Colonial Period

1492 Christopher Columbus discovered and explored Cuba.

1508 Sebastián de Ocampo circumnavigated and explored the island.

1511 Diego Velázquez conquered the native peoples and established various settlements.

1519 Havana was relocated from its original site on the Gulf of Batabanó to its present location on the north coast.

1523 Blacks were brought from Africa to work the mines and fields.

1538 Havana became the seat of government. Santiago de Cuba was formally selected as the capital of the island.

1555 French private Jacques de Sores captured and burnt part of Havana.

1595 Cattle raisers installed sugar mills on their lands and began sugar production.

1607 Havana was formally established as the capital of Cuba.

1628 Dutch pirate Piet Heyn captured the Spanish fleet off the north coast of Cuba.

1662 English navy captured and ransacked Santiago de Cuba.

1715 Political administration was centralized following the Bourbons’ assumption of power in Spain. Bourbon reforms began to be introduced into Cuba.

1717 Veguero rebellion against Spanish tobacco monopoly.

1728 University of Havana founded.

1762 English forces captured and occupied Havana.

1763 Havana restored to Spain.

1764 The intendency system was introduced to improve efficiency.

1773 Real Colegio Seminario de San Carlos was founded.

1789 Cuba was divided into two ecclesiastical jurisdictions, one in Santiago and the other in Havana.

1790 First newspaper established.

1792 Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País was founded.

1808 Napoleon overthrew and captured the Spanish King, Ferdinand VII.

1809 Joaquín Infante organized the first independence conspiracy.

1812 José Aponte organized a conspiracy of slaves and free blacks.

1814 Ferdinand restored to the Spanish throne.

1818 England and Spain signed a treaty proclaiming the end of legal slave trade effective 1820.

1823 Rayos y Soles de Bolívar conspiracy was organized. The United Stated issued the Monroe Doctrine.

1828-30 Aguila Negra conspiracy was organized.

1830s Spain imposed harsher authoritarian controls.

1837 Cuba’s first railroad commenced operation linking Havana with Bejucal and Güines.

1844 La Escalera, a slave conspiracy, was suppressed.

1845 Spain ended the slave trade.

1850 The Ostend Manifesto calling for the purchase of Cuba was issued.

1848-51 Conspiracies, expeditions, and death of Narciso López.

1865 Spain created the Junta de Información.

1868 Grito de Yara began the Ten Year’s War.

1869 Guáimaro Constitution was drafted.

1873 Rebel boat Virginius was captured and fifty-two passengers, mostly Americans and Englishmen, were shot by Spanish authorities.

1878 Peace of Zanjón ended the Ten Years’ War. Protests of Baraguá-General Antonio Maceo rejected the Peace and called for the abolition of slavery.

1879-80 La Guerra Chiquita took place.

1886 Spain abolished slavery.

1892 José Martí formed the Partido Revolucionario Cubano.

1895 Grito de Baire began the War of Independence. Martí killed on the battlefield. Jimaguayú Constitution drafted.

1896 Antonio Maceo killed on the battlefield in Havana.

1898 The U.S. battleship Maine blown up in Havana harbor. Spanish-American War began. United States occupied Cuba.

1899 In the Treaty of Paris, Spain relinquished Cuba.

1899-1902 The United States occupied Cuba militarily. Tomas Estrada Palma was elected president under the new 1901constitution.

1901 Cuban Constitution was drafted, incorporating the Platt Amendment, which gave the United States the right to intervene.

Republican Period

1902 The Republic was proclaimed and U.S. intervention ended.

1903 U.S.-Cuban Treaty signed whereby the United States obtained Guantanamo base.

1905 President Estrada Palma obtained a second term by defeating liberal candidate Jose Miguel Gomez.

1906 Guerrita de Agosto, a Liberal Party uprising, hastened U.S. intervention.

1906-09 Second U.S. intervention.

1908 Liberal candidate Jose Miguel Gomez won election to a four-year term.

1912 Short-lived racial uprising led by the Agrupación Independiente de Color. Conservative Mario G. Menocal was elected to a four-year term.

1917 Cuba declared war on Germany. Short-lived uprising in Oriente and Camagüey led by the Liberal Party.

1920 Collapse of the sugar boom. Liberal Alfredo Zayas won election to a four-year term.

1923 U.S. representative Enoch Crowder sent to Cuba to “reform” political process.

1924 Gerardo Machado elected to his first four-year presidential term. Shor-lived revolt by the Association of Veterans and Patriots.

1925 Gerardo Machado assumed the presidency. Cuba Communist party was founded.

1927 The anti-Machado Directorio Estudiantil Universitario was founded.

1929 Machado was “reelected” to a new six-year term.

1930 The U.S. Hawlley-Smoot Tariff Act reduced the Cuban share of the U.S. market. Mass student and popular demonstrations against the Machado regime occurred. The Clandestine ABC organization was established.

1931 Carlos Mendieta and former president Mario G. Menocal organized a short-lived uprising in Pinar del Río. Carlos Hevia and Sergio Carbó’s expedition from the U.S. was crushed by the Machado army.

1933 U.S. became involved in mediating between Machado and various groups seeking to overthrow his government. Machado was ousted and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes became provisional present. Revolt of the Sergeants led by Fulgencio Batista hastened the fall of Céspedes. Dr. Ramón Grau San Martín became present of a revolutionary government.

1934 Batista overthrew Grau’s regime and appointed Mendieta as provisional president. Platt Amendment was abrogated. Partido Revolucionario Cubano (Auténtico) organized.

1935 A general strike forced the resignation of President Mendieta, who was replaced by Jose A. Barnet.

1936 Miguel Mariano Gómez “elected” president. Federico Laredo Brú became president.

1939 Grau San Martín elected president of the Constitutional Assembly. The Confederacion Nacional Obrera, created in 1925, is reorganized into the Confederacion de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC).

1940 Constitution was drafted. Batista elected president for a four-year term.

1942 Cuba declared war on the Axis powers.

1944 Communists changed their party name to Partido Socialista Popular. Dr. Ramon Grau San Martín elected president.

1947 Eduardo Chibás formed the Partido del Pueblo Cubano (Ortodoxo). Cayo Confite expedition against Dominican dictator Rafael L. Trujillo was thwarted by the Cuban government.

1948 Fidel Castro participated in the “Bogotazo” in Colombia. Carlos Prío Socarrás elected president.

1951 Eduardo Chibás committed suicide.

1952 Batista seized power through a military coup.

1953 Resistance organized and led primarily by Auténticos and university students. Castro launched the ill-fated Moncada attack.

1954 Batista “reelected” president for a four-year term.

1955 Attempt at political compromise organized by Sociedad de Amigos de la República failed.

1956 Montecristi conspiracy within the military squashed by Batista. Auténticos attacked unsuccessfully the Goicuría army barracks. Castro’s Granma expedition landed in Oriente province.

1957 Members of the Directorio and the Auténticos attacked unsuccessfully the Presidential Palace. Directorio leader José Antonio Echeverría killed by police. Strike paralyzed almost all the western provinces of the island. Castro consolidated his guerrilla operations in the Sierra Maestra.

1958 Castro-organized general strike collapsed. Castro expanded guerrilla operations into Las Villas province. Military offensive against the guerrillas failed. U.S. gradually withdrew support for the Batista regime. Rigged election produced the victory of Batista’s candidate, Andrés Rivero Agüero. Increased demoralization and corruption led to the gradual collapse of Cuba’s armed forces. Batista and his close associates escaped to the Dominican Republic.

Revolutionary Period

1959 Fidel Castro assumed command and began consolidation of power. Castro visited Caracas, the United States, Canada, and Buenos Aires. First Agrarian Reform Law promulgated. Castro became prime minister and replaced Manuel Urrutia with his hand-picked candidate, Osvaldo Dorticós. Major Camilo Cienfuegos died in a plane crash. Major Huber Matos sentenced to twenty years in jail.

1960 Cuba and the Soviet Union signed a commercial treaty and reestablished diplomatic relations. Major foreign businesses were confiscated by the government. Transportation, banking, communications, and the media and educational systems were taken over by the government. Central Planning Board (JUCEPLAN) created to plan and direct the economy. The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) were organized. Castro issued the declaration of Havana, claiming Cuba’s right to export revolution and calling for Soviet support. The Soviet government purchased Cuban sugar the United States had refused to buy. Soviet bloc armaments began arriving in Cuba.

1961 The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba. Fidel Castro proclaimed the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution. U.S.-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion was defeated. The United States declared an embargo on trade with Cuba. The Cuban government proceeded to socialize the economy. Castro declared himself to be a Marxist-Leninist.

1962 Cuba was expelled from the Organization of American States. Castro issued the Second Declaration of Habana, calling for continued revolution at home and abroad. Castro formed the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI), an amalgamation of revolutionary groups and the Communists. The Cuban government introduced rationing of most items, including food. The Cuban missile crisis brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear conflict.

1963 Castro visited the Soviet Union for the first time. Second Agrarian Reform Law was issued. Support for revolutionary and terrorist groups, particularly in Venezuela, increased. Cuba refused to sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

1964 Castro visited the Soviet Union, signed a long-term trade agreement providing for Cuban sugar deliveries for 1965-1970 of twenty-four million tons at a fixed price of U.S. $.06 per pound. Marcos A. Rodríguez tried and executed. Partido Socialista Popular leaders purged. Castro announced that Cuba would produce ten million tons of sugar in 1970, signaling a return to dependence on one agricultural crop and the abandonment of plans for major industrialization. Conference of Latin American Communist Parties held in Havana subscribed to the Soviet line.

1965 Cuba participated in the Consultative Meeting of Communist Parties held in Moscow. Ernesto “Che” Guevara initiated a series of trips to Asia and Africa to promote anti-U.S. violence. Three-year Soviet-Cuban trade agreement signed. Fidel Castro assumed greater personal control over the economy. Cuban Communist Party (PCC) created. Cuba allowed for the exodus of tens of thousands of Cubans. Castro rejected the Communist doctrine on “the leading role” of Communist parties in the revolutionary struggle and criticized bitterly Latin American Communist parties for not supporting guerrilla warfare.

