Cuba; historical events
Page last modified 15/6/2019
See also South and Central America
1/2018, US President Trump signed an Executive Order providing for the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay.
25/11/2016, Fidel Castro, former leader of Cuba from 1959, died aged 90. He had been succeeded by his brother Raul in 2008.
14/12/2011, The 2012 US National Defence Bill was not vetoed by President Obama, which meant that Guantanamo Bay would remain open as a detention facility.
7/1/2011, US President Barack Obama signed the 2011 Defence Authorisation Bill, which provided for the closure of Guantanamo Bay.
22/1/2009, US President Barack Obama attempted to close down Guantanamo Bay. US Congress blocked the move.
14/1/2009, The US admitted torturimg Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohammed al Qahtani, under the Bush administration.
18/2/2008, Fidel Castro, aged 81, announced he was resigning as President of Cuba after 49 years in post. His brother Raul Castro was selected to succeed him.
2/2006, The United Nations called for the closure of Guantanamo Bay.
7/2004, The US classified Guantanamo Bay inmates as ‘enemy combatants’, to circumvent a court ruling that they could challenge their detention on the US mainland.
5/2003, The prison population of Guantanamo Bay reached a peak of 680. In October 2003 the Red Cross became coincerned at the ‘pyschological detereration’ of a large number oif the inmates.
1/2002, The first suspects from Afghanistan were brought to Guantanamo Bay.
15/6/1993, The last Russian troops left Cuba.
1982, The US tightened sanctions on Cubam, banning flights and tourism to there.
1972, Cuba joined COMECON, the Communist economic bloc.
7/1/1964, In a drive to improve trade links with Europe, Cuba ordered 400 British buses.
1963, The 1,000 acre maximum private landholding in Cuba (see 5/1959) was reduced to 160 acres. This increased State landholdings from 40% to 60% of Cuba’s land.
28/4/1963, Cuban President Fidel Castro visited the USSR.
19/2/1963. The USSR agreed to withdraw troops from Cuba.
20/11/1962, President Kennedy lifted the blockade of Cuba, having verified that Soviet nuclear missiles had been removed.
18/11/1962. President Kennedy told a press conference that Nikita Khrushchev had told him all Soviet jet bombers would be withdrawn from Cuba within ten days.
13/11/1962. Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader, warned the US reconnaissance planes would be shot down if they continued to fly over Cuba.
28/10/1962. Khrushchev began to dismantle Soviet missile bases in Cuba, so ending the Cuba Missile Crisis. Crisis; the Soviet Union simply ignored its earlier demand regarding Turkey. President Kennedy was leader of the USA at the time; on Saturday 27/10/1962 he was just about to order US air strikes on the missile bases, when on Sunday the news came that the USSR had agreed to withdraw the missiles. The USSR attempted to leverage the removal of NATO missiles from Turkey but did not achieve this. The USA had to achieve this result, for political, not military, reasons, or else how could USA support be relied upon further from home. In fact the danger from the Cuban missiles was not much greater than if the same intercontinental ballistic missiles had been launched from 5,000 miles away in the USSR. Actually the 40 or so missiles on Cuba would have reached the USA before any USSR-launched missiles, so acting as an early warning for the USA to launch its 1,685 missiles against the USSR. The USA did not know, however, that only a fraction of the USSR-based missiles were operational, so the 40 Cuban missiles did amount to a substantial increase in Soviet firepower against the USA.
26/10/1962, The USSR offered to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba if NATO missiles were removed from Turkey; the US rejected this idea. In fact the US had been planning to remove these missiles anyway, seeing them as obsolete; however a removal now might be seen as a victory for the Soviet Union.
24/10/1962. The USA began to blockade Cuba over the Cuban Missile Crisis. At 10.15am, 500 miles from the Cuban coastline, two Soviet merchant vessels, the Gargarin and the Komiles, encountered American warships. The Essex had orders to sink the accompanying Soviet submarines should they refuse to surface when challenged.
22/10/1962 President Kennedy ordered a blockade of Cuba after Soviet missile sites were found there.
16/10/1962, President Kennedy saw aerial photos of Cuba which appeared to show nuclear-armed missiles being installed in Cuba.
2/9/1962. The USSR agreed to supply weapons to Cuba. This started the Cuban Missile Crisis.
29/8/1962. American spy planes took pictures of Soviet technicians constructing missile launch pads in Cuba.
8/4/1962. In Cuba, over 1,000 Bay of Pigs invaders were sentenced to 30 years in jail. See 17/4/1961.
9/1/1962, A Cuban-Soviet trade treaty was signed.
17/4/1961. 1,300 Anti-Castro Cuban exiles, led by Jose Cardona, attempted to invade Cuba from the Bay of Pigs. However on 18 and 19/4/1961 the exiles were pinned down on the beach by Castro’s troops. The USA under President Kennedy backed down following Khrushchev’s declaration that the USSR would defend Cuba against the USA and the 1,200 survivors were left to their fate. They surrendered to Cuban authorities on 20/4/1961.
3/1/1961. The US severed all diplomatic relations with Cuba.
19/10/1960. The USA imposed an embargo on shipments to Cuba, banning all exports to Cuba except food and medicine. Cuba had been buying arms from the USSR, and when the USA imposed economic sanctions by refusing to buy Cuban sugar, Castro nationalised USA businesses. Cuba also attempted to 'export Revolution', to the Dominican Republic, Panama, and Nicaragua. However many young US citizens supported Castro.
