chapter
Cuba
Pages 7

Manuel de Céspedes (the younger) as President; however Sgt (later Gen.) Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar led a coup d’état, over-throwing Céspedes, and installed Ramón Grau San Martín as President. January 1934: Grau resigned following the refusal by the USA to recognize his administration, and Batista assumed control of the administration himself. 1940: A new Constitution emphasizing democracy and social justice came into effect and Batista was officially elected President. 1944: Batista retired and, as leader of the Partido Auténtico, Grau returned to the position of President. 1948: Carlos Prío Socarrás was elected President. 10 March 1952: Batista seized control in a coup d’état, took the title of Chief of State and revoked the 1940 Constitution. 4 April 1952: Batista installed himself as Provisional President, pending presidential elections. 26 July 1953: An attempt by a group of revolutionaries, led by Fidel Castro Ruz, to seize control of military barracks in Santiago de Cuba, was brutally suppressed. Castro was subsequently imprisoned. 1954: Batista was re-elected President; he subsequently released Castro into exile. December 1956: Castro and his followers unsuccessfully attempted to invade Cuba. Castro and an Argentine-born revolutionary, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara , subsequently formed an anti-Government guerrilla force. 13 March 1957: Members of a group of intellectuals, known as the Directorio Universitario, led by José Antonio Echeverría, attempted to assassinate Batista. 1 January 1959: Batista fled the country and Castro’s forces occupied Havana. The Constitution was subsequently suspended and replaced by a Fundamental Law, and a Council of Ministers was appointed. March 1959: Fidel Castro assumed the office of Prime Minister, with his brother, Raúl Castro, as his deputy. October 1960: Castro’s administration expropriated all US business interests in the country. January 1961: The Government terminated diplomatic relations with the USA. April 1961: A US-sponsored group of anti-Castro Cuban émigrés landed at the Bahía de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) in the South; the invasion was repelled by Castro’s troops. December 1961: Castro proclaimed Cuba to be a Communist state. The Organizaciones Revolucionarias Integradas (ORI, later renamed the Partido Unido de la Revolution Socialista Cubana-PURSC) was declared to be the state’s sole legal political party. January 1962: The US Government imposed an economic blockade on the country, and Cuba was excluded from the Organization of American States (OAS). October 1962: The discovery of Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba provoked a grave international crisis. Following a naval blockade by US forces, the missiles were withdrawn. 1964: The OAS imposed diplomatic and commercial sanctions against Castro’s

Assistance (CMEA) and received preferential trade terms and technical advice from the USSR and other Eastern European countries. February 1976: A new Constitution was promulgated, following its approval in a popular referendum. December 1976: Following elections, the Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular (National Assembly of People’s Power) was inaugurated as the supreme legislative organ of state. The delegates in turn elected a Council of State, with Fidel Castro as President. November 1981: The Government held high-level talks with the US Government; despite this, US hostility increased. The following year economic sanctions were strengthened, a major air link was terminated and tourism and investment by US nationals was prohibited. December 1981: Castro was re-elected President of the Council of State. December 1984: Following further negotiations with the US Government, an agreement was reached on the resumption of immigration and the repatriation of 2,746 Cuban ‘undesirables’ who had emigrated to the USA in 1980. February 1985: The Government suspended the programme of immigration and repatriation, in response to the establishment of a radio station in Florida (USA), which broadcast Western-style programmes to the island. All visits to Cuba by US residents of Cuban origin were subsequently banned. February 1986: At the third Congress of the PCC, one-third of the 146 members were replaced. September 1986: As the result of mediation by the Roman Catholic Church, political prisoners and their families were permitted to emigrate to the USA. October 1987: The Government’s decision to reinstate the 1984 accord on immigration and repatriation provoked rioting by Cuban exiles detained in US prisons; the protests were quelled only when the inmates were assured that they would not be repatriated. May 1988: Government troops launched a successful offensive against South African forces present in Angola. Castro had been assisting the rebel Angolan forces since 1976. April 1989: Following the declaration of peace in Angola, Cuban forces began to withdraw. April 1989: The President of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, met Castro for talks regarding the reduction of Soviet aid and Central American issues. Castro subsequently denounced Gorbachev’s policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) as causing crisis in socialism. June 1989: Several senior officers were found to have been involved in smuggling operations in Angola and to have assisted the Colombian Medellín drugs-trafficking cartel. Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa Sánchez and three others were convicted of treason and executed. 9 September 1989: Cuba announced the full withdrawal of its troops from Ethiopia by September 1990. October 1989: The country was elected to the UN Security Council. 25 January 1990: Cuba suspended troop withdrawals from Angola, following the killing

