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The events and policies which have shaped the 40-year U.S.-Cuba
confrontation

January 1
1959
Under the command of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro's forces overtake General Fulgencia Batista's troops near Santa Clara in central Cuba. It's the last battleground in the revolution against the dictator who had ruled Cuba since 1952. Batista flees to the Dominican Republic. Castro's revolutionary forces assume control in Havana and Castro becomes commander-in-chief of the provisional government's armed forces. Six days later, the United States recognizes the new Cuban government, which already has been recognized by several other countries.
May 17
1959
The Cuban government enacts the Agrarian Reform Law which limits land ownership to 1,000 acres (with the exception of a limit of 3,333 acres for land used for livestock, sugar, or rice production). The government expropriates all other land. At the time this law is enacted, foreigners were owners of 75 percent of Cuba's arable land and five U.S. sugar companies owned or controlled more than 2 million acres.
March 17
1960
President Eisenhower secretly orders CIA Director Allen Dulles to train Cuban exiles for an invasion of Cuba.
July 5
1960
All U.S. business/commercial property in Cuba is nationalized at the direction of the Cuban government. Additionally, by the end of October 1960, all other American-owned property in Cuba is nationalized.
October 19
1960
U.S. imposes an economic embargo on Cuba prohibiting all exports except foodstuffs, medicines, medical supplies, and a few other items that require special licenses. Imports are still allowed.
December
1960-1962
James Baker, the headmaster of Havana's elite Ruston Academy, enlists Miami's archdiocese in Operation Pedro Pan - an airlift to help get children out of Cuba. When the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis terminates all flights out of Cuba, Operation Pedro Pan ends.  But by then over 14,000 Cuban boys and girls age 6 to 17 had been brought to the U.S.
April 16
1961
For the first time, Prime Minister Castro defines the Cuban revolution as socialist: " ... we have made a revolution, a socialist revolution, right here under the very nose of the United States."
April 17
1961
U.S.-supported Cuban exiles invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Immediately after they land, Castro calls a national alert. In the early morning, two of the U.S.-furnished ships are sunk by Cuban planes. The invasion fails to gain the internal support that the CIA anticipated. Two days later, Prime Minister Castro claims victory.
February 7
1962
The U.S. government bans all Cuban imports and re-export of U.S. products to Cuba from other countries. Also, the U.S. cuts off aid to any country that "furnishes assistance" to Cuba.
September 26
1962
Congress passes a joint resolution whereby the president has the right to intervene militarily in Cuba if U.S. interests are threatened.
October 2
1962
The U.S. government again tightens the embargo. All ports are closed to nations that allow their ships to carry arms to Cuba, and ships that have docked in a socialist country are prohibited from docking in the United States during that voyage. The transport of U.S. goods is banned on ships owned by companies that trade with Cuba.
October 22
1962
With CIA reports that the Soviet Union is constructing sites for intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Cuba, the U.S. evacuates all non-essential personnel from the U.S. Guantánamo Naval Base in Cuba. At 7 p.m. EST, President Kennedy speaks on national television and announces that there are nuclear missile sites in Cuba and he has ordered a naval blockade of the island.
October 26
1962
In a secret communication, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agrees not to break the U.S. blockade and offers to withdraw Soviet missiles from Cuba if the United States pledges not to invade Cuba and agrees to remove its Jupiter missiles from Turkey. The next day at noon, Cuba downs an American U-2 plane, killing the pilot. That same day, President Kennedy writes Kruschev and tells him that the U.S. will not invade Cuba if the Russian missiles are removed from Cuba. Privately, U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy informs the Soviet Union it will withdraw U.S. missiles from Turkey once the crisis ends. Two days later on October 28, the worst of the Missile Crisis ends when Radio Moscow announces that the Soviet Union has accepted the proposed solution, and has agreed to remove its missiles from Cuba. Premier Khrushchev's letter to President Kennedy is broadcast.
July 8
1963
The Kennedy Administration once again tightens the embargo and makes most travel to Cuba illegal for U.S. citizens. All Cuban-owned assets in the United States are frozen, including an estimated $33 million in U.S. banks.
October 3
1965
President Johnson signs a new immigration law, saying, "I declare ... to the people of Cuba that those who seek refuge here in America will find it." He plans to ask Congress for an additional $12.6 million.
October
1965
After Castro announces at rally in Havana in September that Cubans who want to leave for the U.S. could depart from the port of Camarioca, more than 3,000 Cubans leave in a boatlift from Camarioca to the U.S. The boatlift is halted by the Cuban government in early November.
