1492 Nov 5, Christopher
Columbus learned of maize (corn) from the Indians of Cuba.
1493 Columbus landed a small
herd of swine on the island of Cuba.
(ON, 4/01, p.4)
1494 Apr 30, Christopher
Columbus arrived at Cuba on his 2nd voyage to the Americas.
1508 Sebastian de Ocampo,
Spanish navigator, explored Cuba.
1511 Diego de Velazquez,
Spanish commander, occupied Cuba. In the village of Caonao soldiers
under Velazquez slaughtered close to 2,000 Taino Indians. Among the
Spaniards was Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (13), who in 1542 led a 3-ship
expedition up the California coast.
(TL-MB, p.10)(SFC, 10/18/14, p.C1)
1514 Spanish soldiers conquered
the natives of Cuba and founded the city of Trinidad.
(TL-MB, p.10)(SSFC, 5/31/15, p.L1)
1515 Jul 26, Santiago, Cuba,
(SFC, 7/22/00, p.A17)
1515 Spanish conquistadores
founded Havana, Cuba.
1523 Sugar was grown in Cuba
for the first time.
1539 May 28, Hernando de Soto
sailed from Cuba to Florida with 13 pigs to help sustain his 700 men
on his gold-hunting expedition.
(ON, 4/01, p.4)(MC, 5/28/02)
c1650 Andres Manso de Contreras
built a vast fortune by intercepting Caribbean pirates in the
mid-17th century. In 1704 and 1776 his heirs sailed to London and
allegedly deposited the equivalent of some $60 million in gold at a
London bank at 5% interest.
(WSJ, 4/20/01, p.A1)
1673 Cuba began a program of
(SFC, 3/17/99, p.A14)
1740 The British sent a huge
amphibious force to attack the Spanish in Santiago de Cuba as part
of the War of Jenkin’s Ear. Of 28,000 men, 22,000 were dead within a
year due to disease. Only about 1,000 perished in combat.
(Econ, 8/13/11, p.80)
1741 British troops briefly
occupied Guantanamo Bay while warning against Spanish trade
(SSFC, 1/20/02, p.A7)
1749 Brook Watson (14) lost
half a leg to a shark in Havana Harbor. In 1778 John Singleton
Copley painted "Watson and the Shark" based on the incident. Watson
went on to become the Lord Mayor of London.
(WSJ, 4/9/99, p.W16)
1762 Aug 12, The British
captured Cuba from Spain after a two month siege.
1780 Oct 10, A Great Hurricane
killed 20,000 to 30,000 in Caribbean.
1795 A set of remains that the
Spaniards believed to be of Christopher Columbus were dug up from
behind the main altar in the newly built cathedral of Santo Domingo
and shipped to a cathedral in Havana, where they remained until the
Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, when Spain brought them to
Seville. In 1877 workers digging inside the Santo Domingo cathedral
unearthed a leaden box containing 13 large bone fragments and 28
small ones. It was inscribed "Illustrious and distinguished male,
don Cristobal Colon." The Dominicans said these were the real
remains of Columbus and that the Spaniards must have taken the wrong
(SFC, 1/18/05, p.A8)
1796 Cuba exported Havana
cigars to Britain.
(WSJ, 1/11/99, p.R49)
1800-1900 Felix Varela was a 19th century Catholic
priest and Cuban independence activist.
(WSJ, 5/13/02, p.A1)
1822 Nov 2, The USRC Louisiana
along with USS Peacock and the Royal Navy schooner HMS Speedwell
captured five pirate vessels off Havana, Cuba.
1833 Dec 3, Carlos Juan Finlay,
Cuban epidemiologist, was born.
1839 Jun 27, The Spanish
coasting vessel La Amistad (The Friendship) set sail from Cuba to
Porta Prince with a load of African slaves. Cinque, originally
Senghbe, and over 50 other Africans had been kidnapped in Sierra
Leone and sold into slavery in Cuba. They were carried on a Spanish
ship, the Tecora, to Cuba. Cinque and 49 other slaves and 4 children
were placed on the ship La Amistad destined for Haiti. They
revolted, killed the captain, and ordered the crew back to Africa
but the ship sailed north and ran aground. It was captured by the US
Navy on August 26. A legal battle ensued in New London, Conn., that
went to the Supreme court where former Pres. John Quincy Adams
argued for their freedom and won. An 1855 novella by Herman
Melville, "Benito Cereno" looked at the rebellion through the eyes
of an American interloper. Barbara Chase-Ribaud later wrote "Echo of
Lions," a novel based on the Amistad. In 1996 Steven Spielberg
announced plans to direct a film based on the incident titled
"Amistad." The film was to be released in 1997. A 1997 opera
production, "Amistad," by Anthony Davis premiered in Chicago.
DB p.57)(USAT, 11/19/97, p.2D)(WSJ, 12/5/97, p.A16)(SFEC,12/797, DB
p.44)(SFC,12/26/97, p.C6)(HN, 6/28/99)
1840s A New York merchant
brought the first red bananas to the US from Cuba.
(SFC, 5/27/00, p.B3)
1840s The Duchess of Bedford,
Anna, introduced on Cuba the first English afternoon snack break,
the afternoon tea.
(SFC, 5/27/00, p.B3)
1853 Jan 28, Cuban
revolutionary Jose Marti was born in Havana.
1857 Feb 16, Elisha Kent Kane
(b.1820), US Navy surgeon and Arctic explorer, died of a stroke in
(ON, 6/09, p.5)
1859 Pres. Buchanan ordered a
blockade of Cuba to intercept American-owned slave ships.
(SSFC, 2/8/04, p.C12)
1860s The last African slave
ship landed in Cuba in the late 1860s.
(WSJ, 12/1/97, p.A20)
1862 Facundo Bacardi Masso
founded a rum business in Cuba.
(SFC, 9/9/08, p.E3)
1868 Oct 10, Cuba revolted for
independence against Spain. This was the first day of open rebellion
for liberty, which was led by the man who is now known as the
"Father of Cuba," Carlos Manuel de Cespedes.
1873 Baseball was banned in
Cuba under Spanish rule, but was never completely quelled and came
back strong after the Spanish-American War.
(SFC, 5/29/99, p.B5)
1873 The Matusalem company was
founded in Santiago, Cuba, to produce aged dark rum.
(Econ, 4/16/05, p.34)
1878 Feb 10, Cuba’s 10 year war
with Spain ended with the signing of the pact of Zanjon. The
nationalist uprising failed.
1886 Oct 7, Spain abolished
slavery in Cuba.
(SFC, 4/12/01, p.C4)(MC, 10/7/01)
1889 In Cuba Friar Jose Olallo
Valdes (b.1829), a member of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of
God, died. He earned the nickname, "father of the poor," by caring
for the needy and chronically ill. In 2008 he was beatified in the
first ceremony of its kind on Cuban soil.
1890 Jan 22, Jose Marti formed
La Liga (Union of Cuban exiles) in NYC.
1895 Jan 31, Jose Marti and
others left NYC for invasion of Spanish Cuba.
