Republic of Cuba
República de Cuba (Spanish)
"¡Patria o Muerte, Venceremos!" (Spanish)
"Homeland or Death, we shall overcome!"
and largest city
|Ethnic groups |
|Government||Unitary Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic|
|Salvador Valdés Mesa|
|José Machado Ventura|
|Esteban Lazo Hernández|
|Legislature||National Assembly of People's Power|
|10 October 1868|
|24 February 1895|
|10 December 1898|
• Republic declared (independence from United States)
|20 May 1902|
|26 July 1953 – 1 January 1959|
• Current constitution
|24 February 1976|
|109,884 km2 (42,426 sq mi) (104th)|
• Water (%)
• 2017 census
|102.1/km2 (264.4/sq mi) (114th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2015 estimate|
|US$ 254.865 billion|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2017 estimate|
|US$ 96.851 billion (63th)|
• Per capita
|US$ 8,433 (76th)|
|HDI (2017)|| 0.777|
high · 73rd
|Time zone||UTC−5 (CST)|
• Summer (DST)
|ISO 3166 code||CU|
Cuba (/ˈkjuːbə/ (listen); Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkuβa]), officially the Republic of Cuba (Spanish: República de Cuba (help·info)), is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometres (42,800 sq mi) (109,884 square kilometres (42,426 sq mi) without the territorial waters). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometres (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.
The territory that is now Cuba was inhabited by the Ciboney Taíno people from the 4th millennium BC until Spanish colonisation in the 15th century. From the 15th century, it was a colony of Spain until the Spanish–American War of 1898, when Cuba was occupied by the United States and gained nominal independence as a de facto United States protectorate in 1902. As a fragile republic, in 1940 Cuba attempted to strengthen its democratic system, but mounting political radicalization and social strife culminated in a coup and subsequent dictatorship under Fulgencio Batista in 1952. Open corruption and oppression under Batista's rule led to his ousting in January 1959 by the 26th of July Movement, which afterwards established communist rule under the leadership of Fidel Castro. Since 1965, the state has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba. The country was a point of contention during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, and a nuclear war nearly broke out during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Cuba is one of few Marxist–Leninist socialist states, where the role of the vanguard Communist Party is enshrined in the Constitution. Independent observers have accused the Cuban government of numerous human rights abuses, including arbitrary imprisonment.
Culturally, Cuba is considered part of Latin America. It is a multiethnic country whose people, culture and customs derive from diverse origins, including the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the long period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves and a close relationship with the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
Cuba is a sovereign state and a founding member of the United Nations, the G77, the Non-Aligned Movement, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, ALBA and Organization of American States. The country is a regional power in Latin America and a middle power in world affairs. It has currently one of the world's only planned economies, and its economy is dominated by the exports of sugar, tobacco, coffee and skilled labor. According to the Human Development Index, Cuba has high human development and is ranked the eighth highest in North America, though 67th in the world. It also ranks highly in some metrics of national performance, including health care and education. It is the only country in the world to meet the conditions of sustainable development put forth by the WWF.
Historians believe the name Cuba comes from the Taíno language, however "its exact derivation [is] unknown". The exact meaning of the name is unclear but it may be translated either as 'where fertile land is abundant' (cubao), or 'great place' (coabana). Authors who believe that Christopher Columbus was Portuguese state that Cuba was named by Columbus for the town of Cuba in the district of Beja in Portugal.
The Taíno were farmers, while the Ciboney were farmers as well as fishers and hunter-gatherers.
After first landing on an island then called Guanahani, Bahamas, on 12 October 1492, Christopher Columbus commanded his three ships: La Pinta, La Niña and the Santa María, to land on Cuba's northeastern coast on 28 October 1492. (This was near what is now Bariay, Holguín Province.) Columbus claimed the island for the new Kingdom of Spain and named it Isla Juana after Juan, Prince of Asturias.
In 1511, the first Spanish settlement was founded by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar at Baracoa. Other towns soon followed, including San Cristobal de la Habana, founded in 1515, which later became the capital. The native Taíno were forced to work under the encomienda system, which resembled a feudal system in Medieval Europe. Within a century the indigenous people were virtually wiped out due to multiple factors, primarily Eurasian infectious diseases, to which they had no natural resistance (immunity), aggravated by harsh conditions of the repressive colonial subjugation. In 1529, a measles outbreak in Cuba killed two-thirds of those few natives who had previously survived smallpox.
On 18 May 1539, Conquistador Hernando de Soto departed from Havana at the head of some 600 followers into a vast expedition through the Southeastern United States, starting at La Florida, in search of gold, treasure, fame and power. On 1 September 1548, Dr. Gonzalo Perez de Angulo was appointed governor of Cuba. He arrived in Santiago, Cuba on 4 November 1549 and immediately declared the liberty of all natives. He became Cuba's first permanent governor to reside in Havana instead of Santiago, and he built Havana's first church made of masonry. After the French took Havana in 1555, the governor's son, Francisco de Angulo, went to Mexico.
Cuba developed slowly and, unlike the plantation islands of the Caribbean, had a diversified agriculture. But what was most important was that the colony developed as an urbanized society that primarily supported the Spanish colonial empire. By the mid-18th century, its colonists held 50,000 slaves, compared to 60,000 in Barbados; 300,000 in Virginia, both British colonies; and 450,000 in French Saint-Domingue, which had large-scale sugar cane plantations.
The Seven Years' War, which erupted in 1754 across three continents, eventually arrived in the Spanish Caribbean. Spain's alliance with the French pitched them into direct conflict with the British, and in 1762 a British expedition of five warships and 4,000 troops set out from Portsmouth to capture Cuba. The British arrived on 6 June, and by August had Havana under siege. When Havana surrendered, the admiral of the British fleet, George Keppel, the 3rd Earl of Albemarle, entered the city as a conquering new governor and took control of the whole western part of the island. The British immediately opened up trade with their North American and Caribbean colonies, causing a rapid transformation of Cuban society. They imported food, horses and other goods into the city, as well as thousands of slaves from West Africa to work on the underdeveloped sugar plantations.
Though Havana, which had become the third-largest city in the Americas, was to enter an era of sustained development and increasing ties with North America during this period, the British occupation of the city proved short-lived. Pressure from London sugar merchants, fearing a decline in sugar prices, forced negotiations with the Spanish over colonial territories. Less than a year after Britain seized Havana, it signed the Peace of Paris together with France and Spain, ending the Seven Years' War. The treaty gave Britain Florida in exchange for Cuba. The French had recommended this to Spain, advising that declining to give up Florida could result in Spain instead losing Mexico and much of the South American mainland to the British. Many in Britain were disappointed, believing that Florida was a poor return for Cuba and Britain's other gains in the war.
The real engine for the growth of Cuba's commerce in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century was the Haitian Revolution. When the enslaved peoples of what had been the Caribbean's richest colony freed themselves through violent revolt, Cuban planters perceived the region's changing circumstances with both a sense of fear and opportunity. They were afraid because of the prospect that slaves might revolt in Cuba, too, and numerous prohibitions during the 1790s on the sale of slaves in Cuba that had previously been slaves in French colonies underscored this anxiety. The planters saw opportunity, however, because they thought that they could exploit the situation by transforming Cuba into the slave society and sugar-producing "pearl of the Antilles" that Haiti had been before the revolution. As the historian Ada Ferrer has written, "At a basic level, liberation in Saint-Domingue helped entrench its denial in Cuba. As slavery and colonialism collapsed in the French colony, the Spanish island underwent transformations that were almost the mirror image of Haiti's." Estimates suggest that between 1790 and 1820 some 325,000 Africans were imported to Cuba as slaves, which was four times the amount that had arrived between 1760 and 1790.
The population of Cuba in 1817 was 630,980, of which 291,021 were white, 115,691 free people of color (mixed-race), and 224,268 black slaves. This was a much higher proportion of free blacks to slaves than in Virginia, for instance, or the other Caribbean islands. Historians such as Swedish Magnus Mõrner, who studied slavery in Latin America, found that manumissions increased when slave economies were in decline, as in 18th-century Cuba and early 19th-century Maryland of the United States.
In part due to Cuban slaves working primarily in urbanized settings, by the 19th century, there had developed the practice of coartacion, or "buying oneself out of slavery", a "uniquely Cuban development", according to historian Herbert S. Klein. Due to a shortage of white labor, blacks dominated urban industries "to such an extent that when whites in large numbers came to Cuba in the middle of the nineteenth century, they were unable to displace Negro workers." A system of diversified agriculture, with small farms and fewer slaves, served to supply the cities with produce and other goods.
In the 1820s, when the rest of Spain's empire in Latin America rebelled and formed independent states, Cuba remained loyal. Its economy was based on serving the empire. By 1860, Cuba had 213,167 free people of color, 39% of its non-white population of 550,000. By contrast, Virginia, with about the same number of blacks, had only 58,042 or 11% who were free; the rest were enslaved. In the antebellum years, after Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion of 1831, Virginia discouraged manumissions and strengthened restrictions against free blacks, as did other Southern states. In addition, there was a high demand for slaves, and Virginia planters sold many in the internal domestic slave trade, who were shipped or taken overland to the Deep South, which had greatly expanded its cotton production.
Full independence from Spain was the goal of a rebellion in 1868 led by planter Carlos Manuel de Céspedes. De Céspedes, a sugar planter, freed his slaves to fight with him for an independent Cuba. On 27 December 1868, he issued a decree condemning slavery in theory but accepting it in practice and declaring free any slaves whose masters present them for military service. The 1868 rebellion resulted in a prolonged conflict known as the Ten Years' War. Two thousand Cuban Chinese joined the rebels. Chinese had been imported as indentured laborers. A monument in Havana honours the Cuban Chinese who fell in the war.
The United States declined to recognize the new Cuban government, although many European and Latin American nations did so. In 1878, the Pact of Zanjón ended the conflict, with Spain promising greater autonomy to Cuba. In 1879–1880, Cuban patriot Calixto García attempted to start another war known as the Little War but did not receive enough support. Slavery in Cuba was abolished in 1875 but the process was completed only in 1886.
