The US and Cuba: History of the relationship

Published on: Feb 1, 2016fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round

The story

Back up.

All the drama started in the late 1950s, when Fidel Castro – just a guy with a Communist handbook in his pocket – kicked out the

American-backed President

Fulgencio Batista

and took over Cuba. The US gave him side-eye, but recognized his new government. Then, Castro became

BFFs with the Soviet Union

So what happened?

The US said ‘adios, Felicia’ and cut off all diplomatic ties with Cuba. Meaning no trade, no travel, no Cuban cigars for Father’s Day. Things got so bad that in ‘61, the US tried to take out Castro in the

Bay of Pigs invasion

. Fail. That’s when Castro inked a secret deal to let the Soviets build missile bases in Cuba. Cue the

Cuban Missile Crisis

Thanks for the history lesson. What's up now?

Times they are a changin’, thanks in big part to

Pope Francis’s matchmaking skills

. He texted President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro (Fidel’s baby bro) and said, ‘can you please bury the hatchet.’ Prompting Obama to make it a priority to get the Cuba relationship back on track. So in late 2014, Obama announced that the US would be

restoring diplomatic relations

with Cuba. Cuba has

basically been stuck in a 50s movie

since breaking up with the US, so resuming relations is a BIG deal for the country. Cut to now, and Obama just became the first sitting US prez to visit Cuba in

more than 80 years

What do you mean?

This all has to do with the Double Es: “economic embargo.” Since the big breakup in the ‘60s, the US has banned trade with Cuba. It’s US law that the embargo can’t be lifted

until Cuba holds free elections

and puts someone in charge not named Castro. Guess which branch of government has the power to reverse this law?


What are they saying?

A lot of

older Cuban-Americans

don’t feel like their home country has changed.


What is everyone else saying?

Some people (mostly Dems

) think that being friends with Cuba is a good diplomatic look and a gold star for the US’s relationship with Latin America. Other people (mostly Republicans

But can I book a trip to Cuba?

Mmm, depends. Under a new travel agreement, there will be dozens of round-trip flights a day between the US and Cuba. Just don’t start planning adult spring break 2017 there yet. You need to be able to

check one of 12 boxes


For the US, this is more of a symbolic move that signifies the thaw of a long Ice Age. But this isn’t just about the US and Cuba. This half-century breakup has affected US relations with Latin America too. So this could help

heal wounds across the continent

live smarter.

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