The Cuban Revolution

Chronology of the Cuban Revolution

March 10, 1952: A few weeks before the presidential election, Gen. Fulgencio Batista leads a coup that overthrows elected President Carlos Prio Socarras. (1)

July 26, 1953: Lawyer Fidel Castro leads a group of rebels in an attack on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba. The death toll: 69 attackers, 19 soldiers and police. Castro escapes, but is later arrested, tried and jailed. (2)

1955: Castro is freed under a general amnesty issued by Batista, and goes into exile in Mexico.

Nov. 25, 1956: Castro leaves Mexico with 81 followers aboard the yacht Granma. After a disastrous landing at Las Coloradas beach in Cuba’s Oriente province Dec. 2, he escapes army pursuit and reaches the Sierra Maestra with a handful of survivors. From the mountains, he directs a guerrilla campaign against Batista that grows into a major insurrection with strong popular support.(5)

March 1958: U.S. government suspends all arms shipments to Batista.

November 1958: Batista’s candidate for president, Andrés Rivero Aguero, wins an election widely regarded as rigged.

December 1958: U.S. Ambassador Earl T. Smith tells Batista the United States will not back his government or his successor’s. He advises Batista to leave Cuba.

Jan. 1: Batista resigns and flees Cuba. The first exodus of refugees, mostly wealthy and upper-class Cubans, begins arriving in Miami. (3)

Jan. 5: Castro designates Manuel Urrutia as acting president, becomes commander in chief of the armed forces. (6)

Jan. 8: Castro leads victorious rebel troops into Havana. (4)

Feb. 16: Castro becomes prime minister. Summary executions begin for hundreds of people he calls ‘‘war criminals.’‘ (7)

April 16-17: Castro visits the United States, 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.

April: Cuban-organized expeditions land in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua and Panama to fight against rightist dictators Rafael Trujillo, Francois ‘‘Papa Doc’‘ Duvalier, Anastasio Somoza and Panama President Ernesto de la Guardia. All are defeated.

May 17: National Institute of Agrarian Reform expropriates all private land holdings over 3,200 acres.

July 17-18: Urrutia resigns and Castro names lawyer Osvaldo Dorticos to succeed him.

Oct. 28: Camilo Cienfuegos, one of the most popular heroes of the revolution, disappears on a flight from Camagüey to Havana. (9)


Feb. 4-13: Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan visits Cuba and signs an agreement to buy 5 million tons of sugar over five years.

March: French cargo ship Le Coubre, laden with Soviet-bloc weapons and ammunition for Cuba, blows up in Havana harbor with heavy loss of life. Castro blames ‘‘functionaries of the north American government.’‘ (10)

April: Government begins assuming control of news media. Eventually, all media would come under government control.

May 7: Cuba establishes diplomatic relations with Soviet Union.

May 27: United States suspends economic aid to Cuba.

June 29-July 1: Cuba nationalizes U.S. and British oil companies because they refuse to refine Soviet oil.

July 6: United States cuts Cuba’s sugar quota for 1960 by 700,000 tons. Cuban government orders the expropriation of all U.S.-owned sugar refineries on the island.

July 9: Premier Nikita Khrushchev says Soviet Union will protect Cuba militarily if the United States attacks the island. President Eisenhower warns that his government will not permit ‘‘the establishment in the Western Hemisphere of a regime dominated by international communism.’‘ (11)

September: Cuba gets its first military aid from the Soviet Union.

Sept. 18: Castro arrives in New York to address the United Nations. He moves to the Hotel Theresa in Harlem, where his visitors include Khrushchev, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and American Black Muslim leader Malcolm X.

Sept. 26: In his U.N. address, Castro expresses fear of U.S. aggression against Cuba.

Sept. 28: Committees for the Defense of the Revolution are created to extend the regime’s security and other controls to the neighborhood level. (12)

Oct. 14: Urban Reform Law nationalizes all commercially owned real estate. Twenty U.S.-owned companies are among 380 large industrial, commercial and transportation companies seized.

Oct. 19: United States imposes partial trade embargo on Cuba, banning all U.S. exports to the island except for food and medicine.

Dec. 19: Cuba and Soviet Union issue joint communique announcing Havana’s alignment with Moscow. U.S. drops the Cuban sugar quota to zero.


Jan. 3 -- United States breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba.

April 17-19: Cuban exiles land at the Bay of Pigs and are defeated. Castro declares the revolution to be socialist. Later, he says there will be no elections. (13)

June 7: Government seizes all private and religious schools and intensifies Marxist indoctrination.

July 26: Castro announces that all groups and political parties in Cuba must join his faction, the United Party of the Socialist Revolution. Eventually, all political activity outside the ruling party is banned.

Sept. 17: Government deports 136 Spanish priests abroad the ship Covadonga.

Dec. 2: Castro declares he is a Marxist-Leninist and has been from the beginning of the revolution.


During the year, Castro’s security and military forces begin a program of training leftist guerrillas from throughout Latin America that will last until the 1980s and eventually include: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico,m Uruguay and Venezuela.

Jan. 31: Organization of American States declares Marxism-Leninism incompatible with the inter-American system and suspends Cuban government from the organization.

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

March 12: Food and soap rationing begin.

July 27-31 -- Twenty Soviet ships unload 3,000-4,000 Soviet bloc technicians and large quantities of weapons at four Cuban ports.