25 May 1991: The final contingent of Cuban troops was withdrawn from Angola. September 1991: The Soviet Government announced that it would withdraw the majority of its military personnel from Cuba. Castro’s subsequent demands for the withdrawal of US troops from Guantánamo were denied. July 1992: The Asamblea Nacional approved amendments to the Constitution, which empowered Castro to declare a state of emergency and assume full control of the armed forces, as the head of a National Defence Council. October 1992: The Government imposed the Cuban Democracy Act (‘Torricelli Law’), which made it illegal for foreign subsidiaries of US companies to trade with Cuba. This was condemned by the international community and by the UN General Assembly. 24 February 1993: Elections to the Asamblea Nacional and 14 provincial assemblies took place and, for the first time, were conducted by secret ballot. However, only candidates nominated by the PCC were permitted to stand for election. All deputies to the Asamblea were re-elected. The following month, Fidel Castro and Raúl Castro were reelected as President and First Vice-President respectively. July 1993: Castro announced that the prohibition of the possession of foreign currency by Cubans was to be lifted, and that restrictions on Cuban exiles travelling to Cuba were also to be relaxed. September 1993: The Government authorized limited individual private enterprise in a range of occupations. Agricultural reforms were also introduced to decentralize the administration of state farms to form ‘Units of Basic Co-operative Production’, that were to be managed by the workers themselves. April 1994: In a Government reorganization, several new ministries were created, including those of economy and planning, finance and prices, and foreign investment and economic co-operation. August 1994: A deterioration in economic conditions prompted a mass migration to the USA; in response to the crisis, the President of the USA, William (Bill) Clinton, suspended the automatic refugee status conferred on Cubans by the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act. September 1994: The Government and the USA held talks regarding the refugee crisis. The US Government pledged to grant visas allowing for the migration of a minimum of 20,000 Cuban refugees annually, in exchange for the reintroduction of travel restrictions by Cuba. May 1995: The USA officially revoked the automatic refugee status enjoyed by Cubans; it was also announced that all Cuban refugees intercepted at sea by US naval forces would be forcibly repatriated. September 1995: The US Congress approved legislation, known as the Helms-Burton, which sought to impose sanctions on countries trading with or investing in Cuba and threatened to reduce US aid to the country’s trading partners. In response to international condemnation the Senate eventually passed a modified version of the original bill. February 1996: Cuban air force fighters shot down two US light aircraft piloted by members of Brothers to the Rescue, a Cuban-American exile group, killing all four crew

Bill was entitled, was enacted. Title III, permitting US citizens to prosecute any foreign corporation or investor with business dealings involving property expropriated by Castro’s regime, was condemned by the international community. June 1996: Canada, Mexico and the European Union (EU) announced that they had imposed legislation to protect their businesses from the implications of Title III. The following month, the US Government announced that a six-month moratorium had been imposed on the legislation. November 1996: The UN General Assembly voted in favour of repealing the USA’s sanctions on Cuba; the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced the formation of a disputes panel to rule on the legality of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act. 11 January 1998: Elections to an enlarged Asamblea Nacional and to the 14 provincial assemblies took place, and all candidates were elected. 22-25 January 1998: The Government received a visit from the Pope, who condemned the US embargo and recommended that the country should be reintegrated into the international community. Castro subsequently released a number of political prisoners. 24 February 1998: Fidel Castro was re-elected as President and Raúl Castro as VicePresident. March 1998: The US Government permitted the shipment of food and medicines to the country and announced the lifting of the ban on direct flights. September 1998: The Asamblea Nacional condemned the US economic sanctions as an act of ‘genocide’. October 1998: At the annual vote by the UN General Assembly on the Resolution condemning US economic sanctions, all but two members (USA and Israel) voted against the sanctions. November 1999: A five-year old Cuban boy, Elián Gonzalez, was rescued from a sinking vessel of refugees bound for the USA. The ensuing custody battle between the boy’s relatives in Miami and his father in Cuba, further strained Cuba’s relations with the USA. April 2000: The annual US-sponsored vote of censure against the Cuban Government for alleged human rights abuses, held at a meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights, was defeated for the first time since 1991. April 2000: Despite a ruling by the US Department of Justice granting custody to Elián’s father, his Miami relatives refused to allow the boy to be repatriated. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents subsequently forcibly removed him from their control in preparation for his return to Cuba in June, where the case had provoked public demonstrations against the USA’s ‘abduction’ of the child. 15 December 2000: Following the imposition by the Government of a 10% tax on all telephone calls to the USA, the latter suspended telephone links. 12 January 2001: A member of the Czech legislative, Ivan Pilip, and a Czech political activist, Jan Bubenik, were arrested following allegations that they had held meetings with anti-Government dissidents. They were released the following month. 4 May 2001: The Ministry for Auditing and Control was established to combat

suspended. 8 November 2001: Following the destruction of thousands of homes and the deaths of five people in hurricane Michelle, the US Government offered to send humanitarian aid, on the condition that it did not assist the Castro Government. Castro had previously rejected such aid from the USA.