1895 Feb 24, The Cuban War of
Independence began. [see Oct 10, 1868]
1895 Winston Churchill was
garrisoned in Havana, Cuba, and began smoking cigars at age 22. On
leave for several months from his unit, the 4th Hussars, he reported
on the events for the Daily Graphic.
(SFEM, 12/15/96, p.15)(HNQ, 1/25/01)
1896 Aug 7, Ernesto Lecuona,
composer (Malaguena), was born in Havana, Cuba.
1897 Jan 2, The S.S. Commodore,
a small American ship used to smuggle weapons to Cuba, sank off the
coast of Florida. Writer Stephen Crane was aboard, along with a crew
of 11 and 16 Cuban rebel soldiers. Crane based his 1897 short story,
“The Open Boat," on his survival experience in a lifeboat.
(ON, 4/10, p.9)
1898 Feb 15, The battleship USS
Maine exploded and sank in Havana harbor. The explosion killed 266
of her crew. It had been sent there to menace Imperial Spain and its
sinking helped to precipitate the Spanish-American War. The
explosion- never satisfactorily explained- brought the United States
closer to war with Spain over the issue of Cuban independence.
(Civilization, July-Aug, 1995, p.14)(NH, 4/97,
p.38)(HT, 5/97, p.64)(HN, 2/15/98)(AP, 2/15/98)
1898 Apr 11, American President
McKinley asked Congress to authorize military intervention in Cuba.
The war was fomented by New York newspapers in their own battle for
(AP, 4/11/07)(WSJ, 5/19/98, p.A20)
1898 Apr 19, US Congress passed
a resolution recognizing Cuban independence and demanding that Spain
relinquish authority over Cuba. President McKinley was authorized to
use military force to put the resolution into effect.
1898 Apr 20, President
McKinley signed a congressional resolution recognizing Cuban
independence from Spain. He signed the Joint Resolution for War with
Spain that authorized U.S. military intervention to Cuban
(AP, 4/20/97)(SFC, 1/19/02, p.A19)
1898 Apr 21, The
Spanish-American War began. The US North Atlantic Fleet, under the
command of Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, was ordered to begin the
blockade of Cuba. The fleet with the armored cruiser New York
steamed out of Key West, Fla., at 6:30 a.m. the next morning. The
fleet had hardly left port when it pursued and captured a Spanish
merchant vessel, Buenaventura. The Spanish-American War had begun.
In 1998 David Traxel published “1898: The Birth of the American
Century," a history of the Spanish-American War.
(HN, 4/21/98)(SFEC, 7/5/98, BR p.6)(HNPD,
1898 Apr 22, With the United
States and Spain on the verge of formally declaring war, the U.S.
Navy began blockading Cuban ports under orders from President
McKinley. In the first Spanish-American War action the USS Nashville
captured a Spanish merchant ship, the Buenaventura, off Key West,
Fla. Also, Congress authorized creation of the First U.S. Volunteer
Cavalry, popularly known as the "Rough Riders." In 1998 the book
“Empire by Default" by Ivan Musicant retold the story of the war in
(AP, 4/22/97)(WSJ, 2/23/98, p.A20)(AP,
1898 Apr 25, The United States
formally declared war on Spain. The US House passed the declaration
311 to 6.
(AP, 4/25/97)(HN, 4/25/98)(SSFC, 3/30/03, p.A1)
1898 Jun 1, The US battleship
Oregon, having steamed around Cape Horn from San Francisco, took
part in the blockade of Santiago Bay, Cuba.
1898 Jun 10, During the
Spanish-American War, U.S. Marines landed in Cuba and camped at
Guantanamo Bay where 2 Marines became the 1st war casualties.
(HN, 6/10/98)(SSFC, 1/20/02, p.A7)
1898 Jun 15, US marines
attacked the Spanish off Guantanamo, Cuba.
1898 Jun 22, US forces, 6000
soldiers under Lawton, Bates, Rafferty and Wheeler and under the
general command of General Shafter, landed at Daiquiri, Cuba. Col.
Leonard Wood and Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt led the Rough Riders, a
volunteer cavalry regiment, onto the beach at Daiquiri in the
Spanish American War.
1898 Jun 24, American troops
drove Spanish forces from La Guasimas, Cuba.
1898 Jul 1, American troops
took San Juan Hill and El Caney, Cuba, from the Spaniards. During
the Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt and his "Rough Riders"
waged a victorious assault on San Juan Hill in SE Cuba. Lieutenant
Colonel Theodore Roosevelt was unsatisfied with the lack of clear
orders and decided to lead a charge up San Juan Hill himself. At
first, Regular troops were resistant to following a volunteer
officer, but Assistant Secretary of the Navy Roosevelt and his eager
Rough Riders managed to rally enough troops and convince enough
officers to charge. By nightfall, the Spaniards had retreated and
the heights overlooking Santiago were in American hands. The black
Buffalo Soldiers captured San Juan Hill. As the Rough Riders shipped
off to war the band played: “There’ll Be A Hot Time in the Old Town
(WUD, 1994, p.1267)(AP, 7/1/97)(SFEC, 4/5/98,
1898 Jul 1, Major Gen. Joseph
Wheeler (63) led a cavalry division in the Battle of San Juan Hill.
1898 July 3, The Spanish
cruisers Cristóbal Colón, Almirante Oquendo, Vizcaya and Infanta
Maria Teresa, and two torpedo-boat destroyers, lay bottled up in
Santiago Harbor, with seven American ships maintaining a blockade
just outside. Without warning, the Spanish squadron attempted to
break out, and the Americans attacked, sinking one torpedo boat and
immediately running the other aground. The Americans gave chase to
Oquendo, Vizcaya and Colón. Henry Reuterdahl's painting shows the
American battleships Texas and Oregon, and the Spanish cruisers
Maria Teresa, Colón and Oquendo. After a four-hour battle, all the
Spanish warships were overtaken and practically all were destroyed,
with only two American causalities, both from the U.S. armored
(AP, 7/3/98)(HNPD, 7/3/98)
1898 Jul 17, U.S. troops under
General William R. Shafter took Santiago de Cuba during the
Spanish-American War. Spain surrendered to the United States at
(AP, 7/17/97)(HN, 7/17/98)
1898 Aug 12, The peace protocol
ending the Spanish-American War was signed after three months and 22
days of hostilities. 460 US soldiers died in battle. The US paid
Spain $20 million to vacate Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico and the
Philippines. Over the next 3 years US casualties in the Philippines
war totaled over 4,000. [see Dec 10]
(AP, 8/12/97)(WSJ, 2/23/98, p.A20)(HN,
8/12/00)(SSFC, 3/30/03, p.D1)(WSJ, 7/2/03, p.B1)
1898 Dec 10, The United States
and Spain signed a treaty in Paris ending the Spanish-American War
in the Caribbean and the Pacific.
(AP, 12/10/97)(HN, 12/10/98)
1898 The 1998 novel “Cuba
Libre" by Elmore Leonard was set in this time and place.
(SFEC, 1/18/98, BR p.3)
c1898 Valeriano Weyler y
Nicolau was the governor of the Spanish colony of Cuba. He was the
inventor of the concentration camp.