October: Soviet missiles are discovered in Cuba. Khrushchev agrees to withdraw them after a tense face-off with the United States. In return, the United States agrees not to invade Cuba and prevent others from doing so. (14)

Dec. 24: 1,113 prisoners from the Bay of Pigs invasion arrive in Miami, exchanged for $53 million worth of medicine and food. President Kennedy later addresses Bay of Pigs veterans at Miami’s Orange Bowl, vowing to return their Brigade 2506 flag in a ‘‘free Havana.’‘ (15)


October 1963: The number of Cuban exiles registered at the Cuban Refugee Center in Miami reaches 168,897.

July 1964: Three tons of weapons shipped by Cuba is discovered in Venezuela. OAS adopts economic and diplomatic sanctions on Cuba. Most OAS members break relations with Cuba. Mexico refuses to abide by sanctions.

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. (16)

December 1965 -- 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. (17)

1965: Argentine-born revolution hero Ernesto ‘‘Che’‘ Guevara leads 120 Cubans on six-month mission to fight alongside rebels in then-Belgian Congo.

January 1966: More than 500 delegates arrive in Havana for the Tri-Continental Conference, a meeting of revolutionaries from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Oct. 8, 1967 -- Che Guevara is captured and executed in Bolivia while leading a Cuban-sponsored guerrilla movement. (18)

January 1968: Cuban government announces the arrest of a pro-Soviet ‘‘microfaction’‘ of 43 officials accused of betraying the revolution. Their alleged leader, Anibal Escalante, head of the old Popular Socialist Party (communist), serves part of a 15-year prison term, later dies as a farm administrator.

July 1969: Seven-ship Soviet naval squadron -- including a rocket-launcher vessel -- arrives in Cuba, signaling renewal of Soviet expansionism in the Caribbean.

December 1969: More than 200 Americans -- the first of a series of Venceremos Brigades that arrive annually for at least 20 years -- reach Cuba via Mexico to help harvest sugar cane. (19)


1970s -- Small Cuban unit trains Palestinian guerrillas in Algeria.

1970s-80s: Cuba finances and trains Los Macheteros, Puerto Rican pro-independence radicals who bombed several mainland U.S. civilian targets, killing four and wounding more than 50, and robbed $7 million from a Wells Fargo truck in Connecticut in 1983.

April 1970: The number of exiles registered at the Cuban Refugee Center reaches 364,000; Cubans now represent about 23 percent of the population of Dade County.

July 26, 1970: Castro accepts responsibility for failure of an all-out effort to harvest 10 million tons of sugar cane. 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 withdraw, temporarily.

1970 -- Castro ships weapons to Chile’s Movement of the Revolutionary Left.

May 1971: 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 economic alliance.

July 1972: Businessman Manolo Reboso is appointed to the Miami City Commission, becoming the first Cuban exile to hold the position.

April 1973: ‘‘Freedom Flights’‘ are halted by Cuba after bringing 260,561 people to Miami.

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. Agreement signed for Soviet technical assistance in petroleum exploration, agriculture and medicine.(20)

April 1974: Miami exile leader Jose Elias de la Torriente, criticized for failing to invade Cuba after collecting large sums of money for the operation, is shot to death by an unknown assailant. The killing sparks a period of political violence in Miami.

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

December 1974: In Miami, three bombs explode near a Spanish-language radio station, followed by 19 other exile bombings within a year.

February 1975: Exile leader Luciano Nieves, who campaigned for improved relations with Cuba, is shot to death in a Miami hospital parking lot.

October 1975: Castro sends about 18,000 soldiers to Angola to help the Soviet-backed MPLA. Washington quickly suspends the Kissinger talks. Cuba’s military involvement in Angola would last until 1991 and see more than 300,000 Cuban soldiers and civilians serve -- and an estimated 2,000 die -- in that African country.

November 1975: Andrés Mejides is elected Hialeah’s first Cuban-born councilman.

February 1976: Cuba adopts a new constitution that institutionalizes Communist Party rule.

April 1976: A car bomb severs the legs of Cuban radio commentator Emilio Milian, who advocated an end to exile violence. (21)

Dec. 3, 1976: New constitution that institutionalizes Communist Party control takes effect. Castro becomes president of the Council of State, with brother Raúl as vice president.

September 1977: Under President Carter, the United States and Cuba open interest sections in each other’s capitals, short of diplomatic relations.

Late 1977: About 10,000 Cuban soldiers are sent to defend Ethiopia’s Marxist government against an invasion by neighboring Somalia, and later to fight separatist guerrillas in northern region of Eritrea.

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. (22)

January 1979: A short-lived era of detente and dialogue between Castro and the exile community begins. For the first time since 1959, exiles are allowed to visit the island. In the first month alone, 3,640 do so.

September 1979: Nonaligned Movement meets in Havana, elects Castro president for the next one-year term.

1979: Cuba Trains and arms leftist Sandinista guerrillas that overthrew Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza.

November 1979: Liberation of Cuban 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. (23)

April 20, 1980: Castro says anyone who wants to leave Cuba can do so through port of Mariel. About 125,000 reach Florida by late September, when exodus ends. (24)

February-October 1981: Cuban support for guerrilla movements strains relations with Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Jamaica. A Cuban-trained invasion force of Colombia’s M-19 guerrillas is quickly defeated by Colombian army.

November 1980: Cuban-American businessman Paul Cejas is elected to the Dade School Board, the first Latin elected to a countywide office.(25)

September 1981: Former Sweetwater Mayor Jorge Valdes is appointed to the Dade County Commission, becoming the first Cuban exile member.

November 1981: Raúl Martinez is elected mayor of Hialeah, the first Cuban-born mayor of a U.S. city of more than 100,000.