An exiled dissident named José Martí founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party in New York in 1892. The aim of the party was to achieve Cuban independence from Spain. In January 1895 Martí traveled to Montecristi and Santo Domingo to join the efforts of Máximo Gómez. Martí recorded his political views in the Manifesto of Montecristi. Fighting against the Spanish army began in Cuba on 24 February 1895, but Martí was unable to reach Cuba until 11 April 1895. Martí was killed in the battle of Dos Rios on 19 May 1895. His death immortalized him as Cuba's national hero.
Around 200,000 Spanish troops outnumbered the much smaller rebel army, which relied mostly on guerrilla and sabotage tactics. The Spaniards began a campaign of suppression. General Valeriano Weyler, military governor of Cuba, herded the rural population into what he called reconcentrados, described by international observers as "fortified towns". These are often considered the prototype for 20th-century concentration camps. Between 200,000 and 400,000 Cuban civilians died from starvation and disease in the camps, numbers verified by the Red Cross and United States Senator Redfield Proctor, a former Secretary of War. American and European protests against Spanish conduct on the island followed.
The U.S. battleship Maine was sent to protect U.S. interests, but soon after arrival, it exploded in Havana harbor and sank quickly, killing nearly three quarters of the crew. The cause and responsibility for the sinking of the ship remained unclear after a board of inquiry. Popular opinion in the U.S., fueled by an active press, concluded that the Spanish were to blame and demanded action. Spain and the United States declared war on each other in late April 1898.
After the Spanish–American War, Spain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris (1898), by which Spain ceded Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam to the United States for the sum of US$20 million and Cuba became a protectorate of the United States. Cuba gained formal independence from the U.S. on 20 May 1902, as the Republic of Cuba. Under Cuba's new constitution, the U.S. retained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs and to supervise its finances and foreign relations. Under the Platt Amendment, the U.S. leased the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base from Cuba.
Following disputed elections in 1906, the first president, Tomás Estrada Palma, faced an armed revolt by independence war veterans who defeated the meager government forces. The U.S. intervened by occupying Cuba and named Charles Edward Magoon as Governor for three years. Cuban historians have characterized Magoon's governorship as having introduced political and social corruption. In 1908, self-government was restored when José Miguel Gómez was elected President, but the U.S. continued intervening in Cuban affairs. In 1912, the Partido Independiente de Color attempted to establish a separate black republic in Oriente Province, but was suppressed by General Monteagudo with considerable bloodshed.
In 1924, Gerardo Machado was elected president. During his administration, tourism increased markedly, and American-owned hotels and restaurants were built to accommodate the influx of tourists. The tourist boom led to increases in gambling and prostitution in Cuba. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 led to a collapse in the price of sugar, political unrest, and repression. Protesting students, known as the Generation of 1930, turned to violence in opposition to the increasingly unpopular Machado. A general strike (in which the Communist Party sided with Machado), uprisings among sugar workers, and an army revolt forced Machado into exile in August 1933. He was replaced by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada.
In September 1933, the Sergeants' Revolt, led by Sergeant Fulgencio Batista, overthrew Cespedes. A five-member executive committee (the Pentarchy of 1933) was chosen to head a provisional government. Ramón Grau San Martín was then appointed as provisional president. Grau resigned in 1934, leaving the way clear for Batista, who dominated Cuban politics for the next 25 years, at first through a series of puppet-presidents. The period from 1933 to 1937 was a time of "virtually unremitting social and political warfare". On balance, during this period 1933–1940 Cuba is supported by a fragile politic reality that materialize in the decision making of three presidents in two years (1935–1936), as well as in the militaristic and repressive policies of Batista as Head of the Army.
A new constitution was adopted in 1940, which engineered radical progressive ideas, including the right to labour and health care. Batista was elected president in the same year, holding the post until 1944. He is so far the only non-white Cuban to win the nation's highest political office. His government carried out major social reforms. Several members of the Communist Party held office under his administration. Cuban armed forces were not greatly involved in combat during World War II—though president Batista did suggest a joint U.S.-Latin American assault on Francoist Spain to overthrow its authoritarian regime.
Batista adhered to the 1940 constitution's strictures preventing his re-election. Ramon Grau San Martin was the winner of the next election, in 1944. Grau further corroded the base of the already teetering legitimacy of the Cuban political system, in particular by undermining the deeply flawed, though not entirely ineffectual, Congress and Supreme Court. Carlos Prío Socarrás, a protégé of Grau, became president in 1948. The two terms of the Auténtico Party brought an influx of investment, which fueled an economic boom, raised living standards for all segments of society, and created a middle class in most urban areas.
After finishing his term in 1944 Batista lived in Florida, returning to Cuba to run for president in 1952. Facing certain electoral defeat, he led a military coup that preempted the election. Back in power, and receiving financial, military, and logistical support from the United States government, Batista suspended the 1940 Constitution and revoked most political liberties, including the right to strike. He then aligned with the wealthiest landowners who owned the largest sugar plantations, and presided over a stagnating economy that widened the gap between rich and poor Cubans. Batista outlawed the Cuban Communist Party in 1952. After the coup, Cuba had Latin America's highest per capita consumption rates of meat, vegetables, cereals, automobiles, telephones and radios, though about one third of the population was considered poor and enjoyed relatively little of this consumption.
In 1958, Cuba was a relatively well-advanced country by Latin American standards, and in some cases by world standards. On the other hand, Cuba was affected by perhaps the largest labor union privileges in Latin America, including bans on dismissals and mechanization. They were obtained in large measure "at the cost of the unemployed and the peasants", leading to disparities. Between 1933 and 1958, Cuba extended economic regulations enormously, causing economic problems. Unemployment became a problem as graduates entering the workforce could not find jobs. The middle class, which was comparable to that of the United States, became increasingly dissatisfied with unemployment and political persecution. The labor unions supported Batista until the very end. Batista stayed in power until he was forced into exile in December 1958.
In the 1950s, various organizations, including some advocating armed uprising, competed for public support in bringing about political change. In 1956, Fidel Castro and about 80 supporters landed from the yacht Granma in an attempt to start a rebellion against the Batista government. It was not until 1958 that Castro's July 26th Movement emerged as the leading revolutionary group.
By late 1958 the rebels had broken out of the Sierra Maestra and launched a general popular insurrection. After Castro's fighters captured Santa Clara, Batista fled with his family to the Dominican Republic on 1 January 1959. Later he went into exile on the Portuguese island of Madeira and finally settled in Estoril, near Lisbon. Fidel Castro's forces entered the capital on 8 January 1959. The liberal Manuel Urrutia Lleó became the provisional president.
From 1959 to 1966 Cuban insurgents fought a six-year rebellion in the Escambray Mountains against the Castro government. The government's vastly superior numbers eventually crushed the insurgency. The rebellion lasted longer and involved more soldiers than the Cuban Revolution. The United States Department of State has estimated that 3,200 people were executed from 1959 to 1962. According to Amnesty International, official death sentences from 1959–87 numbered 237 of which all but 21 were actually carried out. Other estimates for the total number of political executions range from 4,000 to 33,000. The vast majority of those executed directly following the 1959 revolution were policemen, politicians, and informers of the Batista regime accused of crimes such as torture and murder, and their public trials and executions had widespread popular support among the Cuban population.
The United States government initially reacted favorably to the Cuban revolution, seeing it as part of a movement to bring democracy to Latin America. Castro's legalization of the Communist party and the hundreds of executions of Batista agents, policemen and soldiers that followed caused a deterioration in the relationship between the two countries. The promulgation of the Agrarian Reform Law, expropriating thousands of acres of farmland (including from large U.S. landholders), further worsened relations. In response, between 1960 and 1964 the U.S. imposed a range of sanctions, eventually including a total ban on trade between the countries and a freeze on all Cuban-owned assets in the U.S. In February 1960, Castro signed a commercial agreement with Soviet Vice-Premier Anastas Mikoyan.
In March 1960, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his approval to a CIA plan to arm and train a group of Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro regime. The invasion (known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion) took place on 14 April 1961, during the term of President John F. Kennedy. About 1,400 Cuban exiles disembarked at the Bay of Pigs, but failed in their attempt to overthrow Castro.
In January 1962, Cuba was suspended from the Organization of American States (OAS), and later the same year the OAS started to impose sanctions against Cuba of similar nature to the U.S. sanctions. The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in October 1962. By 1963, Cuba was moving towards a full-fledged Communist system modeled on the USSR.
The standard of living in the 1970s was "extremely spartan" and discontent was rife. Fidel Castro admitted the failures of economic policies in a 1970 speech. In 1975 the OAS lifted its sanctions against Cuba, with the approval of 16 member states, including the U.S. The U.S., however, maintained its own sanctions.
Castro's rule was severely tested in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse in 1991 (known in Cuba as the Special Period). The country faced a severe economic downturn following the withdrawal of Soviet subsidies worth $4 billion to $6 billion annually, resulting in effects such as food and fuel shortages. The government did not accept American donations of food, medicines, and cash until 1993. On 5 August 1994, state security dispersed protesters in a spontaneous protest in Havana.
Cuba has since found a new source of aid and support in the People's Republic of China. In addition, Hugo Chávez, then-President of Venezuela, and Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, became allies and both countries are major oil and gas exporters. In 2003, the government arrested and imprisoned a large number of civil activists, a period known as the "Black Spring".
In February 2008, Fidel Castro announced his resignation as President of Cuba. On 24 February his brother, Raúl Castro, was declared the new President. In his inauguration speech, Raúl promised that some of the restrictions on freedom in Cuba would be removed. In March 2009, Raúl Castro removed some of his brother's appointees.
On 3 June 2009, the Organization of American States adopted a resolution to end the 47-year ban on Cuban membership of the group. The resolution stated, however, that full membership would be delayed until Cuba was "in conformity with the practices, purposes, and principles of the OAS". Fidel Castro restated his position that he was not interested in joining after the OAS resolution had been announced.
Effective 14 January 2013, Cuba ended the requirement established in 1961, that any citizens who wish to travel abroad were required to obtain an expensive government permit and a letter of invitation. In 1961 the Cuban government had imposed broad restrictions on travel to prevent the mass emigration of people after the 1959 revolution; it approved exit visas only on rare occasions. Requirements were simplified: Cubans need only a passport and a national ID card to leave; and they are allowed to take their young children with them for the first time. However, a passport costs on average five months' salary. Observers expect that Cubans with paying relatives abroad are most likely to be able to take advantage of the new policy. In the first year of the program, over 180,000 left Cuba and returned.