6/8/1960. Castro nationalised all US-owned property in Cuba, in retaliation for US economic sanctions.
23/6/1960, Castro threatened to seize US-owned property in Cuba, in retaliation for US economic sanctions.
21/2/1960. Castro nationalised all private businesses in Cuba.
4/1/1960, The US-Cuba relationship broke up, but the US retained Guantanamo Bay.
4/6/1959. Cuba nationalised USA sugar mils in its territory.
5/1959, Cuba passed the Agrarian Reform Law, limiting private landholdings to a maximum of 1,000 acres. Some 40% of Cuba’s land now came into State ownership. Some of this land was redistributed to landless peasants but most stayed under the care of the Instituto Nacional de Reforma Agraria (INRA). See 1963. Before this reform, nine large foreign-owned sugar companies owned some 2,500,000 acres between them., with the Cuban Atlantic Company alone possessing 660,000 acres. Following this expropriation of land, the US struck Cuba from its sugar quota import list in 1960.
16/2/1959. Fidel Castro became Prime Minister of Cuba after overthrowing the regime of Fulgencio Batista. At age 32, he was the youngest ever leader of Cuba. See 1/1/1959.
8/1/1959, Fidel Castro entered Havana in triumph.
1/1/1959. The Right-wing President Fulgencio Batista of Cuba was overthrown and fled to the Dominican Republic. Fidel Castro, aged 32, proclaimed a new Government. See 16/2/1959. Castro executed his opponents and legalised the Communist Party.
17/9/1958, Fidel Castro began an offensive against the Batista regime in Cuba.
5/4/1958. Castro began 'total war' against the Cuban dictator, Batista.
3/4/1958, Castro’s revolutionary army begins its attacks on Havana.
2/4/1958. The USA embargoed arms shipments to Cuba.
29/10/1957, Fulgencio Batista suspended the Cuban Constitution.
5/9/1957, Rebels under Fidel Castro, along with Cuban navy Officers, tried to seize a naval base at Cienfuegos. Forces loyal to President Batista of Cuba defeated the attempt, and the rebel leaders were executed.
28/5/1957, Fidel Castro’s forces attacked the Cuban garrison at Uvero.
2/12/1956, Fidel Castro clandestinely returned to eastern Cuba, from Mexico, landing in the yacht Gramma. He then waged an 18-month guerrilla campaign against the Batista government. See 8/1/1959. See 8/1/1959. The invasion initially suffered major setbacks, with the Gramma first delayed by storms then grounding on a mudbank where government aircraft could easily spot it. The entire invasion force of 82 men were flushed out of cane fields by government soldiers, and only 12 managed to escape to the Sierra Maestra. Here, however, Castro had friends from his childhood as a sugar farmer’s son. With the increasing support of local peasants, and by clever use of the terrain, Castro’s supporters eventually won.
26/7/1953, Fidel Castro led an assault on the Moncada Barracks; this failed, but set him up as revolutionary leader in Cuba. Castro served two years in prison before release under a general amnesty in 1955. He went into exile in Mexico where he prepared a campaign against Batista.
10/3/1952,Military coup in Cuba. President Socarra was overthrown and replaced by General Zaldivar (Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar), who had previously been ruler of Cuba, 1933-40.
8/4/1947, Following a series of killings due to labour strife, the Cuban Interior Ministry banned all political meetings that might provoke disorder.
18/11/1944, The Popular Socialist Youth organization was founded in Cuba.
10/10/1944, Ramon Grau took office as President of Cuba.
12/8/1933, In Cuba the army, led by Fulgencio Batista, and backed by the US, overthrew President Machedo.
13/8/1926. Cuban revolutionary and leader Fidel Castro was born near Biran, the son of a sugar planter.
1925, The dictatorship of President Gerardo Machado began; lasting until 1933.
31/5/1912. US marines landed in Cuba to quell a slave revolt.
23/2/1903, The US signed a deal with Cuba to lease 45 square miles of land at Guantanamo Bay for 2,000 gold coins (about US$ 4,000) a year. Fidel Castro later refused to accept this money.
1902, Tomas Estrada Palma became President of Cuba,
12/6/1901, A new Constitution for Cuba was drawn up, giving the US extensive rights that made the island virtually a US protectorate.
20/5/1901, End of US military rule in Cuba. However the US was granted intervention rights and the right to use certain bases, including Guantanamo Bay.
21/2/1901, Cuba became a republic.
7/11/1900, The People's Party was founded in Cuba.
5/11/1900, The Cuban Constitutional Convention began to sit, until 21/2/1901.
1899, The USA occupied Cuba, installing an interim military government.
10/6/1898, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was first used as a camp by US troops during the Spanish-American War (see USA).
1898, The USA declared war on Spain, in support of the Cuban rebels. The US had significant financial interests in Cuba.
1895, Jose Marti landed on Cuba with a small band of rebels to start a war of independence. However Marti was killed on the first day of fighting and thousands of Cubans subsequently died in Spanish concentration camps.
1868, A major rebellion against Spanish rule began, initiating a 10-year civil war.
18/9/1810, Cuba declared independence from Spain.
13/8/1762, The British captured Havana, Cuba, from the Spanish. HGowever it was returned to Spain under the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Slave labour and proximity to US markets ensured the prosperity of the wealthy elite in Cuba, whilst a strong Spanish garrison detereed any moves towards independence.
1515, Havana was founded by the Spanish.
1509, The Spanish began the conquest and colonisation of Cuba.
28/10/1492. Christopher Columbus arrived in Cuba, believing it to be Japan.