October 1983: U.S. troops invade Grenada after Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and others are executed in a bloody coup. Several hundred Cubans building an airstrip, many of them armed, are captured and later sent home. The Cubans’ commander is later publicly disgraced in Cuba for failing to fight to the death.

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

June 1984: U.S. and Cuban governments come to an agreement that allows the U.S. deportation of some 2,700 Mariel criminals and mental patients. In exchange, Washington liberalizes legal immigration, allowing 3,000 political prisoners and a maximum of 20,000 Cuban immigrants per year.

April 1985: A federal jury convicts Eduardo Arocena, reputed leader of the anti-Castro group Omega 7, of planting nine bombs in Miami between 1979 and 1983. He is sentenced to 20 years, on top of a life term from an earlier conviction for murdering a Cuban diplomat and other terrorist acts. (27)

May 20, 1985: U.S. government’s Radio Marti starts broadcasting to Cuba. Cuba views it as a hostile act and suspends the migration pact signed the previous year. (28)

November 1985: Xavier Suarez is elected the first Cuban-born mayor of Miami. (29)


May 5: Cuba suspends payments on its $3.5 billion foreign debt.

May 19: Cuban government ends its farmers’ market experiment, begun six years before, where buyers and sellers set prices. Castro calls it ``a source of enrichment for neo-capitalists and neo-bourgeois.’‘

Nov. 30: At the Third Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, Castro lists failures and errors of the regime and fires many members of the Central Committee.


Nov. 21: Castro accepts re-establishment of the migration pact with Washington, which could permit 250,000 Cubans to emigrate to the United States by the mid-1990s.


July: 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.

July: Under Soviet pressure, Castro announces he will withdraw 50,000 soldiers from Angola if a peace treaty is signed with South Africa.

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


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

June: A purge ousts high-ranking officers of the armed forces and Interior Ministry.

July 13: 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. Several senior Interior Ministry officials are also purged (30)

August 1989: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is elected to Congress, becoming the first Cuban-American representative in Washington. She is followed in 1992 by fellow Miamian Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and New Jersey’s Rep. Robert Menendez. (31)

Sept. 9: Cuban troops start withdrawing from Ethiopia.


March 1990: As the Cold War ends and Communist regimes collapse worldwide, police departments in Dade County begin to draft contingency plans in case Castro falls.

March 27: TV Marti airs its first broadcast to Cuba and is jammed. (32)

Aug. 29: With Moscow halting its subsidies to the island - estimated at $4 billion to $6 billion a year - Cuba imposes severe rationing that cuts fuel and energy consumption by up to 50 percent.

October: As the Cuban economy continues to crumble, Castro declares ‘‘a special period in time of peace’‘ - essentially a belt-tightening emergency.


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

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


February 1992: With Castro still firmly in power, more than 200,000 exiles sign a petition asking President George H.W. Bush for permission to resume military raids against Cuba.

Oct. 23: President Bush signs the Cuban Democracy Act, which tightens the embargo by forbidding overseas subsidiaries of American firms from trading with the island. It also encourages greater communication with Cuba.

November 1992: Francisco Avila, one of the highest-ranking leaders in Alpha 66, the oldest and biggest exile paramilitary organization, reveals himself to be a double agent for the FBI and the Cuban government for 12 years. Avila claimed his Cuban supervisors at one point gave him $12,000 to buy a boat to use in Alpha 66 raids on Cuba.

Dec. 19: Orestes Lorenzo, former Cuban air force pilot who defected to the United States the previous year in a MiG-23 jet fighter, flies a small plane to Cuba and brings out his wife and two children.


Feb. 24: For the first time, election for National Assembly of People’s Power, the Cuban legislature, is held by direct, secret vote. There is only one approved candidate for each seat.

April 3: Health Ministry announces a nationwide epidemic of optic neuritis, an eye ailment blamed in part on poor diet and lack of vitamins as a result of the end of Soviet subsidies.

June 1993: Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo, a former revolutionary commander who turned against Castro and spent 22 years in a Cuban prison, becomes the principal exile spokesman for dialogue with the Cuban leader. (8)

July 1: Cuban patrols at the town of Cojimar fire on people trying to swim to a boat that has arrived from Florida to pick them up for an escape. Three Cubans are killed and the boat’s skipper, Ricky Hoddinott, is wounded and arrested.

July 21: Mario Chanes de Armas, longest-held Cuban plantado -- political prisoner who rejected government prison regime and often remained naked -- arrives in Miami, two years after being released when he completed his 30-year sentence. (33)

July 26: Castro announces that because of economic crisis, U.S. dollars will be permitted to circulate freely in Cuba, restrictions will be lifted on exile visits, activities that generate foreign exchange funds will be promoted and tourist infrastructure will be expanded.

August 1993: Angry exiles in Miami stage demonstrations against Mexico after eight Cuban rafters who had washed up on Mexican shores are deported to Cuba. Eventually, Cuba returns the rafters to Mexico, and then they travel to Miami.

Sept. 14: Cuba’s Roman Catholic bishops issue a pastoral letter urging the government to carry out economic and political reforms, and calling on Cubans on the island and in exile to participate in a dialogue of reconciliation.

Oct. 14: Angry demonstrators clash with police in the town of Regla during the funeral of a man killed by border guards while trying to flee to the United States on a raft.

Dec. 20: Alina Fernandez Revuelta, 37, Castro’s daughter from a liaison with Natalia Revuelta, flees Cuba in disguise, settles in the United States. (34)


March 2: A special observer for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights issues a report condemning harassment, repression and imprisonment of dissidents and human rights activists in Cuba.