November 6
1965
Cuba and the U.S. formally agree to start an airlift for Cubans who want to go to the United States. This signifies the onset of the Freedom Flights program, which enables 250,000 Cubans to come to the U.S. by 1971.
May
1966
Congress outlaws food shipments to any country that sells or ships goods to Cuba, except in certain circumstances.
November 2
1966
President Johnson signs into law the Cuban Adjustment Act. Any Cubans that have reached U.S. territory since January 1, 1959, will be eligible for permanent residency after two years of residency in the U.S. Nearly 123,000 Cubans are able to apply immediately.
September 8
1969
Cuba expels the Associated Press correspondent, Fenton Wheeler, who has been in Cuba the past two years. In retaliation, Washington prohibits Cuban news bureaus in the U.S., except for those on UN property.
February 15
1973
U.S. and Cuba sign anti-hijacking agreement, the only formal agreement between the two countries. But Cuba formally revokes the agreement four years later.
July 10
1974
The embargo is loosened to allow the import of low-value gifts. In addition, the U.S. Treasury Department eases travel-related restrictions. Scholars and journalists with passports validated by the State Department may now pay for expenses incurred while travelling in Cuba.
September 28
1974
Senators Jacob Javits (R-New York) and Claiborne Pell (D-Rhode Island) travel to Havana to meet with Castro. It's the first visit to Cuba by elected officials of the U.S. government since diplomatic relations were severed in 1961.
November
1974
Assistant Secretary of State William Rogers and Assistant to the Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger conduct secret normalization talks with Cuban officials in Washington and New York. The talks end over Cuba's support for the Marxist revolution in Angola.
August 21
1975
U.S. announces modifications to the Cuba trade embargo. Subsidies of U.S. companies in third countries are allowed to trade with Cuban and the. State Department announces that it will no longer withhold aid from countries that trade with Cuba. Still, direct U.S.-Cuba trade is banned.
December 20
1975
President Ford says that Cuban involvement in Angola and in support of the Puerto Rican independence movement is preventing efforts to improve relations. Two days later, Castro declares continued support for revolutionary movements in Angola and Puerto Rico.
February 15
1976
Cubans vote to approve their first socialist Constitution.
March 18
1977
U.S. government lifts prohibition on travel to Cuba and allows U.S. citizens to spend $100 on Cuban goods during their visits.
April and May
1977
The United States and Cuba sign agreements on fishing rights and maritime boundaries.

The two countries also agree to open "interests sections" in each other's capitals.

January 9
1978
The U.S. Treasury Department allows U.S. residents to provide relatives in Cuba with no more than $500 in any three-month period.
November-December
1978
The Committee of 75, a group of Cubans chosen to negotiate with the Cuban government on behalf of the estimated 1.2 million Cubans outside the island, and Cuban officials hold the first of two negotiating sessions in Havana. This marks the beginning of "The Dialogue." At its second negotiating session, the "Dialogue" results in agreement on three issues: Cuba will release 3,600 prisoners in toto; most of whom are political prisoners. Cuba also will help reunite separated families. And Cubans abroad will be able to visit relatives.
July
1979
Cuban-supported Sandinistas overthrow the government of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua.
October
1979
President Carter issues Presidential Directive 52, which outlines plans to isolate Cuba by raising charges of human rights violations and focusing on Cuba's close relations with the Soviet Union.
April
1980
Twelve Cubans seeking asylum crash a minibus through the gates of the Peruvian Embassy in Havana. The Peruvian chargé d'affaires announces that anyone who wants to, can enter, leading to an overflow crowd of several thousand Cubans who seek asylum. On April 22, Granma, the official state newspaper of the Cuban government, announces that anyone who wants to leave may depart by boat from Mariel, a port 25 miles from Havana. A flotilla of refugees (eventually numbering 125,000) begins an exodus for the U.S. The U.S. government classifies those who leave as "Entrants - Status Undetermined" and interns them until they are claimed by relatives.
May
1980
President Carter declares a state of emergency in regions of Florida affected by the influx of Cuban refugees. Carter demands that the Cuban government impose an orderly departure and orders a blockade to prevent private boats from traveling to Cuba to pick up refugees.
June 7
1980
President Carter orders the Justice Department to expel Cubans who committed "serious crimes" in Cuba. In December, the first of several meetings occurs between U.S. and Cuban officials to discuss the repatriation of the Marielitos.
September 26
1980
Cuba ends the boatlift from Mariel.
February 23
1980
The U.S. State Department releases a "White Paper" claiming that documents prove that Cuba and other socialist countries are engaged in indirect armed aggression against El Salvador's government.