(SFEC, 8/16/98, BR p.8)
1900 Jun 26, A commission that
included Dr. Walter Reed began the fight against the deadly disease
yellow fever. Walter Reed (1851-1902), U.S. Army doctor, went to
Cuba and verified that yellow fever was caused by a mosquito. [see
(HN, 9/13/98)(WSJ, 10/22/99, p.B1)(AP, 6/26/97)
1900-1902 US Colonel Leonard Wood served as
governor of Cuba. He cleaned up unsanitary conditions and supported
medical investigations that tied yellow fever and malaria to
(WSJ, 12/7/05, p.D12)
1901 Jan 16, Fulgencio Batista
(d.1973), later president and dictator of Cuba (1933-44, 1952-59),
was born. He was overthrown by Fidel Castro and died in Spain.
1901 Mar 2, US Congress passed
the Platt amendment, which limited Cuban autonomy as a condition for
withdrawal of US troops. Washington retained the right to intervene
militarily in Cuba as a condition of ending the postwar US
occupation. The US did in fact intervene several times, and American
business and mafia gangs came to dominate many aspects of the island
in the run-up to the 1959 revolution.
(HN, 3/2/99)(AP, 2/15/13)
1901 May 1901, Walter Reed (49)
led the Yellow Fever Commission, a 4-man team, to Cuba to search for
the cause of the disease. 200 American soldiers had died from the
disease over the previous 18 months. Aristides Agramonte,
pathologist, James Carroll, bacteriologist, and Jesse W. Lazear,
entomologist, were the other team members. Cuban Dr. Carlos Finlay
believed that yellow fever was spread by mosquitoes.
(ON, 10/01, p.7)
1901 Jun 12, Cuba agreed to
become an American protectorate by accepting the Platt Amendment.
1901 Aug 27, In Havana, Cuba,
U.S. Army physician James Carroll allowed an infected mosquito to
feed on him in an attempt to isolate the means of transmission of
yellow fever. Days later, Carroll developed a severe case of yellow
fever, helping his colleague, Army Walter Reed, prove that
mosquitoes can transmit the sometimes deadly disease.
(MC, 8/27/02)(ON, 10/01, p.8)
1901 Aug, Major Walter Reed,
M.D., visited Dr. Carlos Finlay in Havana, who informed him that the
mosquito Culex fasciatus was the most likely transmitter of yellow
(ON, 10/01, p.7)
1901 Sep, Dr. Jesse Lazear, a
member of the Yellow Fever Commission, died of yellow fever.
(ON, 10/01, p.8)
1901 Oct 4, Dr. Walter Reed
returned to Cuba to continue his experiments on yellow fever.
(ON, 10/01, p.8)
1902 Feb, Dr. Walter Reed
published his results on yellow fever. He concluded that: “The
spread of yellow fever can be most effectually controlled by
measures directed to the destruction of mosquitoes and the
protection of the sick against the bites of these insects."
(ON, 10/01, p.8)
1902 May 20, The United States
ended its three-year military presence in Cuba as the Republic of
Cuba was established under its first elected president, Tomas
Estrada Palma. Theodore Roosevelt had criticized the government’s
sluggish withdrawal of disease-stricken US troops from Cuba.
(HN, 5/20/98)(WSJ, 11/13/98, p.A1)(AP, 5/20/02)
1903 Feb 24, The United States
signed an agreement acquiring a naval station at Guantanamo Bay in
Cuba. Pres. Roosevelt leased the site for 2,000 gold coins a year,
about $4,080 in 2002.
(AP, 2/24/98)(SSFC, 1/20/02, p.A7)
1903 Mar 19, The U.S. Senate
ratified the Cuban treaty, gaining naval bases in Guantanamo and
1904 Feb 5, The American
occupation of Cuba ended.
1906 Sep 28, US troops
reoccupied Cuba. They stayed until 1909.
1906 The US established a
provisional government as revolution threatened.
(SSFC, 1/20/02, p.A7)
1909 Jan 28, The United States
ended direct control over Cuba.
1909 Feb 1, U.S. troops left
Cuba after installing Jose Miguel Gomez as president.
1912 Jun 5, US marines invaded
Cuba (3rd time).
1915 Apr 5, Jack Johnson
(1878-1946), African-American heavyweight champion boxer since 1908,
lost the heavyweight championship in Cuba to Jess Willard in the
1916 Mar 8, US invaded Cuba for
3rd time. This time "to end corrupt Menocal regime."
1917 Mar 2, Desi Arnaz
(Desiderio Alberto Arnez y de Acha III) was born in Santiago, Cuba.
His father was the mayor of Santiago.
1923 Oct 15, Italo Calvino,
Italian novelist (Winter's Night a Traveler), was born in Cuba.
(HN, 10/15/00)(MC, 10/15/01)
1924 Apr 29, Open revolt broke
out in Santa Clara, Cuba.
1924 The La Sonora Matancara
band was founded in Matanzas, Cuba, by Valentin Cane. Celia Cruz
joined the band in the late 1940s when it was under the direction of
(SFEM,10/19/97, DB p.40)
1925 In Cuba Gerardo Machado
was elected as president.
(AH, 4/07, p.17)
1925 In Cuba a monument to the
battleship Maine was inaugurated bearing the names of all 266
sailors who died in the ship’s 1898 explosion in Havana Harbor. Two
statues standing shoulder-to-shoulder at the base represented a
maternal America guiding the maiden Cuba into independence.
1926 Aug 13, Fidel Castro,
revolutionary leader, president, was born in Biran, Cuba.
(USAT, 8/29/97, p.8A)(HN, 8/13/98)(WSJ, 8/5/06,
1926 Oct 20, A hurricane in
Cuba killed 600.
1927 Oct 28, Pan Am Airways
launched the first scheduled international flight. Pan Am was
founded this year as a mail carrier to Havana by Juan Terry Trippe.
(HN, 10/28/98)(SFEM, 2/13/00, p.30)
1928 May 14, Ernesto “Che"
Guevara (d. Oct 8, 1967) was born to an aristocratic family in
Misiones province, Argentina. A biography was written in 1997 by Jon
Lee Anderson: “Che Guevara: A Revolutionary of Life." Ernesto “Che"
Guevara, chief lieutenant in the Cuban revolution and active in
other Latin American revolutionary movements, was born Ernesto
Guevara de la Serna in Rosario, Argentina. “Che" was a nickname
meaning “pal." He played a leading role alongside Fidel Castro in
the overthrow of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, wrote the
book Guerrilla Warfare in 1960 and, as Cuban Minister of Industries
from 1961-‘65, led the nationalization of industry and agriculture.
He left Cuba in 1966 to lead a band of guerrillas in Bolivia, where
he was tracked down and executed by the Bolivian army in 1967.
(SFC, 6/16/97, p.D3)(HNQ, 12/2/98)(HNQ, 2/10/00)
1928 Miguel Matamoros made the
first worldwide Cuban hit song with his recording of "Son de la
Loma." Son was a native Cuban folk music style.
(SFEC, 9/19/99, DB p.39)
1928 A Chinese community
newspaper was founded in Havana’s Chinatown.