April: Members of exile community who favor dialogue with Cuba set off a storm of protest in Miami when a videotape is shown of them chatting with Castro at a Havana meeting and one -- Miami lawyer Magda Montiel Davis -- kisses Castro on cheek and calls him a ‘‘great teacher.’‘ (35)

May: Economic crisis brings a sharp increase in the number of Cubans seeking to reach 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.

July 1994: U.S. government launches a crackdown against Cuban exile commando groups, seizing their boats and weapons, after receiving reports that several are planning to attack tourist resorts in Cuba.

July 12: Thirty-two people drown when a tugboat with 63 aboard capsizes seven miles north of Havana while trying to flee the island. Survivors say the tugboat was rammed by other ships manned by pro-Castro Cubans. (36)

Aug. 4: Several people armed with pistols and machetes hijack a ferry from Havana’s Regla district, killing a police officer. Cuban border guards pursue the craft and arrest the hijackers after the ferry runs out of fuel in Cuban waters. (37)

August: 5: Hundreds of Havana residents take to the streets in the maleconazo, the first massive protest against the government in 35 years. Castro later says anyone can leave, sparking what came to be known as the balsero crisis. Tens of thousands leave the island.

August: President Clinton, in his first major reversal of U.S. policies on Cuban immigrants, orders that balseros picked up by the Coast Guard at sea be taken to the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo, Cuba. Thousands arrive in Miami, but 30,000 are taken to Guantánamo. (38)

Sept. 9: Cuba and United States sign an accord: 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.


May: In another sweeping reversal of policy, President Clinton orders that the 21,000 Cubans still in Guantánamo be allowed into the U.S. but that all refugees rescued at sea be returned to Cuba unless they can prove fear of persecution. Since the 1960s, the United States had welcomed all Cuban migrants as victims of the Cold War struggle against Communism. The new policy becomes known as wet foot/dry foot because any Cuban who manages to set foot on U.S. soil is not turned back.

Dec. 5: Concilio Cubano, an alliance of dissidents, calls for a meeting in February 1996 of representatives from all opposition groups nationwide and asks the government for permission to stage the conference in Havana.


Jan. 31: The last 127 rafters at the Guantánamo Bay naval base arrive in Miami, bringing to a close the 17-month detention of thousands of Cubans who fled the island in the summer of 1994.

Feb. 15: Leaders of Concilio Cubano are arrested in a wave of repression intended to foil the dissidents’ nationwide conference.

Feb. 24: Cuban air force fighters shoot down two unarmed civilian planes of Miami-based Brothers to the Rescue, killing all four aboard. A U.N. investigation later rules the incident took place over international waters. (39)

Feb. 26: 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.

November 19: Pope John Paul II receives Castro at the Vatican. (40)

May 1997: Jorge Mas Canosa, chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation and the most influential Cuban exile leader in America, discloses he’s suffering from Paget’s disease, a condition that damages the bones but does not endanger life. The Bay of Pigs veteran had helped Cuban exiles become a powerful political force in the United States. (41)

September 1997: The Mas family announces the purchase for $4.2 million of the Freedom Tower in downtown Miami and plans to restore the 17-story landmark and open a museum of the Cuban exile experience. Built in 1926 as headquarters for a newspaper, the tower served as a government processing center for Cuban refugees from 1962 to 1974. (42)

November 23: Mas Canosa dies in Miami at 58.

January 21-25: Pope John Paul II visits Havana, Santa Clara, Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba. ‘‘May Cuba, with all its magnificent potential, open itself up to the world, and may the world open itself up to Cuba,’‘ he says. The Pope asks Castro to free prisoners, including those jailed for acts of conscience. About 300 prisoners are freed in the following weeks, of whom about 100 are considered political prisoners.(44)

July 1998: In the wake of Mas Canosa’s death, efforts to improve U.S. relations with Cuba intensify. Several prominent Cuban exiles in Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville form the Florida State Council of Americans for Humanitarian Trade with Cuba.

August 25: A U.S. grand jury in Puerto Rico indicts seven Cuban exiles, including a high official of the Cuban American National Foundation, on charges of plotting to murder Castro in Venezuela in 1997. A jury found them not guilty.


February: The legislature approves harsh new laws extending the death penalty to a broad range of common and political crimes. The laws also provide jail terms of up to 20 years for those convicted of supporting hostile U.S. policies.

March 1: Four dissidents are tried in Havana on charges stemming from their publication of a document, titled The Homeland Belongs to Us All, that attacks the Cuban Communist Party’s monopoly on power. Vladimiro Roca, René Gómez Manzano, Felix Bonné and Martha Beatriz Roque are sentenced to between 3 ½ and 5 years in prison. (43)

March 8: During his trial in Havana, Ernesto Cruz Leon, 27, of El Salvador, admits responsibility for six terror bombings in Havana in 1997. He says he was motivated by money and denies any links to CANF or exile hardliner Luis Posada Carriles, even though Posada later tells reporters he financed the bombing spree. (45)

July 18: CANF elects Jorge Mas Santos chairman of the organization founded by his father, Jorge Mas Canosa. He would later push the foundation toward a more moderate position on exile support for dissidents in Cuba and all but break CANF’s links to the George W. Bush White House. (46)

November 25: A Cuban boy named Elián González is rescued by fishermen off Fort Lauderdale after his mother and several other would-be refugees drowned when their boat capsized. Elián’s arrival sparked an international custody battle that would bitterly divide Cuban exiles and spark an anti-exile backlash around the United States. (47)


April 22: The Elián impasse is broken at 5:07 a.m. when 131 federal agents wearing SWAT gear and packing submachine guns raid a Little Havana home and take the boy away. After the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to intervene in the case, Elián returns home with his father. (48)

November: Luis Posada Carriles and three other Cuban exiles from Miami are mrrested in Panama in an alleged plot to kill Castro during Ibero-American summit. (49)

December: Vladimir Putin becomes first Russian president to visit Cuba since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

December: Cuba cuts off direct telephone service with the United States in retaliation for U.S. freezing of Cuban funds. Calls from the United States go through third countries, but because of large volumes, most callers got a busy signal.


