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Cuba History

Cuba - national flagCuba - national flag

Cuba's national flag was created by Cuban exiles in New York in the 1850's and was officially hoisted for the first time in 1902. The flag is inspired by the flag of the United States and is called "The Lone Star". The three blue stripes stand for the provinces of Cuba in the 1850's, the white stripes for the purity of the revolution, the star of independence in the red triangle for freedom, equality and brotherhood, and red for the blood, sacrificed by the Cuban patriots.

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Cuba - history

On Columbus 's arrival in Cuba on 27 October 1942, the island was inhabited by three Native American peoples, Ciboney, Arawak, and Taino, who subsisted mainly on hunting and farming.

In 1511, the Spanish conquest and settlement began under Diego Velázquez, the island's first governor, and the most important cities were laid out in the following years. As early as about 1600, the Native American people were virtually exterminated due to illness, forced labor, and Spanish attacks.

Cuba's economy came early to rest on agriculture with sugar cane as the main crop followed by coffee and tobacco. From the 1500's. until about the year 1800, over 100,000 African slaves were introduced. Despite an agreement between England and Spain to stop the slave trade, during the 1800's. introduced about half a million more.

Cuba's geographical position and status as a center of shipping between Spain and its colonies made special in the 1600's. the island to the target of pirate attacks. In 1762, Havana was attacked and occupied by an English fleet, and Spain had to relinquish Florida to get the city back.

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In the first half of the 1800's. there was a conspiracy in Cuba against Spanish supremacy, but it only came to open war in 1868 with the revolt of the landowner Carlos Manuel de Céspedes (1819-74), which ended ten years later without result. In 1895, the Second War of Independence began under the leadership of José Martí, a poet, intellectual and co-founder of the Cuban Revolutionary Party. He fell in battle the same year, but the war continued, and Spain made every effort not to lose its last colonies.

Cuba History

In 1898, the United States, which already at that time had significant economic interests on the island, intervened in the war that ended with Spain's defeat a few months later. In 1902, Cuba officially gained independence; However, the United States maintained its economic and political dominance over the country until 1959.

Among other things. the United States, through the so-called Platt Amendment formula, was given the right to intervene in the country to "protect life, property and individual freedom"; however, this right was abolished in 1934. At the same time, a still existing US naval base was established near the city of Guantánamo in eastern Cuba.

Heads of State
1902-06 Tomás Estrada Palma
1909-13 José Miguel Gómez
1913-21 Mario García Menocal
1921-25 Alfredo Zayas and Alonso
1925-33 Gerardo Machado y Morales
1933 C. Manuel de Céspedes y Ortiz
1933-34 Ramón Grau San Martin
1934-35 Carlos Mendieta
1935-36 José A. Barnet and Vinagres
1936 Miguel Mariano Gómez y Arias
1936-40 Frederico Laredo Bru
1940-44 Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar
1944-48 Ramón Grau San Martin
1948-52 Carlos Prío Socarrás
1952-59 Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar
1959 Manuel Urrutia
1959-75 Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado
1976-2008 Fidel Castro Ruz
2008- Raúl Castro

1925-33 the country was ruled by the dictator Gerardo Machado y Morales (1871-1939); he was overthrown by a popular uprising with the participation of the United States as a mediator. A few weeks later, the new president was deposed in a coup, led by a young non-commissioned officer, Fulgencio Batista, who soon became the army's commander-in-chief and the country's "strong man". In 1940-44 he led a coalition government, which even the then Communist Party participated in. Batista took power again in a bloodless coup on March 10, 1952, which gave rise to a slowly growing opposition in democratic and intellectual circles.

Among his most active opponents was the 25-year-old lawyer Fidel Castro, who on 26.7.1953 together with approximately 150 others attacked the Moncada barracks in Santiago as well as another in the town of Bayamo. The operation failed and the attackers were liquidated or imprisoned. After amnesty and exile in Mexico, Castro attempted a new military operation in 1956, namely a landing attempt from the yacht Granma. The action was another failure, but the survivors began a guerrilla war in the mountains of eastern Cuba. In the cities, Castro received support from, among others, the students, while the Communist Party and the other traditional parties remained hesitant. In late 1958, Castro, along with his brother Raúl and Argentine Ernesto "Che" Guevara, launched the final offensive.

On the night of 1.1.1959, Batista fled the country, on 8.1. Castro held his victory march in Havana, and the revolutionary process was set in motion almost immediately. It involved land reform, nationalization of both Cuban and foreign property, wage increases, declines in rents, etc. At the same time, banquets were held over Batista's men. In 1960-61, a comprehensive literacy campaign was carried out as the beginning of an education system for the whole people. Another of the merits of the system was the development of an exemplary healthcare system.

The new government did not immediately confess to socialism, but the radical change process created an antagonism to the United States. At the same time, an increasing number of Cubans, especially from the middle and upper classes, chose to go into exile, mainly in the United States, where Miami quickly became the economic and political center of the opposition to Castro.