As of December 2014, talks with Cuban officials and American officials, including President Barack Obama, resulted in the release of Alan Gross, fifty-two political prisoners, and an unnamed non-citizen agent of the United States in return for the release of three Cuban agents currently imprisoned in the United States. Additionally, while the embargo between the United States and Cuba was not immediately lifted, it was relaxed to allow import, export, and certain limited commerce.
The Republic of Cuba is one of the world's last remaining socialist countries following the Marxist–Leninist ideology. The Constitution of 1976, which defined Cuba as a socialist republic, was replaced by the Constitution of 1992, which is "guided by the ideas of José Martí and the political and social ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin." The constitution describes the Communist Party of Cuba as the "leading force of society and of the state".
The First Secretary of the Communist Party is concurrently President of the Council of State (President of Cuba) and President of the Council of Ministers (sometimes referred to as Prime Minister of Cuba). Members of both councils are elected by the National Assembly of People's Power. The President of Cuba, who is also elected by the Assembly, serves for five years and there is no limit to the number of terms of office.
The People's Supreme Court serves as Cuba's highest judicial branch of government. It is also the court of last resort for all appeals against the decisions of provincial courts.
Cuba's national legislature, the National Assembly of People's Power (Asamblea Nacional de Poder Popular), is the supreme organ of power; 609 members serve five-year terms. The assembly meets twice a year; between sessions legislative power is held by the 31 member Council of Ministers. Candidates for the Assembly are approved by public referendum. All Cuban citizens over 16 who have not been convicted of a criminal offense can vote. Article 131 of the Constitution states that voting shall be "through free, equal and secret vote". Article 136 states: "In order for deputies or delegates to be considered elected they must get more than half the number of valid votes cast in the electoral districts".
No political party is permitted to nominate candidates or campaign on the island, including the Communist Party. The Communist Party of Cuba has held six party congress meetings since 1975. In 2011, the party stated that there were 800,000 members, and representatives generally constitute at least half of the Councils of state and the National Assembly. The remaining positions are filled by candidates nominally without party affiliation. Other political parties campaign and raise finances internationally, while activity within Cuba by opposition groups is minimal.
In February 2013, Cuban president Raúl Castro announced he would resign in 2018, ending his five-year term, and that he hopes to implement permanent term limits for future Cuban Presidents, including age limits.
After Fidel Castro died on 25 November 2016, the Cuban government declared a nine-day mourning period. During the mourning period Cuban citizens were prohibited from playing loud music, partying, and drinking alcohol.
The country is subdivided into 15 provinces and one special municipality (Isla de la Juventud). These were formerly part of six larger historical provinces: Pinar del Río, Habana, Matanzas, Las Villas, Camagüey and Oriente. The present subdivisions closely resemble those of the Spanish military provinces during the Cuban Wars of Independence, when the most troublesome areas were subdivided. The provinces are divided into municipalities.
The Cuban government has been accused of numerous human rights abuses including torture, arbitrary imprisonment, unfair trials, and extrajudicial executions (also known as "El Paredón"). Human Rights Watch has stated that the government "represses nearly all forms of political dissent" and that "Cubans are systematically denied basic rights to free expression, association, assembly, privacy, movement, and due process of law".
In 2003, the European Union (EU) accused the Cuban government of "continuing flagrant violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms". It has continued to call regularly for social and economic reform in Cuba, along with the unconditional release of all political prisoners. The United States continues an embargo against Cuba "so long as it continues to refuse to move toward democratization and greater respect for human rights", though the UN General Assembly has, since 1992, passed a resolution every year condemning the ongoing impact of the embargo and claiming it violates the Charter of the United Nations and international law. Cuba considers the embargo itself a violation of human rights. On 17 December 2014, United States President Barack Obama announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, pushing for Congress to put an end to the embargo.
Cuba had the second-highest number of imprisoned journalists of any nation in 2008 (China had the highest) according to various sources, including the Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch.
Cuban dissidents face arrest and imprisonment. In the 1990s, Human Rights Watch reported that Cuba's extensive prison system, one of the largest in Latin America, consists of 40 maximum-security prisons, 30 minimum-security prisons, and over 200 work camps. According to Human Rights Watch, Cuba's prison population is confined in "substandard and unhealthy conditions, where prisoners face physical and sexual abuse".
In July 2010, the unofficial Cuban Human Rights Commission said there were 167 political prisoners in Cuba, a fall from 201 at the start of the year. The head of the commission stated that long prison sentences were being replaced by harassment and intimidation. During the entire period of Castro's rule over the island, an estimated 200,000 people had been imprisoned or deprived of their freedoms for political reasons.
Cuba has conducted a foreign policy that is uncharacteristic of such a minor, developing country. Under Castro, Cuba was heavily involved in wars in Africa, Central America and Asia. Cuba supported Algeria in 1961–1965, and sent tens of thousands of troops to Angola during the Angolan Civil War. Other countries that featured Cuban involvement include Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and Yemen. Lesser known actions include the 1959 missions to the Dominican Republic. The expedition failed, but a prominent monument to its members was erected in their memory in Santo Domingo by the Dominican government, and they feature prominently at the country's Memorial Museum of the Resistance.
In 2008, the European Union (EU) and Cuba agreed to resume full relations and cooperation activities. Cuba is a founding member of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. At the end of 2012, tens of thousands of Cuban medical personnel worked abroad, with as many as 30,000 doctors in Venezuela alone via the two countries' oil-for-doctors programme.
In 1996, the United States, then under President Bill Clinton, brought in the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, better known as the Helms–Burton Act. In 2009, United States President Barack Obama stated on 17 April, in Trinidad and Tobago that "the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba", and reversed the Bush Administration's prohibition on travel and remittances by Cuban-Americans from the United States to Cuba. Five years later, an agreement between the United States and Cuba, popularly called "The Cuban Thaw", brokered in part by Canada and Pope Francis, began the process of restoring international relations between the two countries. They agreed to release political prisoners and the United States began the process of creating an embassy in Havana. This was realized on 30 June 2015, when Cuba and the U.S. reached a deal to reopen embassies in their respective capitals on 20 July 2015 and reestablish diplomatic relations. Earlier in the same year, the White House announced that President Obama would remove Cuba from the American government's list of nations that sponsor terrorism, which Cuba reportedly welcomed as "fair". On 17 September 2017, the United States considered closing its Cuban embassy following mysterious sonic attacks on its staff.
All law enforcement agencies are maintained under Cuba's Ministry of the Interior, which is supervised by the Revolutionary Armed Forces. In Cuba, citizens can receive police assistance by dialing "106" on their telephones. The police force, which is referred to as "Policía Nacional Revolucionaria" or PNR is then expected to provide help. The Cuban government also has an agency called the Intelligence Directorate that conducts intelligence operations and maintains close ties with the Russian Federal Security Service.
As of 2009, Cuba spent about US$91.8 million on its armed forces. In 1985, Cuba devoted more than 10% of its GDP to military expenditures. In response to perceived American aggression, such as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuba built up one of the largest armed forces in Latin America, second only to that of Brazil.
From 1975 until the late 1980s, Soviet military assistance enabled Cuba to upgrade its military capabilities. After the loss of Soviet subsidies, Cuba scaled down the numbers of military personnel, from 235,000 in 1994 to about 60,000 in 2003.
The Cuban state claims to adhere to socialist principles in organizing its largely state-controlled planned economy. Most of the means of production are owned and run by the government and most of the labor force is employed by the state. Recent years have seen a trend toward more private sector employment. By 2006, public sector employment was 78% and private sector 22%, compared to 91.8% to 8.2% in 1981. Government spending is 78.1% of GDP. Any firm that hires a Cuban must pay the Cuban government, which in turn pays the employee in Cuban pesos. The average monthly wage as of July 2013 is 466 Cuban pesos—about US$19.
Cuba has a dual currency system, whereby most wages and prices are set in Cuban pesos (CUP), while the tourist economy operates with Convertible pesos (CUC), set at par with the US dollar. Every Cuban household has a ration book (known as libreta) entitling it to a monthly supply of food and other staples, which are provided at nominal cost.
Before Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution, Cuba was one of the most advanced and successful countries in Latin America. Cuba's capital, Havana, was a "glittering and dynamic city". The country's economy in the early part of the century, fuelled by the sale of sugar to the United States, had grown wealthy. Cuba ranked 5th in the hemisphere in per capita income, 3rd in life expectancy, 2nd in per capita ownership of automobiles and telephones, and 1st in the number of television sets per inhabitant. Cuba's literacy rate, 76%, was the fourth highest in Latin America. Cuba also ranked 11th in the world in the number of doctors per capita. Several private clinics and hospitals provided services for the poor. Cuba's income distribution compared favorably with that of other Latin American societies. However, income inequality was profound between city and countryside, especially between whites and blacks. Cubans lived in abysmal poverty in the countryside. According to PBS, a thriving middle class held the promise of prosperity and social mobility. According to Cuba historian Louis Perez of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, "Havana was then what Las Vegas has become." In 2016, the Miami Herald wrote, "... about 27 percent of Cubans earn under $50 per month; 34 percent earn the equivalent of $50 to $100 per month; and 20 percent earn $101 to $200. Twelve percent reported earning $201 to $500 a month; and almost 4 percent said their monthly earnings topped $500, including 1.5 percent who said they earned more than $1,000."
After the Cuban revolution and before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba depended on Moscow for substantial aid and sheltered markets for its exports. The loss of these subsidies sent the Cuban economy into a rapid depression known in Cuba as the Special Period. Cuba took limited free market-oriented measures to alleviate severe shortages of food, consumer goods, and services. These steps included allowing some self-employment in certain retail and light manufacturing sectors, the legalization of the use of the US dollar in business, and the encouragement of tourism. Cuba has developed a unique urban farm system called organopónicos to compensate for the end of food imports from the Soviet Union. The U.S. embargo against Cuba was instituted in response to nationalization of U.S.-citizen-held property and was maintained at the premise of perceived human rights violations. It is widely viewed that the embargo hurt the Cuban economy. In 2009, the Cuban Government estimated this loss at $685 million annually.
