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Timeline: Post-Revolution Cuba

1958-1976 | 1977-2004  


Spring: Embarrassed by Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista's brutality, the United States suspends military assistance to his regime.

Summer: Batista's forces launch a last, unsuccessful push against a small guerrilla army led by Fidel Castro and based in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra.


January 1: Revolutionary leader Fidel Castro's forces enter Havana. Before dawn, President Batista, his family, and 180 of his associates flee the country.

January and February: Former Batista officials are tried as criminals; as many as 500 are executed. When the U.S. press calls the executions a "blood bath," Fidel Castro rallies Cubans to legitimize his policies, which many support. A new chant is heard across Cuba: paredón, "to the wall," meaning death by firing squad.

Fidel Castro reading the Oath of Office, February 16, 1959 February 7: Members of Castro's 26th of July Movement underground and leaders of the anti-Batista political opposition form an interim government. Manuel Urrutia, a judge, becomes president; José Miró Cardona becomes prime minister. Elections are to be held within eighteen months.

February 16: Rebel army commander Fidel Castro becomes prime minister of the revolutionary government, replacing Miró Cardona.

March 3: Castro's government expropriates properties belonging to the International Telephone and Telegraph Company, and takes over its affiliate, the Cuban Telephone Company, lowering telephone rates.

Fidel Castro standing in front of Statler Hilton in New York, surrounded by press, waving and smiling April 15-26: Castro visits the U.S. He is greeted everywhere by cheering crowds. The trip is overshadowed by suspicions that he might be a Communist, but he publicly denies the Communist leanings of some in his inner circle, including his brother Raúl.

May 17: Upon his return to Cuba, Castro signs the Agrarian Reform Act. The government expropriates farm lands over 1,000 acres and bans land ownership by foreigners. Two hundred thousand peasants receive titles to land.

July 16: Castro forces the resignation of President Manuel Urrutia. Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado, an obscure lawyer connected with the Cuban Communist Party, becomes president.

July 26: Castro calls for a rally in Havana on the anniversary of the storming of the Moncada Barracks. In celebration of the Agrarian Reform Law, tens of thousands of peasants are brought to the city, welcomed and housed by middle and upper class families. At a mass rally of one million people, Castro reveals the class content of his revolution. "Cuba's revolutionary government was like that of ancient Athens," he said, "except better, because Cuba's revolutionary government was not for the privileged classes or the oligarchy. This is true democracy."

October 15: Raúl Castro, Fidel's brother, is named Minister of Defense.

October 19: Along with 14 officers, Comandante Huber Matos, an important figure in the revolution, resigns his post as military commander of Camagüey province. He cites his concern with the growing influence of Communists in Cuba's revolutionary government. Within days, Castro publicly brands him "a traitor" and arrests him.

October 21: Pedro Luis Díaz Lanz, former chief of Castro's air force, who had defected in July, flies a B-25 plane from Miami to Havana, dropping leaflets calling on Fidel Castro to eliminate Communists from his government. Shrapnel from anti-aircraft weapons kills two; others are wounded. Fidel blames the United States for the deaths.

October 25: Camilo Cienfuegos' plane disappears. One of the most popular comandantes of the revolution, his death is to this day shrouded in mystery.

December 15: Huber Matos is found guilty of treason and conspiracy. He will serve every day of a 20-year prison sentence. Matos' conviction marks the end of the "revolutionary coalition" between moderates and radicals. By the end of the first year, only nine of the original 21 ministers of the revolutionary government remain. With his brother Raúl as minister of defense, Ché Guevara in charge of Cuba's Central Bank and himself as prime minister, Fidel Castro holds the reins of power firmly in hand.


Castro and Khrushchev, September 1960 February 6: Talks begin between the U.S.S.R and Castro. The Soviet Union agrees to buy five million tons of sugar over five years. They also agree to support Cuba with oil, grain, and credit.

March 17: President Dwight Eisenhower approves an anti-Castro plan. The U.S. will place embargos on sugar, oil and guns, and issue propaganda. In addition, the plan calls for Cuban exiles to attack Cuba and attempt to overthrow Castro.

April 19: Soviet oil begins to arrive in Cuba.

May 8: Cuba and the Soviet Union establish formal diplomatic relations.

June 7: U.S. oil companies in Cuba refuse to refine Soviet oil. Within the next month Texaco, Esso, and Shell oil refineries will be nationalized.

President Eisenhower hand under chin July 3: In response to these seizures, the U.S. Congress eliminates Cuba's remaining sugar quota.

July 5: Cuba nationalizes all U.S. companies and properties.

July 6: President Eisenhower cancels the 700,000 tons of sugar remaining in Cuba's quota for 1960.

July 8: The Soviet Union announces that it will purchase the 700,000 tons of sugar cut by the U.S.

