Photo above: Jefferson Memorial. Right: Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., 2016. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
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Detail - 2015
July 20, 2015 - Full diplomatic relations are reestablished between the United States and Cuba for the first time in fifty-four years.
It had been since 1961 that the United States had full diplomatic relations with the island nation of Cuba. The nation had gone through its revolution, a Bay of Pigs invasion, and an alignment with the Soviet Union that began to place missiles only miles off the Florida coast before backing down to President Kennedy when he stood firm against them. Through virtually the entire reign of the Castro brothers, the United States had embargoed the goods of the island, banned travel to and fro, and dismissed its embassy corps from contact with the Cuban government.
The thaw began to take place on December 17, 2014 when the Obama government and Raul Castro announced the process of normalization. Negotiations had been ongoing for several years between emissaries in Canada and the Vatican, including Pope Francis. By the date of July 20, 2015, diplomatic relations had been restored with embassies exchanged in both capitals, relaxed travel restrictions, and access to the Cuban financial system. There were still trade restrictions, per embargo, although additional items are now allowed, cigars and rum from Cuba to the U.S., and computer equipment and telecommunications technology from the U.S. to Cuba.
Disagreements still exist as the Obama Administration had stated that lifting of the full embargo would not come without political change in Cuba. The existence of the Guantanamo Bay prison, used today for terrorist subjects, is disagreed on by the Cuban government, who insist the treaty establishing it is no longer valid. Guantanamo Bay is leased by the United States under the terms of the Platt Amendment, 1901, which stated conditions of the U.S. withdrawal of troops from the island after the end of the Spanish-American War.
Platt Amendment 1901
Whereas the Congress of the United States of America, by an Act approved March 2, 1901, provided as follows:
Provided further, That in fulfillment of the declaration contained in the joint resolution approved April twentieth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, entitled "For the recognition of the independence of the people of Cuba, demanding that the Government of Spain relinquish its authority and government in the island of Cuba, and withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters, and directing the President of the United States to use the land and naval forces of the United States to carry these resolutions into effect," the President is hereby authorized to "leave the government and control of the island of Cuba to its people" so soon as a government shall have been established in said island under a constitution which, either as a part thereof or in an ordinance appended thereto, shall define the future relations of the United States with Cuba, substantially as follows:
"I.-That the government of Cuba shall never enter into any treaty or other compact with any foreign power or powers which will impair or tend to impair the independence of Cuba, nor in any manner authorize or permit any foreign power or powers to obtain by colonization or for military or naval purposes or otherwise, lodgement in or control over any portion of said island."
"II. That said government shall not assume or contract any public debt, to pay the interest upon which, and to make reasonable sinking fund provision for the ultimate discharge of which, the ordinary revenues of the island, after defraying the current expenses of government shall be inadequate."
"III. That the government of Cuba consents that the United States may exercise the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence, the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty, and for discharging the obligations with respect to Cuba imposed by the treaty of Paris on the United States, now to be assumed and undertaken by the government of Cuba."
"IV. That all Acts of the United States in Cuba during its military occupancy thereof are ratified and validated, and all lawful rights acquired thereunder shall be maintained and protected."
"V. That the government of Cuba will execute, and as far as necessary extend, the plans already devised or other plans to be mutually agreed upon, for the sanitation of the cities of the island, to the end that a recurrence of epidemic and infectious diseases may be prevented, thereby assuring protection to the people and commerce of Cuba, as well as to the commerce of the southern ports of the United States and the people residing therein."
"VI. That the Isle of Pines shall be omitted from the proposed constitutional boundaries of Cuba, the title thereto being left to future adjustment by treaty."
"VII. That to enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense, the government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points to be agreed upon with the President of the United States."
"VIII. That by way of further assurance the government of Cuba will embody the foregoing provisions in a permanent treaty with the United States."
Timeline of U.S./Cuba Diplomatic Relations
Existence of agreements such as the Platt Amendment and policies both prior to the Spanish-American War and after created a de factor battle between the United States and Cuba with many different shades of diplomatic relations. This included, at various times in history, the desire of the United States to annex Cuba as a state or territory of the United States. At other moments, United States business interests compelled the U.S. government to send military troops to the island to protect them and their property rights. This ended after the Cuban Revolution of 1959, outside the existence of Guantanamo Bay.
1510-1511 - Spain begins its conquest of Cuba and establishes a governor, Diego Velazquez de Cuellar. This begins a period of predominantly Spanish rule, with frequent battles between Spain, France, and Britain over the centuries for dominion over Cuba.
1763 - Great Britain cedes control over Cuba to Spain after gaining it one year earlier in the Seven Years War. Trade with British colonies in North America increases and is officially allowed by Spain in 1776.
1820 - Thomas Jefferson expresses interest to cabinet officials that the United States should take possession of Cuba.
1854 - Ostend Manifesto devised in secret to offer purchase of Cuba from Spain for $130 million or to take the island by force, making it a slave state. Scandal upon public knowledge and anti-slavery state disagreement ended the idea.
1897 - President McKinley offers to buy Cuba for $300 million during their 2nd War of Independence from Spain. Sinking of USS Maine in early 1898 causes the Spanish-American War.
1898 - Treaty of Paris (December 10) ends Spanish-American War and Spain gives up all claims to Cuba, ceding it to the United States.
1899 - Military government is established by United States over Cuba on the first of the year.
1902 - Constitution of Cuba takes effect May 20 with sovereignty of Cuba granted by the United States (provision of the Platt Amendment).
1906-1909 - Second occupation of Cuba occurs by U.S. troops after collapse of Cuban President Tomas Estrada Palma.
1917-1922 - Sugar Intervention and circumstances surrounding World War I sees United States troops stationed in Cuba to protect U.S. property rights interests.
1934 - Treaty of Relations signed between the United States and Cuba with strong relations between U.S. Presidents and General Batista, president and leader of Cuba.
1959 - President Eisenhower officially recognizes Castro government after Cuban Revolution overthrowing Batista. Relations deteriorate quickly with communist practices taking root and trade restrictions fostered by U.S.
1960 - All exports to Cuba from the United States banned on October 19; Cuba begins to grow trade relations with the Soviet Union.
1961 - January 3, official diplomatic relations between the two nations are cut off. April 17, the Bay of Pigs operation to overthrow the Castro government is thwarted.
1962 - Cuban Missile Crises erupts, October 16-28, with Soviet ballistic missiles beginning to deploy in Cuba. President Kennedy, on the brink of possible nuclear war, stands firm and forces the Soviet Union to remove the missiles from Cuba.
Photo above: Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., 2016. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Photo below: Havana, Cuba marketplace engraving, pre 1800, by Thomas Morris. Courtesy Library of Congress. Info source: Ourdocuments.gov; Wikipedia Commons.