(SFC, 4/12/01, p.C4)
1929 Julio Antonio Mella, the
founder of Cuba’s Communist Party, was assassinated in Mexico.
(WSJ, 3/26/96, p.A-10)
1930 Don Azpiazu, Cuban
musician, recorded "El Manicero," (The Peanut Vendor).
(SFEC, 9/19/99, DB p.37)
1931 Nov 17, Lindbergh
inaugurated Pan Am service from Cuba to South America in a Sikorsky
flying boat American Clipper.
1933 Aug 12, In Cuba Carlos
Manuel de Cespedes, the son of Cuba's legendary leader, replaced
Pres. Machado as part of a military in a coup.
1933 Sep 5, In an uprising
known as the "Revolt of the Sergeants," Fulgencio Batista took over
control of Cuba. Pres. Cespedes and his cabinet abandoned the
Presidential palace the next day.
1933 Nov 23, FDR recalled
Ambassador Welles from Havana and urged stability in Cuba.
1934 The US lease on Guantanamo
Bay was renegotiated to say that the land could only revert to Cuban
control if abandoned by the US or by mutual consent.
(SSFC, 1/20/02, p.A7)
1937 Orestes Lopez (Cuban
pianist) and his brother bassist Israel (Cachao) Lopez (1918-2008)
formalized an improvisation they called danzon mambo.
(SFEC, 9/19/99, DB p.37)(SSFC, 3/23/08, p.A2)
1938 Rita Longa (d.2000 at 87),
Cuban artist, won the National Salon Award for Painting and
(SFC, 6/2/00, p.D6)
1939 May 27, The ship St. Louis
sailed into Havana Bay with 937 Jewish passengers fleeing the Nazis.
The ship was turned away and headed for the Florida coast. The 1976
film "Voyage of the Damned" was based on this. [see June 4]
(SFC, 10/4/99, p.D1)
1939 Jun 4, During what became
known as the "Voyage of the Damned," the SS St. Louis, carrying 907
Jewish refugees from Germany, was turned away from the Florida
coast. Also denied permission to dock in Canada and Cuba, the ship
eventually returned to Europe. The passengers were divided among
England, France, Belgium and Holland and a number of the refugees
later died in Nazi concentration camps. By 2003 efforts to track
their fates identified 935 out of the 937 passengers. Some 260 ended
in Nazi killing centers.
(AP, 6/4/99)(SFC, 10/4/99, p.D3)(SSFC, 12/7/03,
Par p.5)(Econ, 6/24/06, p.44)
1939 The US upgraded its
Guantanamo base in Cuba for air and sea operations in anticipation
of WW II.
(SSFC, 1/20/02, p.A7)
1939-1960 Ernest Hemingway (d.1961), American
writer, lived in Cuba.
(SSFC, 6/5/05, p.F8)
1940 Oct 10, General Fulgencio
Batista (1901-1973) began serving a 4-year term as Cuba's 14th
1940 A Cuban constitution
offered the promise of a democratic government. The Constitution
established by a national assembly that included Blas Roca, a young
shoemaker who helped organize the Revolution of 1933. The document
struck a balance between the rich and the working class, protected
individual and social rights, supported full employment and a
minimum wage, extended social security, called for equal pay for
equal work and outlawed the huge plantations known as latifundias.
1942 Aug 27, Cuba declared war
on Germany, Japan and Italy.
1943 The music "Rapsodia Negra"
by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona had its premier in Carnegie Hall.
Lecuona was the composer of "Malaguena."
(WSJ, 5/27/99, p.A24)
1944 Ramon Grau San Martin
became president of Cuba.
(SFC, 11/6/98, p.D5)
1945 The son of a Spanish
immigrant farmer, Fidel Castro entered the School of Law at the
University of Havana. Before becoming the revolutionary communist
leader of Cuba, Castro earned a doctorate in law. He was intensely
interested in politics throughout his studies and joined the Cuban
People’s Party upon graduating in 1950. Dr. Castro’s potential
career as an elected representative came to an end when General
Batista overthrew the Socarras government and established a
dictatorship. Castro began organizing armed resistance to the regime
and eventually succeeded in the revolution of 1959. As the political
leader of Cuba for the past four decades, he has received various
1947 Juan Bosch of the
Dominican Republic worked as a personal secretary to Cuba’s Pres.
Carlos Prio Socarras and participated in an ill-fated attempt to
organize an anti-Trujillo invasion.
(SFC, 11/2/01, p.D6)
1948 Oct 10, Carlos Prio became
Cuba’s last democratically elected president. He was ousted by
Batista in 1952.
1951 Jan 22, Fidel Castro, as a
baseball pitcher, was ejected from a Winter League game after
beaning a batter.
1951 May, Kid Gavilan (d.2003),
born as Gerardo Gonzalez in Cuba (1926), won the US boxing
welter-weight title in a 15-round decision over Johnny Bratton.
(SFC, 2/15/03, p.A24)
1952 Mar 7, The U.S. signed a
military aid pact with Cuba.
1952 Mar 10, General Fulgencio
Batista staged a coup in Cuba and overthrew the Socarras government.
1952 The Cuban band Los
Munequitos de Matanzas was founded as a percussion, song and dance
(SFEC, 4/5/98, DB p.13)
1952 In Cuba Natalia Revuelta
Clews (1925-2015), a Havana socialite, sent her house key to Fidel
Castro and two other members of the opposition Orthodox Party.
Castro and Clews became lovers for a short time in 1955.
1953 Jul 26, A band of
anti-Batistas revolted against Pres. Fulgencio Batista with an
unsuccessful attack on the Moncada army barracks in eastern Cuba.
Castro was among the moncadistas and ousted Batista six years later.
Castro was imprisoned on the Isle of Pines after the attack at
(AP, 7/26/97)(SFEC, 8/23/98, BR p.5)(WSJ,
1953 Aug 1, Fidel Castro was
arrested in Cuba. [see Jul 26]
1953 Oct 16, Fidel Castro in
Havana was sentenced to 15 years.
1953 Ibrahim Ferrer Planas
(d.2005), singer, joined a group called Los Bocucos, led by vocalist
Pacho Alonso in Santiago, Cuba. In 1996 he recorded with Ry Cooder
for the "Buena Vista Social Club" which was followed by his own solo
(SFEC, 9/19/99, DB p.37)(SFEM, 10/3/99, p.31)
1953 Beny More (d.1963 at 44),
popular Cuban singer, formed his 21-piece Banda Gigante.
(SFEC, 9/19/99, DB p.39)
1955 Aug 8, Fidel Castro formed
his "July 26th Movement."
1955 Cuban musician Perez Prado
recorded "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White." The mambo tune
became a no. 1 hit.
(SFEC, 9/19/99, DB p.39)
1956 Apr, Ramon Barquin
(1914-2008), a former Cuban military attache in Washington, DC, was
imprisoned in Cuba after he led hundreds of soldiers in a coup that
failed when someone tipped off the government. He gained his freedom
three years later when Castro successfully toppled Batista, but he
opposed Castro soon after.