September 17: Cuba nationalizes all U.S. banks, including First National City Bank of New York, First National Bank of Boston and Chase Manhattan Bank.

September 18: Fidel Castro addresses the United Nations General Assembly, lashing out at the United States and flaunting his new friendship with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.

September 28: Fidel Castro announces the creation of neighborhood committees to keep an eye on "enemies of the revolution." These eventually will become the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (C.D.R.). Under the direction of the Ministry of the Interior, the C.D.R. serve as surveillance agents, ferreting out dissidents, counterrevolutionaries, homosexuals. They will also carry out health and education campaigns and fuel revolutionary enthusiasm.

President Kennedy, Proclamation Signing, Cuba Quarantine October 6: As Election Day approaches in the U.S., anti-Cuban rhetoric heats up. In Cincinnati, Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy says Castro has converted Cuba into a "Communist... satellite." Kennedy blames Eisenhower and Nixon's policies of "neglect and indifference" for allowing Cuba to slip "behind the Iron Curtain."

October 13: Rents are cut in half as Cuba's Urban Reform Act takes effect. Nearly 400 Cuban companies are nationalized.

October 19: The U.S. places a partial trade embargo on Cuba.

October 24: The Cuban government seizes more American-owned properties.

December 26: Operation Pedro Pan begins. Over the next two years, desperate Cuban parents send more than 14,000 children on their own to the U.S.


January 3: The United States ends diplomatic relations with Cuba.

The departure of Cubans to the United States becomes an exodus. Over the next two decades more than one million Cubans will emigrate. Many are businessmen and professionals, including more than 50 percent of Cuba's doctors and teachers in the first two years of the revolution.

January 28: President John Kennedy authorizes the CIA to proceed with Eisenhower's Cuban invasion plan. It calls for an army of 1,200 Cuban exiles to land in Cuba's southeast coast, take over the city of Trinidad, and call on Cubans to rise up against Castro.

February 16: Lino Fernandez and 500 members of the underground resistance against the Castro regime are captured and jailed.

March 18: Three other key opposition leaders are arrested at a meeting in Havana, including Humberto Sorí Marín, the architect of the revolution's Agrarian Reform Law.

April 9: Rolando Masferrer, a former Batista official, is indicted in Miami for an attack on Cuba violating the Neutrality Act -- an aborted invasion of Cuba the previous October 4th. The U.S. distances itself from pro-Batista exiles while supporting other anti-Castro groups.

April 13: A second bomb in several days destroys Cuba's finest department store, El Encanto.

April 15: President Kennedy launches the Bay of Pigs operation. Eight B-26 bombers attack airfields at Ciudad Libertad in Havana, San Antonio de los Baños in Pinar del Río and Santiago de Cuba in an attempt to destroy Cuba's air force. A second wave, designed to wipe out any surviving aircraft, is inexplicably cancelled.

The Castro regime places dynamite under the cells in prisons, as a warning to any prisoner who might try to help Bay of Pigs combatants. Word spreads, so that no Cuban citizen with a family member in prison will aid the American invasion.

April 17: CIA-trained Cuban exiles land at Bay of Pigs (Playa Girón). The invasion will end three days later in the exiles' defeat by the Cuban army.

April 19: Castro announces that the revolution is "socialist." In Havana, former colleagues who have spoken out against him, including Humberto Sorí Marín, Manuel Puig, and Regelio Gonzalez Corso, are executed for treason.

May 1: Castro calls Cuba a "socialist country."

November 30: President Kennedy approves Operation Mongoose, a covert CIA plan to get rid of Castro. His brother, attorney general Robert Kennedy, will lead the effort.


January 22: With U.S. encouragement, Cuba loses its membership in the Organization of American States (O.A.S.).

February 4: Castro calls for all Latin American people to rise up against imperialists in his Second Declaration of Havana.

February 7: President Kennedy bans all trade with Cuba, excepting foods and medicines.

March: The Cuban government begins rationing food.

March 23: President Kennedy bans the import of all goods made from or containing Cuban materials.

May 29: Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces commander Marshal S. S. Biryuzov secretly arrives in Havana to discuss placing nuclear weapons in Cuba.

July 2: Fidel's brother, Raúl Castro, Cuba's Minister of the Armed Forces, goes to Moscow. The two nations agree to deploy nuclear missiles under Soviet jurisdiction in Cuba.

July 21: University of Havana professor Ricardo Bofill organizes a clandestine seminar called Los Derechos Humanos a la Luz del Derecho Internacional ("Human Rights in the Light of International Rights"). Three days later, he is dismissed from his teaching post.

September 8: A Soviet freighter arrives in Cuba with the first nuclear weapons shipment, a cargo of middle-range ballistic missiles.

September 15: A second Soviet freighter delivers another shipment of middle-range ballistic missiles to Cuba.

