a threat. In a separate question by Gallup, "Do you favor or oppose re-establishing diplomatic relationships with Cuba?" this question has varied quite a bit over time, reaching its highest 71% in 1999 and most recently 51% in 2015. Data is likely to change more with higher favorability proceeding President Obama's 2016 actions to lift the Cold War embargo policy off of Cuba.

See also

Related Research Articles

The island of Cuba was inhabited by various Mesoamerican cultures prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1492. After the arrival, Spain conquered Cuba and appointed Spanish governors to rule in Havana. In 1762, Havana was briefly occupied by Great Britain, before being returned to Spain in exchange for Florida. A series of rebellions during the 19th century failed to end the Spanish rule. However, the Spanish–American War resulted in a Spanish withdrawal from the island in 1898, and following three-and-a-half years of subsequent US military rule, Cuba gained formal independence in 1902.

Foreign relations of Cuba

Cuba's foreign policy has been fluid throughout history depending on world events and other variables, including relations with the United States. Without massive Soviet subsidies and its primary trading partner, Cuba became increasingly isolated in the late 1980s and early 1990s after the fall of the USSR and the end of the Cold War, but Cuba opened up more with the rest of the world again starting in the late 1990s when they have since entered bilateral co-operation with several South American countries, most notably Venezuela and Bolivia beginning in the late 1990s, especially after the Venezuela election of Hugo Chávez in 1999, who became a staunch ally of Castro's Cuba. The United States used to stick to a policy of isolating Cuba until December 2014, when Barack Obama announced a new policy of diplomatic and economic engagement. The European Union accuses Cuba of "continuing flagrant violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms". Cuba has developed a growing relationship with the People's Republic of China and Russia. In all, Cuba continues to have formal relations with 160 nations, and provided civilian assistance workers – principally medical – in more than 20 nations. More than one million exiles have escaped to foreign countries. Cuba's present foreign minister is Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla.

26th of July Movement political organization

The 26th of July Movement was a Cuban vanguard revolutionary organization and later a political party led by Fidel Castro that in 1959 overthrew the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship in Cuba. The Movement fought the Batista regime on both rural and urban fronts. The movement’s main objectives were distribution of land to peasants, nationalization of public services, industrialization, honest elections, and large scale education reform.

Cuban exile Defectors from Communist Cuba

The term "Cuban exile" refers to the many Cubans who fled from or left the island of Cuba. These people consist of two primary groups loosely defined by the period of time occurring before and after the Mariel boat lift of the 1980s. The pre-Mariel group consisted of the mostly middle and upper classes of the island who fled due to fear of widespread reprisals after the communist takeover led by Fidel Castro in the late 1950s-1970s. The people in this group were mainly seeking political asylum. The second group consists of those peoples who emigrated from Cuba during and after the period of the Mariel boat lift of the 1980s. By and large, the majority of these people were, and are, economic migrants. The phenomenon date back to the Ten Years' War and the struggle for Cuban independence during the 19th century. In modern times, the term refers to the large exodus of Cubans to the United States since the 1959 Cuban Revolution. More than one million Cubans of all classes and racial groups have left the island for the United States, and other countries.

Cuba Petróleo Union

The Cuba Oil Union(Spanish: Unión Cuba-Petróleo) or CUPET is Cuba's largest oil company. It is owned and operated by the Cuban national government. The company is involved in the extraction of petroleum deposits as well as the refining and distributing of petroleum products. In conjunction with the conglomerate Cimex, it operates a chain of filling stations selling gasoline in convertible pesos.

Philip Wilson Bonsal was a career diplomat with the U.S. Department of State. A specialist in Latin American affairs, he served as United States Ambassador to Cuba from February 1959 until October 1960, the first months of the Castro regime.

William Pennell Snow was U.S. Ambassador to Burma (1959–61) and to Paraguay (1961–67). He was a career State Dept. officer who had previously served as Vice Consul in Paris, Assistant Chief of British Commonwealth Affairs, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs.

Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act is the name of three bills introduced into the United States Congress which would allow U.S. citizens to engage in unrestricted travel to Cuba for the first time since 1963.

Canada–Cuba relations Diplomatic relations between Canada and the Republic of Cuba

Canada has maintained consistently cordial relations with Cuba, in spite of considerable pressure from the United States, with the island being one of the most popular international travel destinations for Canadian citizens.

Cuba–Mexico relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and the United Mexican States

Cuba–Mexico relations are the diplomatic and bilateral relations between the Republic of Cuba and the United Mexican States. Both nations are members of the Association of Caribbean States, Latin American Integration Association, Organization of American States, Organization of Ibero-American States, Rio Group and the United Nations.

Cuba–Spain relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and the Kingdom of Spain

Cuba–Spain relations refer to the bilateral relations between the Republic of Cuba and the Kingdom of Spain. Relations date back more than five centuries. Cuba had been a colony from 1492 until 1898 when the United States took over the territory in the Spanish–American War. Many Cubans have ancestry dating back from Spain. Many Spaniards escaped the first Spanish Civil War and went to Cuba, and other countries, around 1820-1825.

Cuba–Israel relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and the State of Israel

Cuba–Israel refers to the current and historical relations between Cuba and Israel. Both nations have not had official diplomatic relations since 1973. Israel maintains an Interest Section in the Canadian embassy in Havana.

Argentina–Cuba relations Diplomatic relations between the Argentine Republic and the Republic of Cuba

Argentina–Cuba refers to the current and historical relations between Argentina and Cuba. Both nations are members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Latin American Integration Association, Organization of American States and the Organization of Ibero-American States.

Cuba–France relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and the French Republic

Cuba–France relations refers to the diplomatic relations between Cuba and France.

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Further reading

Historiography

Primary sources