Chronology of U.S.-Cuba Relations
1775–83: The 13 North American colonies rebel against Great Britain and establish the United States, thereby encouraging increased commerce between the newly independent nation and Cuba.
1818: Spain opens Cuban ports for international trade, especially with the United States.
1823: Secretary of State John Quincy Adams writes a letter to U.S. Minister to Spain Hugh Nelson, describing the likelihood of U.S. annexation of Cuba within half a century.
1848–51: The Venezuelan-born general Narciso López, based in the United States, organizes three abortive filibustering expeditions to liberate Cuba from Spain. The Spanish government executes López and 51 members of his last expedition in August 1851.
1851: An annexationist uprising led by Joaquín de Agüero in Puerto Príncipe (present-day Camagüey) is suppressed in May. Another rebellion led by Isidoro Armenteros in Trinidad is put down in July.
1854: U.S. diplomats propose to purchase Cuba from Spain for $130 million in a secret document known as the Ostend Manifesto.
1868: The first Cuban war of independence from Spain, known as the Ten Years' War, begins. Thousands of émigrés from the island resettle in the United States.
1875: Carlos Manuel de Céspedes is elected the first Cuban mayor in Key West.
1886: Ybor City is founded near Tampa, Florida, attracting many Cuban cigar workers.
1892: The Cuban journalist, poet, and patriot José Martí founds the Cuban Revolutionary Party in New York City.
1895: The second Cuban war of independence begins.
1898: In February, the USS Maine explodes in Havana Harbor. In April, the United States declares war against Spain. The Spanish-American War ends in August. In December, Spain relinquishes control of Cuba (as well as Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam) through the Treaty of Paris.
1899: The United States commences the formal military occupation of Cuba on January 1st.
1900: A constituent assembly convenes to prepare a new constitution in Cuba.
1901: In February, the United States enacts the Platt Amendment, stating that it may intervene militarily in Cuba to defend U.S. interests, and requires the Cuban constituent assembly to incorporate the statute into the new constitution. In June, the constituent assembly adopts the Platt Amendment by a vote of 16 to 11, with four abstentions.
1902: On May 20, the United States ends the military occupation of Cuba, formally inaugurating the Cuban republic.
1903: The United States and Cuba sign three treaties. The Permanent Treaty enacts the Platt Amendment into a formal treaty relationship. A second accord, the Reciprocity Treaty, concedes a 20 percent concession to Cuban agricultural products entering the U.S. market in exchange for reductions between 20 to 40 percent on U.S. imports. In the third agreement, Cuba leases the sites of Bahía Honda and Guantánamo to the United States. A naval base is constructed in Guantánamo.
1904: Cuba and the United States sign the Hay-Quesada Treaty, which recognizes Cuba's ownership of the Isle of Pines.
1906–9: The U.S. military occupies Cuba to put down an insurrection and governs the island through a provisional government.
1912: In May, U.S. military forces suppress an armed rebellion by Afro-Cubans in Oriente province to protect U.S. property. In December, the United States cedes its rights over Bahía Honda in exchange for larger facilities in Guantánamo Bay.
1925: The U.S. Senate ratifies the Hay-Quesada Treaty.
1928: President Gerardo Machado unconstitutionally extends his reelection term to six years, provoking armed insurrections.
1930: The U.S. Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act reduces the Cuban share of the U.S. sugar market, exacerbating economic conditions on the island.
1933: The United States dispatches Ambassador Sumner Welles to mediate between the Machado government and the opposition. A general strike in August brings the crisis to a climax, with a military coup ousting Machado and installing Carlos Manuel de Céspedes as president. In September, the "Sergeants' Revolt," led by Fulgencio Batista, overthrows the Céspedes administration and aids the establishment of a new provisional government headed by Ramón Grau San Martín.
1934: In January, Batista overthrows the Grau San Martín government and briefly installs Carlos Hevia and Manuel Márquez Sterling as presidents, and later Carlos Mendieta. In May, the United States abrogates the Platt Amendment.
1952: Batista deposes President Carlos Prío Socarrás, cancels the constitution, and suspends elections.
1953: On July 26, Fidel Castro leads an unsuccessful revolt against the Batista regime, attacking the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba.
1956: Castro lands in eastern Cuba from Mexico and takes to the Sierra Maestra mountains where, aided by Ernesto "Che" Guevara, he wages a guerrilla war.
1958: In March, Raúl Castro establishes guerrilla operations on a second front in the Sierra Cristal mountains in northern Oriente province. In the same month, the United States imposes an arms embargo against the Batista government.
1959: On New Year's Eve, Batista leaves Cuba with his closest associates. A general strike in early January forces the military government to relinquish power to the 26th of July Movement. On January 7, the United States recognizes the new Cuban government. On January 8, Fidel Castro arrives in Havana. The following month, Castro becomes Prime Minister. In May, the Cuban government approves an agrarian reform law.
1960: In July, the Cuban government nationalizes all U.S. businesses without compensation. In October, the United States imposes a partial trade embargo of Cuba. In December, Operation Pedro Pan begins, bringing 14,048 unaccompanied Cuban children to the United States until the end of the operation in October 1962.
1961: In January, the United States breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba. In February, the United States establishes the Cuban Refugee Program. In April, the Bay of Pigs (Playa Girón) invasion fails and 1,197 exiles are taken prisoner in Cuba. In May, Fidel Castro declares that Cuba is a socialist state.