October 14: After two weeks of being deterred by clouds, a U.S. U-2 reconnaissance flight over Cuba photographs the Soviet construction of intermediate-range missile sites. The next day, analysis of the photographs will trigger the Cuban Missile Crisis.

October 22: President Kennedy addresses the nation about the crisis. The Soviets realize that they have been spotted in Cuba. Kennedy announces a naval blockade of Cuba and declares that a Soviet nuclear attack launched from Cuba would require a response in kind.

October 27: Castro writes a letter to Khrushchev urging him to use nuclear weapons and sacrifice Cuba if necessary.

October 28: Radio Moscow announces a deal has been reached: Khrushchev is ready to remove the missiles from Cuba. In exchange, Kennedy promises to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey and pledges not to invade Cuba.

December 24: The U.S. sends Cuba medicines and food in exchange for exiles captured in the Bay of Pigs invasion.


Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro at the invitation of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev spent the day at the latter's suburban house in Moscow, April 30, 1963 February 8: The Kennedy administration bars Americans from any transactions with Cuba.

April-May: Fidel Castro visits the Soviet Union. Given a hero's welcome, the young revolutionary revives Soviet spirits and faith in the future. After a disastrous experiment with rapid industrialization, Cuba agrees to focus on producing sugar. The Soviets agree to purchase sugar at inflated prices while selling Cuba oil at deflated prices. Also Cuba will receive free of charge all military equipment it requests.

July 8: All Cuban-owned assets in the United States are frozen.

November 17: President Kennedy sends a message to Castro that he is now ready to negotiate normal relations and drop the embargo. According to former Press Secretary Pierre Salinger, Kennedy would have negotiated the agreement if he had lived.

November 22: President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Vice president Lyndon Johnson is sworn in as the new U.S. president.

November: Cuba enacts the Second Agrarian Reform Law. The government expropriates all private holdings larger than 167 acres. A total of 11,000 farms are confiscated. Only subsistence farms remain in private hands.


January: Castro visits the Soviet Union and signs a new trade agreement.

July 26: When the Organization of American States (O.A.S.) requires its members to discontinue diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba, Mexico is the only country to refuse.

December: Guevara begins a world tour. He will visit eight African countries and China.


February 26: In a speech in Algiers, Guevara harshly criticizes the Soviet Union. "The socialist countries are, in a way, accomplices of imperialist exploitation."

April: Guevara disappears from view. Speculation as to his whereabouts becomes rampant.

October 3: Cuba inaugurates a new Communist Party and Central Committee. That same day, Fidel Castro reads a letter Guevara had written him the previous May. In it Guevara resigned all his official posts and his Cuban citizenship before leaving to fight in other lands. Months later, defeated and humiliated, Ché Guevara will return secretly to Cuba.

October: Over 3,000 Cubans leave in a boatlift from the port of Camarioca to the U.S.

December 1: An airlift of Cuban refugees to the U.S. begins. It will carry more than 45,000 emigrants in its first year.


January 3-15: At a conference of solidarity with the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America, Fidel Castro proclaims that "revolutionaries in any corner of the world" can count on the assistance of Cuban fighters.

September: After spending months recovering and training in the mountains of Cuba, Ché Guevara leaves for Bolivia to try to spark a continental revolution.

November 2: U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson grants the right to apply for permanent residency to any Cuban who arrived in the U.S. after January 1, 1959. More than 123,000 Cubans apply immediately.

December: Addressing the Federation of Cuban Women, Fidel Castro makes wild promises about his cattle breeding program. He predicts Cuba will produce enough milk to satisfy the demands of the entire population.


Lyndon Baines Johnson talking to Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin June 26: Soviet premier Aleksei Kosygin pays a surprise visit to Havana after meeting with President Johnson. He advises the Cubans that the Soviets will not support wars of national liberation in Latin America. His visit is followed by a letter from Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev warning Castro that the Soviets will not prevent a U.S. invasion if Castro continues fomenting revolution in Latin America.

October 9: After capturing Guevara in Bolivia the day before, U.S.-trained rangers execute the Cuban revolutionary.


January 2: The Cuban government begins rationing petroleum in response to a reduction in supply from the Soviet Union.

January 28: A trial of 37 members of the Cuban Communist Party results in the expulsion of nine members, including Anibal Escalante, for treason. Their "microfactionalist" activities are seen to compromise Cuba's sovereignty.

March 13: Castro takes most of the remaining private Cuban businesses into state control.

June 5: While campaigning for president, U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy is fatally shot in Los Angeles, California.

August 23: Soviet tanks enter Czechoslovakia to suppress the reform efforts of president Anton Dubcek and the resistance movement known as the Prague Spring. Castro takes the side of the U.S.S.R., justifying the intervention.

