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International Bicycle Fund

History Outline: Cuba

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1000 BC Siboneys, indigenous Americans from Central and South America
1400 Tainos, Arawak Indians from Orinoco basin, Venezuela. Farming and pottery and dominated Siboney.
1492 Christopher Columbus saw Cuba on October 27 - Europeans learn of tobacco.
1511 Diego Valasquez disembarks with 300 men near Guantanamo Bay, establishes the first town at Baracoa.
1512 Main resistance to Spanish from Hatuey from Hispanola, who warned of Spanish atrocities there. He preferred death by fire to conversion to Christianity. He was burned at the stake near Manzanillo.
1514 After a swift and cruel campaign Spain controlled Cuba.
1522 First slave ships arrive.
1530 Indian uprising at Bayamo, Oriente.
1534 The first sugar mill opens.
1561 Spain establish Havana as the assembly point for its silver fleet. Pirate attacks begin.
1600 Spanish exploited Cuba's gold and moved on.
1607 Havana replaces Santiago de Cuba as Capital.
1662 Slave trade begins in earnest.
1762 British capture heavily fortified Havana and opened Cuba to trade with world, changing its history.
1763 British trade Havana for Florida.
1791 Revolt in French Hispanola (Haiti) destroyed sugar industry, Cuba became Caribbean largest sugar exporter. 30,000 French planters flee to Cuba.
1812 Aponte Uprising of black slaves.
1818 Royal degree opened Cuban ports to free international trade.
1819 Carlos Manuel de Cespedes is born in Bayamo, Oriente. He trains as a lawyer and is inspired by Thomas Jefferson's ideas on liberty.
1837 Cuba lays first railroad. The first in Latin America.
1840 Cuban born Spanish, criollo, resented the power of Spanish elite, peninsulars, both groups fear the blacks, 40% of pop.
1848 Over three year period, Narcisco Lopez, former soldier in Spanish army, leads three failed invasions of Cuba, with aim of annexing the island to the US.
1853 Jose Marti is born in Havana. He was writing poems and essays against the Spanish at age 15.
1868 Carlos Manuel de Cespedes freed slaves, 10 Oct, on his La Demajagua plantation near Manzanillo, starting Ten Year War, first liberation war. The first battle was at Yara, commanded by Maximo Gomez and Antonio Maceo.
1870 Jose Marti exiled to Spain and moved to U.S.A. Advocated racial equality.
1874 Cespedes dies in Spanish ambush.
1878 Rebels capitulated when "criollo" (Cuban born Spanish) withdrew support to army of peasants and blacks. 250,000 died, sugar industry destroyed.
1886 Cuban abolition of slavery
1892 Jose Marti founds the Cuban Revolutionary Party in Florida.
1895 Jose Marti convinces Maceo and Gomez to start new armed struggle east of Guantanamo, 24 Feb. Jose Marti is shot dead 19 May.
1896 90% of sugar and a majority of other export go to US.
1897 Liberation army push west exhausting Spanish force five time its size and is on the verge of victory.
1898 USS Maine sinks in Havana Harbor, Feb, two months later the US declares war against Spain.
1898 Treaty of Paris, 10 Dec, Spain transfers sovereignty of Cuba to US.
1901 Provisions known as the Platt Amendment are incorporated into the Cuban Constitution, thereby making Cuba essentially a protectorate of the United States.
1902 Cuba declared a Republic, 20 May, and US troops withdraw, except Guantanamo Bay.
1924 Gerardo Machado elected President on slogan of "honesty in government," later introduced Cuba's first brutal military dictatorship.
1927 Fidel Castro Ruz born in Oriente, attended Catholic school.
1928 Ernesto "Che" Guevara de la Serna born in Argentina. He trains to be a doctor.
1933 Communist called general strike, Marchado fell to militant students and dissatisfied Sgt. Fulgencio Batista. Three months later Col. Batista staged military coup.
1934 Batista enjoyed initial popularity and implemented one of the most progressive constitutions in Latin America.
1934 The Platt Amendment is repealed, although the United States maintains control of Guantanamo Bay naval base.
1940 Batista elected President with help of Communists.
1944 Batista looses to Ramon Grau and goes into "voluntary exile," purportedly with millions of dollars.
1945 Fidel enters Univ. of Havana.
1948 Carlos Prio elected President. Corruption and oppression increases.
1952 Batista returned from exile and staged coup, 10 March, and imposed harshest dictatorship yet. While misery reigned in the countryside Havana glittered.
1953 Fidel Castro and 125 militants attacked Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba, 26 Dec. Few survived. Castro stood trial and was sentenced to 15 years.
1955 Fidel and other rebels granted amnesty. Castro leaves for Mexico city, where he meets "Che" Guevara.
1956 Cabin cruiser "Granma" brings Fidel and 81 revolutionaries from Mexico to Cuba, Dec.
1957 Fidel, his brother Raul and about 13 others make it to Pico Turquino in the Sierra Maestra, west of Santiago, and recruited 2000 peasants. Fidel promises free election.
1958 26 of July Movement agitated in the cities. Mid-year Batista launches offensive against rebels - a fiasco. Fidel counter attacks and sends two columns towards Havana.
1959 U.S. right-wing dictator, Batista, flees to Dominican Republic (New Years Eve). Fidel Castro arrives in Havana 8 Jan 1959. Government suspends constitution.
1960 Cuba nationalizes U.S. corporate assets and sign sugar-for-oil deal with USSR. US cut Cuba sugar quota, then cancelled purchase and prohibited most exports to Cuba, except food and medicine.
1961 U.S. breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba (Jan 3).  Bay of Pigs fiasco, 1200 of 1500 captured (April 16). Captives exchanged for US$50 million. Castro embraces Marxism-Leninism and declares Cuba a socialist workers state.
1962 At U.S. prompting, the Organization of American States suspends communist Cuba from the hemispheric body. (Jan)
Full U.S. trade embargo imposed on Cuba. (Feb 7), including ban on travel.