1962: In February, the United States extends its embargo to all trade with Cuba. The Cuban missile crisis takes place in October, when the United States confirms that Fidel Castro allowed the Soviet Union to deploy nuclear missiles on the island. The crisis is resolved when the Soviet Union removes the missiles in return for the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear missiles from Turkey. Between January 1959 and October 1962, when all commercial flights between Havana and Miami are suspended, 248,070 persons flee the island for the United States.
1965: In September, Castro announces that any Cuban wishing to leave for the United States may do so through the port of Camarioca. Between October 10 and November 15, a total of 2,979 Cubans make it to the United States. The boatlift leads to the establishment of an air bridge between Varadero and Miami, known as "Freedom Flights" in the United States.
1966: The U.S. Congress approves the Cuban Adjustment Act, allowing Cubans to be admitted for permanent residence in the United States.
1973: The "Freedom Flights" end, after bringing 260,561 Cubans to the United States.
1977: The United States and Cuba establish limited diplomatic relations by opening interests sections in Washington and Havana.
1978: A group of 75 Cuban exiles meets with representatives of the Cuban government in Havana to negotiate the release of political prisoners, family reunification, and travel to the island.
1980: The Mariel boatlift results in the emigration of 125,266 Cubans to Florida.
1982: The U.S. Department of State adds Cuba to its list of states sponsoring international terrorism.
1983: The U.S. armed intervention in Grenada results in the capture and arrest of nearly 700 Cuban construction workers and soldiers.
1984: Cuba and the United States sign a wide-ranging immigration agreement, under which Cuba agrees to accept the return of 2,746 Mariel emigrants with criminal records, deemed "excludable aliens" by the United States. In turn, the United States agrees to admit up to 20,000 Cuban immigrants per year.
1985: The United States inaugurates Radio Martí broadcasts to Cuba. Havana responds by suspending the immigration agreement with the United States and family visits to Cuba.
1992: The U.S. Congress enacts the Torricelli bill (Cuban Democracy Act of 1992), increasing trade sanctions against Cuba by prohibiting U.S. subsidiaries in third countries from trading with the island.
1993: The Cuban government legalizes the use of the U.S. dollar by Cuban citizens, along with the Cuban peso, thus beginning a dual currency system on the island.
1994: Between August 13 and September 13, the U.S. Coast Guard detains 30,879 Cubans attempting to leave the island during the balsero crisis. They are initially detained at the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay before gaining entry into the United States. In September, Havana and Washington sign an agreement whereby the United States will issue 20,000 immigrant visas annually to Cubans, and in return Cuba pledges to control undocumented immigration.
1995: President Bill Clinton announces that the U.S. Coast Guard will repatriate Cubans interdicted at sea, thus beginning the "wet foot/dry foot" policy.
1996: In February, Cuban air force fighters shoot down two civilian aircraft flown by the Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue. In March, President Clinton enacts the Helms-Burton bill ("Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act") into law.
1998: Pope John Paul II visits Cuba and calls for an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, proclaiming: "Let Cuba open itself to the world and the world open itself to Cuba."
1999: In February, Cuba's National Assembly enacts Law No. 88, for the "Protection of National Independence and Economy of Cuba," imposing terms of imprisonment for aiding the "anti-Cuban" policies of the U.S. government. In November, five-year-old rafter Elián González arrives in Miami.
2000: In June, Elián González returns to Cuba after a prolonged international custody battle. In October, the U.S. government authorizes the sale of food and medicine to Cuba for the first time in nearly 40 years.
2001: Five Cuban intelligence officers are convicted of 26 counts of spying, conspiring to commit murder, and other illegal activities in the United States.
2004: The George W. Bush administration announces new restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba, including reduced Cuban-American family visits and remittances to the island.
2006: Fidel Castro undergoes emergency intestinal surgery and temporarily hands over power to his brother Raúl.
2008: Cuba's National Assembly elects Raúl Castro president.
2009: In September, President Barack Obama lifts U.S. government restrictions on family travel and remittances to Cuba. In December, U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross is detained in Cuba, accused of crimes against the Cuban government.
2011: The Obama administration reinstates permits for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba for cultural and educational exchanges, increasing "people-to-people" contacts with the island.
2013: The Cuban government enacts a series of immigration and travel reforms, eliminating the requirement of a letter of invitation from abroad, extending the maximum period of residence for Cuban citizens abroad to two years, and issuing passports to prominent dissidents who travel to the United States and other countries.
2014: The Cuban government releases Alan Gross from prison for "humanitarian reasons." At the same time, three Cubans convicted as spies in the United States are exchanged for a U.S. intelligence agent imprisoned in Cuba. President Obama announces major changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba, including taking steps toward reestablishing diplomatic relations, reviewing Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, and facilitating certain types of trade and travel by U.S. citizens to the island.
2015: In May, President Obama removes Cuba from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism. In July, the United States and Cuba restore diplomatic relations and open embassies in their respective capitals.
2016: In March, President Obama is the first sitting U.S. president since 1928 to visit Cuba. In August, the first commercial flights between the United States and Cuba since 1962 are reinstated. In November, Raúl Castro announces the death of his brother Fidel Castro at age 90.
2017: In January, President Obama announces the end of the "wet foot/dry foot policy," which allowed Cubans who arrived on U.S. soil to stay, while returning those detained at sea to Cuba. Henceforth, all Cubans who attempt to enter the U.S. without visas will be subject to removal. The president also announces the termination of the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, which allowed Cuban doctors, nurses, and other health workers while on assignments abroad to enter the U.S. In June, President Donald Trump proclaims changes to U.S. policy toward Cuba, including prohibiting U.S. business transactions with Cuban state enterprises linked with the military and eliminating individual people-to-people travel to the island.