U.S.-Cuba relations: 1959-2014


Lawyer Fidel Castro leads rebels in an attack on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Death toll: 69 attackers, 19 soldiers and police. Castro is captured.


Castro gets amnesty and leaves for exile in Mexico.


Castro leaves Mexico with 81 followers aboard the yacht Granma. After a disastrous landing in eastern Cuba Dec. 2, he and other survivors reach the Sierra Maestra mountains and launch a guerrilla war against the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship.


January: Batista resigns and flees Cuba. Castro leads victorious rebel troops into Havana.

February: Summary executions begin for scores of people he calls ``war criminals.’’

April: Castro visits the United States, denies he’s a communist and says Cuba won’t confiscate foreigners’ properties. Promises free elections and good U.S. relations

May: Government expropriates all private land holdings over 3,200 acres.


Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan visits Cuba. The government starts to seize control of news media; establishes diplomatic relations with Moscow; nationalizes U.S. and British oil companies; expropriates American-owned sugar refineries; gets its first military aid from Moscow; establishes the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution; and nationalizes commercial real estate.

October: Start of U.S. embargo: Washington bans exports to Cuba, other than food and medicine.


January 3: U.S. breaks relations with Cuba and closes embassy.

April: Cuban exiles land at the Bay of Pigs and are defeated. Castro declares the revolution socialist, later says there will be no elections.

June: Nationalizes education system. U.S. intelligence agencies also stage repeated attempts over the years to kill the Cuban leader.

April 16: Castro declares Cuba a socialist state.

December: Castro declares he is a Marxist-Leninist and has been since the beginning.


February: Total U.S. trade embargo against Cuba goes into effect.

March: Food and soap rationing begin.

October: Soviet missiles are discovered in Cuba. Khrushchev agrees to withdraw them after a tense face-off with the United States.


October: Government allows exiles to sail to the port of Camarioca to pick up relatives. About 5,000 Cubans reach Florida. President Johnson then establishes ‘’Freedom Flights’’ from Varadero to Miami. Some 260,560 Cubans reach U.S. soil by the time the program ends in April 1973.


Castro accepts responsibility for failure of an all-out effort to harvest 10 million tons of sugar cane.


May: Government establishes harsh ideological restrictions on education and culture.


U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger starts secret talks with Cuban officials.


Castro sends about 18,000 soldiers to Angola. Washington suspends the talks.


December: New constitution that institutionalizes Communist Party control takes effect.


About 10,000 Cuban soldiers are sent to defend Ethiopia against Somali attack.


November: Castro and Cuban exiles negotiate the release of 3,900 political prisoners and allowing exiles to visit relatives in Cuba.


April: More than 10,000 Cubans crowd into the Peruvian Embassy in Havana. Castro says anyone can leave through port of Mariel. About 125,000 reach Florida by late September


November: U.S. federal grand jury in Miami charges four high ranking Cuban government officials with smuggling drugs.


May: Cuba suspends payments on its $3.5 billion foreign debt.

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


July: Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa, former head of Cuban troops who fought in Angola and Ethiopia, is executed along with three other officers convicted of drug trafficking.


August: With Moscow halting $4 -- $6 billion in annual subsidies, Cuba imposes severe rationing. Castro declares ``a special period in time of peace.’’

October: Fourth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party approves foreign investment.


December: Collapse of Soviet Union devastates Cuban economy.


July: Castro announces that U.S. dollars will be permitted to circulate freely in Cuba, restrictions lifted on exile visits.

December: Castro’s daughter Alina Fernández Revuelta, 37, flees Cuba.


July: Thirty-two people drown when a tugboat with 63 aboard capsizes north of Havana while trying to flee the island. Survivors say the tugboat was rammed by government ships.

August: Hundreds of Havana residents stage the first street protest against the government in 35 years. Castro says anyone can leave, sparking the balsero crisis. At least 30,000 leave the island.

September: Cuba agrees to curb the exodus of rafters, and the United States agrees to grant legal entry to at least 20,000 Cubans a year.