February 2001: FBI arrests Mariano Faget, a senior U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service official, on charges of revealing classified information to a childhood friend just before the friend was to meet with Cuban diplomats in the United States. Faget, the highest ranking Cuban-American in the INS, was sentenced to five years in prison. (50)

June: Castro has brief fainting spell while giving an outdoor speech before some 60,000 in 80-degree plus weather, prompting renewed speculation over possible successor. (51)

October: Moscow announces the closing of huge Russian electronic 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. (52)

2001: Five Cuban spies receive stiff prison sentences after lengthy trial in Miami. Gerardo Hernández is sentenced to two life terms, the maximum punishment, for his role in tipping off Havana to the plans of the four Brothers to the Rescue members killed in 1996. (53)

December 2001: Msgr. Bryan O. Walsh dies at age 71. Walsh was revered by many in the exile community for his initiation and leadership of Operation Peter Pan. From 1960 to 1962, the operation brought to the United States 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children whose parents were unable to leave the island. (54)


March: Responding to a Mexican request, Cuban security forces enter Mexican Embassy in Havana to remove 21 Cubans who crashed through the gate in a bus some 30 hours previously, evoking images of events at the Peruvian Embassy 22 years earlier that led to the Mariel exodus.

May: Oswaldo Paya 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. The assembly does not answer the petition. (55)

May: 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 uncensored TV address on Cuban television, Carter calls for an end to the U.S. embargo, appeals to Castro to allow democratic changes and mentions the Varela Project. (56)

June: In apparent rebuke to Carter and the Varela Project, Castro leads a march of thousands along Havana’s seaside Malecón, rejecting any political opening. He becomes the first of 8 million Cubans to sign a petition declaring the island’s socialist system ``untouchable.’‘

September: An unprecedented agricultural fair opens with some 750 U.S. executives in attendance representing 288 American 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.

October 2002: Ana Belén Montes, the most senior spy for Cuba ever captured, declares at her sentencing that U.S. policy toward Cuba is’‘cruel and unfair.’‘ A former senior Cuba analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency of Puerto Rican descent, she was sentenced to 25 years in prison, followed by five years of parole. (57)


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

April3: Nilo Cruz, 42, a playwright who arrived on the Cuba refugee airlift at age 10, is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama for his work, Ana in the Tropics. (58)

July: Celia Cruz, the queen of Afro-Cuban music from the mambo to salsa and steadfast Castro critic, dies in exile at the age of 77. Cuban government media had long banned her music. (59)

August: Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo returns to Havana from Miami announcing his intention to remain in Cuba permanently as an opposition figure.

September: After a decade of virtual silence on Cuba’s human rights record, Cuba’s Roman Catholic bishops urge the government to open a dialogue with its own people and compassion for the 75 dissidents sentenced in March. (68)


May: President George W. Bush’s administration releases a report by Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba and imposes tighter restrictions on travel and cash remittances to the island. Castro responds by announcing that U.S. dollars will be taken out of circulation.

October: Castro falls after delivering an outdoor speech in Santa Clara and shatters his kneecap. (60)

October: U.S. dollars are no longer accepted at stores and other businesses and a 10 percent surcharge is imposed for exchanging dollars to local currency.

December: A handful of the 75 dissidents arrested in 2003 are released from jail for health reasons.

December: Castro launches defense exercises called Strategic Bastion 2004, aimed at evaluating how prepared Cuban society is to face possible military action against Cuba during a second term by President Bush.


March: Advancing a campaign of economic strengthening on the island, Castro announces that the so-called ‘‘convertible peso,’‘ which had been equal to the U.S. dollar since it was created a decade ago, would increase in value by 8 percent. A fixed exchange rate for both sales and purchases of the convertible peso also would be implemented.

July: President Bush appoints Caleb McCarry is appointed to serve as the Cuba ‘‘transition coordinator.’‘ (61)

November: The Miami Herald reports that the CIA is convinced Fidel Castro suffers from Parkinson’s disease. A day later, Castro says he would step down if he became too ill to govern but he insists he feels ``better than ever.’‘

November: Castro mobilizes tens of thousands of young people as part of a campaign to counter official corruption and the ‘‘new rich.’‘ The campaign sends thousands of college-age youths to run gasoline stations, work in refineries and ride in fuel delivery trucks to monitor an industry where up to half of the product was being stolen.

December: Castro makes a rare appearance abroad, visiting Barbados for a Caribbean Community meeting and to honor the victims of a 1976 Cuban airliner bombing that killed 73 people and was blamed on Luis Posada Carriles. (62)

December: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announces that she is reconvening the cabinet-level Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, which issued its initial recommendations in May 2004.


January: Castro announces a long-awaited renovation of Cuba’s energy system to combat blackouts that have afflicted the island nation for two summers running.

July: The 79-year-old Castro, suffering from an ‘‘intestinal crisis’‘ that required surgery, cedes power to his brother, 75-year-old Raúl Castro. (67)

August: TV Martí broadcasts to Cuba increase to a six-times-a-week schedule by using a private aircraft.