Two of Castro's revolutionary comrades tried to revolt against the regime. The United States fought the new Cuba economically and diplomatically; in 1960, import bans for Cuban sugar were introduced, followed by an actual trade embargo. In 1961, the United States severed diplomatic relations with Cuba, and in 1962, Cuba was excluded from the Organization of American States, OAS. The isolation led Cuban leaders to strengthen ties with the Eastern Bloc, which within a few years took over the traditional role of the United States as Cuba's most important trading partner. A few non-communist countries, including Mexico and Spain, maintained ties with Cuba.

On April 16, 1961, Castro declared the country a socialist state. The next day, the American attack began in Swine Bay; it was rejected and meant a political and moral victory for Castro. The culmination of the conflict between the United States and Cuba came with the Cuba crisis in October 1962.

In the early and mid-1960's, Cuba was an international center of revolutionaries and intellectuals, but especially from 1968, many former sympathizers began to turn against Castro's regime. His acceptance of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Prague, the increasing restrictions on personal and artistic freedom, the creation of "re-education camps" for homosexuals and other "dissenters" were reasons for this. In 1965, the Revolutionary Unity Party was renamed the Cuban Communist Party.

The first decade of the revolution was marked by economic chaos and a shortage of virtually all products due to both the US blockade and economic policy. From the mid-1970's, a traditional planned economy was pursued in cooperation with the Soviet Union and COMECON. The economic situation improved and living standards rose. With the new constitution in 1976, Castro's powers were strengthened.

While Cuban leaders in the 1960's were strongly committed to the revolutionary movements in Latin America, the 1970's were marked by a growing commitment in Africa, especially in Angola, to which Cuba sent its first troops in 1976 to support the MPLA government. The withdrawal of Cuban troops began in 1989.

In the late 1970's, under US President Carter, a certain thawing took place in relations between Cuba and the United States, which, however, again became very tense after Ronald Reagan's takeover. In 1980, about 130,000 people left the country in the largest wave of emigration since the 1960's, but the regime survived the crisis, and the period from 1980-85 was both economically and politically one of the most stable after 1959.

From 1985-86, new difficulties were encountered with political and economic austerity, and contrary to many people's expectations, Castro did not follow the liberalization tendencies seen in Eastern Europe after Gorbachev's takeover of the Soviet Union. The final collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc meant that Cuba lost most of its economic livelihood. Imports of oil, food and consumer goods were drastically reduced and Cuba was thrown into its worst crisis to date.

During 1993 and 1994, the economy was extensively liberalized. The reforms led new social inequalities and a sharp rise in crime, begging and prostitution. Through unofficial negotiations, Cuba has tried to get the United States to abandon the long blockade in return for economic concessions, but so far to no avail. Domestically, the government has relaxed its cultural policy and is showing greater tolerance towards traditionally oppressed groups.

However, there is no indication that Castro is willing to accept any form of political pluralism. The official Marxist ideology and planned economy, on the other hand, seem to be increasingly replaced by nationalist and populist formulations combined with a pragmatic state-controlled capitalism. But the country's future, both in the short and long term, is still bleak.

The deep crisis that Cuba was thrown into after the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc from 1989 was turned to cautious economic growth in the second half of the 1990's, by virtue of an increasing number of foreign tourists. The U.S. blockade of the country was tightened through the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, which provided that third-country firms investing in former U.S. property in Cuba could be brought to justice in the United States. Since then, however, incumbent presidents have regularly voted against the entry into force of that part of the law.

In 1999-2000, a seven-month custody battle was fought over the Cuban boy Elian González (b. 1993), who survived a shipwreck off Florida. Elian's uncle in the United States lost the case, and Elian was sent home to his father in Cuba. The Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, skillfully exploited the case, illustrating the continuing strained relations with the Cuban exiles in the United States, for propaganda purposes.

The private sector is growing and in 2000 accounted for over 20% of the economy. The political developments in several Latin American countries since 1999, in particular Hugo Chávez's takeover of oil-rich Venezuela, have brought Cuba out of part of the political and economic isolation in which it has found itself.

Trade with Europe, Canada, China and Latin America has increased, and in 2004 Cuba switched to using the euro instead of the dollar as an alternative currency. There is growth in the number of foreign customers in the healthcare system and in the delivery of healthcare staff in connection with e.g. international aid workers.

Tourism has been rising since the 1990's, reaching 2.3 million in 2005. visitors from especially Canada and Europe. Since 1996, earnings from tourism have been higher than from sugar exports, but sugar remains the main export commodity.

In 2001, shortly before he turned 75, Fidel Castro had a short-lived discomfort on the podium. The episode prompted him to appoint his brother, Defense Minister Raúl Castro, as the official successor in an attempt to ensure the regime continues after his death. New illness at Castro has meant that the rule of Cuba in 2006 was temporarily handed over to the brother. In February 2008, Fidel Castro proclaimed his resignation for health reasons, prompting Raúl Castro to become the new president. Under his leadership, there have been cautious approaches to reform; Among other things, In 2011, it was again allowed for private individuals to buy and sell properties. Raúl Castro was re-elected by the National Assembly for his second presidential term in February 2013.

In December 2014, the U.S. Obama administration announced that the United States would normalize relations with Cuba. An exchange of prisoners took place between the two countries. Whether the U.S. trade embargo can be eased in the short term, however, is uncertain, as the conservative-minded U.S. Congress has been critical of the normalization plans.

 

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