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A timeline of relations between Cuba and the US

Fidel Castro (right) and his brother Raul at a rally in Havana, August 1978
Fidel Castro (right) and his brother Raul at a rally in Havana, August 1978 AFP PHOTO/PRENSA LATINA

US President Barack Obama has announced moves to normalise ties with Cuba more than 50 years after the start of Washington’s embargo of the island. Here are key moments in ties between the two former Cold War foes.


1898: The US declares war on Spain and defeats the declining European power, which cedes Cuba to Washington.

1902: Cuba becomes independent but remains under US protection. American troops return to the island a decade later to help put down black protests against discrimination.

1932: Washington abandons its right to intervene in Cuba's internal affairs.

Jan. 1, 1959: Fidel Castro's rebels take power as dictator Fulgencio Batista flees Cuba. The US soon after recognises the new government.

June 1960: Relations begin to sour as Castro’s policies veer left. Cuba nationalises US-owned oil refineries after they refuse to process oil from the Soviet Union. Nearly all other US businesses are expropriated by October, without compensation.

October 1960: The US embargo begins as Washington bans all exports to Cuba, except food and medicine.

Jan. 3, 1961: Washington breaks off relations with Cuba and closes its embassy in Havana.

April 16, 1961: Castro declares Cuba a socialist state.

April 17, 1961: Cuban exiles trained by the US stage the failed Bay of Pigs invasion aimed at toppling Castro. Over the years, US intelligence agencies will make several unsuccessful attempts to kill the Cuban leader.

Feb, 7, 1962: President John F. Kennedy expands the US embargo, banning almost all Cuban imports.

October 1962: A US blockade forces the removal of Soviet nuclear missiles stationed in Cuba, in what is known as the “Cuban Missile Crisis”. In return, Kennedy agrees privately not to invade Cuba.

April 1980: Some 125,000 Cubans leave the country in the Mariel boatlift, after the authorities say anyone is allowed to leave. Their arrival in the US causes a refugee crisis.

December 1991: The Cuban economy is devastated by the collapse of its main ally, the Soviet Union.

August 1994: Castro declares he will not stop Cubans trying to leave; some 40,000 take to sea heading for the US.

Sept. 12, 1998: Five Cubans are arrested in the US on charges of espionage and later convicted, prompting Cuba to mount an international campaign to free them.

July 31, 2006: Fidel Castro temporarily cedes power to his brother Raul after saying he has undergone surgery. Fidel resigns as president two years later.

Dec. 3, 2009: The arrest in Havana of US contractor Alan Gross stifles nascent efforts to improve US-Cuba ties under US President Barack Obama.

Dec. 17, 2014: Gross is freed along with the remaining members of the “Cuban Five” spy ring as part of prisoner exchange. Obama announces a “new chapter” in relations between the two countries, saying the embargo has not worked.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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