August: In his first public comments as Cuba’s acting president, Raúl Castro hints that he is ready for dialogue with Washington

aug 5 Ramping up a campaign to reach out to ordinary Cubans in the wake of Fidel Castro’s health crisis, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went on Radio and TV Martí Friday to offer U.S. support for those who work for democratic change on the island.

aug. 9 Gustavo Arcos Bergnes, a former Fidel Castro loyalist who broke with the regime in the early years of the revolution, spent years behind bars and ultimately became a symbol of honor and wisdom for the opposition movement, has Tuesday in Havana. He was 79. (63)

aug 23 Continuing efforts to remove a controversial children’s book, the Miami-Dade School Board voted Tuesday to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that forced the district to keep Vamos a Cuba and 23 other titles on school library shelves. (64)

sept 1 -- In the first Cuban government change since Raúl Castro began ruling the island a month ago, well-known hardliner and reputed rival Ramiro Valdes was named minister of communications and information science. (65)

sept 6 Cuban leader Fidel Castro says he has lost 41 pounds and that ‘Today, I recover at a satisfactory pace.’

oct 3 A tighter U.S. trade embargo cost Cuba more than $4 billion over the last year, a Foreign Ministry official in Havana says.

oct 5 Marta Fernandez de Batista, the widow of former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, has died at the age of 82 at her West Palm Beach home.

oct 26 In the wake of an unusual investigation by Cuban state journalists into public employees who regularly cheat customers, Havana has announced an even more surprising response: a study of what’s wrong with the entire socialist system.

oct. 26 Radio and TV Martí have officially launched their new aircraft-based broadcasts with a program sure to please their Cuban audiences - baseball’s World Series.

nov. 4 A federal judge in El Paso ordered the federal government to supply evidence justifying the continued detention of Cuban exile militant Luis Posada Carriles.

nov. 15 Two longtime anti-Castro activists -- Santiago Alvarez and Osvaldo Mitat -- convicted of plotting to possess illegal weapons were sentenced to between three and four years in prison in Fort Lauderdale federal court. (69)

nov. 16 Two U.S. congressmen who oppose sanctions on Cuba say they will push for an investigation of U.S. programs to promote democracy on the island after a report uncovered poor oversight and indications of wastefulness.

nov. 28 The director of U.S. national intelligence, John Negroponte, appointed a conservative specialist on links between national security and economics , Norman A. Bailey, to head a kind of one-stop shop for the intelligence community on Cuba and Venezuela.

dec. 1 Raúl Castro on Friday turned up at a ceremony marking brother Fidel’s 80th birthday, but Fidel is a no-show.

dec. 6 Hector Palacios, a top Cuban dissident jailed in the 2003 nationwide crackdown was freedfor health reasons, making him the seventh political prisoner released in the past two months. (70)

dec, 14 Cuban President Fidel Castro is very ill and close to death, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte said. ``Everything we see indicates it will not be much longer . . . months, not years.’‘

dec. 16 The Cuban government has updated a regulation that limits the work of foreign journalists and sanctions those who violate them.

dec. 17 Cuban officials told a group of visiting U.S. lawmakers that the ailing Fidel Castro does not have cancer or a terminal illness, marking the most comprehensive denial by officials of rampant rumors about the leader’s health.

dec. 22 Cuban finance officials claim growth the economy grew 12.5 percent in 2006 and defend unorthodox new method of measuring the grow.

dec. 25 A leading Spanish surgeon has been flown to Cuba with undisclosed medical supplies to examine Fidel Castro, a Spanish newspaper reported.

dec. 30 Fidel Castro saluted Cubans on the eve of the revolution’s 48th anniversary and tells he has not lost his battle to recover.


1/10 -- The number of political prisoners held in Cuba dropped in the second half of last year, from 316 to 283, but harassment of dissidents continues,says Elizardo Sánchez of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

1/16 Fidel Castro is in ‘‘very grave’‘ condition after three failed operations and complications from an intestinal infection, a Spanish newspaper reported.

½3 President Bush says his administration would continue to ‘‘speak out’‘ for freedom in Cuba, mentioning the island for the first time in a State of the Union address.

2/7 Two Cuban army officers were reported shot dead when three young conscripts detailed to a prison near the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba tried to help an inmate escape.

2/27 Mario Chanes de Armas, who served 30 years of hard time as the longest-serving political prisoner of the Castro regime, died in Miami at the age of 80.

2/28 Fidel Castro called in to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s radio talk show on Tuesday, declaring he’s ‘‘more energetic, stronger’‘ and his country is running smoothly without him at the helm. (66)

3/1 Five Cuban dissidents arrested 19 months ago and held without trial ever since finally got their day in court -- and two-year prison sentences.

3/14 Trade between Cuba and China ballooned to $1.8 billion last year, double that of 2005, Beijing’s ambassador to Havana says.

3/21 Fidel Castro talks with Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez in Havana in the first outdoor picture of the Cuban leader made public since he announced he was ill on July 31. (71)

3/30 Fidel Castro signaled he is itching for a return to public life after eight months of illness that has kept him out of sight, lambasting U.S. biofuel policies in a front-page newspaper editorial.

3/30 Thirteen Democratic Congress members, including several who favor easing sanctions against Havana, have decried Cuba’s recent expulsion of three western journalists based in Havana.

4/18 Most of Cuba’s leading opposition groups issued a joint statement declaring they were united in their struggle for peaceful change toward democracy on the island.

5/3 A new Cuban government regulation will make it more difficult for some Cubans abroad to invite relatives and friends on the island to visit them.

