Timeline Batista overthrow Bay of Pigs Secret war Missile Crisis Soviet Union Dissidents Exodus
The dictator and the presidents



July 26, 1953: Fidel Castro leads rebels in an attack on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Castro escapes but is later arrested, tried and jailed.

Jan. 8, 1959: Castro leads victorious rebel troops into Havana.

April 16-17, 1959: Castro visits the United States and denies any communist influence in his government. He says Cuba will not confiscate foreigners' properties and promises to hold free elections. Meets Vice President Richard Nixon, says he wants good relations with the United States. May 17, 1959: National Institute of Agrarian Reform expropriates all private land holdings over 3,200 acres.

July 9, 1960: Premier Nikita Khrushchev says Soviet Union will protect Cuba militarily if the United States attacks it. President Eisenhower warns that his government will not permit "the establishment in the Western Hemisphere of a regime dominated by international communism."

Jan. 3, 1961: United States breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba.



April 17-19, 1961: Cuban exiles land at the Bay of Pigs and are defeated.

June 7, 1961: The government nationalizes schools, intensifies Marxist indoctrination.

Jan. 31, 1962: The Organization of American States declares Marxism-Leninism incompat- ible with the inter-American system, and suspends Cuban government from the group.

Feb. 7, 1962: Total U.S. trade embargo against Cuba goes into effect.

October 1962: Soviet missiles are discovered in Cuba. Khrushchev agrees to withdraw them after a tense face-off with the United States. The United States agrees not to invade Cuba.

Dec. 24, 1962: 1,113 prisoners from the Bay of Pigs invasion arrive in Miami, exchanged for $53 million worth of medicine, food and agricultural equipment, like tractors. sent to Cuba.



Oct. 10-Nov. 15, 1965: Cuban government allows exiles to sail to the port of Camarioca to pick up relatives on the island. About 5,000 Cubans reach Florida in a wildly disorganized flow. In response, President Johnson establishes U.S.-operated "Freedom Flights" from Varadero to Miami. A total of 260,561 Cubans reach the United States on the flights by the time the program ends in April 1973.

Oct. 8, 1967: Ernesto "Che" Guevara is executed in Bolivia while leading a Cuban-sponsored guerrilla movement.

July 1969: A seven-ship Soviet naval squadron, including a rocket-launcher vessel, arrives in Cuba.

December 1969: More than 200 Americans arrive to help harvest sugar cane. It's the first of the "Venceremos Brigades" that will visit Cuba annually for the next 20 years.



July 26, 1970: Castro accepts responsibility for failure of an all-out effort to harvest 10 million tons of sugar cane in one year. When he offers to resign, the crowd roars its rejection.

Sept. 25, 1970: Nixon administration warns Moscow to halt construction of a base for nuclear submarines at Cienfuegos, on Cuba's southern coast. The Soviets stop, temporarily.

May 1971: The Cuban government establishes harsh restrictions on education and culture. Castro condemns any artistic or literary work that is contrary to the revolution.

July 1972: Cuba joins Comecon, the Soviet bloc's common market.

October 1973: Havana sends 500 tank drivers to fight for Syria in the Yom Kippur War against Israel.



Jan. 28, 1974: Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev visits Havana. An agreement is signed for Soviet technical assistance in petroleum exploration, agriculture and medicine.

1974: U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger starts secret talks with Cuban officials to explore ways of improving relations between the two countries.

October 1975: Castro sends about 18,000 Cuban soldiers to Angola to help the Soviet-backed Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola. Washington suspends the Kissinger talks. February 1976: Cuba adopts a new constitution that institutionalizes Communist Party control.

Dec. 3, 1976: A new constitution that institutionalizes Communist Party control takes effect in Cuba. Fidel Castro becomes president of the Council of State, and his brother Raúl is named vice president.



September 1977: United States and Cuba open interest sections in each other's capitals.

Late 1977: About 10,000 Cuban soldiers are sent to defend Ethiopia's Marxist government against an invasion by Somalia.

Nov. 20, 1978: Castro starts a dialogue with Cuban exiles through the Miami-based Committee of 75. They negotiate the freeing of political prisoners and family reunification, allowing exiles to visit Cuba and some Cubans to emigrate to join their families. November 1979: Liberation of political prisoners ends after 3,900 are freed.

April 4-6, 1980: More than 10,000 Cubans crowd into the Peruvian Embassy grounds in Havana seeking political asylum.