1966 Cuba and China criticized each other, straining relations. Tricontinental Conference held in Havana, and the Organization for the Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAL) was founded to support anti-American revolutionary and terrorist groups. Castro and delegates from most Latin American leftist groups formed the Latin American Solidarity Organization (LASO). The economic situation continued to deteriorate, and Castro proclaimed the supremacy of moral over material incentives.

1967 Castro admitted to Cuban-Soviet disagreement over Cuban support for guerrilla activities in Latin America. First Latin American Solidarity Organization (LASO) conference held in Havana. Flights resumed to take U.S. citizens out of Cuba after one-year suspension. Che Guevara killed in Bolivia. Castro sent weapons and provided training to the PLO and the National Front for the Liberation of South Yemen. Cuba refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Cuba published a book by French Marxist Regis Debray, Revolution in the Revolution, promoting guerrilla warfare in Latin America.

1968 The microfraction, nine pro-Soviet members of the Central Committee including Anibal Escalante, were tried as “traitors to the revolution” and received jail terms. All remaining private businesses except small agricultural plots were confiscated. The University of Havana was placed under strict military discipline and control following student demonstrations. Castro made a major address justifying the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Castro supported and trained Colombian guerrillas.

1969 Castro committed Cuba to a long-range agricultural-development plan, thereby postponing the country’s move to industrialization. The United States and Cuba signed an agreement to return passengers abroad airliners hijacked to Cuba. Cuba became the first nation to establish formal relations with the Vietcong (National Liberation Front). Cuba participated in the Moscow-based World Conference of Communist Parties. Soviet defense minister Marshall Andrei Grechko visited Cuba. Soviet naval squadron visited the island for the first time.

1970 Castro announced the capture of leaders of exile group Alpha 66, which had landed in Cuba in April. A “mini Manual for Revolutionaries” was published in the official LASO publication Tricontinental, written by Brazilian urban terrorist Carlos Marighella. The manual gives precise instructions in terror tactics, kidnappings, etc. Cuba’s attempt to produce ten million tons of sugar failed, and the Labor Ministry reported the productivity among sugar workers was so low that the cost of the 1970 harvest was three times higher than its value on the world market. Economic problems compelled Castro to replace several civilian ministers with military officers. The possibility of a Soviet naval base in Cienfuegos led to a diplomatic exchange between the United States and the Soviets and a final statement by the latter that they were not building “military bases in Cuba… [nor] doing anything that would contradict the understanding reached between the governments of the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. in 1962.” Cuba faced economic crisis with declines in production in almost all sectors, and the Labor Ministry attributed the problems to “wide-spread passive resistance” by all workers. Castro called for closer ties with the Soviet Union and acknowledged that forms of struggle other than Castroism were possible in Latin America. A joint Inter-Governmental Soviet-Cuban Commission for Economic, Scientific, and Technological Cooperation was established, and Carlos Rafael Rodriguez was appointed chairman.

1971 Castro urged Cubans to work harder to increase low level of productivity of Cuban economy. Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin visited Cuba. Castro visited Salvador Allende in Chile. Cuba and the Soviet Union signed a long-term economic and trade agreement.

1972 The Cuban government withdrew 600 million pesos from circulation (out of 3 billion total) to combat inflation. Castro toured Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union on official visits. Cuba was formally admitted as the ninth member of COMECON, the Soviet bloc’s economic alliance. Castro signed a new long-term Soviet-Cuban economic agreement, whereby Cuba’s large debt to the Soviets was deferred to 1986, after which time it would be repaid over the next twenty-five years at no interest. Castro announced a major reorganization of administration strengthening the structural capacity of the government to manage major economic activities.

1973 The United States and Cuba signed an agreement on hijacking. Castro supported a pan-Latin-American regional grouping that would exclude the U.S. An experiment in local government, Poder Popular (People’s Power) was begun in Matanzas province. At a meeting of the Confederation of Cuba Labor (CTC), Castro announced the abandonment of moral incentives and the establishment of Soviet-type norms for the labor force in an attempt to increase productivity. At the conference of Non-Aligned Countries in Algiers, Castro praised the Soviets and attacked the theory of two imperialism espoused by other no-aligned leaders.

1974 CSoviet party leader Leonid Brezhnev visited Cuba on official mission. Cuban-Argentine trade agreement of $1.2 billion signed---the largest between Cuba and any Latin American nation. Cuba provided military support and personnel to Syria during the Yom Kippur War. President Ford indicated U.S. support of the Organization of American States’ move to improve relations between member nations and Cuba. Castro created the American Department (DA) under the Communist Party. The DA became responsible for planning and coordinating Cuba’s secret guerrilla and terrorist camps, networks for the covert movement of personnel and weapons from Cuba, and a propaganda apparatus. Cuban Foreign Minister Raul Roa Garcia at United Nations declared there would be no normalized moves with the United States until the latter had lifted its economic blockade. Cuba stepped up its training and support of Communist groups in Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, and Angola.

1975 Cuban voter referendum on new constitution provided for National Assembly with five-year terms for those elected (by Cubans sixteen and older). Also involved, a thirty-one-member State Council with a president, a first vice-president, and five second vice-presidents. The United States eased restrictions on exports to Cuba by foreign subsidiaries of American companies; direct trade rained embargoed. The United States reported Cuban soldiers and advisers in Angola to support the Marxist group MPLA. Castro presided over first Cuban Communist Party Congress, which approved Cuba’s new Socialist constitution and five-year economic plan.

1976 Cuba announced it would not withdraw troops from Angola supporting the MPLA. U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned Cuba about its intervention in Angola. Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau visited Cuba. Cuba informed Sweden of its intention to withdraw half its troops from Angola by December 1976. Castro accused the United States of sabotage in the crash of a Cuban passenger jet near Barbados. Cuba’s new socialist constitution was promulgated.

1977 COMECON announced decision to build a nuclear-power station in Cuba. Week of Cuban solidarity with Nicaragua held in Havana. Castro visited Africa and the Soviet Union and agreed with Brezhnev to continue support for national liberation movements. Castro and Jamaican prime minister Michel Manley exchanged official visits to each other’s countries. President Jimmy Carter eased travel restrictions on U.S. citizens to Cuba, and “interest” sections of consular officials were set up in Washington and Havana. Cuban military advisers and combat troops entered Ethiopia. All Cuban officials were expelled from Somalia as a reaction to Cuban presence in Ethiopia. Castro reasserted Cuba’s determination to help black African liberation movements, reaffirmed support for Puerto Rican independence, and claimed that Cuba’s presence in Africa was non-negotiable with the United States. Granma article complained about Chinese attacks on the Cuban Revolution and Cuba’s internationalist commitments in Africa.

1978 Cuba hosted the World Youth Festival. Cuban radio hailed the ratification of the Panama Canal treaties. Cuban troop strength in Ethiopia reported by the United States at 3,500 to 5,000. Abu Iyad, a close aide to Yasser Arafat stated that hundred of Palestinians had been sent to Cuba’s terrorist camps. The United States accused Cuba of supporting invading rebels in Zaire. Tomás Borge, leader of Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN), arrived in Cuba and met with party leaders. Castro attacked the foreign policies of the United States and China. One hundred fifty Cuban-American political prisoners allowed to leave Cuba. Central Planning Board President Humberto Pérez explained that Cuba had not reached a rate of economic growth allowing it to emerge from underdevelopment. Castro developed closer ties with and sent military advisers to Iraq.

1979 Cuba supported Vietnam and condemned China’s “military aggression.” The Soviet Union commenced a buildup and modernization of the Cuban military by providing the Castro government with its first submarine and two torpedo boats. Cuba announced the release of several hundred political prisoners. Cuba’s America Department helped unify Sandinista factions fighting Somoza. Castro provided personnel and weapons to anti-Somoza groups in Nicaragua. National Assembly of People’s Power met in Havana. Castro called for higher discipline and working standards. He criticized public services, especially transportation. Cuba and Jamaica signed economic, scientific, and technical cooperation agreements and continued to maintain close relations. Cuban military, technical, and economic advisers arrived in Nicaragua following the overthrow of Somoza’s government. Close relations and collaboration developed between the two countries. Cuba’s Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of Peoples (MPSP) appealed for solidarity with the people of El Salvador in their struggles. Cuba’s America Department operated a weapons pipeline to the Farabundo Marti National Front (FMLN), a terrorist group attempting to gain power in El Salvador. The United States charged that a Soviet combat brigade was stationed in Cuba; Castro denied it. The Sixth Nonaligned Summit Meeting was held in Havana. Grenada admitted that it received arms from Cuba but only for defensive purposes. The two countries signed a two-year technical and economic cooperation agreement.

1980 Castro shuffled Cuban cabinet, assumed personal control over Ministries of Defense, Interior, Public Health, and Culture. Ten thousand Cuban refugees entered the Peruvian Embassy in Havana seeking asylum and starting a mass exodus of Cubans to Peru and the United States. Cuba and Nicaragua signed an economic, scientific, and technical agreement and established a joint intergovernmental commission to set the standards of relations in those fields. Angolan President José Eduardo Dos Santos visited Cuba and signed an agreement establishing bilateral exchanges between Cuba and Angola. Cuban MIGs attacked and sunk the Bahamian patrol boat Flamingo. The Cuba government apologized, saying “it sincerely regretted the incident.” The M-19 guerrilla group that held diplomats hostage in the Dominican Republic’s embassy in Colombia for sixty-one days arrived in Cuba with eleven hostages. Hostages were released while the guerrillas remained in the island. Daniel Ortega, member of the Nicaraguan governing junta, and Grenadian prime minister Maurice Bishop addressed the May Day rally in Havana. Cuba and the USSR signed an agreement for the building of a nuclear research center in Cuba. Fidel Castro and a large delegation attended the firs-anniversary celebrations of the Sandinista victory in Nicaragua. Cuba and the USSR signed a bilateral economic-cooperation agreement for 1981-1985. Trade would increase by 50 percent and would average over U.S. $8 billion per year. Raul Castro announced the creation of territorial militias. President Carter accused Cuba of aiding the supply of arms and insurgents to leftist groups trying to overthrow the government of El Salvador. The Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) organized a drive of solidarity with Puerto Rico to help Puerto Rican people gain their full sovereignty and independence. During Mexican president José López Portillo’s visit to Cuba, the two countries signed a joint communiqué that included a call for ending the economic blockade against the Cuban people and the cessation of violations of Cuban air space. The Mexican president condemned the cold war and the arms buildup, noting that nothing could be achieved without détente. Addressing the Second Cuban Communist Party Congress, Fidel Castro admitted failing to reach the goal of 6 percent economic growth set by the First Congress during 1976-1980.