5/12.Cuban citizens will soon be able to import a broad range of goods -- including VCR and DVD players and power generators -- for personal use under recent government decisions overturning longtime bans on such imports. (72)

5/17-- Cuba’s population fell in 2006 for the first time in 25 years, dropping by about 4,300 inhabitants, state media reported.

5/23 Iberia Airlines yanked a promotional cartoon video off its website, featuring an infant who wins a trip to Havana and gets babied by voluptuous black beauties.

5/30 Five U.S. lawmakers made an unannounced visit to Havana on Monday to explore agricultural trade opportunities at a gathering officials hope will lead to contracts to sell up to $150 million in American goods to Cuba.

5/31 Cuba agreed to buy $118 million in U.S. food products ranging from pork and corn to soybeans and Spam, and said it was negotiating deals that could bring the total to nearly $150 million.

6/6 One month after a stinging loss, the Justice Department Tuesday appealed a Texas federal judge’s dismissal of immigration fraud charges against Cuban exile militant Luis Posada Carriles.

6/27 The CIA has confirmed it used mafia connections in an attempt to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro as part of 700 pages of newly declassified documents unveiled.

7/7.Stephen Robert ‘‘Bobby’‘ Brown, a longtime Miami-Dade County insurance agent who fled Cuba in 1960 with his wife and four of their children, then dedicated himself to the kids of Operation Pedro Pan, died has died. He was 83.

7/19 The State Department has released new details of how it claims Cuba has been preventing the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana from meeting a requirement that Washington issue 20,000 visas to Cubans each year.

7/26 Eight American students graduated from a Cuban medical school and said they planned to put six years of education paid for by Fidel Castro’s communist government to use in hospitals back home.

8/1 Cuba passed the one-year anniversary of Fidel Castro’s withdrawal from power without official mention of the fact.

8/4 The bodies of three people suspected of smuggling Cubans to the United States through Mexico were found gagged and blindfolded Friday in a natural sinkhole near Cancún, Mexico.

8/4 The Cuba Study Group, a moderate exile organization, plans to raise $300 million to help develop Cuba’s post-communism economy by aiding business start-ups. (74)

8/11 One of Cuba’s longest-serving political prisoners, Francisco Chaviano, was released on ‘‘conditional freedom’‘ after serving 13 years in prison -- and immediately blasted prison conditions on the island. ‘‘I am back from hell.’‘ (75)

8/22 Rolando Sarabia, known as the ‘‘Cuban Nijinsky’‘ at the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, has joined Miami City Ballet as a leading dancer. (76)

8/24 A new newspaper column signed by Fidel Castro again attacks U.S. policies toward the island but does not address his health.

8/24 Ratcheting up his fight against corruption and mismanagement in Cuba, interim leader Raúl Castro has signed a decree requiring tough, swift and long-lasting punishment for public officials who violate labor rules.

8/27 A trial that will help decide the fate of a 4-year-old girl at the center of a custody dispute spanning the Florida Straits is scheduled to begin in a Miami-Dade courtroom

9/8 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other Homeland Security agencies plan to step up the crackdown on smugglers and could target Cuban migrant family members who pay for the trips for prosecution as conspirators.

9/25 A top Catholic prelate in Cuba says religious practice is slowly spreading in the communist nation despite rigid restrictions.

10/13 A South Florida businessman, Victor Vasquez, was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison for conspiring in a scheme to violate Cuba travel restrictions through licenses of bogus churches.

10/15 Reports presented to the Inter American Press Association on Sunday denounced the governments of Cuba and Venezuela, accusing them of hampering independent news gathering through harassment and arrests of journalists.

10/24 Cuban education is passing through a crisis, and the reforms enacted by Fidel Castro in recent years have worsened the system, according to a study by a group of Cuban and Slovakian specialists.

11/18 About 200 people gathered in Coral Gables Saturday night to celebrate the 47th anniversary of the Operation Pedro Pan Group.,

12/10 The year 2007 will go down as the year with the greatest number of Cuban migrant interdictions since the 1994 rafter crisis. As of last week, at least 3,084 Cuban migrants had been stopped at sea -- the largest number since 37,191 were interdicted 13 years ago.

12/12 Cuban state media on Tuesday justified the breakup of a protest march it said was the product of ‘‘frenetic subversive activity’‘ by U.S. officials trying to undermine the island’s communist system.

12/21 Raúl Castro will sit in for his ailing brother Fidel when Caribbean leaders gather for a regional oil summit in Cuba, but the star will be Cuba’s benefactor Hugo Chávez as he restarts a refinery left idle since the Soviet Union’s collapse.

12/26 Brother Raúl says Fidel Castro remains on the mend, gaining weight, exercising twice a day and continuing to help make the Cuban government’s top decisions.


1/9 Elsa Murano, a Cuban immigrant who graduated from Florida International University and worked for the Bush administration is the new president of Texas A&M University, one of the biggest in the United States. (77)

1/17 Fidel Castro says he is not yet healthy enough to address Cuba’s people in person and can’t campaign for upcomming parliamentary elections.

½5 At least seven young members of the Spanish Ballet of Cuba have defected during an arts festival in the Mexican city of Mérida.

2/15.After two years of shrinkage, U.S. sales to Cuba of agricultural goods during 2007 bounced back to $437.7 million, the highest annual total since such sales were authorized in 2000.

2/20 Reacting to Fidel Castro’s resignation, Democrat Barack Obama was the only presidential candidate who broached the idea of ending the trade embargo that has defined U.S. policy toward Cuba for nearly half a century.