September 28: In an address to the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution Castro warns "we know the rules of the game." With its enemies "the saboteurs, the worms, the parasites," the revolution would be "harsh, implacable and inflexible." People defined as anti-social -- homosexuals, hippies, artists -- are rounded up. The armed forces magazine Verde Olivo launches a campaign to "cleanse" Cuba's arts and literature of all pernicious foreign influence.


January 2: The Cuban government announces sugar rationing.

July 26: In the latest of Castro's economic schemes, all of Cuba is mobilized and resources diverted to a single goal of producing ten million tons of sugar in the next harvest.

December: A group of volunteer workers from the U.S. arrives to work on the sugar harvest. Other volunteers come from Korea, Vietnam, and the Eastern block countries.


May 19: With the economy in a shambles as all resources -- human and economic -- consumed by the harvest, Castro announces that the largest harvest of sugar in Cuban history has missed its goal by 15 percent.

September 25: The U.S. warns the Soviet Union to discontinue construction of a nuclear submarine base in Cienfuegos.


March 20: The arrest and detention of poet Herberto Padilla for political differences with the Cuban government signals a dangerous crisis between the government and intellectuals.

September: Cuba is accepted as a member of the Non Aligned Movement, a ten-year-old conference of nations created in opposition to the U.S.-Soviet arms race and to Western colonialism.

November 10: On his first visit to a Latin American country since 1959, Castro is welcomed in Chile by President Salvador Allende, a Socialist who had been elected to office in September 1970.


May 3: Castro begins a 63-day tour of Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union.

July 11: Cuba becomes a member of the Soviet Union's trade association, the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance. As many as ten thousand Soviet advisers are now in Cuba. Cuban economic and political institutions are increasingly modeled on those of the Soviet Union. Both Fidel and Raul Castro take the title "General."

Health indexes, which had dropped in the 1960s, begin to rise as a consequence of Cuba's large investments in a health care system.

November 19: Cuba and the U.S. begin negotiations over the problem of airline hijackings. They will sign an anti-hijacking agreement the following February.


April 6: The 8-year Cuban airlift ends. More than 260,000 Cuban refugees have come to the U.S.

September: Fidel attends the Fourth Conference of the Non-aligned Nations in Algiers. He argues that a "natural alliance exists between the Soviet Union and the Third World. "The Non Aligned Movement's theory of two imperialisms ignores the "glorious heroic and extraordinary services rendered to the human race by the Soviet people," he states.

September 11: In Chile, Salvador Allende's government is overthrown by a military coup d'etat. Allende kills himself. On September 13, the Chilean junta breaks relations with Cuba.


Leonid Brezhnev January 28: Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev visits Cuba.

September 11: In Miami, Florida, a group of seven anti-Castro militants forms Omega 7, a terrorist group that will target Cuban governmental representatives or Castro sympathizers in the United States.

September 28: Two U.S. senators visit Cuba, the first U.S. officials to visit since the break in relations.

November: With the goal of re-establishing diplomatic relations, the U.S. State Department conducts high-level secret talks with Cuban officials.


March 1: Secretary of State Henry Kissinger announces the United States is "ready to move in a new direction," normalizing relations with Cuba, and prepared to lift the 15-year-old trade embargo. Following months of secret negotiations, the announcement indicates both nations are on the verge of a breakthrough.

July 28: The Organization of American States ends sanctions against Cuba, allowing member nations to determine their own relations with Cuba.

August 21: The U.S. allows foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to do business in Cuba, and drops penalties to other nations for trade with Cuba.

August: Top members of the Cuban general staff begin appearing in Angola, a mineral-rich Portuguese colony in South West Africa. In Cuba troops hold military training exercises.

November 7: Planeloads of Cuban special troops are sent to Angola, followed by two passenger ships.

November 11: With the military backing of Cubans, the Angolan independence group M.P.L.A. takes over the capital city of Luanda and proclaims Angola's independence from Portugal.

November 20: U.S. intelligence discloses more than eight failed attempts by the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro between the years 1960 and 1965.

December 20: U.S. president Gerald Ford announces that Cuban involvement in Angola will prevent the restoration of full U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations for the near future.


For the first time since the Constitution of 1940, Cuba gets new constitution. It officially becomes a socialist state.

April 5: U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger announces that there is no possibility of normalized U.S.-Cuban relations while Cuba has troops in Africa. By now there are more than 15,000 Soviet-armed Cubans fighting in Angola.

April 30: In Miami, radio commentator Emilio Milán loses both his legs when a bomb explodes in his car. Milán serves as news director at WQBA radio, and hosts the popular show Habla el Pueblo ("The People Speak"). He will later assert that he was attacked because of his public opposition to terrorism.

October 6: A Cuban airliner crashes after an explosion near Barbados, killing 73 people. Luis Posada Carrilles, an anti-Castro activist trained by the CIA, is charged with the bombing.

1958-1976 | 1977-2004  

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