February: Cuban air force fighters shoot down two Miami-based Brothers to the Rescue planes, killing four. U.S. Congress quickly passes the Helms-Burton Act tightening the embargo.


January: Following Pope John Paul II’s visit and request, Cuba frees some 300 prisoners.

Sept. 12: Five Cuban spies arrested in the United States. They are later convicted. Cuba mounts an international campaign to free them, saying they were defending island against U.S.-based terror attempts.


February: National Assembly approves harsh new laws extending the death penalty to a broad range of common and political crimes, and requiring 20-year jail terms for supporting hostile U.S. policies.

November: 5-year-old Elián González is found clinging to an inner tube off the coast of Fort Lauderdale in a rafter tragedy, sparking an international custody dispute. After a seven-month battle, Elián returns to Cuba with his father.


June: Castro faints briefly while giving a speech.


May: Oswaldo Paya delivers The Varela Project, a petition urging the government to abandon its authoritarian system signed by 11,020 Cubans, to the National Assembly.

May: Former President Jimmy Carter visits Cuba and in an uncensored TV appearance calls for an end to the U.S. embargo and appeals to Castro to allow democratic changes.

June: In apparent rebuke, Castro leads a march of thousands along Havana’s seaside Malecón, rejecting any political opening. Eight million Cubans to sign a petition declaring the socialist system “untouchable.”


Feb.-March: In one of Cuba’s harshest crackdowns, 75 dissidents are sentenced to prison terms ranging from 12 to 28 years after one and two-day trials.


May: Bush administration imposes tighter measures on travel and cash remittances to the island. Castro responds by announcing that U.S. dollars can no longer be used in Cuba.

October: Castro falls after a speech in Santa Clara, shattering his kneecap.


November: The Herald reports the CIA is convinced Castro suffers from Parkinson’s.


July: Castro, 79, suffers an ‘’intestinal crisis’’ that requires surgery. He ‘’temporarily’’ cedes most of his titles to his brother, 75-year-old Raúl Castro.

September: Castro says the worst of his health crisis is behind him. Ten days later, Cuba announces he will not preside over a Non-Aligned summit in Havana.

October: Castro makes a TV appearance to dispel rumors he’s on his deathbed. ‘’I’m not worried; I have no fear of what may happen.’’ he said.


March: Fidel begins writing his ‘’Reflections’’ newspaper column

April -Photos of a healthier Castro meeting with high-level Chinese delegation are released. Later Chinese media report that the meeting was held in a hospital.


Jan: ’’My Life: A Spoken Autobiography,’’ a sort-of-autobiography that Castro has described as his written legacy, is published in English.

Feb. 19: Castro announces he will not seek reelection as president of the ruling Council of State.


Dec. 3: USAID contractor Alan Gross arrested in Havana, stifling incipient efforts to improve U.S.-Cuba ties under President Barack Obama.


March 22: Fidel Castro says that he resigned all his state and political positions, including head of the Communist Party, on July 31, 2006, and never tried to resume his positions.

April 16: Opens the long-delayed Communist Party congress by declaring leaders should be limited to two five-year terms in office.

April 19: Cuba’s Communist Party elects President Raul Castro to succeed his older brother Fidel Castro as head of the country’s highest political body and only legal party.


March: Raul Castro meets privately with Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff’s visit to Cuba. Castro agrees to the Pope’s request to make Good Friday on April 6, 2012 a national holiday. It is only the second time since 1959 that the government has recognized a religious holiday.


February 24: Is re-elected to a second five-year term. Later during a nationally televised speech, Castro announces that he will step down from power in 2018 when his term is over.


Dec. 17: President Barack Obama announces re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba and declares end to America’s “outdated approach” to the communist island in a historic shift aimed at ending a half-century of Cold War enmity. As Obama spoke to Americans, Cuban President Raul Castro addressed his own nation from Havana, saying that while the two countries still have profound differences in areas such as human rights and foreign policy, they must learn to live together “in a civilized manner.” Gross freed and remaining members of Cuban Five spy ring freed as part of prisoner exchange.

SOURCE: Miami Herald archives, Associated Press