Cuba's leadership has called for reforms in the country's agricultural system. In 2008, Raúl Castro began enacting agrarian reforms to boost food production, as at that time 80% of food was imported. The reforms aim to expand land use and increase efficiency. Venezuela supplies Cuba with an estimated 110,000 barrels (17,000 m3) of oil per day in exchange for money and the services of some 44,000 Cubans, most of them medical personnel, in Venezuela.
In 2005, Cuba had exports of US$2.4 billion, ranking 114 of 226 world countries, and imports of US$6.9 billion, ranking 87 of 226 countries. Its major export partners are Canada 17.7%, China 16.9%, Venezuela 12.5%, Netherlands 9%, and Spain 5.9% (2012). Cuba's major exports are sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medical products, citrus fruits, and coffee; imports include food, fuel, clothing, and machinery. Cuba presently holds debt in an amount estimated at $13 billion, approximately 38% of GDP. According to the Heritage Foundation, Cuba is dependent on credit accounts that rotate from country to country. Cuba's prior 35% supply of the world's export market for sugar has declined to 10% due to a variety of factors, including a global sugar commodity price drop that made Cuba less competitive on world markets. It was announced in 2008 that wage caps would be abandoned to improve the nation's productivity.
In 2010, Cubans were allowed to build their own houses. According to Raúl Castro, they could now improve their houses, but the government would not endorse these new houses or improvements. There is virtually no homelessness in Cuba, and 85% of Cubans own their homes and pay no property taxes or mortgage interest. Mortgage payments may not exceed 10% of a household's combined income.
On 2 August 2011, The New York Times reported that Cuba reaffirmed its intent to legalize "buying and selling" of private property before the year's end. According to experts, the private sale of property could "transform Cuba more than any of the economic reforms announced by President Raúl Castro's government". It would cut more than one million state jobs, including party bureaucrats who resist the changes. The reforms created what some call "New Cuban Economy". In October 2013, Raúl said he intended to merge the two currencies, but as of August 2016, the dual currency system remains in force.
In August 2012, a specialist of the "Cubaenergia Company" announced the opening of Cuba's first Solar Power Plant. As a member of the Cubasolar Group, there was also a mention of 10 additional plants in 2013.
Cuba's natural resources include sugar, tobacco, fish, citrus fruits, coffee, beans, rice, potatoes, and livestock. Cuba's most important mineral resource is nickel, with 21% of total exports in 2011. The output of Cuba's nickel mines that year was 71,000 tons, approaching 4% of world production. As of 2013 its reserves were estimated at 5.5 million tons, over 7% of the world total. Sherritt International of Canada operates a large nickel mining facility in Moa. Cuba is also a major producer of refined cobalt, a by-product of nickel mining.
Oil exploration in 2005 by the US Geological Survey revealed that the North Cuba Basin could produce about 4.6 billion barrels (730,000,000 m3) to 9.3 billion barrels (1.48×109 m3) of oil. In 2006, Cuba started to test-drill these locations for possible exploitation.
Tourism was initially restricted to enclave resorts where tourists would be segregated from Cuban society, referred to as "enclave tourism" and "tourism apartheid". Contact between foreign visitors and ordinary Cubans were de facto illegal between 1992 and 1997. The rapid growth of tourism during the Special Period had widespread social and economic repercussions in Cuba, and led to speculation about the emergence of a two-tier economy.
Cuba has tripled its market share of Caribbean tourism in the last decade; as a result of significant investment in tourism infrastructure, this growth rate is predicted to continue. 1.9 million tourists visited Cuba in 2003, predominantly from Canada and the European Union, generating revenue of US$2.1 billion. Cuba recorded 2,688,000 international tourists in 2011, the third-highest figure in the Caribbean (behind the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico).
The medical tourism sector caters to thousands of European, Latin American, Canadian, and American consumers every year.
A recent study indicates that Cuba has a potential for mountaineering activity, and that mountaineering could be a key contributor to tourism, along with other activities, e.g. biking, diving, caving). Promoting these resources could contribute to regional development, prosperity, and well-being.
The Cuban Justice minister downplays allegations of widespread sex tourism. According to a Government of Canada travel advice website, "Cuba is actively working to prevent child sex tourism, and a number of tourists, including Canadians, have been convicted of offences related to the corruption of minors aged 16 and under. Prison sentences range from 7 to 25 years."
Some tourist facilities were extensively damaged on 8 September 2017 when Hurricane Irma hit the island. The storm made landfall in the Camagüey Archipelago; the worst damage was in the keys north of the main island, however, and not in the most significant tourist areas.
Cuba is an archipelago of islands located in the northern Caribbean Sea at the confluence with the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. It lies between latitudes 19° and 24°N, and longitudes 74° and 85°W. The United States lies 150 kilometers (93 miles) across the Straits of Florida to the north and northwest (to the closest tip of Key West, Florida), and the Bahamas 21 km (13 mi) to the north. Mexico lies 210 kilometers (130 miles) across the Yucatán Channel to the west (to the closest tip of Cabo Catoche in the State of Quintana Roo).
Haiti is 77 km (48 mi) to the east, Jamaica (140 km/87 mi) and the Cayman Islands to the south. Cuba is the principal island, surrounded by four smaller groups of islands: the Colorados Archipelago on the northwestern coast, the Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago on the north-central Atlantic coast, the Jardines de la Reina on the south-central coast and the Canarreos Archipelago on the southwestern coast.
The main island, named Cuba, is 1,250 km (780 mi) long, constituting most of the nation's land area (104,556 km2 (40,369 sq mi)) and is the largest island in the Caribbean and 17th-largest island in the world by land area. The main island consists mostly of flat to rolling plains apart from the Sierra Maestra mountains in the southeast, whose highest point is Pico Turquino (1,974 m (6,476 ft)).
The second-largest island is Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) in the Canarreos archipelago, with an area of 2,200 km2 (849 sq mi). Cuba has an official area (land area) of 109,884 km2 (42,426 sq mi). Its area is 110,860 km2 (42,803 sq mi) including coastal and territorial waters.
With the entire island south of the Tropic of Cancer, the local climate is tropical, moderated by northeasterly trade winds that blow year-round. The temperature is also shaped by the Caribbean current, which brings in warm water from the equator. This makes the climate of Cuba warmer than that of Hong Kong, which is at around the same latitude as Cuba but has a subtropical rather than a tropical climate. In general (with local variations), there is a drier season from November to April, and a rainier season from May to October. The average temperature is 21 °C (69.8 °F) in January and 27 °C (80.6 °F) in July. The warm temperatures of the Caribbean Sea and the fact that Cuba sits across the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico combine to make the country prone to frequent hurricanes. These are most common in September and October.
Hurricane Irma hit the island on 8 September 2017, with winds of 260 kilometres per hour, at the Camagüey Archipelago; the storm reached Ciego de Avila province around midnight and continued to pound Cuba the next day. The worst damage was in the keys north of the main island. Hospitals, warehouses and factories were damaged; much of the north coast was without electricity. By that time, nearly a million people, including tourists, had been evacuated. The Varadero resort area also reported widespread damage; the government believed that repairs could be completed before the start of the main tourist season. Subsequent reports indicated that 10 people had been killed during the storm, including seven in Havana, most during building collapses. Sections of the capital had been flooded. Hurricane Jose was not expected to strike Cuba.
Cuba signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 12 June 1992, and became a party to the convention on 8 March 1994. It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, with one revision, that the convention received on 24 January 2008.
The revision comprises an action plan with time limits for each item, and an indication of the governmental body responsible for delivery. That document contains virtually no information about biodiversity. However, the country's fourth national report to the CBD contains a detailed breakdown of the numbers of species of each kingdom of life recorded from Cuba, the main groups being: animals (17,801 species), bacteria (270), chromista (707), fungi, including lichen-forming species (5844), plants (9107) and protozoa (1440).
As elsewhere in the world, vertebrate animals and flowering plants are well documented, so the recorded numbers of species are probably close to the true numbers. For most or all other groups, the true numbers of species occurring in Cuba are likely to exceed, often considerably, the numbers recorded so far.
According to the official census of 2010, Cuba's population was 11,241,161, comprising 5,628,996 men and 5,612,165 women. Its birth rate (9.88 births per thousand population in 2006) is one of the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Although the country's population has grown by about four million people since 1961, the rate of growth slowed during that period, and the population began to decline in 2006, due in the country's low fertility rate (1.43 children per woman) coupled with emigration.
Indeed, this drop in fertility is among the largest in the Western Hemisphere and is attributed largely to unrestricted access to legal abortion: Cuba's abortion rate was 58.6 per 1000 pregnancies in 1996, compared to an average of 35 in the Caribbean, 27 in Latin America overall, and 48 in Europe. Similarly, the use of contraceptives is also widespread, estimated at 79% of the female population (in the upper third of countries in the Western Hemisphere).
Cuba's population is multiethnic, reflecting its complex colonial origins. Intermarriage between diverse groups is widespread, and consequently there is some discrepancy in reports of the country's racial composition: whereas the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami determined that 62% of Cubans are black, the 2002 Cuban census found that a similar proportion of the population, 65.05%, was white.
In fact, the Minority Rights Group International determined that "An objective assessment of the situation of Afro-Cubans remains problematic due to scant records and a paucity of systematic studies both pre- and post-revolution. Estimates of the percentage of people of African descent in the Cuban population vary enormously, ranging from 34% to 62%".
A 2014 study found that, based on ancestry informative markers (AIM), autosomal genetic ancestry in Cuba is 72% European, 20% African, and 8% Indigenous. Around 35% of maternal lineages derive from Cuban Indigenous People, compared to 39% from Africa and 26% from Europe, but male lineages were European (82%) and African (18%), indicating a historical bias towards mating between foreign men and native women rather than the inverse.
Asians make up about 1% of the population, and are largely of Chinese ancestry, followed by Japanese. Many are descendants of farm laborers brought to the island by Spanish and American contractors during the 19th and early 20th century. The current recorded number of Cubans with Chinese ancestry is 114,240.
Afro-Cubans are descended primarily from the Yoruba people, Bantu people from the Congo basin, Carabali people and Arará from the Dahomey as well as several thousand North African refugees, most notably the Sahrawi Arabs of Western Sahara.