1981 Eleven new “alternate” members of the Politburo were named. Five of them, Humberto Pérez, Vilma Espín, Roberto Viega, José Ramírez Cruz, and Armando Acosta would represent “mass organizations” in order to facilitate grassroots relations. The other six members were all army leaders. The government organized militias of territorial troops on a regional basis (Milicias de Tropas Territoriales-MTT). Many militiamen were veterans of Angola and Ethiopia. Militias would fight sabotage from exile groups. Foreign Minister Isidoro Malmierca flew to Guyana on official visit. Malmierca affirmed Guyana’s territorial integrity in dispute with Venezuela. Nominee for U.S. secretary of state Alexander Haig rejected notion of improved relations with Cuba during confirmation hearings.U.S. FBI arrested seven anti-Castro Cuba exiles in Florida Keys. Exiles were linked to Alpha 66. U.S. State Department failed to convince Castro to accept the return of 2,000 undesirables from 1980 Mariel boatlift. Trade agreements signed with Guyana included increased technical assistance. Government reported slight increase in rate of infant mortality from 1.93 percent in 1979 to 1.96 percent in 1980. The United States reported that $532 million had been spent on entry and resettlement of 125,000 Cuban and 12,400 Haitian refugees who emigrated to the United States in 1980. The United States expelled First Secretary of Cuban Interest Section, Ricardo Escortín, for illegal business deals with U.S. businessmen and for alleged intelligence activities. Group of Cubans seized Ecuadorian embassy in Havana, holding Ecuadorian envoys hostage, demanding political asylum. Valdilev M. Vasev, Minister Counselor of the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C., denied that the Soviet Union had supplied arms to Salvadorian rebels but said Soviets were shipping arms to Cuba without restrictions on their shipment to third countries. Cuban security forces entered Ecuadorean Embassy and arrested would-be Cuban emigrants. Castro gave speech to Soviet Communist Party Congress, stating that the United States threatened a blockade and denying that Cuba was instigating the Salvadorian rebellion. Castro met with Leonid Brezhnev. The Soviet leader assured Castro of Soviets’ continued support. Colombia broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba over Cuban links to Colombian guerrilla insurgency. Alpha 66 reported thirty sabotage missions accomplished in six months inside Cuba, including attack at Regla power plant. Castro reaffirmed solidarity with Soviet Union in a speech marking the twentieth anniversary of Bay of Pigs. Fidel Castro made overtures to Christian groups for revolutionary unity in country. U.S. assistant secretary of state Croker linked solution of Southwest African problem with withdrawal of Cuba troops from Angola. ANAP President Jose Ramirez launched campaign to aid small private farmers, especially those belonging to independent cooperatives, in new agricultural policy. Costa Rica broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba over human rights issues. Soviet four-ship naval squadron left Cuba after monthlong visit and maneuvers in the Caribbean. U.S. department of State reported Cuban transfer of Soviet-made T-55 tanks to Nicaraguan Sandinista government. Vice-President Raul Castro was awarded the USSR Order of the October Revolution. Aid pact with COMECON signed in Sophia. Plans made to improve sugar production by modernizing mills and transport system. Aid package worth about $1.2 billion over ten years. Cuba’s largest cement factory, christened Karl Marx Plant, completed after six years of construction. Manuel Urrutia Lleo, first president of Revolutionary Cuba, who later became a Castro foe, died in New York City at age 79. Castro voiced “profound suspicion” over the origin of crop blights and dengue fever that killed 113 Cubans and damaged harvests. He said the epidemics had possible been introduced by the CIA. Castro met with President López Portillo of Mexico on the Mexican island of Cozumel. Castro accepted that his presence at the Cancún North/South summit would jeopardize meetings in light of U.S. warnings to stay away. National Census put Cuban population at 9,706,369; Havana at 1,924,000. More than 97 percent of registered voters in Cuba voted in municipal elections to elect 9,763 members. Jamaica broke diplomatic relations with Cuba, citing lack of cooperation in the extradition of Jamaican criminals. Félix Fidel Castro Díaz, Fidel Castro’s only son, became director of Atomic Energy Commission. Mexican government offered to act as “communicator” between Castro regime and U.S. government. Fidel Castro was reelected President of the Council of State with his brother, Raúl Castro, as first vice-president. Other vice-presidents elected were Juan Almeida Bosque, Ramiro Valdés, Guillermo García, Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, and Blas Roca. Flavio Bravo replaced Roca as council chairman. Humberto Pérez announced 1981 budget deficit of 785 million pesos, compared to 249 million pesos in 1980. He blamed falling commodity prices and dengue fever for shortfalls. Government raised prices 10 to 30 percent on rationed goods and most catering services (restaurants, bars, etc.). Two ministers including Minister of Interior Trade Serafín Rodríguez, were ousted after public outcry swelled over excessive increases in some areas. Manuel Vila Sosa replaced Fernández as Internal Trade Minister.

1982 Trade deal signed with Libya after visit by delegation headed by State Committee for Economic Cooperation President Héctor Rodríguez Llampart. Andrés Rodríguez Hernández, a stowaway aboard Miami jetliner, was first refugee to be deported to Cuba. President Ronald Reagan named F. Clifton White to lead Radio Marti, a U.S. broadcasting initiative designed to counter anti-American broadcasts from Cuba. President Regan said that Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig met secretly with Cuban vice-president Carlos Rafael Rodríguez in Mexico in the fall of 1980. Haig discussed arms shipments from the Soviet Union to Cuba. U.S. Justice Department lifted embargo on Cuban publications to U.S. subscribers in effect since mid-1981. Foreign Minister Isidoro Malmierca visited Angola; Deputy Foreign Minister Oscar Oramas, General Abelardo Colomé and Politburo member Jorge Risquet visited Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Cuban government liberalized restrictions on foreign investment in Cuba in efforts to revive tourist industry and gain foreign exchange. Reagan Administration announced new restrictions on travel to Cuba, banning tourist and business travel after May 15. Only academic and family-unification exit visas would be granted. Castro rejected Regan Administration’s appeal for breaking off relations with the Soviet Union in a speech to Association of Small Farmers (ANAP). ANAP President José Ramírez said that small, private farmers and cooperatives produced 70 percent of country’s tobacco, 67 percent of cocoa, 54 percent of coffee, 50 percent of vegetables, and 18 percent of sugarcane, and owned 21 percent of beef and dairy cattle stock. Castro admitted that “free market” food policy of 1980 was a failure due to unscrupulous “middlemen.” Vice-President Carlos Rafael Rodríguez visited France. Cuban government cracked down on “capitalist activities” in free markets for food and clothing and made 200 arrests. Vice-President Carlos Rafael Rodríguez addressed UN General Assembly and said Cuba had received “huge quantities of modern and sophisticated weapons” from the Soviet Union and allies. Torrential rains and flooding caused extensive damage to Cuban property and agriculture. Cuban government announced that 180,000 foreigners had visited Cuba in 1981, bringing in $80 million. The United States expelled two Cuban envoys at a Cuban mission to the UN after finding sophisticated telecommunications equipment in an Orlando, Florida, warehouse. Former foreign minister Raul Roa died. Fidel Castro, in Bayamo, in address during Moncada celebrations commemorating the Cuban Revolution, blamed the capitalist crisis” for Cuba’s economic woes. He asked Cuban people to work harder and endure and said Cuban troops would not leave Angola until all South African troops were out of Namibia.

1983 Cuban officials met in Panama with economic ministers from several Western nations to renegotiate payment on $2.6 billion in foreign debt. The United States reported that Cuba – with Soviet backing- has expanded its amphibious fleet. Cuba also completed building shelters for a fleet of about 225 Soviet-built MIG fighter bombers and plans to receive four more Foxtrot submarines from the Soviet Union. Former Cuban agent turned federal informer revealed, at U.S. Senate hearings, that his work as a drug dealer for the Cuban government earned $7 million for the Castro regime. The federal informer also estimated that 3,000 Cuban agents entered the U.S. during the 1980 boatlift. Cuba rejected charges that two diplomats in their UN delegation in New York City were guilty of spying. The U.S. government ordered the Cuban diplomats to leave the United States within forty-eight hours. Cuban government charged that U.S. reconnaissance plane violated Cuban airspace in a “deliberate and cold provocation.” U.S. assistant secretary of state Thomas O. Enders met with the head of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, Ramón Sánchez-Parodi, to request that Cuba take back thousands of Cubans (who came to the United States via the 1980 Mariel boatlift) because of their criminal conduct in Cuba. U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted thirteen to four to authorize Radio Martí. Cuban vice-president Carlos Rafael Rodríguez claimed that Cuba was willing to open “serious negotiations” on reestablishing normal relations with the United Sates, provided that the Reagan Administration take the first step. Castro provided funds for the Macheteros, a Puerto Rican terrorist group that highjacked a Wells Fargo truck in Connecticut and stole $7.2 million. Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado, former President of Cuba, committed suicide. Cuba informed the United States that it was willing to discuss the return of some of the Cubans who came to the United States illegally in 1980, but only as part of overall negotiations on “normalizing of migration” between the two countries. President Reagan emphasized that the Soviet Union had repeatedly violated the 1962 agreement that ended the missile crisis by continuing to ship “offensive weapons” into the American hemisphere. America Watch, a human rights organization, claimed that at least 250 long-term political prisoners were confined in Cuban jails under “brutal conditions” and that up to 2,000 former prisoners were denied decent work. The United States intervened in Grenada, overthrew the Coard communist regime, and expelled all Cuban advisors. The United States tightened its economic embargo against Cuba by banning imports of semi-finished nickel products from the Soviet Union, which is a major buyer of Cuban nickel ore. Cuba reached a tentative agreement with its creditors to reschedule $810 million in short-and medium-term commercial debt and nearly half of its $3.5 billion debt owed to Western governments and banks.

