Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tangled history of U.S.-Cuba relations

A timeline

Jan 1959 - Castro rebels seize Havana.
17 May 1959 -- Agrarian Reform Law expropriates farmland over 1,000 acres and bans foreign land ownership.
28 Jun 1960 – Fidel Castro seizes U.S.-owned oil refineries without compensation.
6 Aug 1960 - Cuban authorities begin expropriation of foreign-owned property after suspension of Cuba's sugar quota to the U.S.

7 Aug 1960 -- The Catholic Church of Cuba condemns communism; Castro bans religious TV and radio broadcasts.
19 Oct 1960 -- U.S. slaps trade ban on Cuba, excluding food and medicine.
3 Jan 1961 -- Castro demands big reduction in American Embassy staff within 48 hours. U.S. cuts diplomatic ties.
17 Apr 1961 -- Cuban exiles invading at the Bay of Pigs are routed.
2 Dec 1961 - "I am a Marxist-Leninist," Castro declares, "and will be one until the last day of my life."
14 Oct 1962 -- U.S. spy aircraft photograph the construction of Soviet mid-range missile sites in Cuba.
27 Oct 1962 -- Cuba downs a U-2 plane. President John F. Kennedy proposes Soviet withdrawal of the missiles in exchange for an end to a U.S. naval blockade of the island.

28 Oct 1962 - The Soviet Union announces it has accepted the proposal.
21 Nov 1962 - Kennedy ends the naval blockade.
Nov 1974 - American diplomats William Rogers and Lawrence Eagleburger carry out secret normalization talks with Cuban officials. The talks end over Cuban involvement in Angola.
Sep 1977 -- The U.S. and Cuba open interests sections - unofficial embassies - in each other's capitals.
Apr 1980 -- 10,000 Cubans storm the Peruvian embassy in Havana and ask for political asylum. The first of more than 123,000 Cuban refugees flee in U.S.-bound boats and rafts.

20 May 1991 - President George Bush meets with Cuban dissidents and calls for Castro to free political prisoners.
Dec 1991 - The Soviets end some $6 billion a year in economic subsidies to Cuba.
15 Oct 1992 -- Congress passes the Cuban Democracy Act, which bans foreign-based subsidiaries of U.S. companies from trading with Cuba.
24 Feb 1996 -- Cuban fighter jets shoot down two civilian aircraft belonging to the Miami-based group Brothers to the Rescue, killing three American citizens and one Cuban resident of the U.S.
12 Mar 1996 -- President Bill Clinton signs the Helms-Burton law, also known as the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act. It seeks to penalize foreign companies doing business in Cuba.

20 May 2002 -- President George W. Bush announces "a new initiative for Cuba" and demands that Castro hold free elections, open up the economy and release political prisoners. State Department official John Bolton says Cuba may be developing biological weapons, a claim Cuba calls ridiculous. Jimmy Carter makes goodwill visit, first current or former American president to visit Cuba since the revolution.
June 2002 --Cuban lawmakers, with the backing of a reported 99 percent of voters, pass an amendment making socialism an "unalterable" part of the constitution.

Oct 2003 -- Bush tightens ban on travel to Cuba, announces new measures to clamp down on Castro, creates the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba.
July 2005 -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announces a new position, a Cuba transition coordinator. Caleb McCarry is named.
Dec 2006 -- The largest U.S. congressional delegation to journey to Cuba since the revolution visits Havana. The lawmakers seek better U.S.-Cuba relations. Raul Castro refuses to meet with them.
July 2007 -- Raul Castro offers to negotiate with the U.S. after the U.S. presidential election.
Feb 2008 -- Raul Castro, who has been acting as president, is officially named president. U.S. officials call for free elections and vow to keep economic sanctions in place.
May 2008 -- Democratic candidate Barack Obama says he’ll seek talks with Cuba if elected. He says he’ll make it easier to travel to and send money to Cuba.
Dec 2008 – Raul Castro reiterates willingness to negotiate with the U.S. He said Cuba must be treated as an equal. And he said the days of unilateral gestures are over. Cuba won’t act and wait for the U.S. to respond, he said. He said he’ll demand “gesture for gesture.”

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