Immigration and emigration have played a prominent part in Cuba's demographic profile. Between the 18th and early 20th century, large waves of Canarian, Catalan, Andalusian, Galician, and other Spanish people immigrated to Cuba. Between 1899–1930 alone, close to a million Spaniards entered the country, though many would eventually return to Spain. Other prominent immigrant groups included French, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Dutch, Greek, British, and Irish, as well as small number of descendants of U.S. citizens who arrived in Cuba in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Post-revolution Cuba has been characterized by significant levels of emigration, which has led to a large and influential diaspora community. During the three decades after January 1959, more than one million Cubans of all social classes — constituting 10% of the total population — emigrated to the United States, a proportion that matches the extent of emigration to the U.S. from the Caribbean as a whole during that period. Prior to 13 January 2013, Cuban citizens could not travel abroad, leave or return to Cuba without first obtaining official permission along with applying for a government issued passport and travel visa, which was often denied. Those who left the country typically did so by sea, in small boats and fragile rafts. On 9 September 1994, the U.S. and Cuban governments agreed that the U.S. would grant at least 20,000 visas annually in exchange for Cuba's pledge to prevent further unlawful departures on boats. As of 2013 the top emigration destinations were the United States, Spain, Italy, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
In 2010, the Pew Forum estimated that religious affiliation in Cuba is 65% Christian (60% Roman Catholic or about 6.9 million in 2016, 5% Protestant or about 575,000 in 2016), 23% unaffiliated, 17% folk religion (such as santería), and the remaining 0.4% consisting of other religions.
Roman Catholicism is the largest religion, with its origins in Spanish colonization. Despite less than half of the population identifying as Catholics in 2006, it nonetheless remains the dominant faith. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba in 1998 and 2011, respectively, and Pope Francis visited Cuba in September 2015. Prior to each papal visit, the Cuban government pardoned prisoners as a humanitarian gesture.
The government's relaxation of restrictions on house churches in the 1990s led to an explosion of Pentecostalism, with some groups claiming as many as 100,000 members. However, Evangelical Protestant denominations, organized into the umbrella Cuban Council of Churches, remain much more vibrant and powerful.
The religious landscape of Cuba is also strongly defined by syncretisms of various kinds. Christianity is often practiced in tandem with Santería, a mixture of Catholicism and mostly African faiths, which include a number of cults. La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre (the Virgin of Cobre) is the Catholic patroness of Cuba, and a symbol of Cuban culture. In Santería, she has been syncretized with the goddess Oshun.
Several well-known Cuban religious figures have operated outside the island, including the humanitarian and author Jorge Armando Pérez.
The official language of Cuba is Spanish and the vast majority of Cubans speak it. Spanish as spoken in Cuba is known as Cuban Spanish and is a form of Caribbean Spanish. Lucumí, a dialect of the West African language Yoruba, is also used as a liturgical language by practitioners of Santería, and so only as a second language. Haitian Creole is the second most spoken language in Cuba, and is spoken by Haitian immigrants and their descendants. Other languages spoken by immigrants include Galician and Corsican.
The Cuban government and Communist Party of Cuba control almost all media in Cuba.
Five Communist controlled national channels:
Internet in Cuba has some of the lowest penetration rates in the Western hemisphere, and all content is subject to review by the Department of Revolutionary Orientation. ETECSA operates 118 cybercafes in the country. The government of Cuba provides an online encyclopedia website called EcuRed that operates in a "wiki" format. Internet access is limited. The sale of computer equipment is strictly regulated. Internet access is controlled, and e-mail is closely monitored.
Cuban culture is influenced by its melting pot of cultures, primarily those of Spain and Africa. After the 1959 revolution, the government started a national literacy campaign, offered free education to all and established rigorous sports, ballet and music programs.
Cuban music is very rich and is the most commonly known expression of Cuban culture. The central form of this music is Son, which has been the basis of many other musical styles like "Danzón de nuevo ritmo", mambo, cha-cha-chá and salsa music. Rumba ("de cajón o de solar") music originated in the early Afro-Cuban culture, mixed with Hispanic elements of style. The Tres was invented in Cuba from Hispanic cordophone instruments models (the instrument is actually a fusion of elements from the Spanish guitar and lute). Other traditional Cuban instruments are of African origin, Taíno origin, or both, such as the maracas, güiro, marímbula and various wooden drums including the mayohuacán.
Popular Cuban music of all styles has been enjoyed and praised widely across the world. Cuban classical music, which includes music with strong African and European influences, and features symphonic works as well as music for soloists, has received international acclaim thanks to composers like Ernesto Lecuona. Havana was the heart of the rap scene in Cuba when it began in the 1990s.
During that time, reggaetón grew in popularity. In 2011, the Cuban state denounced reggaeton as degenerate, directed reduced "low-profile" airplay of the genre (but did not ban it entirely) and banned the megahit Chupi Chupi by Osmani García, characterizing its description of sex as "the sort which a prostitute would carry out." In December 2012, the Cuban government officially banned sexually explicit reggaeton songs and music videos from radio and television. As well as pop, classical and rock are very popular in Cuba.
Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean cuisines. Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish cooking, with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. Food rationing, which has been the norm in Cuba for the last four decades, restricts the common availability of these dishes. The traditional Cuban meal is not served in courses; all food items are served at the same time.
The typical meal could consist of plantains, black beans and rice, ropa vieja (shredded beef), Cuban bread, pork with onions, and tropical fruits. Black beans and rice, referred to as moros y cristianos (or moros for short), and plantains are staples of the Cuban diet. Many of the meat dishes are cooked slowly with light sauces. Garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves are the dominant spices.
Cuban literature began to find its voice in the early 19th century. Dominant themes of independence and freedom were exemplified by José Martí, who led the Modernist movement in Cuban literature. Writers such as Nicolás Guillén and José Z. Tallet focused on literature as social protest. The poetry and novels of Dulce María Loynaz and José Lezama Lima have been influential. Romanticist Miguel Barnet, who wrote Everyone Dreamed of Cuba, reflects a more melancholy Cuba.
Alejo Carpentier was important in the Magic realism movement. Writers such as Reinaldo Arenas, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and more recently Daína Chaviano, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Zoé Valdés, Guillermo Rosales and Leonardo Padura have earned international recognition in the post-revolutionary era, though many of these writers have felt compelled to continue their work in exile due to ideological control of media by the Cuban authorities.
Dance holds a privileged position in Cuban culture. Popular dance is considered an essential part of life, and concert dance is supported by the government and includes internationally renowned companies such as the Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
Due to historical associations with the United States, many Cubans participate in sports that are popular in North America, rather than sports traditionally played in other Latin American nations. Baseball is the most popular. Other sports and pastimes include football, basketball, volleyball, cricket, and athletics. Cuba is a dominant force in amateur boxing, consistently achieving high medal tallies in major international competitions. Cuban boxers are not permitted to turn professional by their government. However, many boxers defect to the U.S. and other countries. Cuba also provides a national team that competes in the Olympic Games.
The University of Havana was founded in 1728 and there are a number of other well-established colleges and universities. In 1957, just before Castro came to power, the literacy rate was fourth in the region at almost 80% according to the United Nations, higher than in Spain. Castro created an entirely state-operated system and banned private institutions. School attendance is compulsory from ages six to the end of basic secondary education (normally at age 15), and all students, regardless of age or gender, wear school uniforms with the color denoting grade level. Primary education lasts for six years, secondary education is divided into basic and pre-university education. Cuba's literacy rate of 99.8 percent is the tenth-highest globally, due largely to the provision of free education at every level. Cuba's high school graduation rate is 94 percent.
Higher education is provided by universities, higher institutes, higher pedagogical institutes, and higher polytechnic institutes. The Cuban Ministry of Higher Education operates a distance education program that provides regular afternoon and evening courses in rural areas for agricultural workers. Education has a strong political and ideological emphasis, and students progressing to higher education are expected to have a commitment to the goals of Cuba. Cuba has provided state subsidized education to a limited number of foreign nationals at the Latin American School of Medicine.
According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, the top-ranking universities in the country are Universidad de la Habana (1680th worldwide), Instituto Superior Politécnico José Antonio Echeverría (2893rd) and the University of Santiago de Cuba (3831st).
Cuba's life expectancy at birth is 78.3 years (76.2 for males and 80.4 for females). This ranks Cuba 55th in the world and 5th in the Americas, behind Canada, Chile, Costa Rica and the United States. Infant mortality declined from 32 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 1957, to 10 in 1990–95, 6.1 in 2000–2005 and 5.13 in 2009. Historically, Cuba has ranked high in numbers of medical personnel and has made significant contributions to world health since the 19th century. Today, Cuba has universal health care and despite persistent shortages of medical supplies, there is no shortage of medical personnel. Primary care is available throughout the island and infant and maternal mortality rates compare favorably with those in developed nations. That a developing nation like Cuba has health outcomes rivaling the developed world is referred to by researchers as the Cuban Health Paradox. Cuba ranks 30th on the 2019 Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, which is the only developing country to rank that high.
Disease and infant mortality increased in the 1960s immediately after the revolution, when half of Cuba's 6,000 doctors left the country. Recovery occurred by the 1980s, and the country's health care has been widely praised. The Communist government asserted that universal health care was a priority of state planning and progress was made in rural areas. Like the rest of the Cuban economy, medical care suffered from severe material shortages following the end of Soviet subsidies in 1991, and a tightening of the U.S. embargo in 1992.
Challenges include low salaries for doctors, poor facilities, poor provision of equipment, and the frequent absence of essential drugs. Cuba has the highest doctor-to-population ratio in the world and has sent thousands of doctors to more than 40 countries around the world. According to the World Health Organization, Cuba is "known the world over for its ability to train excellent doctors and nurses who can then go out to help other countries in need". As of September 2014, there are around 50,000 Cuban-trained health care workers aiding 66 nations. Cuban physicians have played a leading role in combating the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa.