1984 President Reagan accused Cuban leaders of having betrayed the Cuban people and not telling them the truth about Cuban activities around the world. Reagan said there were as many as 10,000 political prisoners in Cuban jails. Reagan also charged that Cuba’s economy failed to meet even elementary needs. The United Sates immigration and Justice Department officials decided that 100,000 of the Cuban who came to the United State in the 1980 Mariel boatlift were eligible for legal status and citizenship opportunities under the 1966 U.S. law on earlier Cuban migration. Fidel Castro visited Western Europe for the first time. Castro made an unscheduled stop in Spain en route home from Yuri Andropov’s funeral in Moscow. Angolan guerrillas reported that Cuban-led Angolan forces opened a major offensive against rebel strongholds along the southeast border. South Arica labeled “unacceptable” Cuba’s heavily conditioned offer to withdraw its 25,000 troops from Angola, dimming hopes for effort to negotiate independence for Namibia. Roberto Veiga Menéndez, an alternate member of the Cuban Communist party politburo and secretary general of the Cuban Federation of Workers, said that the Cuban government had doubled the size of its militia forces to more than one million men and women. Jorge Vals, a prominent Cuban poet and political dissident, was released after being imprisoned for more than twenty years. Several dozen Mexicans received training in terrorism and guerrilla warfare in Sierra del Rosario, Pinar del Rio, in Western Cuba. The Reverend Jesse Jackson arrived in Cuba for a two-day visit and inairport meeting with Fidel Castro, said that the United States and Cuba “must give peace a chance.” Castro said that he invited the Reverend Jackson as a “gesture of friendship to the people of the United States.” The Reverend Jesse Jackson returned to the United States with twenty-six freed American and Cuban prisoners. Cuban an U.S. officials started discussions in New York about immigration issues, including the possible return of 1,000 Cuban refugees from the 1980 Mariel boatlift. Supreme Court reinstated Reagan Administration’s curbs on tourist and business travel to Cuba. Western commercial banks reportedly agreed to reschedule about $100 million of Cuba’s debts for this year on easier terms than those of 1983. Foreign Minister Wu Xuequian said that China and Cuba agreed to improve trade, cultural, and technological ties despite their differences on international matters. Fidel Castro, in speech marking thirty-first anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, said he would welcome any steps to lessen bitter hostility between the United States and Cuba. State Department sees no change in Cuban policy reflected in Fidel Castro’s speech; rules out comprehensive talks for now, demanding Cuba first make fundamental foreign policy changes.

1985 Fidel Castro ordered austerity measures expected to sharply slow the country’s economic growth and possible cause more reliance on the Soviet Union. The measures were aimed at saving badly needed foreign exchange. Twenty-three Cuban 1980 Mariel refugees were returned to Havana. These were the first of more than 2,700 unwanted Cubans who could be send back by the United States as part of an agreement with Fidel Castro’s government. The Reagan Administration claimed that Fidel Castro’s absence from Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko’s funeral was evidence of friction between Cuba and the Soviet Union over economic aid. The Reagan Administration also viewed the absence as one of Castro’s periodic urges to show his independence from the Soviet Union. Cuban leader Fidel Castro said Cuba’s relationship with the Soviet Union had never been better and that his absence from the funeral of Konstantin Chernenko was not significant. Cuba offered to withdraw one hundred of its military advisers form Nicaragua but vowed to return even more if the United States continued its “dirty war” against Nicaragua. Ecuadorean President León Febres Cordero arrived in Cuba for an official visit and was welcomed by Fidel Castro. Talks centered on the Latin American debt problem and unrest in Central America. Radio Martí, the U.S. Information Agency news service for Cuba, began broadcasts to Cuba. Havana suspended all immigration proceedings between Cuba and the United States in response to the start of Radio Martí. Cuban-Americans will be prohibited from visiting Cuba. Fidel Castro suggested the United States and other industrialized nations pay the Latin American $4,360 billion debt. The Cuban government sought to improve relations with churches and synagogues and urged cooperation. Cuban Central Planning Board head Humberto Pérez González was replaced by Construction Minister José López Moreno in a continuing government shakeup that is expected to lead to a more prominent role for Fidel Castro’s younger brother, Raul. Fidel Castro said Cuba was going nuclear. A four-unit nuclear plant was already being built, and two more are planned. Fidel Castro urged Latin American nations to bank together and simply refuse to pay their foreign debt. Castro refinanced Cuba’s $3.5 billion debt and promised to continue making payment on loans. U.S. and Cuba officials agreed that relations between the two countries had reached one of the lowest points in years. A slight warming in the relationship halted abruptly when the United States inaugurated Radio Martí’s broadcast service to Cuba, which was denounced by Fidel Castro as a U.S. attempt at subversion. Cuba signed a pact rescheduling $90 million owed to foreign commercial banks. President Reagan imposed immediate restrictions on entry of Cuban officials into the United Sates. Soviet foreign minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze arrived in Cuba for talks with Fidel Castro. About 20,000 protesters denounced the United States, outside the U.S. mission in Havana, after Cuba protested what it called spy flights by U.S. surveillance planes. Four Cuban embassy employees in Madrid tried to kidnap former Cuban official Manuel Antonio Sánchez Pérez, who had asked for political asylum. The attempt was foiled by the intervention of thirty bystanders. Four employees, including the vice consul, were arrested. Cuba reportedly planned to reduce its outlays for military and public security in 1986, after failing to meet production goals for leading exports in 1985. President Reagan warned that the United States had a legal right to defend itself against five nations that he claimed were sponsoring terrorist “acts of war” against America: Iran, Libya, North Korea, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

1986 Fidel Castro opened the third congress of the Cuban Communist Party with a harsh attack on bureaucracy and inefficiency and praised the economic growth of 7.8 percent per year during the previous five years. Cuba’s Communist party reshuffled its politburo and promoted women to full membership for the first time. Fidel Castro marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Cuba’s Bay of Pigs victory with an attack on President Reagan and pledged to fight laziness and corruption in Cuban society. In an effort to reschedule its $3.5billion foreign debt, Cuba began new talks with its Western creditors. The United States and Cuba greed to negotiate the revival of the 1984 immigration agreement that enabled the United States to deport several thousand Cubans who had histories of crime or mental illness who had arrived in the United States as part of the Mariel boatlift in 1980. Talks collapsed when the United States refused to recognize Cuba’s right to broadcast over an AM frequency in the United States to match Voice of America’s Radio Martí transmissions. President Reagan ordered measures designed to tighten the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba and responded to Cuba’s decision to suspend immigration agreement by making it more difficult for some Cubans to enter the United States. Cuba allowed seventy political prisoners, many of whom had been in prison for more than twenty years, to leave the country and fly to Miami. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization service reports that most prisoners had been members of the Cuban armed forces under dictator Fulgencio Batista. One hundred thousand Cubans rallied outside the former U.S. embassy in Havana protesting what the Cuban government said was the overflight of a U.S. espionage plane over Cuban territory. Millions of Cubans took part in military exercise aimed at preparing the population to defend the island against a surprise air attack. The Third-Party Congress was held.

1987 Fidel Castro halted two ventures into capitalism he instituted- farmers’ markets and private home ownership – in the face of signs that some people were accumulating wealth through them. Antagonism between Cuba and the United States was greater than at any time in the previous ten years. Bitter conflict between the church and the state in Cuba eased considerably. Rafael del Pino Díaz, deputy chief of staff of the Cuban Defense Ministry and former chief of the Cuban air force defected to the United States; he had knowledge of significant military and political information. Cuba agreed to release 348 political prisoners following a request from the U.S. Catholic Church. The Cuban government charged that U.S. diplomats in Havana have been spying and plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro. The Cuban government, in a policy reversal, agreed to restore an immigration pact with the United States by which l2,600 Cubans whose criminal records make them ineligible for U.S. residence will be deported from the United States and up to 20,000 Cubans will be allowed to emigrate to the United States each year. Outraged at the prospect of being deported, Cuban inmates took over federal detention centers in Oakdale, Louisiana, and Atlanta. After several days of negotiations, the uprising ended, and hostages were released. A new process to decide whether the inmates should be sent to Cuba was established. Cuba’s economy shrank 3.5 percent in1987 after growing 7.2 percent per year between 1981 and 1985.

1988 Pat Robertson claimed that Soviet missiles were pointed at the United States from Cuba; both the White House and Fidel Castro denied it. United Nations Human Rights Commission unanimously agreed to accept an unexpected invitation from Havana to investigate human rights in Cuba. Even though UN specialists encounter harsh penal systems in Cuban prisons, they found no evidence to support U.S. charges of torture and executions. The official United Nations investigation concluded that abuses have declined. Cuban National Bank documents obtained by a human rights group indicated that the Soviet Union was reducing support for the Cuban economy. U.S. officials said they expect between 12,000 and 15,000 Cubans to emigrate to the United States by the end of the year in the first major exodus from the island since 1980. In an apparent effort to improve his international standing, Fidel Castro moved toward reconciliation with Cuban Christians and the country’s small Jewish population. In the first five months since the protest riots in two federal penitentiaries, the U.S. government released 1,153 Cuban detainees from jail. Fidel Castro indicated that Cuba will not emulate Mikhail Gorbachev’s plan for political and economic reform in the Soviet Union. Restrictions on importing and exporting books, films, phonograph records, and other informational material to and from Cuba were eliminated by a trade bill signed into law by President Reagan. Radio Marti expanded its Family Bridge program, which enables listeners in the United States to convey messages to relatives in Cuba. Mikhail Gorbachev cut short a visit to the United States and canceled a trip to Cuba to return to the Soviet Union after news of a devastating earthquake in Armenia.