April 20, 1980: Castro says anyone who wants to leave Cuba can do so through port of Mariel. More than 125,000 migrants reach Florida by late September, when exodus ends.



October 1983: U.S. troops invade Grenada and end the Cuban presence on the island.

November 1982: U.S. federal grand jury in Miami charges four high-ranking Cuban government officials with smuggling drugs to the United States.

May 20, 1985: U.S. government's Radio Martí starts broadcasting to Cuba. The Cuban government views it as a hostile act and suspends the migration pact signed the previous year.

May 5, 1986: Cuba suspends payments on its $3.5 billion foreign debt.• Nov. 21, 1987: Castro accepts reestablishment of the migration pact with Washington, which could permit 250,000 Cubans to emigrate to the United States by the mid-1990s.

July 26, 1988: In the face of reforms by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Castro calls for maintaining the ideological purity of the revolution within a strict framework of Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy.

September 1988: United Nations Human Rights Commission visits Cuba amid growing human rights activity on the island, which is later repressed.



April 3-5, 1989: Gorbachev and Castro meet in Havana, apparently fail to end friction in their relations.

July 13, 1989: Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa, who had commanded former head of Cuban troops that fought in Angola and Ethiopia, is executed along with three other officers convicted of drug trafficking. Several senior Interior Ministry officials are purged.

March 27, 1990: TV Martí's first broadcast to Cuba is jammed. airs its first broadcast to Cuba and is jammed.

Aug. 29, 1990: As Moscow halts subsidies to the island estimated at $4 billion to $6 billion a year, rationing cuts Cuba imposes severe rationing that cuts fuel and energy consumption by up to half.

May 1991: The last of the 50,000 Cuban troops posted in Angola return home.

Oct. 14, 1991: The Fourth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party approves encouragement of foreign investment and other measures to salvage the economy.

Oct. 23, 1991: President Bush signs the Cuban Democracy Act, which tightens the embargo by banning trade trading with the island by overseas subsidiaries of U.S. firms.



May-August 1994: The economic crisis brings a sharp increase in the number of Cubans seeking to reach South Florida on makeshift rafts and boats. Before the year is out, more than 30,000 Cubans will be picked up at sea and taken to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay.

Feb. 24, 1996: Cuban air force fighters shoot down two unarmed civilian planes of Miami-based Brothers to the Rescue, killing all four aboard -- over international waters, a United Nations inquiry rules.

Feb. 26, 1996: Congress passes the Helms-Burton Act tightening the embargo against Cuba; President Clinton signs it. President Clinton announces he will support the Helms-Burton Act tightening the embargo against Cuba, suspends direct flights to Cuba and bans cash remittances from Cubans in the United States to relatives on the island. Helms-Burton is passed by Congress and signed by Clinton a week later.Jan. 21-25, 1998: Pope John Paul II visits Havana, Santa Clara, Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba. About 300 prisoners are freed in the following weeks, of whom about 100 are considered political prisoners.

Nov. 25, 1999: 5-year-old Elián González is found clinging to an inner tube three miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. in a rafter tragedy that sparked an international custody dispute. After a seven-month, tense court battle over his custody, he returns to Cuba with his father.



June 2001: Castro has brief fainting spell while giving an outdoor speech before a crowd of 60,000 in 80-degree weather, prompting renewed speculation over possible successor.

October 2001: Moscow announces the closing of huge Russian eavesdropping facility at Lourdes, outside of Havana. , an intelligence site that has been a decades-long source of friction between Moscow and the United States.Loss of rent is estimated at $200 million annually. another blow to struggling Cuban economy.

May 2002: Oswaldo Payá delivers a petition signed by 11,020 registered voters to Cuba's National Assembly. The three-year effort, named the Varela Project, calls for the government to abandon its authoritarian system.

May 2002: Former President Carter arrives in Cuba for a five-day stay as the most prominent American to visit Cuba since 1959. In an unprecedented and uncensoredTV address on Cuban television, former President Carter calls for an end to the U.S. embargo, appeals to Castro to allow democratic changes and mentions the Varela Project. September 2002: An unprecedented agricultural fair opens with some 750 American executives in attendance representing 288 U.S. companies, local government agencies and farming cooperatives. Within a year, the United States would become Cuba's single largest source of imported food and agricultural products.

February-March 2003: In one of Cuba's harshest crackdowns, police arrest scores some 100 of dissidents, subsequently sentencing 75 to prison terms ranging from 12 to 28 years after one- and two-day trials.