Import and export of pharmaceutical drugs is done by the Quimefa Pharmaceutical Business Group (FARMACUBA) under the Ministry of Basic Industry (MINBAS). This group also provides technical information for the production of these drugs. Isolated from the West by the US embargo, Cuba developed the successful lung cancer vaccine, Cimavax, which is now available to US researchers for the first time, along with other novel Cuban cancer treatments. The vaccine has been available for free to the Cuban population since 2011. According to Roswell Park Cancer Institute CEO Candace Johnson: "They've had to do more with less, so they've had to be even more innovative with how they approach things. For over 40 years, they have had a preeminent immunology community." During the thaw in Cuba–U.S. relations starting in December 2014 under the Obama administration, a growing number of U.S. lung cancer patients traveled to Cuba to receive vaccine treatment. The end of the thaw under the Trump Administrarion has resulted in a tightening of travel restrictions, making it harder for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba for treatment.
In 2015, Cuba became the first country to eradicate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis, a milestone hailed by the World Health Organization as "one of the greatest public health achievements possible".
Castro created a one-party government to exercise dictatorial control over all aspects of Cuba's political, economic, and cultural life. All political dissent and opposition were ruthlessly suppressed
The number of individuals who have been jailed or deprived of their freedom in labor camps over the 50 years of Castro's dictatorship is estimated at around 200,000
The Bay of Pigs Invasion (Spanish: Invasión de Playa Girón or Invasión de Bahía de Cochinos or Batalla de Girón) was a failed military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-sponsored paramilitary group Brigade 2506 on 17 April 1961. The United States sought the elimination of Castro for his brutal displays of power and insistence on communism. Castro's political apparatus within Cuba became a serious threat to the sanctimony of capitalism and was a threat so close to the United States in the Western Hemisphere the U.S. deemed necessary to remove. However, the U.S. gravely underestimated the force power in Cuba and consequently led their troops to their own destruction. A counter-revolutionary military group (made up of mostly Cuban exiles who had traveled to the United States after Castro's takeover, but also some US military personnel), trained and funded by the CIA, Brigade 2506 fronted the armed wing of the Democratic Revolutionary Front (DRF) and intended to overthrow the increasingly communist government of Fidel Castro. Launched from Guatemala and Nicaragua, the invading force was defeated within three days by the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, under the direct command of Castro.
The coup of 1952 led by General Fulgencio Batista, an ally of the United States, against President Carlos Prio, forced Prio into exile to Miami, Florida. Prio's exile was the reason for the 26th July Movement led by Castro. The movement, which did not succeed until after the Cuban Revolution of 31 December 1958, severed the country's formerly strong links with the US after nationalizing American industrial assets (banks, oil refineries, sugar and coffee plantations) along with other American owned businesses.
It was after the Cuban Revolution of 1959 that Castro forged strong economic links with the Soviet Union whom the United States primarily engaged in the Cold War. US President Dwight D. Eisenhower was very concerned at the direction Castro's government was taking, and in March 1960 he allocated $13.1 million to the CIA to plan Castro's overthrow. The CIA proceeded to organize the operation with the aid of various Cuban counter-revolutionary forces, training Brigade 2506 in Guatemala. Eisenhower's successor, John F. Kennedy, approved the final invasion plan on 4 April 1961.
Over 1,400 paramilitaries, divided into five infantry battalions and one paratrooper battalion, assembled in Guatemala before setting out for Cuba by boat on 13 April 1961. Two days later, on 15 April, eight CIA-supplied B-26 bombers attacked Cuban airfields and then returned to the US. On the night of 16 April, the main invasion landed at a beach named Playa Girón in the Bay of Pigs. It initially overwhelmed a local revolutionary militia. The Cuban Army's counter-offensive was led by José Ramón Fernández before Castro decided to take personal control of the operation. As the US involvement became apparent to the world, and with the initiative turning against the invasion, Kennedy decided against providing further air cover. As a result, the operation only had half the forces the CIA had deemed necessary. The original plan devised during Eisenhower's presidency had required both air and naval support. On 20 April, the invaders surrendered after only three days, with the majority being publicly interrogated and put into Cuban prisons.
The failed invasion helped to strengthen the position of Castro's leadership, made him a national hero, and entrenched the rocky relationship between the former allies. It also reinforced the relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union. Strengthened Soviet-Cuban relations eventually led to the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The invasion was a significant failure for Kennedy's US foreign policy.Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara (;Spanish: [ˈtʃe ɣeˈβaɾa] June 14, 1928 – October 9, 1967) was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist. A major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia in popular culture.As a young medical student, Guevara traveled throughout South America and was radicalized by the poverty, hunger and disease he witnessed. His burgeoning desire to help overturn what he saw as the capitalist exploitation of Latin America by the United States prompted his involvement in Guatemala's social reforms under President Jacobo Árbenz, whose eventual CIA-assisted overthrow at the behest of the United Fruit Company solidified Guevara's political ideology. Later in Mexico City, Guevara met Raúl and Fidel Castro, joined their 26th of July Movement and sailed to Cuba aboard the yacht Granma with the intention of overthrowing U.S.-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Guevara soon rose to prominence among the insurgents, was promoted to second in command and played a pivotal role in the victorious two-year guerrilla campaign that deposed the Batista regime.Following the Cuban Revolution, Guevara performed a number of key roles in the new government. These included reviewing the appeals and firing squads for those convicted as war criminals during the revolutionary tribunals, instituting agrarian land reform as minister of industries, helping spearhead a successful nationwide literacy campaign, serving as both national bank president and instructional director for Cuba's armed forces, and traversing the globe as a diplomat on behalf of Cuban socialism. Such positions also allowed him to play a central role in training the militia forces who repelled the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and bringing Soviet nuclear-armed ballistic missiles to Cuba, which precipitated the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Additionally, Guevara was a prolific writer and diarist, composing a seminal manual on guerrilla warfare, along with a best-selling memoir about his youthful continental motorcycle journey. His experiences and studying of Marxism–Leninism led him to posit that the Third World's underdevelopment and dependence was an intrinsic result of imperialism, neocolonialism and monopoly capitalism, with the only remedy being proletarian internationalism and world revolution. Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to foment revolution abroad, first unsuccessfully in Congo-Kinshasa and later in Bolivia, where he was captured by CIA-assisted Bolivian forces and summarily executed.Guevara remains both a revered and reviled historical figure, polarized in the collective imagination in a multitude of biographies, memoirs, essays, documentaries, songs and films. As a result of his perceived martyrdom, poetic invocations for class struggle and desire to create the consciousness of a "new man" driven by moral rather than material incentives, Guevara has evolved into a quintessential icon of various leftist movements. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, while an Alberto Korda photograph of him, titled Guerrillero Heroico (shown), was cited by the Maryland Institute College of Art as "the most famous photograph in the world".Cuba Gooding Jr.
Cuba Michael Gooding Jr. (born January 2, 1968) is an American actor. After his breakthrough role as Tre Styles in Boyz n the Hood (1991), he appeared in A Few Good Men (1992), The Tuskegee Airmen (1995), Outbreak (1995), and Jerry Maguire (1996), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He gained later attention for his roles in Men of Honor (2000) as Carl Brashear, and in Michael Bay's WWII epic Pearl Harbor (2001) as Doris Miller. His other notable films include As Good as It Gets (1997), the ensemble farce Rat Race (2001), American Gangster (2007), Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013), and Selma (2014), playing civil rights attorney Fred Gray. In 2016, he portrayed O.J. Simpson in the FX drama series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and co-starred in the sixth season of the FX anthology series American Horror Story, subtitled Roanoke.Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis of 1962 (Spanish: Crisis de Octubre), the Caribbean Crisis (Russian: Карибский кризис, tr. Karibsky krizis, IPA: [kɐˈrʲipskʲɪj ˈkrʲizʲɪs]), or the Missile Scare, was a 13-day (October 16–28, 1962) confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union initiated by American ballistic missile deployment in Italy and Turkey with consequent Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.In response to the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961 and the presence of American Jupiter ballistic missiles in Italy and Turkey, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed to Cuba's request to place nuclear missiles on the island to deter a future invasion. An agreement was reached during a secret meeting between Khrushchev and Fidel Castro in July 1962, and construction of a number of missile launch facilities started later that summer.
The 1962 United States elections were under way, and the White House had for months denied charges that it was ignoring dangerous Soviet missiles 90 miles (140 km) from Florida. The missile preparations were confirmed when an Air Force U-2 spy plane produced clear photographic evidence of medium-range (SS-4) and intermediate-range (R-14) ballistic missile facilities. The US established a naval blockade on October 22 to prevent further missiles from reaching Cuba; Oval Office tapes during the crisis revealed that Kennedy had also put the blockade in place as an attempt to provoke Soviet-backed forces in Berlin as well. The US announced it would not permit offensive weapons to be delivered to Cuba and demanded that the weapons already in Cuba be dismantled and returned to the Soviet Union.
After several days of tense negotiations, an agreement was reached between US President John F. Kennedy and Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for a US public declaration and agreement to avoid invading Cuba again. Secretly, the United States agreed that it would dismantle all US-built Jupiter MRBMs, which had been deployed in Turkey against the Soviet Union; there has been debate on whether or not Italy was included in the agreement as well.
When all offensive missiles and Ilyushin Il-28 light bombers had been withdrawn from Cuba, the blockade was formally ended on November 21, 1962. The negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union pointed out the necessity of a quick, clear, and direct communication line between Washington and Moscow. As a result, the Moscow–Washington hotline was established. A series of agreements reduced US–Soviet tensions for several years until both parties began to build their nuclear arsenal even further.Cuban Revolution
The Cuban Revolution (Spanish: Revolución cubana) was an armed revolt conducted by Fidel Castro's revolutionary 26th of July Movement and its allies against the authoritarian government of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista. The revolution began in July 1953, and continued sporadically until the rebels finally ousted Batista on 31 December 1958, replacing his government with a revolutionary socialist state. 26 July 1959 is celebrated in Cuba as the Day of the Revolution. The 26th of July Movement later reformed along communist lines, becoming the Communist Party in October 1965.The Cuban Revolution had powerful domestic and international repercussions. In particular, it transformed Cuba's relationship with the United States, although efforts to improve diplomatic relations have gained momentum in recent years. In the immediate aftermath of the revolution, Castro's government began a program of nationalization and political consolidation that transformed Cuba's economy and civil society. The revolution also heralded an era of Cuban intervention in foreign military conflicts, including the Angolan Civil War and the Nicaraguan Revolution.Cuba–Soviet Union relations
After the establishment of diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union after the Cuban Revolution of 1959, Cuba became increasingly dependent on Soviet markets and military aid, becoming an ally of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In 1972 Cuba joined the COMECON, an economic organization of states designed to create cooperation among the socialist planned economies dominated by the large economy of the Soviet Union. Moscow kept in regular contact with Havana, sharing varying close relations until the collapse of the bloc in 1991. After the demise of the Soviet Union, Cuba entered an era of economic hardship known as the Special Period in Time of Peace.Cuba–United States relations
Cuba–United States relations are bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States. Cuba and the United States restored diplomatic relations on 20 July 2015, which had been severed in 1961 during the Cold War. U.S. diplomatic representation in Cuba is handled by the United States Embassy in Havana, and there is a similar Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. The United States, however, continues to maintain its commercial, economic, and financial embargo, which makes it illegal for U.S. corporations to do business with Cuba.