December 1
1981
President Reagan secretly authorizes the CIA to support operations against leftist insurgents in Central America. Some CIA funds are earmarked for the "contras,"an armed force--initially comprising 500 Latin Americans, later joined by 1,000 other mercenaries trained mostly by Argentina in Honduras--to overthrow the new Nicaraguan government, which is supported by Cuba.
January 15
1982
The INS deports a Cuban emigré for the first time since the 1959 revolution, saying that Andrés Rodríguez Hernández hadn't sufficiently proven a fear of persecution.
April 9
1982
Charter air links between Miami and Havana are halted by the U.S. government. Ten days later, the U.S. government reinstitutes the travel ban, announcing that U.S. citizens are prohibited from making monetary expenditures incidental to travel in Cuba.
May 24
1983
Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Enders meets with Ramón Sánchez Parodi, the head of the Cuban Interests Section, to request that Cuba take back nearly 800 Marielitos who are imprisoned at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta.
October
1983
The U.S. sends troops to Grenada, following a leftist coup and the discovery that Cubans are being used to build an airstrip that could have been used for military aircraft. The U.S. Senate amends a debt-ceiling measure, urging President Reagan to hold Cuban prisoners at Grenada until Cuba agrees to take back Marielitos.
December 14
1984
The United States and Cuba conclude a migration pact under which Cuba agrees to accept the return of Marielitos.
May 20
1985
After Congress passes legislation in support of operating Radio Martí, an anti-Castro station named after Cuban patriot Jose Marti, the station begins broadcasting to Cuba. The Cuban government immediately jams the signal.
June
1985
After Castro suspends the 1984 U.S.-Cuban immigration agreement, in which Cuba agreed to accept the return of Marielitos from the 1980 boatlift, the U.S. Department of State announces that no Cuban immigrants will be accepted after June 18.
October
1986
Marine Lt. Colonel Oliver North, who played a key role in the Iran-contra affair, keeps notes about paying $5,000 to any contra who captures a Cuban or Sandinista officer in Nicaragua, and the contra leadership would receive $200,000 for every five such captives. The House-Senate report on the Iran-contra affair, released in November 1987, details the bounties. The money to pay the bounties would come from arms sales to Iran.
November 19
1987
The United States and Cuba conclude a new immigration pact that reinstates the 1984 agreement in which Cuba agreed to accept the return of Marielitos.
January 26
1990
Cuban television starts broadcasting "CNN World Report," a weekly CNN news series. Cuba is one of the first countries to sign on to broadcast this report.
March 23
1990
The U.S. launches its first test of TV Marti. After broadcasting to Cuba for three hours, it is jammed by the Cuban government.
July 29
1991
The U.S. Department of State halts new applications for U.S. tourist visas in Havana, blaming it on a backlog created by Cuba's decision to lower the age limit for travel.
May 13
1992
The General Accounting Office, the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress, issues a report saying that TV Martí appears to be a waste of taxpayers' money and is not presenting balanced programming.
October 15
1992
Congress passes the Cuban Democracy Act, sponsored by Representative Robert Torricelli (D-New Jersey) in the House of Representatives and Senator Bob Graham (D-Florida) in the U.S. Senate. The legislation, commonly known as the Torricelli Bill, prohibits foreign-based subsidiaries of U.S. companies from trading with Cuba, travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens, and family remittances to Cuba. The law allows private groups to deliver food and medicine to Cuba.
November 6
1993
Cuba announces it is opening state enterprises to private investment.
August
1994
Following Castro's declaration of an open migration policy, a new boat lift begins. 30,000 refugees set sail from Cuba, mostly from Havana and Cojímar west of Havana. A U.S. Coast Guard blockade prevents additional seaborne migrations. Attorney General Janet Reno announces that authorities will seize Cuba-bound vessels intending to pick up emigrants and all U.S. citizens involved in such activities will be prosecuted. Finally, President Clinton, ending the 35-year-old open-door policy for Cubans, orders the Coast Guard to intercept Cuban emigrants at sea and transport them to Guantánamo Naval Base.
September 9
1994
The U.S. and Cuba issue a joint communiqué agreeing to take measures to ensure that migration between the two countries is safe, legal, and orderly. The U.S. agrees that total legal migration to the U.S. will be a minimum of 20,000 per year.
May 2
1995
The U.S. and Cuba issue a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to promote safe, legal, and orderly migration. Under this accord, Cubans interdicted at sea or who enter the Guantánamo Naval Base illegally are returned to Cuba provided that they do not have any protection concerns.
