History of Cuba

The history of Cuba begins with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492 and has largely marked by strained relationships with the United States.

Christopher Columbus

After Columbus arrived, Spanish conquest followed under the guise of Diego Valesquez, a move that brought on the eradication of the native Cuban population as a result of European diseases. The 1800’s brought on a large sugarcane industry in Cuba, which fueled the African slave trade in the country.

In 1878, Cubans would revolt against the Spanish government in what would be called the Ten Years War. The result of this uprising would be the abolishment of slavery in 1886.

The Cuban writer Joes Mari would lead another revolt against Spain aided by the US government. This resulted in the Spanish American War and the setting up of an independent republic of Cuba in 1899.

Presence of US Government in Cuba

The US Government would remain a presence in Cuba until 1902 when Estrada Palma was elected as the first President. Another revolution would follow when Fulgencio Batista, a Cuban military leader, would overthrow the government of Gerardo Machado in 1933. Batista became President in 1940 and is know for his installation of a police state.

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro’s rise marks the next period in the history of Cuba. Aided by his brother Raul and the Argentinean revolutionary Che Guevara, Castro started a 1956 guerrilla war against Batista.

In 1959 the US withdrew aid to Batista, and the ruler went into exile. Castro took over as President and would begin his rule by silencing his opposition.  

This move angered the US, leading to the severing of ties with Cuba in 1961. Castro’s response was to align with the Soviet Union, a move that would fuel the Cold War and the exodus of many Cubans. In 1961 US President John F. Kennedy launched a failed secret mission to overthrow Castro’s government known as the Bay of Pigs. 

The Cuban missile crisis

The US became alert when the USSR planned to use Cuba as a missile staging point in 1962, leading to what would be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The history of Cuba would continue to be defined by soured relationships with the US. 

The remaining period of the history of Cuba would involve the country leading communist revolutions around the world aided by the Soviet Union. 

However, when Russian Communism fell in 1990, all economic support for Cuba ended as well and economic hardship has befallen the country ever since. 

In 2006, Castro contracted cancer and handed the presidency over to his brother Raul, a move that would solidify in 2008 with Castro’s official retirement.

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