The hold of the Spanish Empire on possessions in the Americas was reduced in the 1820s as a result of the Spanish American wars of independence; only Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule until the Spanish–American War (1898) that resulted from the Cuban War of Independence. Under the Treaty of Paris, Cuba became a U.S. protectorate from 1898-1902; the U.S. gained a position of economic and political dominance over the island, which persisted after it became formally independent in 1902.
Following the Cuban Revolution of 1959, bilateral relations deteriorated substantially. In 1961, the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Cuba and began pursuing covert operations to topple the Communist regime. In October 1960, the U.S. imposed and subsequently tightened a comprehensive set of restrictions and bans against the Cuban regime as retaliation for the nationalization of U.S. corporations' property by Cuba. The 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, the 1962 missile crisis, and American efforts to stand up to Fidel Castro's attempts to spread communism throughout Latin America and Africa, are main highlights of US antagonism towards Cuba during the Cold War, although Nixon, Ford, Kennedy, and Johnson resorted to back-channel talks with the Cuban government during the Cold War.On 17 December 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the beginning of a process of normalizing relations between Cuba and the U.S., which media sources have named "the Cuban Thaw". Negotiated in secret in Canada and Vatican City over preceding months, and with the assistance of Pope Francis, the agreement led to the lifting of some U.S. travel restrictions, fewer restrictions on remittances, U.S. banks access to the Cuban financial system, and the establishment of a U.S. embassy in Havana, which closed after Cuba became closely allied with the USSR in 1961. The countries' respective "interests sections" in one another's capitals were upgraded to embassies on 20 July 2015. On 20 March 2016, President Barack Obama visited Cuba, becoming the first U.S. President in 88 years to visit the island.On 16 June 2017 President Donald Trump announced that he was suspending the policy for unconditional sanctions relief for Cuba, while also leaving the door open for a "better deal" between the US and Cuba.A 2016 survey shows that 77% of Cubans have a favorable view of the United States, with only 4% expressing an unfavorable view.Eastern Time Zone
The Eastern Time Zone (ET) is a time zone encompassing part or all of 22 states in the eastern part of the contiguous United States, parts of eastern Canada, the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico, Panama in Central America, and the Caribbean Islands.
Places that use Eastern Standard Time (EST) when observing standard time (autumn/winter) are 5 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC−05:00).
Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), when observing daylight saving time DST (spring/summer) is 4 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC−04:00).
In the northern parts of the time zone, on the second Sunday in March, at 2:00 a.m. EST, clocks are advanced to 3:00 a.m. EDT leaving a one-hour "gap". On the first Sunday in November, at 2:00 a.m. EDT, clocks are moved back to 1:00 a.m. EST, thus "duplicating" one hour. Southern parts of the zone (Panama and the Caribbean) do not observe daylight saving time.Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (American Spanish: [fiˈðel aleˈxandɾo ˈkastɾo ˈrus]; 13 August 1926 – 25 November 2016) was a Cuban communist revolutionary and politician who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008. A Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, Castro also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his administration, Cuba became a one-party communist state, while industry and business were nationalized and state socialist reforms were implemented throughout society.
Born in Birán, Oriente as the son of a wealthy Spanish farmer, Castro adopted leftist anti-imperialist politics while studying law at the University of Havana. After participating in rebellions against right-wing governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, he planned the overthrow of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, launching a failed attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953. After a year's imprisonment, Castro traveled to Mexico where he formed a revolutionary group, the 26th of July Movement, with his brother Raúl Castro and Che Guevara. Returning to Cuba, Castro took a key role in the Cuban Revolution by leading the Movement in a guerrilla war against Batista's forces from the Sierra Maestra. After Batista's overthrow in 1959, Castro assumed military and political power as Cuba's Prime Minister. The United States came to oppose Castro's government and unsuccessfully attempted to remove him by assassination, economic blockade and counter-revolution, including the Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961. Countering these threats, Castro aligned with the Soviet Union and allowed the Soviets to place nuclear weapons in Cuba, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis – a defining incident of the Cold War – in 1962.
Adopting a Marxist–Leninist model of development, Castro converted Cuba into a one-party, socialist state under Communist Party rule, the first in the Western Hemisphere. Policies introducing central economic planning and expanding healthcare and education were accompanied by state control of the press and the suppression of internal dissent. Abroad, Castro supported anti-imperialist revolutionary groups, backing the establishment of Marxist governments in Chile, Nicaragua and Grenada, as well as sending troops to aid allies in the Yom Kippur, Ogaden, and Angolan Civil War. These actions, coupled with Castro's leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1979 to 1983 and Cuba's medical internationalism, increased Cuba's profile on the world stage. Following the Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991, Castro led Cuba through the economic downturn of the "Special Period", embracing environmentalist and anti-globalization ideas. In the 2000s, Castro forged alliances in the Latin American "pink tide" – namely with Hugo Chávez's Venezuela – and signed Cuba up to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. In 2006, Castro transferred his responsibilities to Vice President Raúl Castro, who was elected to the presidency by the National Assembly in 2008.
The longest-serving non-royal head of state in the 20th and 21st centuries, Castro polarized world opinion. His supporters view him as a champion of socialism and anti-imperialism whose revolutionary regime advanced economic and social justice while securing Cuba's independence from American imperialism. Critics view him as a dictator whose administration oversaw human-rights abuses, the exodus of a large number of Cubans and the impoverishment of the country's economy. Castro was decorated with various international awards and significantly influenced different individuals and groups across the world.Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar (; Spanish: [fulˈxensjo βaˈtista i salˈdiβaɾ]; born Rubén Zaldívar; January 16, 1901 – August 6, 1973) was the elected President of Cuba from 1940 to 1944, and the U.S.-backed authoritarian ruler from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown during the Cuban Revolution. Batista initially rose to power as part of the 1933 Revolt of the Sergeants, which overthrew the provisional government of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada. He then appointed himself chief of the armed forces, with the rank of colonel, and effectively controlled the five-member "pentarchy" that functioned as the collective head of state. He maintained this control through a string of puppet presidents until 1940, when he was himself elected President of Cuba on a populist platform. He then instated the 1940 Constitution of Cuba and served until 1944. After finishing his term he lived in Florida, returning to Cuba to run for president in 1952. Facing certain electoral defeat, he led a military coup against President Carlos Prío Socarrás that preempted the election.Back in power, and receiving financial, military, and logistical support from the United States government, Batista suspended the 1940 Constitution and revoked most political liberties, including the right to strike. He then aligned with the wealthiest landowners who owned the largest sugar plantations, and presided over a stagnating economy that widened the gap between rich and poor Cubans. Eventually it reached the point where most of the sugar industry was in U.S. hands, and foreigners owned 70% of the arable land. As such, Batista's repressive government then began to systematically profit from the exploitation of Cuba's commercial interests, by negotiating lucrative relationships with both the American Mafia, who controlled the drug, gambling, and prostitution businesses in Havana, and with large U.S.-based multinational companies who were awarded lucrative contracts. To quell the growing discontent amongst the populace—which was subsequently displayed through frequent student riots and demonstrations—Batista established tighter censorship of the media, while also utilizing his Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities secret police to carry out wide-scale violence, torture and public executions; ultimately killing anywhere from hundreds to 20,000 people.Catalyzing the resistance to such tactics, for two years (December 1956 – December 1958) Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement and other nationalist rebelling elements led an urban and rural-based guerrilla uprising against Batista's government, which culminated in his eventual defeat by rebels under the command of Che Guevara at the Battle of Santa Clara on New Year's Day 1959. Batista immediately fled the island with an amassed personal fortune to the Dominican Republic, where strongman and previous military ally Rafael Trujillo held power. Batista eventually found political asylum in Oliveira Salazar's Portugal, where he first lived on the island of Madeira and then in Estoril, outside Lisbon. He was involved in business activities in Spain and was staying there in Guadalmina near Marbella at the time of his death from a heart attack on August 6, 1973.Guantánamo Bay
Guantánamo Bay (Spanish: Bahía de Guantánamo) is a bay located in Guantánamo Province at the southeastern end of Cuba. It is the largest harbor on the south side of the island and it is surrounded by steep hills which create an enclave that is cut off from its immediate hinterland.