October 5
1995
President Clinton announces measures to expand people-to-people contacts between the U.S. and Cuba and to allow U.S. non-governmental organizations to fund projects in Cuba.
February
1996
Cuban MIGs shoot down in international airspace two civilian aircraft belonging to the Miami-based group Brothers to the Rescue. Three U.S. citizens and one Cuban resident of the U.S. are killed. President Clinton declares Cuba's government "repressive, violent, and scornful of international law" and announces punitive measures against Cuba for the MiG attack on the two civilian planes. The president suspends charter travel to Havana and asks Congress to approve legislation to use a portion of the $100 million in frozen Cuban assets in the U.S. to compensate the families of the victims.
March 12
1996
President Clinton signs the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act, also known as the Helms-Burton Act. The law enacts penalties on foreign companies doing business in Cuba, permits U.S. citizens to sue foreign investors who make use of American-owned property seized by the Cuban government, and denies entry into the U.S. to such foreign investors. The legislation also bans U.S. imports of sugar from any foreign country that buys sugar or molasses from Cuba, reduces U.S. aid to Russia and other former Soviet republics unless their aid to Cuba is cut, and reduces American contributions to the World Bank and other financial institutions if they administer loans to Cuba.
July 16
1996
President Clinton suspends enforcement of specific Title III provisions of the Helms-Burton Act, which permits suits to be filed in U.S. courts against foreign investors who are profiting from U.S.-claimed confiscated property. Title III itself is allowed to go into effect on Aug. 1.
November 13
1996
The annual vote in the UN General Assembly on the U.S. embargo of Cuba takes place. This time, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands cast their ballots against the United States. It's the first time the allies have voted for the U.S. to end its three-decade economic embargo of Cuba. Press reports cite the allies' anger over the Helms-Burton law. Canada already had announced retaliatory measures against the Helms-Burton law.
January 3
1997
President Clinton again suspends the provisions of Title III in the Helms-Burton Act which permit suits to be filed in U.S. courts against foreign investors who are profiting from U.S.-claimed confiscated property. In doing so, he points to progress made under the U.S.-led multilateral initiative to promote democratic change in Cuba. In the next two years, he will suspend those same Title III provisions six times.
February 12
1997
The Administration approves licenses for U.S. news organizations to open bureaus in Cuba. Only CNN is allowed in by the Cuban Government.
April 11
1997
The EU agrees to suspend its World Trade Organization (WTO) case against the Helms-Burton Act and other components of the U.S. legislation. The U.S. and EU agree to work together to develop binding international disciplines to deter investment in confiscated property. U.S. agrees to seek presidential waiver authority for Title IV of the Helms-Burton Act if such disciplines are developed and adhered to.
January 21-25
1998
Pope John Paul II visits Cuba.
March 20
1998
The Clinton Administration announces new measures to support the people of Cuba and to strengthen their ties to U.S. citizens. Once again, direct flights are allowed between Havana and Miami, and Cuban Americans are allowed to send up to $300 every three months to island relatives through licensed brokers.
July 15
1998
The U.S. Coast Guard announces that almost all of Florida's coast is a "security zone." Under the new policy, all boats less than 150 feet in length making trips to Cuba must obtain a permit from the nearest Coast Guard station, or risk a $10,000 fine and/or 10 years in jail.
November 12
1998
Thirty years after it was kicked out of Cuba, The Associated Press, the world's oldest news service, receives approval to reopen its Havana bureau.
January 5
1999
The Clinton Administration announces additional measures to loosen the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Government officials say the measures are designed to help Cuban people without aiding the government of Fidel Castro. According to the new rules, anyone in the U.S. can send up to $1,200 a year to any individual or group in Cuba.
June 29
1999
The U.S. Coast Guard tries to stop six Cuban refugees from reaching American soil. Reports surface that the Coast Guard used force to deny entry.
July 21
1999
Cuba announces that it will fine owners and operators of boats used to illegally transport Cubans to the United States.
November 25
1999
to June
2000
On Thanksgiving Day, six year-old Elian Gonzalez is found in the Straits of Florida clinging to an inner tube. His mother had drowned, as did 11 others in the raft. They were fleeing Cuba. Over the next six months U.S. relations with Cuba are tested during the bitter struggle over returning Elian to his father in Cuba. Cuban exiles in Miami lead the battle to keep Elian in the U.S. [See chronology on the Elian saga.]
April 5
2000
The ACLU files a suit against Miami-Dade County, contesting its law that withholds money from cultural groups which promote art and entertainment from Cuba. I
December 12
2000
U.S. and Cuban officials begin another round of talks on immigration issues.


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