Cuban missile crisis (The "October Crisis" in Cuba) brings world to the brink of nuclear war.  Russia withdraws missiles after U.S. naval quarantine.  (Oct-Nov)
1965 End of six-years of exit visas for counter-revolutionaries. About a half-million wealthy Cubans leave.
Che leaves cabinet for South America. He is killed in Bolivia in 1967.
Establishment of labor camps for the rehabilitation of "social deviants," particularly homosexuals, dissident intellectuals and Catholics.
1968 Establishment of a classless society becomes a Government objective.
1970 Effort to produce 10-million tons of sugar fails, bailout from USSR averts economic crisis.
1975 First Parrido Communista de Cuba (PCC) congress convened.
The United States announces that it will allow foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to sell in Cuba. It will also stop penalizing other foreign nations from doing business with Cuba.
1976 New constitution and assemblies of People's Power approved.
1977 Washington and Havana reestablish limited diplomatic relations (President Carter's administration) (Sept 1). President Carter lifts the travel and spending ban for U.S. citizens.
1978 Cuban exiles in Miami are allowed to return to Cuba to visit relatives.
1980 Unrest becomes widespread among the population. Castro relaxes emigration restrictions, allows 125,000 Cubans to leave country in what became known as the Mariel boatlift. (April-Sept)
1981 Newly elected President Ronald Reagan announces a tightening of the embargo. The following year, the Reagan Administration re-establishes the travel and spending ban for U.S. citizens.
1986 Rectification of Errors ends brief experiment with private enterprise.
1988 Peace accord 15 years of Cuban involvement in Angola.
1989 Trail and execution of General Ochoa heralds clampdown on those in favor of perestroika-style reforms.
1990 USSR collapses and aid comes to an end, heralding the start of chronic food and fuel shortages -- "the Special Period in Peace Time."
1991 4th PCC Congress decides to admits Catholics into party for the first time.
1992 The Cuban Democracy Act passes in Congress (Torricelli law) and President George Bush signs bill to tighten embargo on Cuba; prohibiting foreign-based subsidiaries of U.S. companies from trading with Cuba and blocks family remittances from the United States to Cuba.  (Oct 23)  Cuba  faces a severe economic crisis since collapse of the Soviet bloc.
1993 The US dollar is legalized and economic reforms initiated.
1994 The economic situation worsens. Riots in Havana (Jun 8). 30000 "balseros" (raftmen) leave Cuba in homemade rafts for Miami. US tightens immigration laws. Washington and Havana sign migration accord to stem exodus and agree minimum of 20,000 U.S. visas per year for Cubans. (Aug-Sept)
1996 Cuban fighters shoot down two small U.S. planes in the Florida Straits belonging to Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue. Four crew members killed. (Feb 24)
President Bill Clinton signs the Helms-Burton Act, which makes the Cuban embargo law, but more importantly allows U.S. businesses and citizens to sue foreign investors who profit from expropriated U.S. assets seized by the Cuban government (March 12)
1998 Pope visits Cuba (Jan). President Clinton relaxes some sanctions.
2000 After bitter seven-month custody dispute, which prompted furious campaigns by Havana and Miami exiles, motherless Cuban shipwreck survivor 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez flies home to live with his father. (June 28)
President Clinton relaxes the trade ban to allow the sale of agriculture and medicine to Cuba for humanitarian purposes. (Oct 28)
2002 President George W. Bush, backed by Castro's exiled opponents in Florida, vows to veto any further easing of sanctions and to step up support for political change in Cuba. May 20)
2003 Castro threatens to shut down U.S. Interests Section in Havana, calling it a breeding ground for dissidents. (March 16)
Castro launches biggest political crackdown in decades, jailing 75 dissidents for terms of up to 28 years for collaborating with Washington to undermine his one-party state. (March 18)
U.S. releases hijackers of two Cuban planes on bail. (late March)
Cuba executes three men who hijacked a commuter ferry in a failed bid to reach the Florida. (April 11)
U.S. expels 14 Cuban diplomats. (May 13)
2004 The Cuban government bans transactions in US dollars.
2005 The U.S. Treasury Department issues a rule requiring Cuba to pay for U.S. imports up front.
2006 The Bush Administration suspends operations of remittance agencies to Cuba as part of its intensifying economic war against the communist country and further restricts travel and association by US citizen. (June 5)
Fidel Castro turns over power to his brother Raúl due to an emergency surgery. It is the first time that Fidel is known to have ceded power since he won control of Cuba in 1959. (Aug 1)
2008 Fidel Castro resigns as President of Cuba. Raúl is elected President by the National Assembly.
2014 U.S. President Barack Obama and Raúl Castro re-establish diplomatic ties between the two countries.
2016 U.S. President Barack Obama is the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba in more than 88 years.
2016 Fidel Castro dies.

Cuba: Library of Contemporary Issues

Bibliography on Cuba.

Cuba People-to-People Bicycle Program

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