1956 Nov 25, Fidel Castro and
his 81 rebel exiles departed Mexico to liberate Cuba from the
corrupt dictatorship of Fulgencia Batista. Che Guevara had recently
joined Fidel Castro and his band of Cuban rebel exiles as their
(SFC, 6/16/97, p.D3)
1956 Dec 2, Fidel Castro landed
on coast of Cuba. Castro landed with a small armed force to
overthrow dictator Fulgencio Batista. Che Guevara was one of the few
who survived the disastrous landing of the rebels’ boat, the Granma.
Guevara kept a diary for the next 2 years and in 2011 it was
published in Cuba as “Diary of a Combatant."
(TOH, 1982, p.1956)(SFC,10/15/97, p.C2)(SFC,
1956-1958 Enrique Oltuski, Shell Oil executive and
member of the July 26 Movement, helped orchestrate the overthrow of
the government. In 2002 he authored “Vida Clandestina: My Life in
the Cuban Revolution."
(SFC, 9/15/02, p.M2)
1957 Mar 13, Bloody battles
followed an anti-Batista demonstration in Havana, Cuba.
1957 Sep 1, Gloria Estefan,
singer (Miami Sound Machine-Conga, 1-2-3), was born in Cuba.
1957 In Cuba the Capri Hotel
was built in Havana. It became one of the flashiest mob joints of
the time. Charles Tourine managed the nightclub and Nicholas di
Costanzo ran the casino. Both were associated with Meyer Lansky and
(SSFC, 2/16/14, p.A10)
1957 The Cuban urban
underground was led by Frank Pais, an aspiring schoolteacher turned
(WSJ, 7/10/02, p.D8)
1958 Mar 27, The Havana Hilton
opened in Cuba.
1958 Apr 9, A Cuban general
strike was called but failed. Urban militias in Havana and Santiago
were put down by the police.
(WSJ, 7/10/02, p.D8)
1958 May 24, Cuba’s Pres.
Batista opened an offensive against Fidel Castro's rebellion.
1958 Jun 27, Cuban rebel forces
kidnapped 29 US sailors and Marines and held them until Jul 18.
(SSFC, 1/20/02, p.A7)
1958 Aug 18, Fidel Castro made
a speech on Cuban pirate radio Rebelde.
1958 Dec 31, Cuba’s dictator
Juan Batista fled as Rebels under Fidel Castro marched into Havana.
1958 Graham Greene published
his novel “Our Man in Havana." It captured Cuba on the cusp of
(WSJ, 8/25/06, p.A1)
1958 Che Guevara commanded
rebels in the capture of Santa Clara, Cuba.
1958 Johnny Weissmuller played
in a celebrity golf tournament and saved himself from Castro’s
guerrillas by beating his chest and performing his famous yell
thereby invoking requests for autographs.
(SDUT, 6/6/97, p.E2)
1958-1998 See the reference for Cuban history
over this period.
1959 Jan 1, Fidel Castro
proclaimed the triumph of his revolution from the balcony of
Santiago's city hall. Castro led Cuban revolutionaries to victory
over Fulgencio Batista, who fled to the Dominican Republic. American
mafia scrambled to secure their cash and close casinos ahead of
crowds that took to the streets and trashed their businesses. In
2008 T.J. English Morrow authored “Havana Nocturne: How the Mob
Owned Cuba …and Then Lost It to the Revolution."
(AP, 1/1/98)(SFC, 1/28/00, p.A14)(WSJ, 8/5/06,
1959 Jan 3, Castro took
command of the Cuban army.
1959 Jan 7, The United States
recognized Fidel Castro's new government in Cuba.
1959 Jan 8, Fidel Castro rolled
into Havana a week after Batista fled. In 2002 Julia E. Sweig
authored “Inside the Cuban Revolution."
(SSFC, 6/9/02, p.F3)(WSJ, 7/10/02, p.D8)
1959 Jan 11, Huber Matos
Benitez (1918-2014), Cuban revolutionary, was appointed by Fidel
Castro as governor of Camaguey province. In the Fall Huber Matos
resigned his posts. He was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in
prison for treason and sedition. After prison he settled in Florida.
1959 Feb 6, Fidel Castro was
interviewed by Edward R. Murrow.
1959 Feb 7, Castro proclaimed a
new Cuban constitution.
1959 Feb 16, Fidel Castro took
the oath as Cuban premier in Havana after the overthrow of Fulgencio
(HN, 2/16/98)(AP, 2/16/98)
1959 Apr 15, Cuban leader Fidel
Castro arrived in Washington, D.C., to begin a goodwill tour of the
1959 Apr 26, The Panamanian
gov't reported 'suppression' of attempted guerilla invasion from
1959 Apr 27, US State Dept.
announced small arms stored in Canal Zone will be provided to
Panamanian forces to repel Cuban invaders.
1959 Apr 28, Organization of
American States voted unanimously to send a commission to Panama.
1959 Apr 29, Premier Castro
denied any Cuban role, direct or indirect, in a Panamanian invasion.
1959 May 1, Some 87 guerillas,
mostly Cubans, surrendered without resistance to Panamanian troops
at the village of Nombre de Dios in response to appeals by Castro.
1959 Jun 25, The Cuban
government seized 2.35 million acres under a new agrarian reform
1959 Oct 21, Contra
revolutionaries bombed Havana.
1959 Fidel Castro visited
Argentina following his revolution in Cuba.
1959 The US forbade its
servicemen from entering Cuban territory.
(SSFC, 1/20/02, p.A7)
1959 The Dominican dictator
Trujillo broke relations with Cuba soon after Castro took power.
(WSJ, 4/9/98, p.A1)
1960 Feb 21, Havana placed all
Cuban industry under direct control of the government.
1960 Mar 3, The French cargo
ship "La Coubre," laden with Belgian weapons, exploded in
Havana Harbor and killed 136  people. The blast was blamed on
(USAT, 10/8/97, p.8A)(SFC, 1/28/00, p.A14)
1960 Mar 4, Alberto Korda took
a photo of Che Guevara at a rally where Castro blamed the US for the
cargo ship disaster of the previous day. The photo later became
famous as a poster of Che and symbol for the Cuban revolution.
(USAT, 10/8/97, p.8A)
1960 Mar 17, Eisenhower formed
anti-Castro-exile army under the CIA.
1960 Apr 2, Cuba bought oil
1960 Apr, The US CIA began
planning an invasion of Cuba that culminated in the Bay of Pigs
disaster. The initial budget of $4.4 million grew to $46 million.
(SFEC, 2/22/98, p.A19)
1960 May 7, Fidel Castro
announced Cuba’s resumption of diplomatic relations with the Soviet
(AH, 4/07, p.18)
1960 Jun 30, US stopped sugar
imports from Cuba.
1960 Jul 9, Khrushchev
threatened to use rockets to protect Cuba from the US.
(PC, 1992, p.973)
1960 Jul 22, Cuba nationalized
all US owned sugar factories.
1960 Aug, The CIA recruited a
former FBI agent to approach two of America's most-wanted mobsters
and gave them poison pills meant for Fidel Castro during his first
year in power. This was only made public in 2007 in declassified
papers. The CIA recruited ex-FBI agent Robert Maheu, then a top aide
to Howard Hughes in Las Vegas, to approach mobster Johnny Roselli
and pass himself off as the representative of international
corporations that wanted Castro killed because of their lost
gambling operations. From August to May, 1961, CIA officials
approved several plans to kill Fidel Castro.