1989 Fidel Castro played down his differences with the Soviet Union even as he reaffirmed his refusal to adopt Mikhail Gorbachev’s program of economic liberalization to remedy critical economic problems. Cuban National Bank data showed Soviet Union cut its trade with Cuba by 12 percent in 1988’s first quarter; data, presented to Western government creditors in June, showed Cuba’s output of goods and services fell 3.5 percent in 1987; trade figures gave clear indication of USSR’s effort to trim its $5 billion-a-year subsidy of the Cuban economy. Leaders of Cuba’s two main human rights groups said there has been increased pressure and new tactics government of Fidel Castro was using against dissidents since United Nations team looked into abuses of human rights in mid-September. American Watch, a human rights organization based in New York, issued a report saying Cuba has improved its prisons and permitted some dissident groups to form, but it continues to commit serious violation of human rights. A Soviet official revealed that Soviet nuclear warheads were deployed in Cuba and could have been launched at American cities within hours during 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The United Nationals issued a report on the human rights situation in Cuba; suggested that while there had been big improvements in church-state relations and treatment of political prisoners, basic political liberties were still widely denied. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev began visit to Cuba with effusive welcome from Fidel Castro. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in Havana, called for end to all outside military aid to Latin American and signed friendship treaty condemning use of force as instrument of foreign policy. General Arnaldo T. Ochoa Sanchez of Cuba was arrested on corruption charges; American officials said action suggests dissension at highest levels of Cuban military. Cuba’s transportation minister, Diocles Torralba Gonzalez, a friend of Ochoa’s, was earlier relived of his duties; Ochoa was accused of being involved in illicit sales in Angola. Cuban officials said senior Cuban military officers helped Medellin drug cartel of Colombia smuggle six tons of cocaine and marijuana into United States over past two and a half years. General Arnaldo Ochoa Sanchez was shown on Cuba television making abject confession to drug trafficking and corruption and saying, “I deserve to die.” Cuba’s interior minister, General José Abrantes Fernández, was replaced as top security officer following official charges that high military officers in Cuba were involved in drug trafficking; Abrantes was not singled out as a key defendant in government’s case. Cuba announced that firing squad executed four Cuban army officers convicted by court-martial of conspiring to ship tons of cocaine and marijuana to United States; they include General Arnaldo T. Ochoa Sanchez, a highly decorated war hero. Fidel Castro portrayed Cuba as nation under siege by the United States at a speech in Camagüey, marking the thirty-sixth anniversary of start of Cuban Revolution. Cuba’s former interior minister, Jose Abrantes Fernandez, and three other former officials were charged with corruption. Cuban Communist party banned circulation of Soviet Union journals Moscow News and Sputnik, holding they promote bourgeois democracy and American way of life. Sudden changes in East Germany and the rest of Eastern Europe appeared to be deepening political isolation of Fidel Castro and creating more problems for ailing Cuban economy. A Havana court sentenced three Cuban human rights advocates to prison after convicting them of giving false information to foreign journalists. Fidel Castro vowed that Cuba will not undergo the profound political and economic changes now sweeping the rest of the Soviet bloc.

1990 Cuba’s Communist party announced plans for reforms in the country’s political system but made it clear that it will not abandon the one-party Communist rule. The press in the Soviet Union painted an unflattering portrait of Cuba as an impoverished police state still mimicking Brezhnev-era Communism. In his first visit to Brazil in thirty years, Fidel Castro said that Cuba may turn more to Latin American markets to make up for the loss of trade with the Eastern European countries that disapprove of his policies. Experts on Cuba believe that despite growing economic problems, Fidel Castro’s popularity remained too high to allow the sort of political change overtaking Eastern Europe. The Communist party newspaper claimed that Cuba has almost completely succeeded in jamming broadcasts to the island by Radio Martí. The Cuban government refused to negotiate the departure of Cubans seeking refuge in foreign embassies in Havana straining relations between Cuba and its most important Western economic partners, Canada and Spain; asylum seekers surrendered in exchange for a promise that they will not be punished. The government of Fidel Castro, anticipating the end of large-scale Soviet economic subsidies, prepared the nation for a type of wartime austerity and full-scale mobilization. Cuba’s Communist partly moved to streamline its bloated bureaucracy, slashing national and provincial partly posts by 50 percent. In the first phase of a program that envisions thousands of urban dwellers working for twenty-one-day shifts in the countryside to increase food production, the Cuban government sent several hundred office workers to plant potatoes. The Cuban government forged ahead with crash efforts to create world-class industries in tourism and biotechnology. The Soviet Union’s decision to cut aid to Cuba and work with the United States to solve regional conflicts left Cuba as one of the last standard bearers in the ideological war against what it perceives as U.S. imperialism. The Castro regime announced a series of austerity measures – “Special Period.”

1991 In a move seen as a sign of Havana’ growing isolation, Czechoslovakia decided it will no longer represent Cuba in Washington. Switzerland, which sponsors U.S. diplomats in Havana, offered to sponsor the Cuban Interest Section in Washington to ensure that both countries have diplomatic representation in each other’s capital. The deteriorating economic situation in Cuba prompted a large increase in the number of Cubans seeking to leave their country. The Cuban government rejected an appeal by President Bush for political change and accused him of being obsessively anti-Cuban. With increased religious tolerance, Bibles were put on sale in Cuba for the first time in three decades. Fidel Castro received only token gestures of friendship for his beleaguered government during a meeting with fellow Latin American leaders in Guadalajara, Mexico. Cuba announced the lifting of restrictions on travel abroad; people aged twenty or over will be allowed to leave and visit other countries, provided that the host nation gives them visa. Cuban inmates seized control of the medium-security section of a federal prison in Talladega, Alabama, to avoid deportation; after ten days, federal assault teams stormed the prison cellblock, freed several hostages, and took custody of 121 inmates. In order to remove a major obstacle to increase U.S. economic aid to the Soviet Union, President Gorbachev declared he will remove Soviet troops from Cuba an end the $2 billion-a-year trade subsidy Moscow gives Havana. For the first time in the thirty-two-year leadership of Fidel Castro, Cuba banned foreign delegations and journalists from the Congress of its ruling Communist party. The Cuban Communist Party unveiled an economic plan meant to boost hard- currency exports, tourism, and foreign investment. The presidents of Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia met with Fidel Castro in Cozumel. Mexico urged him to quicken the pace of reform in his country, and offered him prospect of closer relations in return. The Castro government unleashed a violent crackdown on political dissent. The Fourth Party Congress was held.

1992 The Castro government stepped up efforts to crush internal opposition as growing numbers of citizens took desperate measures to flee a life of hardship. Eduardo Diaz Betancourt, a Cuban exile convicted of sabotage and terrorism, was executed by a firing squad in Cuba. In a rare exception to the economic blockade of Cuba, the Bush Administration granted permission to AT&T to expand telephone services between Cuba and the United States; Cuba rejected AT&T’s proposal. A growing number of U.S. companies, lured by the prospect of approaching change in Cuba as the island tries to ward off economic collapse, followed their foreign counterparts in showing interest in the island. Cuban officials said that the thirty-year U.S. economic embargo against Cuba has cost the island more than $20 billion and was blocking Cuban efforts to renegotiate a $7 billion debt to U.S. allies. Havana began a sophisticated campaign to court U.S. businessmen in the hope that their thirst for opportunities will bring them to lobby in Washington for a change in U.S. relations with Cuba. Americas Watch, a human rights organization, claimed that anti-Castro Cuban- American leaders in Miami use violence and intimidation to quiet exiles who favor the softening of U.S. policies toward Cuba. Russia and Cuba agreed to the withdrawal of a former Soviet infantry brigade that had been on the island since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Cuba halted monthly gasoline rations for private vehicles admitting that the government lacks foreign currency to buy fuel. Cuba and Russia signed trade accords for new ties based on mutual benefits; Cuba would trade sugar for Russian oil at world market prices. The United Nations Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for an end to the thirty-year U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.

1993 Cuban industry was reported to be all but paralyzed by shortages of oil, electricity, and spare parts. Fidel Castro said he was willing to negotiate his departure from power in exchange for the lifting of the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba. General Raúl Castro, Fidel’s brother, said Cuba is reducing its armed forces as a result of not having received any weapons from the former Soviet Union since 1990. Cuba offered to negotiate reparations for U.S. properties confiscated in the 1960s. Challenging the hegemony of the Cuban American National Foundation and other established groups, new voices calling for a more flexible attitude toward Fidel Castro’s government emerged in Miami’s Cuban-exile community. The last remaining members of a Soviet military brigade that was sent to Cuba after the missile crisis of 1962 left the island. Cuban officials said they would open their economy by permitting Cubans to hold dollars and foreigners to open joint-venture banks on the island. In a meeting in Salvador, Brazil, leaders of Latin America, Spain, and Portugal called for an end to the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Cuba took a step toward the establishment of a mixed economy authorizing limited individual private enterprises in a wide range of trades, crafts, and services. The Clinton Administration, in secret talks with Fidel Castro, agreed to hand over to Havana some 1,500 Cuban inmates held in U.S. federal prisons, spreading waves of alarm among Cuban exiles in Miami; Cuba denied such an agreement. As Cuba’s economic and political crisis deepens, exiles in Miami reach out to their kin on the island as never before by sending aid, exchanging visits, and seeking their advice on how to ease Fidel Castro from power. Of 900 Cuban athletes participating in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico, thirty-nine defected and twenty-seven formally applied for U.S. asylum

