CUBA-US RELATIONS

A Historic Moment

Wednesday, 30 March, 2016

IWPR has been working with journalists and civil society groups in Cuba since 2011, helping them provide unbiased and accurate information about developments in the country while questioning authority and holding it to account. At a pivotal point for the relationship between Havana and Washington, we look at what Cubans hope - and fear – may be the consequences of the détente.

US President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Gran Teatro in Havana, Cuba on 22 March 2016.
US President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Gran Teatro in Havana, Cuba on 22 March 2016. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Just What Did Obama Achieve in Cuba?

Opposition figures in exile say that they are disappointed with his performance.

Ernesto García Díaz
Journalist with Cubanet News

Media Repression Mars Obama Visit

Local reporters complain of efforts to silence them.

IWPR

Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca (center) was detained by the regime.
Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca (center) was detained by the regime. © Ernesto García

Obama in Cuba: Cheering for the Enemy

An older generation of Cubans struggle to reconcile themselves to new realities.

Frank Correa

President Barack Obama arrives with his family for a 2 day visit on March 20, 2016 in Havana, Cuba.
President Barack Obama arrives with his family for a 2 day visit on March 20, 2016 in Havana, Cuba. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images

What Do Cubans Think of the Obama Visit?

Ordinary citizens have their own message for the US president.

On the streets of Havana, passers-by get a chance to talk about their hopes for Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba. 

What Do Cubans Think of the Obama Visit?

Timeline: Cuba-US Relations

January 1, 1959 October 1960 January 3, 1961 April 17, 1961 October 1962 1966 1977 April-October 1980 1992 March 12, 1996 1998 November, 2001 February 19, 2008 April 13, 2009 January 14, 2013 December 10, 2013 December 17, 2014 May 29, 2015 July 20, 2015 August 14, 2015 February 16, 2016 March 21-22, 2016
Fidel Castro and Camilo Cienfuegos in Havana, 8 January 1959.
Fidel Castro and Camilo Cienfuegos in Havana, 8 January 1959. © Luis Korda

Revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro oust the Cuban dictator Fulgenico Batista and declare a revolutionary socialist state.

Miami News clippings from 1960 announcing the embargo over Cuba.
Miami News clippings from 1960 announcing the embargo over Cuba.

A commercial, economic and financial embargo by the US against Cuba begins.

US President Dwight D. Eisenhower
US President Dwight D. Eisenhower © The White House

US President Dwight D. Eisenhower breaks all diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Bay of Pigs/Bahia de Cochinos in Cuba.
Bay of Pigs/Bahia de Cochinos in Cuba.

The Bay of Pigs

Cuban exiles in coordination with the CIA launch a botched invasion that is defeated within two days.

New York Times cover page on October 21, 1962.
New York Times cover page on October 21, 1962.

The Cuban Missile Crisis

The US discovers Soviet nuclear missile bases on Cuban territory, leading to a 13-day stand-off, the closest the Cold War ever came to all-out nuclear conflict.

Congress approves the Cuban Adjustment Act, which gives work and residency rights to illegal immigrants from the island who reach US territory.

President Jimmy Carter in 1997
President Jimmy Carter in 1997

Jimmy Carter asks to open an office of US interests in Havana.

Cuban refugees arriving in crowded boats during the Mariel boatlift crisis.
Cuban refugees arriving in crowded boats during the Mariel boatlift crisis.

Mariel Boatlift

More than 125,000 Cubans flee the island for the US in just seven months, mostly heading for Miami.

Photographs of arrested Cuban dissidents. The number of all political prisoners in Cuba, in 2004, has been estimated at more than 300 by human rights activists on the island.
Photographs of arrested Cuban dissidents. The number of all political prisoners in Cuba, in 2004, has been estimated at more than 300 by human rights activists on the island. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The US’s Cuban Democracy Act asserts that sanctions will continue as long as the government refuses to take steps toward “democratisation and show more respect for human rights”.

The Helms Burton Act states that any non-American company that has dealings with Cuba can be subjected to legal reprisals and its directors banned from entering the US. This meant that international companies have to choose between trade with Cuba or with the US.

Bill Clinton, US President 1993-2001.
Bill Clinton, US President 1993-2001. © Bob McNeely/The White House

US president Bill Clinton authorises sending limited remittances and medical supplies to Cuba.

Razor wire is seen on the fence around Camp Delta which is part of the U.S. military prison for 'enemy combatants' in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Razor wire is seen on the fence around Camp Delta which is part of the U.S. military prison for 'enemy combatants' in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images

United States opens a high security prison at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for the “detention, treatment and trial of certain foreigners in the war against terrorism” despite Havana’s protests.

Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) talks to his brother Raul Castro (R) during the Cuban Parliament's session in the Palacio of the Conventions December 23, 2004 in Havana, Cuba.
Cuban President Fidel Castro (L) talks to his brother Raul Castro (R) during the Cuban Parliament's session in the Palacio of the Conventions December 23, 2004 in Havana, Cuba. © Jorge Rey/Getty Images

Fidel Castro retires from politics, leaving his brother Raul Castro in power.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the nation about normalising diplomatic relations the Cuba in the Cabinet Room of the White House on December 17, 2014 in Washington, DC.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the nation about normalising diplomatic relations the Cuba in the Cabinet Room of the White House on December 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. © Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

Barack Obama allows unlimited family travel and remittances from the US to Cuba.

“It's time to let Cuban-Americans see their mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers.”

Cubans are allowed to travel abroad without having to seek permission from the Cuban government.

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro during the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela on 10 Dec 2013, Johannesburg, South Africa.
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro during the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela on 10 Dec 2013, Johannesburg, South Africa. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Obama and Castro exchange a historic handshake at the funeral of Nelson Mandela.

Obama and Castro agreed to improve political, social and economic relations. Three Cuban agents still imprisoned in the US and a US citizen held in Cuba are freed.

Cuba is removed from the US’s annual official list of state sponsors of terrorism.

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and President Raul Castro (L) of Cuba attend a bilateral meeting at the United Nations Headquarters on September 29, 2015 in New York City.
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and President Raul Castro (L) of Cuba attend a bilateral meeting at the United Nations Headquarters on September 29, 2015 in New York City. © Anthony Behar-Pool/Getty Images

US and Cuba reestablish diplomatic relations and their interests sections in Washington and Havana begin to function as embassies.

Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks during the flag-raising ceremony at the recently reopened U.S. Embassy August 14, 2015 in Havana, Cuba.
Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks during the flag-raising ceremony at the recently reopened U.S. Embassy August 14, 2015 in Havana, Cuba. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

John Kerry formally reopens the US embassy in Havana, the first visit to Cuba by a US secretary of state since 1945.

People pass under a departures board at the International airport in Havana, Cuba.
People pass under a departures board at the International airport in Havana, Cuba. © Jorge Rey/GettyImages

The US and Cuba sign an agreement to restore scheduled flights between the two countries.

President Barack Obama arrives with his family for a 2 day visit to Havana, Cuba. 20 March 2016.
President Barack Obama arrives with his family for a 2 day visit to Havana, Cuba. 20 March 2016. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Obama visits Cuba in first trip by a US president to the island in 88 years.

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