(SFC, 7/2/97, p.A5)(AP, 6/27/07)
1960 Sep 17, Cuba nationalized
1960 Sep 19, Cuban leader Fidel
Castro, in New York to visit the United Nations, angrily checked out
of the Shelburne Hotel in a dispute with the management. Castro
accepted an invitation to stay at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem.
1960 Sep 26, Fidel Castro made
the longest speech in UN history, 4 hrs, 29 mins.
(WSJ, 8/5/06, p.A9)
1960 Oct 11, Bank president
Ernesto Guevara offered sugar magnate Julio Lobo leadership of
Cuba's sugar industry in exchange for keeping one of his 14 mills
and home. Mr. Lobo declined the offer.
(WSJ, 3/11/99, p.A1)
1960 Oct 13, Opponents of Fidel
Castro were executed in Cuba.
1960 Oct 14, Cuba nationalized
all sugar assets and made itself custodian of all art and artifacts.
(WSJ, 3/11/99, p.A1)
1960 Oct 19, US President
Eisenhower imposed an embargo on exports to Cuba covering all
commodities except medical supplies and certain food products.
1960 Oct 25, Cuba nationalized
all remaining US businesses.
1960 Oct 28, In a note to the
OAS (Organization of American States), the United States charged
that Cuba had been receiving substantial quantities of arms and
numbers of military technicians" from the Soviet bloc.
1960 Oct 30, Guatemala's "La
Hora" reported a plan for the invasion on Cuba.
1960 Oct, Enrique Oltuski
signed the order to nationalize the ITT owned telephone company.
(SFC, 9/15/02, p.M2)
1960 Nov 1, US Pres. Eisenhower
announced that the US would take all steps necessary to defend its
naval base at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay.
(AH, 4/07, p.18)
1960 Nov 14, President Dwight
Eisenhower ordered U.S. naval units into the Caribbean after
Guatemala and Nicaragua charged Castro with starting uprisings.
1960 Following the revolution
Ramon Grau Alsina (d.1998 at 80) and his sister founded the
underground Pedro Pan organization for Cuban parents to send their
children to live in the US.
(SFC, 11/6/98, p.D5)
1961 Jan 3, The United States
severed diplomatic relations with Cuba after Fidel Castro announced
he was a communist. The US Guantanamo Bay base remained under US
(AP, 1/3/98)(HN, 1/3/99)(MC, 1/3/02)
1961 Apr 7, Tad Szulc (d.2001)
wrote a front page NY times article on anti-Castro forces training
to fight at Florida bases and predicted a probable invasion on April
18. The invasion took place Apr 17.
(SFC, 5/24/01, p.C4)
1961 Apr 14, Cuban-American
invasion army departed Nicaragua.
1961 Apr 15, Anti-Castro Cuban
pilots, under the hire of the US CIA, knocked out part of the Cuban
air force. 54 people were killed in the attacks on 3 military bases
including two airfields and the Antonio Maceo Airport. Two
“defecting" B-26 bombers flew to Miami.
(SFEC, 2/22/98, p.A19)(AH, 4/07, p.18)
1961 Apr 16, Fidel Castro
declared that Cuba is now a socialist state. Pres. Kennedy called
off the CIA air strikes in Cuba. The message did not reach the 1,511
commandos headed for the Bay of Pigs.
(SFEC, 2/22/98, p.A19)(SFC, 2/202/08, p.A3)
1961 Apr 17, About 1,500
CIA-trained Cuban exiles, Brigade 2506, launched the disastrous Bay
of Pigs invasion of Cuba in a failed attempt to overthrow the
government of Fidel Castro. The US clandestinely invaded Cuba in the
Bay of Pigs operation and the operation failed completely without
any of the promised air support from the United States. Cuban forces
killed 200 rebels and captured 1,197 in less than 72 hours. The
command vessel Marsopa and supply ship Houston were sunk and an
entire battalion was lost. 26 survivors were rescued after 3 days of
fighting. A single copy of a CIA report written by inspector general
Lyman Kirkpatrick was made public in 1998. The operation, which had
been devised during the Eisenhower Administration, was nonetheless
endorsed by the new president, John F. Kennedy. In 1979 Peter Wyden
wrote “Bay of Pigs: The Untold Story." Portion of the 1961 Taylor
Report was made public in 1977 and 1986. Most of the report was made
public in 2000 and it showed that the CIA knew that the Soviets knew
the exact date of the attack. In 2009 Guadeloupe apologized to Cuba
for allowing the CIA to train Cuban exiles on its soil.
(AP, 4/17/97)(SFEC, 2/22/98, p.A19)(HNQ,
4/11/00)(SFC, 4/29/00, p.A7)(AP, 2/18/09)(AH, 4/07, p.18)(SFC,
1961 Apr 18, Soviet leader
Nikita Khrushchev sent a letter to Pres. Kennedy with an “urgent
call" to end “aggression" against Cuba.
(SFC, 3/23/01, p.D5)
1961 Apr 19, Cuba’s air force
by this time shot down 9 of the invader’s 16 aircraft and US
invaders, with ad death toll of 114, began to surrender.
Subsequently 36 died in Cuban prisons. Many survivors were released
between 1962 and 1965 after private donors paid $53 million in food
and medicine for Cuba.
(AH, 4/07, p.18)
1961 Apr 19, Howard Anderson
was executed in Cuba after being convicted of arms smuggling to
1961 Apr 19, Cuban forces shot
down a B-26 bomber piloted by Captain Thomas Ray north of Larga
beach, an area they controlled. Ray was flying the bomber from
Nicaragua while on contract to the US CIA. In a 2004 trial in the
US, forensics on Ray’s body proved that the cause of his death was a
small bullet entry thru the head.
(WSJ, 9/15/06, p.A1)(http://tinyurl.com/kzeh2)
1961 Apr 30, Premier Fidel
Castro of Cuba received the Lenin Peace Prize.
1961 May 1, Fidel Castro
announced that there would be no more elections in Cuba. Radio
Havana was founded.
(HN, 5/1/98)(WSJ, 6/18/02, p.D9)
1961 May 17, Cuban leader Fidel
Castro offered to exchange prisoners captured in the abortive Bay of
Pigs invasion for 500 bulldozers.
(AP, 5/17/01)(MC, 5/17/02)
1961 Jul 24, A US commercial
plane was hijacked to Cuba and began a trend.
1961 Dec 2, Cuban leader Fidel
Castro declared himself a Marxist-Leninist who would lead Cuba to
1961 Dec 23, Fidel Castro
announced Cuba would release 1,113 prisoners from failed 1961 Bay of
Pigs Invasion for $62M worth of food and medical supplies.
1961 In Cuba construction began
on a dance building designed by Italian architect Vittorio Garatti
as one of five adjacent arts complexes personally requested by Fidel
Castro, who dreamed of building the world's finest art school on the
golf course of a country club seized by his revolution. Work was
abruptly halted in 1965, with the ballet school lacking only
windows, doors and floors. In 2012 dancer Carlos Acosta pledged to
rescue the dance school and turn it into an international center for
culture and dance.