1994 A granddaughter of Fidel Castro, sixteen-year-old Alina-Maria Salgado Fernandez, was allowed to leave Cuba and be reunited with her mother, Alina Fernandez Revuelta, who fled in December 1993. Record number of Cuban refugees floated to Florida in 1993; the Coast Guard reported that the total amount, 3,656, was up 43 percent from the 1992 total. A federal appeals court ruled that Cubans from the 1980 Mariel boatlift cannot be held indefinitely in federal prisons; Cuba sent off many prisoners and mental patients. U.S. authorities later revoked freedom of those who committed new crimes. Cuba announced a series of measures aimed at encouraging more Cuban- Americans to visit and to attract foreign investment, hosted three-day conference in Havana that is first sizable meeting between Communist leadership and representatives of exile population in sixteen years. Dozens of Cubans broke into Belgian ambassador’s residence in Havana, demanding political asylum. Brazil and Cuba agreed on a way for Cuba to start repaying part of nearly $40 million debt through export of Cuban medicine to Brazil. Three Cuban gunboats trying to stop a freighter loaded with people trying to flee Cuba fired on the vessel for more than four hours sinking it; thirty people were killed. Fidel Castro broke his thirty-five-year tradition of wearing military uniform in public and wore civilian clothes at summit meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, of Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese leaders; leaders, in an indirect slap at U.S. embargo of Cuba, called for elimination of “unilateral coercive economic and trade measures.” Clinton Administration, responding to Fidel Castro’s threat to unleash a flood of refugees on the United States, warned it would not permit a repeat of the 1980 Mariel boatlift, in which Cuba dropped emigration curbs and 120,000 Cubans fled to the United States. Clinton Administration ended open-door policy toward Cuban refugees, who will be detained for an indefinite period after they arrive in United States, effective immediately. The United States stopped refugees aboard rafts and boats off Florida coast and began detaining them at its Guantanamo Bay base, as President Clinton ended long-standing policy of welcoming fleeing Cubans. President Clinton barred Americans from sending cash to Cuba and cut off flights to the island to intensify pressure on Castro regime and punish it for encouraging Cubans to set out in boats. The United States moved to beef up patrol vessels in Florida straits as hundreds of Cubans set sail despite the Clinton Administration’s efforts to stem exodus. Clinton Administration, alarmed that its new policy failed to stem flow of Cuban refugees, considered expanding capacity of Guantanamo Bay naval base to handle them. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said the administration would react positively if Fidel Castro took meaningful steps, such as allowing free elections; denies administration’s policies are driven by domestic politics. Once quiet U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay was crowded with thousands of Cubans and Haitian refugees, all uncomfortable and angry over failure to make it to the United States. Cuba and the United States reached an agreement under which Cuba pledged to stop citizens from fleeing in small boats and the United States promised to accept at least 20,000 Cuba immigrants a year. The flood of Cuban refugees ended as Cuban government implemented terms of agreement reached with the United States aimed at halting exodus. Cuba took a step away from highly centralized Communist system that has defined its economy for more than three decades; it would for the first time allow all farmers to sell part of their produce on open market. The Clinton Administration gave American telecommunications companies permission to establish direct telephone links with Cuba. In an interview, Fidel Castro, who celebrated his thirty-sixth anniversary in power, admitted he has real reservations about the market-oriented reforms his government has undertaken to save the economy devastated by collapse of Soviet bloc but said he recognized that the world economy has changed. Appointment of Jaime Cardinal Ortega y Alamino as Cuba’s first Roman Catholic prelate in more than thirty years, and the passionate reaction of his flock, are seen as new sings of reinvigoration of the Catholic Church in Cuba.

1995 President Francois Mitterrand welcomed Fidel Castro to France for a three-day private stay that has hallmarks of a state visit. Cuban officials and athletes at Pan American Games admit for the first time that nation’s worsening economic crisis and political isolation severely erode sports programs. The Clinton Administration ended thirty-five years of special treatment for Cuban refugees and started returning them to homeland after admitting final group of about 20,000 held at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station. The Clinton Administration, which was signaling new cooperation with Cuba, opposed Republican bill to tighten thirty-three-year old U.S. trade embargo. The Cuban government, in an effort to make Cuba’s sagging economy more efficient, abandoned one of most cherished concepts of Communist state- guarantee of full lifetime employment- and began layoffs. Role and responsibilities of Cuban armed forces expanded rapidly while those of the Communist partly sharply declined. The military, traditionally one of Fidel Castro’s principal pillars of support, produced and distributed between a quarter and a third of country’s food supply and set up highly profitable tourism, construction, and retailing companies of its own, and officers were put in charge of many state enterprises. U.S. officials report Cuba has arrested fugitive financier Rober L. Vesco and approached the United States about extraditing him; Vesco fled the United States in 1973 to avoid prosecution for allegedly swindling mutual fund investors out of $224 million. Latin America increasingly ignored U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, choosing to develop full economic and diplomatic ties. Cuba passed a new foreign-investment law, which allows foreign investors access to all economic sectors, except defense, health care, and education, and to fully own businesses in Cuba. U.S. House voted 294 to 130 to tighten trade embargo against Cuba, despite Clinton Administration’s veto threat. President Clinton signed executive order to ease restrictions on travel to Cuba by Cuban-Americans, academics, artists, and clergymen. Fidel Castro addressed UN General Assembly as part of the world body’s fiftieth- anniversary celebration, revisited Harlem for the first time in thirty-five years. The Cuban government permitted citizens to buy and sell foreign currencies on open market for the first time in more than thirty years in an attempt to challenge flourishing black market for American dollars and to soak up surplus pesos that have fueled inflation. Fidel Castro visited China, whose leaders welcomed him warmly and pledged a small increase in economic aid. The Cuban government restored the personal income tax in an effort to go after newly affluent Cubans who earn money in dollars and other foreign currencies.

1996 Canadian foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy briefly visited Cuba to sign human rights statement and foreign-investment declaration and met with Fidel Castro and aides. The Clinton Administration’s annual report on human rights in 193 countries concluded that despite U.S. efforts, human rights performance worsened last year in China, Nigeria, Cuba, and Myanmar. The United States closed tent city on Guantanamo naval base, allowing remaining refugees to enter the United States. The collation of Cuban dissidents and human rights groups Concilio Cubano canceled plans to hold conference in Havana, citing crackdown by state security apparatus against organizers of event. Two small unarmed aircrafts belonging to Brother to the Rescue, a Miami-based Cuban-exile group, were shot down by Cuban air force MIG jet fighters over international waters, killing four. President Clinton denounced Cuba’s downing of two private American planes as flagrant violation of international law, suspended air charter travel between countries, and pledged to reach an agreement with Congress on a pending bill to tighten economic sanctions. President Clinton agreed to a package of sanctions, the Helms-Burton Act, to punish Fidel Castro by curbing foreign investment in Cuba. The Communist Party of Cuba called for crackdown on dissent and on economic reforms. U.S. Senate approved legislation, 74-22, to tighten embargo on American trade with Cuba and punish other countries that insist on continuing such trade; Canada, Russia, and the European Union condemned the measure. The Organization of American States, at its annual meeting in Panama, approved a resolution criticizing U.S. extension of economic embargo of Cuba as a probable violation of international law. Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, visiting Canada, and Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien criticized U.S. effort to penalize foreign firms that trade with Cuba. UN investigation concluded that Cuba’s downing in February of two light civilian aircrafts flown by Cuban-Americans occurred over international waters. Leader of fifteen European Union countries criticized U.S. legislation that would impose economic penalties on foreign companies that invest in Cuba, Iran, and Libya. The Clinton Administration stroke for first time against foreign companies doing business in Cuba, informing top executives and biggest shareholders of Canada’s Sherrit International Corp. that they and their families will be barred from the United States. Fugitive U.S. financier Robert L. Vesco, who had been in Cuba for several years, was tried and sentenced to thirteen years in jail. President Clinton granted Americans the right to sue foreign companies using American plants seized by Cuba more than thirty-five years ago but immediately suspended filing of suits for six months. The Clinton Administration, unable to gain international support for strong action against Cuba over the downing in February of two civilian planes flown by Cuban-Americans, got United Nations Security Council backing for only a mild resolution of regret over the incident. Cuba expelled American diplomat Robin Meyer for activities incompatible with diplomatic status. Cuba rejected part of planeload of food aid for Hurricane Lili victims sent by Cuban-Americans because some of the packages carry “counter-revolutionary” slogans. Fidel Castro attended annual Ibero-American Summit Conference in Santiago, Chile. Latin leaders end summit denouncing moves by U.S. to isolate Cuba, while pressing Fidel Castro to make democratic changes on the island. John Paul II met with Fidel Castro for first time at the Vatican and accepted an invitation to visit Cuba in 1997. The European Union urged Cuba to improve its policies on human rights and political freedoms, clearing the way for President Clinton to once again waive the most controversial part of new law intended to punish foreign companies that use confiscated American property in Cuba. Cuba countered Helms-Burton Act, which toughened U.S. economic embargo on the country, by declaring invalid any claim made under the law and saying Americans seeking to make claims will be excluded from any possible settlement of the property issue by Cuba.

