The History of US-Cuban Relations


In 1959, a group of revolutionaries led by
Fidel Castro, his brother Raul, and Che Guevara stormed the Cuban capital – Havana – and succeeded
in overthrowing the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The Castro government then had to fight insurgent
forces for six-years in the Escambray Mountains until they gained full control of the country–
a campaign that actually lasted longer and involved more soldiers than the revolution
that preceded it. At first, the revolution was viewed as a positive
development in the United States, which supported bringing democracy to Latin America. But as
Castro purged Cuba of loyalists to Batista, executing thousands, the US’s support for
Castro faded. When Castro embraced the Communist party and
broke up and redistributed large farmlands to the peasants who worked them, relations
between the US and Cuba neared a breaking point. That breaking point came in 1960 when Castro
signed a commercial agreement with Soviet Vice-Premier Anastas Mikoyan. One month later, President Eisenhower gave
the CIA the go ahead to begin planning an operation to train and arm a group of Cuban
refugees to overthrow the Castro regime. That fall, the US banned all exports except
food and medicine to Cuba, and a year and a half later, banned almost all imports from
the island. On April 14, 1961, the newly elected President
John F. Kennedy green-lit the CIA’s operation, and 1,400 Cuban exiles landed at the Bay of
Pigs a day after American B-26’s bombed Cuban airfields. After initially overwhelming
a local militia, the American-supported invaders surrendered at the hands of a counter-offensive
led by Fidel Castro himself. Most of the prisoners were publicly interrogated and eventually
sent back to the United States. It was a major victory for Castro, cementing his power in
Cuba and emboldening him to further confront Kennedy and the United States in the Cuban
Missile Crisis the following year. In the heat of the 1962 US midterm election
campaign season, pressure was mounting on Kennedy to do something about the nuclear
missile facilities that were being supplied and built by the Russians in Cuba–especially
after a US spy plane produced clear photographic evidence of the facilities’ rapid progress.
Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba and announced it would not permit offensive weapons
to be delivered by the Russians. What followed was an incredibly tense 13-day drama that
played out daily on television. It was one of the first ever serial news events in the
new age of the visual communication medium, and was the closest the world would come to
full-scale nuclear war. Kennedy and the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev
eventually reached a mutual stand down agreement: the Soviets would dismantle their offensive
weapons in Cuba; the US would end its naval blockade and agree never to invade Cuba without
direct provocation; and the Americans would secretly dismantle the nuclear warheads they
had deployed within striking distance of the USSR in Turkey and Italy a year earlier–a
program the American people didn’t know about. By 1963, Cuba was looking like a full-fledged
Soviet-modeled Communist state. The standard of living in the 1970s was poor and discontent
was growing among the Cuban people. Fidel Castro would admit the failures of economic
policies in a 1970 speech, and in 1975, the 16 countries that formed the Organization
of American States lifted their sanctions against Cuba, but the United States still
maintained its own. The Soviet Union collapse in 1991 testing
Castro’s rule in the years that followed. Cuba faced a severe economic downturn following
the withdrawal of Soviet subsidies worth $4 billion to $6 billion annually, resulting
in effects such as food and fuel shortages in Cuba. State security personnel were even
called upon to break up a protest in Havana. Always prideful though, the Castro government
did not accept American donations of food, medicines, and cash until 1993. To replace the Russian aid, Cuba found a new
friend in Communist China. Castro also turned to Hugo Chávez, the former President of Venezuela,
and Evo Morales, the current President of Bolivia, as allies to provide Cuba with oil
and gas. In 2008, 81 year old Fidel Castro announced
his resignation as President of Cuba and announced his younger, 76 year old brother, Raúl Castro,
was the new President. After his 2009 inauguration, President Obama
signaled that relations with Cuba could be normalized if Cuba took steps toward democracy
(show brief clip). Obama also lifted a ban on Cuban-Americans who wanted to travel and
send money to their island homeland. But relations became strained again that year
after Cuba arrested USAID contractor Alan Gross and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. In 2013, Cuba ended the 52-year-old requirement
that any citizens who wished to travel abroad had to buy an expensive government permit
and produce a letter of invitation. Later that year, President Raúl Castro, announced
he was stepping down in 2018. Today, the Cuban-US relationship has come
full circle, as Presidents Obama and Castro negotiated the release of Mr. Gross and another,
unnamed American spy for a group of Cuban spies held in America for more than 15 years.
This swap, along with Cuba’s agreement to other conditions of openness and reform, led
President Obama’s historic announcement that the United States would begin normalizing
relations with Cuba, ending one of the oldest economic standoffs in modern history. Despite years of sanctions, the United States
was still providing Cuba with 6.6% of its imports. We can expect this number to skyrocket
as Americans flood Cuba with capital investment and tourism dollars in the years to come. This is a defining moment in Obama’s time
as President. It symbolizes his tried and true approach to solving international conflicts
with patient, wise diplomacy; and it’s a sign that the communist system that divided
the world in the 20th century, is no longer relevant in the 21st.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. I'm a Cuban American and just wanted to say good job on a nicely abbreviated history of Cuba. Only event I feel should have been included and wasn't was the Mariel boatlift.