The United States assumed territorial control over the southern portion of Guantánamo Bay under the 1903 Lease agreement. The United States exercises complete jurisdiction and control over this territory, while recognizing that Cuba retains ultimate sovereignty. The current government of Cuba regards the U.S. presence in Guantánamo Bay as "illegal" and insists the Cuban–American Treaty "was obtained by threat of force and is in violation of international law." Some legal scholars judge that the lease may be voidable. It is the home of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and the Guantanamo Bay detention camp located within the base, which are both governed by the United States. Since the 1959 revolution, Cuba has only cashed a single lease payment from the United States government.Havana
Havana (; Spanish: La Habana [la aˈβana] (listen)) is the capital city, largest city, province, major port, and leading commercial center of Cuba. The city has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of 781.58 km2 (301.77 sq mi) – making it the largest city by area, the most populous city, and the fourth largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean region.The city of Havana was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century and due to its strategic location it served as a springboard for the Spanish conquest of the Americas, becoming a stopping point for treasure-laden Spanish galleons returning to Spain. The King Philip II of Spain granted Havana the title of City in 1592. Walls as well as forts were built to protect the old city. The sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana's harbor in 1898 was the immediate cause of the Spanish–American War.The city is the center of the Cuban government, and home to various ministries, headquarters of businesses and over 90 diplomatic offices. The current mayor is Marta Hernández of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC). In 2009, the city/province had the third highest income in the country.Contemporary Havana can essentially be described as three cities in one: Old Havana, Vedado and the newer suburban districts. The city extends mostly westward and southward from the bay, which is entered through a narrow inlet and which divides into three main harbors: Mari melena, Guanabacoa and Antares. The sluggish Almendares River traverses the city from south to north, entering the Straits of Florida a few miles west of the bay.The city attracts over a million tourists annually; the Official Census for Havana reports that in 2010 the city was visited by 1,176,627 international tourists, a 20% increase from 2005. Old Havana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. The city is also noted for its history, culture, architecture and monuments. As typical of Cuba, Havana experiences a tropical climate.History of Cuba
The island of Cuba was inhabited by various Mesoamerican cultures prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1492. After the arrival, Spain conquered Cuba and appointed Spanish governors to rule in Havana. In 1762, Havana was briefly occupied by Great Britain, before being returned to Spain in exchange for Florida. A series of rebellions during the 19th century failed to end the Spanish rule. However, the Spanish–American War resulted in a Spanish withdrawal from the island in 1898, and following three-and-a-half years of subsequent US military rule, Cuba gained formal independence in 1902.In the years following its independence, the Cuban republic saw significant economic development, but also political corruption and a succession of despotic leaders, culminating in the overthrow of the dictator Fulgencio Batista by the 26th of July Movement, led by Fidel and Raúl Castro Ruz, during the 1953–59 Cuban Revolution. Cuba has since been governed as a socialist state by the Communist Party under the leadership of the Castro brothers. The country has been politically and economically isolated by the United States since the Revolution, but has gradually gained access to foreign commerce and travel as efforts to normalise diplomatic relations have progressed. Domestic economic reforms are also beginning to modernize Cuba's socialist economy.Operation Northwoods
Operation Northwoods was a proposed, and almost implemented, false flag operation against the Cuban government that originated within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of the United States government in 1962. The proposals called for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or other U.S. government operatives to commit acts of terrorism against American civilians and military targets, blaming them on the Cuban government, and using it to justify a war against Cuba. The plans detailed in the document included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities. The proposals were rejected by John F. Kennedy.Communists led by Fidel Castro had taken power in Cuba in 1959, which aroused the concern of the US military due to the Cold War. The operation proposed creating public support for a war against Cuba by blaming it for terrorist acts that would actually be perpetrated by the U.S. Government. To this end, Operation Northwoods proposals recommended hijackings and bombings followed by the introduction of phony evidence that would implicate the Cuban government. It stated:
The desired resultant from the execution of this plan would be to place the United States in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible government of Cuba and to develop an international image of a Cuban threat to peace in the Western Hemisphere.
Several other proposals were included within Operation Northwoods, including real or simulated actions against various U.S. military and civilian targets. The operation recommended developing a "Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington".
The plan was drafted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, signed by Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer and sent to the Secretary of Defense. Although part of the U.S. government's anti-communist Cuban Project, Operation Northwoods was never officially accepted; it was authorized by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but then rejected by President John F. Kennedy. According to currently released documentation, none of the operations became active under the auspices of the Operation Northwoods proposals.Raúl Castro
Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz (American Spanish: [raˈul moˈðesto ˈkastɾo ˈrus]; born 3 June 1931) is a Cuban politician who is currently serving as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, the most senior position in the socialist state, succeeding his brother Fidel Castro in April 2011. He has also been a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Cuba, the highest decision-making body since 1975. In February 2008, he was appointed the President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers. He stepped down as President on 19 April 2018, but remains the first secretary of the Communist Party, holding ultimate power and authority over state and government.Previous to being appointed acting President of Cuba in July 2006, he served as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces from 1959 to 2008. His ministerial tenure made him the longest serving minister of the armed forces. Because of his predecessor's illness, Castro was designated the President of the Council of State in a temporary transfer of power. Castro was officially made President by the National Assembly on 24 February 2008, after Fidel Castro, who was still ailing, announced on 19 February 2008 that he would not stand for President again.
Castro was re-elected President on 24 February 2013. Shortly thereafter, Castro announced that his second term would be his final term, and that he would not seek re-election in 2018. He announced on state television on 21 December 2017 that he would step down as Cuban president on 19 April 2018 after his successor is elected by the National Assembly following parliamentary elections. However, he retains his position as First Secretary of the Communist Party, Cuba's ruling party, is head of the constitutional reform commission, and also continues to have a seat representing Santiago de Cuba's Segundo Frente municipality in the National Assembly.Spanish–American War
The Spanish–American War (Spanish: Guerra hispano-americana or Guerra hispano-estadounidense; Filipino: Digmaang Espanyol-Amerikano) was fought between the United States and Spain in 1898. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of USS Maine in Havana harbor in Cuba, leading to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. U.S. acquisition of Spain's Pacific possessions led to its involvement in the Philippine Revolution and ultimately in the Philippine–American War.The main issue was Cuban independence. Revolts had been occurring for some years in Cuba against Spanish rule. The U.S. later backed these revolts upon entering the Spanish–American War. There had been war scares before, as in the Virginius Affair in 1873, but in the late 1890s, American public opinion was agitated by reports of gruesome Spanish atrocities. The business community had just recovered from a deep depression and feared that a war would reverse the gains. It lobbied vigorously against going to war. President William McKinley ignored the exaggerated yellow press and sought a peaceful settlement.. The United States Navy armored cruiser USS Maine mysteriously exploded and sank in Havana Harbor; political pressures from the Democratic Party pushed McKinley into a war that he had wished to avoid.
McKinley signed a joint Congressional resolution demanding Spanish withdrawal and authorizing the President to use military force to help Cuba gain independence on April 20, 1898. In response, Spain severed diplomatic relations with the United States on April 21. On the same day, the U.S. Navy began a blockade of Cuba. Both sides declared war; neither had allies.
The ten-week war was fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific. As U.S. agitators for war well knew, U.S. naval power would prove decisive, allowing expeditionary forces to disembark in Cuba against a Spanish garrison already facing nationwide Cuban insurgent attacks and further wasted by yellow fever. The invaders obtained the surrender of Santiago de Cuba and Manila despite the good performance of some Spanish infantry units and fierce fighting for positions such as San Juan Hill. Madrid sued for peace after two Spanish squadrons were sunk in Santiago de Cuba and Manila Bay and a third, more modern, fleet was recalled home to protect the Spanish coasts.The result was the 1898 Treaty of Paris, negotiated on terms favorable to the U.S. which allowed it temporary control of Cuba and ceded ownership of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine islands. The cession of the Philippines involved payment of $20 million ($602,320,000 today) to Spain by the U.S. to cover infrastructure owned by Spain.The defeat and loss of the last remnants of the Spanish Empire was a profound shock to Spain's national psyche and provoked a thorough philosophical and artistic reevaluation of Spanish society known as the Generation of '98. The United States gained several island possessions spanning the globe and a rancorous new debate over the wisdom of expansionism.United States embargo against Cuba
The United States currently imposes a commercial, economic, and financial embargo against Cuba. The United States first imposed an embargo on the sale of arms to Cuba on March 14, 1958, during the Fulgencio Batista regime. Again on October 19, 1960 (almost two years after the Cuban Revolution had led to the deposition of the Batista regime) the U.S. placed an embargo on exports to Cuba except for food and medicine after Cuba nationalized American-owned Cuban oil refineries without compensation. On February 7, 1962 the embargo was extended to include almost all exports.As of 2018, the Cuban embargo is enforced mainly through six statutes: the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the Cuban Assets Control Regulations of 1963, the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, the Helms–Burton Act of 1996, and the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. The stated purpose of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 is to maintain sanctions on Cuba as long as the Cuban government refuses to move toward "democratization and greater respect for human rights". The Helms–Burton Act further restricted United States citizens from doing business in or with Cuba, and mandated restrictions on giving public or private assistance to any successor government in Havana unless and until certain claims against the Cuban government were met. In 1999 President Bill Clinton expanded the trade embargo by also disallowing foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to trade with Cuba. In 2000 Clinton authorized the sale of "humanitarian" U.S. products to Cuba.
In Cuba the embargo is called el bloqueo, "the blockade". Despite the term bloqueo (blockade), there has been no physical naval blockade of the country by the United States since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The United States does not block Cuba's trade with third parties: other countries are not under the jurisdiction of U.S. domestic laws, such as the Cuban Democracy Act (although, in theory, the U.S. could penalize foreign countries that trade with Cuba, a possibility which has been condemned by the United Nations General Assembly as an "extraterritorial" measure that contravenes "the sovereign equality of States, non-intervention in their internal affairs and freedom of trade and navigation as paramount to the conduct of international affairs"). Cuba can, and does, conduct international trade with many third-party countries; Cuba has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1995.Beyond criticisms of human rights in Cuba, the United States holds $6 billion worth of financial claims against the Cuban government. The pro-embargo position is that the U.S. embargo is, in part, an appropriate response to these unaddressed claims. The Latin America Working Group argues that pro-embargo Cuban-American exiles, whose votes are crucial in the U.S. state of Florida, have swayed many politicians to adopt views similar to their own. Some business leaders, including James E. Perrella, Dwayne O. Andreas, and Peter Blyth, have opposed the Cuban-American views, arguing that trading freely would be good for Cuba and the United States.As of 2018, the embargo, which limits American businesses from conducting trade with Cuban interests, remains in effect and is the most enduring trade embargo in modern history. Despite the existence of the embargo, the United States is the fifth-largest exporter to Cuba (6.6% of Cuba's imports come from the US). Cuba must, however, pay cash for all imports, as credit is not allowed.The UN General Assembly has, since 1992, passed a resolution every year condemning the ongoing impact of the embargo and declaring it in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law. In 2014, out of the 193-nation assembly, 188 countries voted for the nonbinding resolution, the United States and Israel voted against and the Pacific Island nations Palau, Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstained. Human-rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
have also been critical of the embargo. Critics of the embargo say that the embargo laws are too harsh, citing the fact that violations can result in up to 10 years in prison.