1997 President Clinton announced a suspension in the implementation of Title III of the Helms Burton Act. Canada’s foreign minister, Lloyd Axworthy, on an official visit to Cuba, signed with his Cuban counterpart, Roberto Robaina, a joint declaration establishing fourteen areas of bilateral cooperation, including human rights, as part of Canada’s policy of constructive engagement toward Cuba. President Clinton made public his plan for a Cuba without Castro. Called “Support for a Democratic Transition in Cuba,” it included a special appeal to the Cuban armed forces and an aid package of $4 to $8 billion. The White House approved licenses for ten press organizations interested in establishing bureaus in Havana. The Cuban government approved only CNN. In an official visit to Cuba, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori signed an agreement of cooperation between the two countries. The Cuban government stated its willingness to mediate the hostage crisis and receive the MRTA group if Peru and Japan should ask it to do so. The Italian group STET doubled its investments in Cuba when taking over Grupo Demo’s telephone investment, while compensating AT&T to avoid Helms- Burton sanctions. Human Rights Watch, Rapporteurs Sans Frontiers, and the Interamerican Press Association denounced persistent harassment against independent press in Cuba. Foreign affairs ministers from the Non-Aligned Movement reiterated their demand to the Untied State to put an end to the embargo against Cuba. ETA, a Spanish terrorist organization seeking a separate Basque homeland, established its Cuartel General (General Headquarters) in Havana. Roberto Robaina’s tour throughout Southeast Asia is reported as being very successful in terms of diplomatic recognition and cooperation agreements with Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. The President of the Spanish government, Jose M. Aznar, declared that Spain is against the Helms-Burrton Act and advocated for a peaceful and democratic transition in Cuba. Fidel Castro admitted publicly that the sugar harvest would not achieve its goal of 4.4 million tons. Instead it will be 4.2 million tons. Percival Patterson, Jamaica’s prime minister, paid an official visit to Cuba as part of an increased relationship between CARICOM countries in Cuba. Bombs exploded in several hotels in Havana. The United States made a public statement advising countries not to become involved in supporting the electro-nuclear project in Cuba (Juragua). Decree 172 created the Banco Central de Cuba (Cuba’s Central Bank). The president of the Basque government paid an official visit to Cuba and met with Fidel Castro. The Dominican Republic ad Cuba restored consular relations. Some dissident leaders challenged the official platform of the Fifth Congress of the Communist partly of Cuba and made public their own platform,” La Patria es de Todos.” The first public Mass since 1959 was held in Havana. Four dissident leaders, the authors of “La Patria es de Todos,” were arrested in Havana. They are Vladimiro Roca, Social Democrat Party; Felix Bonne Carcases, Cuban Civic Current; Raul Gomez Manzano, Independent Lawyers Agramonte’s Current; and Marta Beatriz Roque, Independent Economists. A new round of negotiations on immigration was held between the United States and Cuba. Cuba celebrated the fourteenth World Your and Students Festival with some 15,000 participants. Cuba and Honduras agreed to establish interests sections as part of the normalization of bilateral relations. The tourist industry was officially acknowledged as Cuba’s number one industry. Ministry of Interior announced the capture of a Salvadorian citizen responsible for the bombings and blamed the Cuban-American National Foundation. The Fifth Party Congress took place in Havana. The Central Committee was reduced from 225 to 150 members; the Politburo from 26 to 24. Raúl Castro was ratified as successor to Fidel Castro. Communists from Latin America met in Havana to plan a return to power “when capitalism fails.” Division General Alvaro Lopez Miera, fifty-three, was appointed new chief of the general staff, replacing General Ulises Rosales del Toro, who became minister of the sugar industry. United Nations General Assembly voted against the U.S. embargo on Cuba by 143 votes against, 17 abstentions, and only 3 in favor, the largest majority ever achieved. Fidel Castro received criticism and some support in Margarita’s Ibero-American summit. President Clinton declared that “an improvement of relations between his country and Cuba depends on the political changes that may be set in motion by the government of Fidel Castro.” Raúl Castro paid an official visit to China that lasted two weeks, stopping briefly in Italy on his return to Cuba. German foreign affairs minister Helmut Schafter concluded a four-day official visit to Cuba with a meeting with Fidel Castro; both parties emphasized the need to further enhance bilateral relations. Jorge Mas Canosa, chairman of the Cuban-American National Foundation, passed away. The United States and Cuba held a new round of negotiations on immigration in Havana. The Russian chief of the general staff, Anatoly Kvashnin, paid an official visit to Cuba with the purpose of signing agreements on bilateral cooperation, on the Lourdes station, and on Russian military supplies and spare parts, to help Cuba to maintain the combat readiness of its armed forces. The official program for the Pope’s visit in January 1998 was announced in Havana, including a Holy Mass at José Martí Revolution Square. Castro allowed Christmas celebrations for the first time. Pope John Paul II visited Cuba. President Clinton eased restrictions on travel to Cuba and on the export of medical supplies. Raúl Castro assumed a greater role in the management and control of Cuban society. Fidel Castro visited Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, and South Africa. The United Nations World Food Program made an emergency food-aid appeal to help drought-stricken eastern Cuba, but the drought was ended by Hurricane George. The European Union dropped its legal challenge to the Helms-Burton Act. The four members of the Internal Dissidence Working Group were threatened with five to six years’ imprisonment despite appeals from the Vatican and elsewhere abroad. The United Nations Human Rights Commission, in a vote of 19-16, rejected a U.S.-led effort to censure Cuba’s human right abuses. Cuba admitted to the Asociación Latinoamericana de Integración (ALADI). Alina Fernandez discussed her disenchantment with her father, Fidel Castro, both as a father and as Cuba’s leader, which was the subject of her new book, Castro’s Daughter: An Exile Memoir of Cuba.

1999 The death penalty was extended to armed robbery, attacks on the police, corruption of minors, and some drug offenses. Cuba also introduced the harshest penalties ever for engaging in political activities. Vladimiro Roca, Felix Bonne, Rene Gomez Manzano, and Marta Beatriz Roque were sentenced to three to five years in prison for publicly criticizing Cuba’s system of government. Sugar harvest of 3.6 million tons was just enough to stave off default on Cuba’s international debts. Cuba adopted the Euro as its official currency for trading with Europe. Smith Kline Beachman signed an agreement with Cuba to distribute meningitis B vaccine on the world market. Cuba came in second (after the United States) in the Pan American Games after its four gold-medal winners were disqualified for drug use following urine tests. The Cuban government sold the right to make deep-water searches for galleon wrecks to Canadian Visa Gold Exploration. Spain protested the U.S. threat of sanctions against the Sol Melia hotel chain for occupying American-owned land in Varadero. Castro replaced his ministers of foreign relations, labor, and tourism. Former U.S. Defense Department counter-terrorism expert John More told UPI that Cubans, militant Palestinians, Hezbollah, and even advisers from Venezuela are all active in Colombia. The ninth Ibero-American Conference was held in Havana. Castro was criticized for human rights abuses and political repression. An asylum dispute over Elian Gonzalez, a six-year-old refugee picked up at sea near Florida after his mother perished in a Cuba-to-Mimi voyage, caused major strains in U.S.-Cuban relations. Niall Connelly, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) representative, was living in Cuba and representing the IRA for Latin America.

2000 The first major trial of a Cuban dissident in over a year ended with the sentencing of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet to three years in prison- for hanging the nation’s flag upside down. The United State deported Cuban diplomat Jose Imperatori on espionage charges. Jose Imperatori, the Cuban diplomat expelled from the United States, left Canada after overstaying his Canadian transit visa by almost three days. In a negotiated departure, Imperatori left the Cuban embassy in Ottawa and then boarded Cubana Airliner jet sent to take him to Havana. Scorers of leaders from Africa, Asia, and Latin America gathered in Havana for one the largest Third World meetings ever held, intended to set a new, united agenda for narrowing global wealth inequalities. More than sixty-five heads of state from the 133-member nations of the Group of 77 attend the five-day meeting led by Fidel Castro. Castro told leaders of the word’s poorer nations meeting in Havana that the capitalist system had caused suffering comparable to that of the Holocaust. Angry over European criticism of its human rights record, Cuba canceled the planned visit to Havana by senior European Union officials. A delegation lead by the Portuguese cooperation minister, Luis Amado, had intended to have talks on issues including trade and human rights. The government freed Rene Gomez Manzano, a dissident lawyer, from prison in the third early release of a prominent anti-government activist. The early release of Gomez, fifty-six, who was serving a four-year sentence for anti- government activities, followed the freeing over the previous two weeks of two of his close dissident colleagues, Felix Bonne, sixty, an academic, and Marta Beatriz Roque, fifty-five, an economist. House Republican leaders agreed to end four decades of sanctions on sales of food to Cuba, but Cuban-American lawmakers managed to place severe restrictions on the bill. American farmers and agricultural businesses could sell directly to Cuba, but the federal government and American bankers could not provide any financing to the Castro regime. Elian González returned to Cuba with his father and other family members aboard chartered jet hours after the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal brought by Miami relatives who wanted an asylum hearing for the boy. The State Department accused Cuba of causing widespread suffering by refusing to let Cubans leave the island even if they held United States visas. Separately, officials said, the United States told Ricardo Alarcon, the president of the Cuban National Assembly, that he cannot attend a meeting of international lawmakers at the United Nations in New York. Ending a two-month suspension, Cuba agreed to resume talks on legal migration of Cubans to the United States under accords signed in 1994 and’95. The agreements grant visas to 20,000 Cubans a year. The Chicago Tribune and the Dallas Morning News learned that they would be allowed to open offices in Havana, joining the Associated Press and CNN as the only United States news organizations with bureaus in the country. Fidel Castro, on a visit to the United Nations, denounced the American economic embargo against his country and presented a bleak vision of the world’s future before thousands of cheering and flag-waving supporters gathered at Riverside Church in Manhattan. Testifying in Washington before the International Trade Comission, Cuba’s top diplomat in the United States, Fernando Ramirez de Estenoz, called for an end to all sanctions on Havana rather than the smaller step now being debated in Congress for limited sales of American food and medicine. The rare appearance by a Cuban official before a federal agency was protested by two Florida lawmakers. The ITC concluded that Castro’s policies, not the embargo, are the main cause of Cuba’s economic problems. Reacting to the United States decision to give asylum to nine Cuban defectors, Castro and thousands of protesters converged on a Havana plaza in front of the American diplomatic offices. The nine fled in a small plane that crashed into the sea. Pedro Riera Escalante, a longtime Cuban intelligence official who had broken with his government and sought refuge in Mexico, was arrested and deported to Cuba. After years of deadlock, creditor nations in the so-called Paris Club were willing to try to reschedule the estimated $3.5 billion debt Cuba has with them. Cuba’s total hard-currency foreign debt at the end of 1999 was just over $11 billion. The Senate approved a bill easing nearly four decades of sanctions on the sale of food to Cuba, all but assuring the measure would become law. While the vote was viewed as a victory for farming groups, the legislation was not expected to lead to large sales of food products to Cuban any time soon. Havana retaliating against a bill in the United State Congress that makes use of Cuban money frozen in the United States, levied a 10 percent tax of the cost of telephone calls between Cuba and the United Sates. Fidel Castro began his first official visit to Venezuela in four decades. He and President Hugo Chavez, an ally and friend, signed an agreement to let Cuba import oil from Venezuela at a discount and with long-term credits. For the ninth year, the United Nations General Assembly called by a wide margin for the lifting of the United Sates embargo on Cuba. The vote was 167 to 3, with 4 abstentions. Only Israel and the Marshall Islands voted with the United States. El Salvador, Latvia, Morocco, and Nicaragua abstained. Cuba and Venezuela sought the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban exile who Fidel Castro said planned to kill him during the Ibero-American summit meeting in Panama City. Castro refused to join the other Ibero-Aemrican heads of state in condemning ETA terrorism at the 2000 meeting in Panama. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, on a visit to the island, and Fidel Castro pledged to reinvent their countries’ relationship, which foundered after the Soviet Union’s demise. It would be based on a modest agenda of trade and commerce and a bit of ideological alignment. Russia and Cuba agreed to abandon an incomplete nuclear-power plant at Juragua on the southern cost of Cuba. During the trails of several Cuban spies in Miami, one of the accused, Alejandro Alonso, revealed on December 30 that he was instructed by Cuba’s intelligence officers to locate areas in South Florida “where we can drop people as well as things, including arms and explosives.”