  2. This video was great until they started blowing Barry. Look did the guy do a good job with the Cuba thing, absolutely and I salute him for it. Is he the genius this video tries to make him out to be, that's a big fat No

  3. Communism and Cuba and USSR should have taken out America while they had a 100% chance cuz America is horrible for wat it does to other countries so Russia has to which it can

  4. I really dig your video, but except for China being a communist country (I know in name only), it's hard to say that communism is not relevant in the XXI century.

  5. What this story dose not mention is the history of Batista, the extreme US containment policy responsible for much of Cuban problems, and the better housing as well as superior medical department to the rest of latin americas countries!

  6. comunist is an ideology, and people can get simpatetic with it as with capitalism or whatever form of government. if you understand what socialism really means you can see that more than half of the world stills simpathetic with this ideology, so i say comunism is more relevant than ever.

  7. So, what I got from this video was that Cuba had a dictator pro US that got overthrown by a revolutionary force that decided to redistribute land owned by foreign investors. Kind of like a land reform really.

    Then the US got pissed because some of it's wealthy citizens got their investments robbed by the revolutionaries and it could also set a bad example to it's own people. Then the action they decided to take was block the small island access to the world's biggest consuming market and by consequence any of it's allied countries who wouldn't dare piss off the big US govt.

    It makes one wonder about how far the govt could go to protect it's wealthy 1% back then, even getting their own people in danger of a nuclear disaster because some already filthy rich people couldn't let it go of their land exploitation in Cuba.

    I feel sad that this mess had to happen. It seems to me that this was a major turning point for Cuba to become socialist in the first place, I doubt that without the blockade Cuba's govt would find local support in socialism. Good that Obama brought some sense to the whole thing and ended this awful embargo.

  8. Wait what about operation NorthWoods that played out a major role in modern Cuban history just as War Plan Red did for Canada and other commonwealth countries within America's grasp it makes you wonder what if either or happened.

  9. The United States did not want democracy in Latin America. They killed many democratically elected  leaders for there own agenda.

  10. This is obviously a "white washed" version of the "United" States relationship towards Cuba! In other words, it's not historically accurate!

  11. About the closing part…
    As a political science person I would not say its completely irrelevant. Especially with the new alliances between China, Russia and Latin American countries and their renewed egalitarian principles.

  12. If we were to tell people at this time that a sitting American president would visit cuba in a time of improved relations they would be gobsmacked

  13. Another video that paints the US to be the good guys and Cuba the evil communists. History proves that the Cubans were on the right side most of the time.

  14. Time to update this video. Obama did say during his speech to the Cuban people that "What changes come will depend upon the Cuban people. We will not impose our political or economic system on you. We recognize that every country, every people, must chart its own course and shape its own model."

  15. nice Brainwash!
    So you mean, if a communist rebell, who outstands the US Olygarchy, is not good enough in the eyes if the seenable, not hidden american gouvernment, its youre right to fight against him?

  16. In 1850 Cuba was still a colony of Spain. The "Ten Years War" was a bloody ruthless war in which Cuban revolutionaries and patriots attempted an unsuccessful war of Independence. Following their defeat at the hands of the Spanish Conquistadors many fled the heel of the Spanish boot by fleeing to the U.S. Many Cubans suggested the U.S. annex Cuba and make it a state. The U. S. had offered to purchase Cuba from Spain earlier but Spain had refused every offer. A second war for Independence broke out again prior to the 20th century. The U.S. Congress and President William McKinley favored neutrality, but when the U.S.S. Maine exploded war on Spain was declared. In 1898 Cuba won it's Independence.

  17. This is completely wrong… I have a masters degree in history. And took a specific class in US Cuban relations. This video is very biased

  18. Obama was a terrible president, but I applaud him for normalizing relations with Cuba. The liberals should applaud Trump for for his accomplishments too.

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