1961 A cactus curtain was
planted around the US Guantanamo Base to discourage Cuban defection.
(SSFC, 1/20/02, p.A7)
1962 Jan 3, Pope John XXIII
excommunicated Fidel Castro.
1962 Jan 31, At the Eighth
Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the OAS,
held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, ministers suspended Cuba’s
1962 Feb 3, President John F.
Kennedy banned all trade with Cuba except for food & drugs.
1962 Feb 7, President Kennedy
began the blockade of Cuba.
1962 Feb, The Joint Chiefs of
Staff and Deputy Defense Sec. Roswell Gilpatric approved a plan to
“lure or provoke Castro, or an uncontrollable subordinate, into an
overt hostile reaction against the US."
(SFC, 1/30/98, p.A12)
1962 Mar 29, Cuba opened the
trial of the Bay of Pigs invaders.
1962 Apr 8, Bay of Pigs
invaders got thirty years imprisonment in Cuba.
1962 May, A memo from the CIA
briefing for Attorney Gen’l. Robert Kennedy revealed that $150,000
was offered to the US mob for the assassination of Fidel Castro. The
mob insisted on doing the job at no charge.
(SFC, 7/2/97, p.A5)
1962 Aug 29, A US U-2 flight
saw SAM launch pads in Cuba.
1962 Oct 14, The CIA U-2
mission detected Soviet ballistic missiles in Cuba. Air Force pilot
Maj. Richard Heyser and CIA contract pilot James Barnes Jr. (d.1999
at 70) identified missile sites in separate flights.
(SFC, 9/17/97, p.A3)(SFC, 7/13/99, p.A19)
1962 Oct 16-1962 Oct 29, The
Cuban missile crises. Russia under Khrushchev removed its missiles
from Cuba. The 13-day missile crises was in part recorded by Kennedy
on tape and published in 1997: “The Kennedy Tapes," ed. by Ernest R.
May and Philip D. Zelikow.
(SFEC, 8/25/96, Parade p.6)(TMC, 1994,
p.1962)(WSJ, 9/23/97, p.A20)
1962 Oct 22, President John F.
Kennedy announced that missile bases had been discovered in Cuba and
they had the potential to attack the United States with nuclear
warheads. Kennedy ordered a naval and air blockade on further
shipment of military equipment to Cuba. The Russians had previously
agreed not to bring new offensive weapons into Cuba, but after
hearing Kennedy's announcement, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
refused to cooperate with the quarantine. Following a confrontation
that threatened nuclear war, Kennedy and Khrushchev agree on October
28 on a formula to end the crisis. On November 2 Kennedy reported
that Soviet missile bases in Cuba are being dismantled.
(AP, 10/22/97)(HNPD, 10/22/98)(HN, 10/22/02)
1962 Oct 23, US ambassador
Adlai Stevenson spoke at UN about Cuba crisis.
1962 Oct 24, The U.S. blockade
of Cuba during the missile crisis officially began under a
proclamation signed by President Kennedy.
1962 Oct 25, U.S. ambassador
Adlai E. Stevenson presented photographic evidence of Soviet missile
bases in Cuba to the U.N. Security Council. Ambassador Adlai E.
Stevenson demanded USSR and Zorin answer regarding Cuban missile
bases saying "I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes
(AP, 10/25/97)(MC, 10/25/01)
1962 Oct 26, The USS Beale
tracked and dropped practice depth charges on a Soviet Foxtrot-class
submarine which was armed with a nuclear torpedo. Running out of
air, the Soviet submarine was surrounded by American warships and
desperately needed to surface to recharge its batteries. An argument
broke out among three officers on the B-39, including submarine
captain Valentin Savitsky, political officer Ivan Semonovich
Maslennikov, and chief of staff of the submarine flotilla, Commander
Vasiliy Arkhipov. A totally exhausted Savitsky became furious and
ordered that the nuclear torpedo on board be made combat ready.
Accounts differ about whether Commander Arkhipov convinced Savitsky
not to make the attack, or whether Savitsky himself finally
concluded that the only reasonable choice left open to him was to
come to the surface.
1962 Oct 27, Soviet Premier
Nikita Khrushchev offered to remove Soviet missile bases in Cuba if
the U.S. removed its missile bases in Turkey. It was later learned
that JFK had secretly offered this option to Khrushchev.
(HN, 10/27/98)(MC, 10/27/01)(NPR, 2002)
1962 Oct 27, With its batteries
running low, Soviet submarine B-59/C-19 was forced to surface and
headed east. Although surrounded by US ships, submarine captain
Vitali Savitsky realizes that they are not in a "state of war; one
of the destroyers has a lively band playing jazz. The Cony
communicates with it via flashing lights; Savitsky identifies the
submarine as "Ship X" ("Korablx") and declines assistance. B-59
identifies itself to other nearby ships as "Prinavlyet" (by the
U.S.S. Murray), and "Prosnablavst" (by the Bache and the Barry).
Aircraft illuminate and photograph it.
1962 Oct 28, Soviet leader
Nikita Khrushchev informed the United States that he had ordered the
dismantling of Soviet missile bases in Cuba. Radio Moscow reported
nuclear missiles in Cuba deactivated. Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed
on a formula to end the Cuban missile crisis: the Russians would
dismantle their bases and the United States would publicly promise
not to invade Cuba.
(AP, 10/28/97)(HN, 10/22/98)(HNPD, 10/22/98)(MC,
1962 Nov 2, Pres. Kennedy
reported that Soviet missile bases in Cuba were being dismantled.
1962 Nov 15, Cuba threatened to
down U.S. planes on reconnaissance flights over its territory.
1962 Nov 19, Fidel Castro
accepted the removal of Soviet weapons.
1962 Nov 20, USSR agreed to
remove bombers from Cuba and US lifted its blockade.
1962 Dec 21, A US and Cuba
accord released Bay of Pigs captives.
1962 Dec 23, Cuba started
returning US prisoners from Bay of Pigs invasion.
1962 Dec 25, The Bay of Pigs
captives who were ransomed, vowed to return and topple Castro.
1962 Cuban bassist Israel Lopez
(1918-2008), known as “Cachao," left Cuba for Spain and soon
relocated to NYC, where he performed with leading Latin bands.
(SSFC, 3/23/08, p.A2)
1963 Feb 6, The United States
reported that all Soviet offensive arms are out of Cuba.
1963 Feb 19, The Soviet Union
informed President Kennedy it would withdraw "several thousand" of
an estimated 17,000 Soviet troops in Cuba.
1963 Feb 22, Moscow warned the
U.S. that an attack on Cuba would mean war.
1963 Feb 27, The USSR said that
10,000 troops would remain in Cuba.
1963 Apr 27, Cuban premier
Fidel Castro arrived in Moscow.
1963 Jul 8, US banned all
monetary transactions with Cuba.
1963 Oct 4-1963 Oct 8,
Hurricane Flora, killed some 7-8,000 people in Cuba and Haiti.