2001 President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic called for the immediate release of two prominent Czechs being held in Cuba for meeting dissidents opposed to Fidel Castro. Cuba said former finance minister Ivan Pilip and a former student leader, Jan Bubenik, would be tried for plotting on behalf of American interests. Having been held for more than three weeks, the Czechs were released after they admitted breaking Cuban law, signing an admission drawn up before diplomats from several nations. The U.S. Treasury Department authorized the release of $96.7 million in frozen Cuban funds to families of three Miami-based pilots shot down by Cuban fighter jets in1996. Fidel Castro met in Havana for the first time with veterans of the Bay of Pigs, at a three-day conference organized by American historians, scholars, and open- government advocates who uncovered secret archives of American, Cuban and other governments. The Argentine government withdrew its ambassador to Cuba to protest comments by Fidel Castro that characterized President Fernando de la Rua’s government as “bootlickers of the Yankees.”z Fidel Castro made his first visit to Iran and was welcomed in grand style with a guard of honor at the former imperial palace. Discussions were expected to focus on bilateral cooperation and new ways to improve the effectiveness of the G-77 group of developing nations, which is currently headed by Iran. Senators Jesse Helms and Jose I. Lieberman offered a bill to send $100 million in aid to government opponents in Cuba for over four hears. Five Cubans were convicted on conspiring to spy on the United States for Cuba; Gerardo Hernandez, the group’s leader, was found guilty of contributing to the deaths of four members of Brother to the Rescue, a Cuban exile group, whose plane was downed by Cuban jets in international airspace in 1996. Other convicted were Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, and Rene Gonzalez; five other indicted members of the group pleaded guilty and four others are fugitives. The U.S. House of Representatives voted, 240 to 186, for a measure that would effectively lift the ban on most travel to Cuba; the vote reflected growing sentiment in Congress that many sanctions on Castro’s government have outlived their usefulness. Members of the House Republican leadership who oppose lifting the sanctions are expected to intervene and make certain that the measure dies this year, as they did with a similar measure last year. Smugglers dropped 55 Cubans in the Florida Keys, bringing to 107 the number of such immigrants who arrived there over three days. The U.S. government arrested and charged Ana Belen Montes, the Pentagon’s top intelligence analyst for Cuba, with spying for the Cuban government; she had provided Havana with highly classified information, including American assessments of Cuban military readiness. Russian president Vladimir V. Putin said Russia will abandon its largest electronic eavesdropping post in the West, at Lourdes, Cuba, and spend much of the savings on modern weapons for its armed forces. Havana is negotiating a deal with American producers to buy food and agricultural products to replenish stocks destroyed by a recent hurricane; this would be the first such transaction in four decades, since the United States imposed trade sanctions against Cuba. The small value of the purchases suggested that Cuba might be using the catastrophe to cut into the American embargo rather than seek actual relief. Four American companies became the first in four decades to sign trade deals with Cuba; Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Riceland Foods, and ConAgra will supply food to help the recovery from Hurricane Michelle. The widow and four children of Howard F. Anderson, an American businessman executed in Cuba more than forty years ago on charges of conspiring against Castro’s revolutionary government, filed a wrongful death suit against the Cuban government. The leader of a Cuban spy ring was sentenced to life without parole for conspiracy to commit espionage and conspiracy to commit murder. Gerardo Hernández was convicted of trying to obtain U.S. military secrets by seeking to infiltrate military bases at Boca Chica Naval Base and U.S. Southern Command and for his involvement in the 1996 downing of two American civilian aircrafts by Cuban MiGs over international waters. The first shipment of American goods to be purchased by the Cuban government since the trade embargo was imposed arrived in the Havana harbor. The purchase was made possible by legislation passed in Congress that exempted food and medicine from the trade embargo.

2002 Prisoners taken during U.S. actions in Afghanistan were sent to Guantanamo. Lourdes, Soviet era electronic base in Cuba, was closed down by the Russians. U.N. Human Rights Commission criticized Cuba’s repeated record. Uruguay broke relations with Cuba U.S. Under Secretary of State, John Bolton accused Cuba of trying to develop biological weapons, adding the country to Washington’s list of “axes of evil” countries. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter made a good will visit to Cuba. Cuba’s National Assembly amended the constitution to make Socialist system of government permanent and untouchable.

2003 The Cuban government arrested 78 writers and dissidents on a crackdown known as “Black Spring”. U.S. halts high level officials’ visits to Cuba to protest the country human rights abuses. Three men who hijacked a boat to try to reach the U.S. were executed.

2004 The George W. Bush administration announced new restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba, including reduced Cuban-American family visits and remittances. The Cuban government bans transactions in U.S. dollars and imposed a 10 percent tax on dollar-peso conversion.

2005 Dissidents hold large public meeting Hurricane Dennis caused widespread destruction in Cuba leaving 16 people dead Havana renewed diplomatic contacts with the European Union.

2006 Fidel Castro underwent emergency intestinal surgery and temporary handed over power to his brother Raul.

2007 First time since 1959 the Revolution Day (July 26) was celebrated without Castro present.

2008 Fidel Castro resigns as President of Cuba. Cuba’s National Assembly selects Raul Castro as president. The government lifted band on private phones and computers. Plans were announced to address salary equality. European Union lifted sanctions imposed on Cuba since the 2003 crackdown on dissidents and restored ties. Hurricane Gustav and Ike inflicted worst storm damage in Cuba’s recorded history. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Cuba. Two countries concluded trade and economic accords. Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the island and signed trade accords including agreements to buy Cuban nickel and sugar. Russian naval warship visited Havana. Cuban government claimed 2008 the most difficult economic year since the end of the cold war.

2009 Two high ranking government officials, Cabinet Secretary Carlos Lage and Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque dismissed from their posts. U.S. congress voted to lift Bush administration restrictions on Cuban Americans visiting Cuba and sending money. President Barack Obama lifted U.S. government restrictions on family travel and remittances to Cuba. U.S.A.I.D. sub-contractor Alan Gross was arrested in Cuba, accused of crimes against the State. Cuba signed agreement with Russia allowing oil exploration in Cuban waters.

2010 Political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo died after 85 days on a hunger strike. General Raul Castro agreed to free 52 political prisoners under a deal brokered by Spain and the Catholic Church

2011 The Obama administration reinstated permits for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba for cultural and educational exchange. Cuban government passed law allowing individuals to buy and sell private property. Authorities released 2,500 prisoners, including political prisoners, as part of an amnesty ahead of the Papal visit.

2012 Pope Benedict visited Cuba criticizing the U.S. embargo and calling for greater respect for human rights in the island. Cuba imposed certain duties on all food imports. Spanish politician Angel Carromero was arrested in Havana over the death of prominent Catholic dissident Oswaldo Paya. Carromero was driving a car which according to Cuban police crashed into a tree. Paya’s family claimed that the car was rammed by another vehicle killing Paya and another passenger. The government abolished the requirement for Cuban citizens to buy expensive exit permits to travel abroad. Professionals, doctors engineer and scientist still will require government permission to travel. Eastern province of Santiago was hard hit by hurricane Sandy with 11 people dead and 188,000 homes destroyed.

2013 The Cuban government enacted a series of immigration and travel reforms, eliminating the requirement of a letter from invitation from abroad, extending the maximum period of residence for Cuban citizens abroad to two years and issuing passports to dissidents to travel to the U.S. and elsewhere. Five prominent veteran politicians including former Parliament leader, Ricardo Alarcon were removed from the Communist Party.

2014 The Cuban government released Alan Gross. Three Cubans convicted as spies in the U.S. were exchanged for a U.S. intelligence officer imprisoned in the island. President Obama announced major changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba including steps toward reestablishing diplomatic relations, reviewing Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism and facilitating certain types of trade and travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba. President Vladimir Putin visited Cuba and offered to cancel billions in Cuban debt. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Cuba and signed bilateral economic agreements. U.S. President Barack Obama and General Raul Castro announced moves to normalize relations.

2015 President Obama removed Cuba from the State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism and Cuba established banking ties. The U. S. and Cuba restored diplomatic relations and open embassies in Havana and Washington, D.C.

2016 President Obama is the first sitting U.S. president since 1928 to visit Cuba. The first commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba since 1962 are reinstated. Raul Castro announced the death of his brother Fidel Castro. U.S. eased a number of trade restrictions with Cuba. Cuba and the European Union agreed to normalize relations. Cuba legalized small businesses as part of economic reforms.

2017 President Obama announced the end of the “wet foot/dry foot policy.” President Donald Trump proclaimed changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba, including prohibiting U.S. business transactions with Cuban state enterprises linked with the military and eliminating individual people to people travel to Cuba. Washington ended long standing policy which grants Cuban immigrants the right to remain in the U.S. without a visa. Following some attacks against personnel assigned to the U.S. embassy in Havana, the State Department ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel from its embassy and expelled fifteen officials from the Cuban embassy in D.C.


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