2/24 Raúl Castro, 76, was elected by the National Assembly as president of the ruling Council of State, with 77-year-old José Ramón Machado Ventura becoming the new No. 2 man and 72-year-old Gen. Julio Casas Regueiro taking over as defense minister. The average age of the eight top members of the ‘‘new’‘ leadership is 70. (78)

3/1 Cuban leader Raúl Castro would consider exchanging jailed Cuban dissidents for five Cuban intelligence agents imprisoned in the United States, a top Vatican official says.

3/7 A group of Cuban Americans living in Vermont is suing the federal government over its restrictions on traveling to Cuba to visit family.

3/8 President Bush blasted countries for keeping quiet on abuses in Cuba at an event commemorating the fifth anniversary of the spring 2003 crackdown on anti-government activists.

3/11.For the second consecutive year, the population of Cuba decreased in 2007. The latest report from the statistics office showed that Cuba’s population in 2007 was 11,237,154, nearly 1,900 less than the 11,239,043 counted in 2006.

3/19 More than 100 Cubans living abroad, including some from Miami, will be in Havana for a three-day meeting with Cuban officials, and some participants say Cuba’s migration policy may be up for discussion.

3/25 Cubans expecting their new president to transform their strained lives are tempering their hopes as they gradually accept him at his word: Small improvements will come with time, but nothing will happen overnight.

3/29 An aide to President Bush has resigned in the midst of an investigation by the Justice Department over allegations he misused U.S. grant money intended to promote democracy in Cuba.

4/2 Shoppers snapped up DVD players, motorbikes and pressure cookers as a slew of consumer products went on sale to all Cuban citizens for the first time. Possibly more significant, Cuba announced it will lend unproductive state land to private farmers to boost agricultural production. (73)

4/14 On the eve of the 47th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion, Miami-Dade commissioners will consider a future museum commemorating the failed military excursion into Cuba.

4/25 In an effort to limit the losses within its ranks, Cuba’s Communist Party has called on members near retirement not to shirk party-related tasks and cautioned that ``disease is not a reason for deactivation.’‘

4/28 Cuba’s government announced sizable raises for retirees and court employees, and promised future pay hikes for other government workers, saying the increases would target lower-income islanders in a bid to reduce inequalities.

5/3 Robert L. Vesco, the fugitive financier who spent most of his life eluding U.S. justice, is reported to have died in Cuba from lung cancer. (79)

5/10 Cuba’s Bohemia magazine, which revolutionized Latin America’s information panorama in the 20th century, marks its 100th birthday.

5/12 One of the four Cuban women who won gold medals at the Pan American Judo Championships last week in Miami has defected.

5/18 Cuba’s gay community celebrated unprecedented openness -- and high-ranking political alliances -- with a government-backed campaign against homophobia. (80)

5/21 A Cuban dissident acknowledged she received $2,400 from an anti-Castro group in Miami, but said she had no information about allegations it was carried to Havana by America’s top diplomat on the island.

5/23 -- In a lunchtime speech to the Cuban American National Foundation, Sen. Barack Obama says he would ease travel and remittance restrictions on Cuba but would maintain the trade embargo until Havana made some changes. (81)

5/27 Fidel Castro says Obama’s plan to maintain the embargo will cause hunger and suffering on the island.

6/5 A rare study conducted surreptitiously in Cuba found that more than half of those interviewed considered their economic woes to be their chief concern while less than 10 percent listed lack of political freedom as the main problem facing the country.

6/14 Cuba proved to be no refuge for an American fugitive who was deported to face federal charges in California of sexually abusing a Costa Rican girl and possessing child pornography.

6/18 Cuban television showed the first images of Fidel Castro in six months, with a silent video of the ailing revolutionary chatting in a garden with visiting Venezuelan President Chávez.

7/8 After a few weeks of uncertainty, business dealings will remain the same for Florida travel agencies specializing in trips to Cuba -- at least until August.A lawsuit between 16 Miami-Dade-based travel vendors and the state of Florida was postponed until Aug. 29.

7/12 Cuban leader Raúl Castro warned Cubans to work hard and do their jobs to the strictest standards in the face of an international economic crisis that is sure to hit the nation hard.

8/13Fidel Castro marked his 82nd birthday in private, more than two years after he underwent emergency surgery and ceded power to his younger brother Raúl.

9/11 Cuban Americans who wish to help extended family or friends on the island hard-hit by hurricanes Ike and Gustav -- or anyone else who wants to help storm victims -- can send money through a new license granted by the federal government to the Cuban American National Foundation.

9/28 The U.S. Coast Guard reports that it has apprehended far fewer Cuban migrants at sea this fiscal year than in in the previous year. So far, 2,140 Cubans have been caught attempting to illegally enter the United States, compared to 2,868 in the previous period.

9/30 Cuba announced price freezes at all farmers markets, promising to punish any vendors charging more for hard-to-find fruits and vegetables as food reserves dwindle due to the destruction caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

10-20 Fidel Castro meets with Metropolitan Kiril, chairman of the Russian Orthodox church’s Moscow patriarchate department for external relations. (82)

10-27 The number of personal packages sent by U.S. mail from South Florida to Cuba has increased by 327 percent in the past two years, the greatest volume of mail sent to the island since President Bush restricted travel and remittances for Cuban exiles.

11/5 -- A U.S. appeals court has rejected a lawsuit challenging federal regulations that heavily restrict Americans enrolling in Cuban universities.

11/11 -- Raúl Castro says the damages from Hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Paloma total nearly $10 billion.