(SFC, 11/30/98, p.A2)
1963 Nov, Pres. Kennedy, just
before his murder, approved a probe to see whether relations with
Fidel Castro could be improved. In 1999 Mark J. White edited "The
Kennedy's and Cuba: The Declassified Documentary History."
(WSJ, 11/15/99, p.A48)
1964 Feb 6, Cuba blocked the
water supply to Guantanamo Naval Base in rebuke of the United
State's seizure of four Cuban fishing boats and fines on Cuban
fishermen near Florida. The US imposed water rationing and built
desalination plants in response.
(HN, 2/6/99)(SSFC, 1/20/02, p.A7)
1964 Feb 18, The U.S. cut
military aid to five nations in reprisal for having trade relations
1965 Apr 24, Che Guevara, his
second-in-command Victor Dreke, and twelve of the Cuban
expeditionaries arrived in the Congo. Guevara, Cuba’s head of the
national bank and minister of industry, left Cuba to foment
revolution in the Congo. He spent most of 1965 and 1966 in Central
Africa, helping anti-Mobuto revolutionaries in the Republic of
Congo. This turned out to be a disaster and he went to Bolivia.
1965 Dec 1, An airlift of
refugees from Cuba to the United States began in which thousands of
Cubans were allowed to leave their homeland.
1965 Carlos Rafael Rodriguez
(d.1997 at 84), “El Tio," was a founding member of the Cuban
Communist Party. From 1962-1965 he was the head of the National
Institute of Agrarian Reform and became a deputy prime minister in
charge of foreign affairs in 1972.
1966 The US Cuban Readjustment
Act granted any Cuban who reached American soil the right to stay.
(SFC, 12/2/99, p.A15)
1967 Jan, Ernesto "Che" Guevara
began organizing the National Liberation Army in Bolivia.
(SFC, 5/12/96, Z1p.4)
1967 The Orquesta de Musica
Moderna, a government sponsored group, was formed in Cuba. It was
the basis for the later jazz group Irakere.
(SFC, 6/16/96, BR p.42)
1968 Mar 12, A Miami-bound
flight was commandeered to Cuba.
(SFC, 3/14/03, p.E8)
1968 Nov 23, Five Cubans
hijacked a US B-727 jet, from Chicago to Cuba.
1968 Nov 24, Three Latins
hijacked a US B-707 jet, from New York’s Kennedy Int’l. to Cuba.
Pena Soltren, a US citizen, and two accomplices used weapons hidden
in a diaper bag to hijack Pan Am Flight 281. In 2009 Luis Armando
Pena Soltren (66) voluntarily returned to the same airport to
surrender and face prosecution. On Jan 4, 2011, Soltren was
sentenced to 15 years in prison.
1968 Nov 30, Montesino
Sanchez, a Cuban, successfully hijacked a B-720 from Miami to Cuba.
1968 Dec 5, Eduardo Castera, a
Latin successfully hijacked a B-727 from Tampa to Cuba.
1968 Dec 11, Two blacks
successfully hijacked a DC-8 from St. Louis to Cuba.
1969 Jan 27, Byron Vaughn Booth
and fellow convict Clinton Robert Smith, also a robber, escaped from
the California Institution for Men at Chino. The next day they
bought a ticket for a flight from Los Angeles to Miami with a
connection in New Orleans. National Airlines Flight 64 was hijacked
over the Gulf of Mexico after the plane left New Orleans. Booth was
arrested in Nigeria in 2001 and returned to the US.
1969 Mar 6, Black Panther
Anthony Garnet Bryant, aka Tony Bryant (d.1999 at 60), hijacked a
National Airlines plane enroute from NY to Miami and directed it to
Cuba. He was arrested in Cuba and spent a year and a half in jail
and was pardoned in 1980. His 1984 book "Hijack" described his
experience in Cuban prisons.
(SFEC, 12/26/99, p.C10)(http://tinyurl.com/aopyo)
1969 Jun 4, A 22-year-old man
sneaked into wheel pod of a jet parked in Havana & survived a
9-hr flight to Spain despite thin oxygen levels at 29,000 ft.
1969 Jun 17, Black Panther
William Brent (1931-2006) became the 28th person this year to hijack
a US airplane to Cuba. The Cubans put him in jail for two years. He
published his memoir in 1996 titled "Long Time Gone."
(SFC, 6/3/96, BR p.3)(SFEC, 12/26/99, p.C10)
1969 Oct 5, Lieutenant Eduardo
Guerra Jimenez, a Cuban defector, entered US air space undetected
and landed his Soviet-made MiG-17 at Homestead Air Force Base near
Miami, Florida, where the presidential aircraft Air Force One was
waiting to return President Richard M. Nixon to DC.
1969 Christmas was dropped as a
holiday by the Castro government.
1970 Jesus (Chucho) Valdez
formed his jazz group Irakere in Cuba.
(SFC, 6/16/96, BR p.42)
1972 Oct 29, Charles A. Tuller,
his 2 sons and William White Graham hijacked an Eastern Airlines jet
from Houston and flew to Cuba 4 days after an abortive bank robbery
in Arlington, Va. The robbery left 2 people dead in Arlington and a
ticket agent dead in Houston. This was the second-to-last successful
hijacking from the United States to Cuba before the signing of an
anti-hijacking agreement between the two countries in February,
1972 Nov 10, Three black men
successfully hijacked a Southern Airways DC-9 after a stopover in
Birmingham, Ala., and flew to multiple locations in the United
States and one Canadian city and finally to Cuba with $2 million
(actual cash, Presidential "grant" totaled $10 million) and 10
parachutes. Co-pilot Halroyd was wounded; they threatened to crash
the plane into one of the Oak Ridge nuclear installations; at McCoy
Air Force Base, Orlando, the FBI shot out the tires; they forced
pilot William Haas to take off. The plane finally landed in Havana;
two were sentenced in Cuba to 20 years, one to 15 years. They
returned to Alabama in 1980 and received 20-25 year sentences.
1973 Feb 15, The US and Cuba
reached an anti-hijacking agreement.
1973 Aug 6, Fulgencio Batista y
Zaldivar (b.1901), dictator Cuba (1940-58), died in Estoril,
1975 Oct 23, A Battle between
Cuban and South Africa troops took place in Angola.
1975 Nov 20, An interim report
by the US Senate’s Church Committee said that the CIA failed to
assassinate Fidel Castro at least 8 times. The report also covered
CIA activity in Chile, the Congo, the Dominican Republic and
1975 The first national
congress of the Communist Party of Cuba elected Raul Castro as the
2nd in command.
(SFC, 10/12/97, p.)
1976 Feb 24, Cuba's revised
socialist constitution went into effect. It defined the Communist
Party as the “directing force of society and the state." Article 88
of this year’s Cuban Constitution said any citizen who collects the
signatures of at least 10,000 registered voters can petition the
National Assembly for a referendum on any subject.
5/13/02, p.A1)(Econ, 3/24/12, SR p.10)
1976 Aug 9, John Roselli
(b.1905), Chicago mobster hired by the CIA to kill Castro, was found
murdered. His decomposing body was found in a 55-gallon steel fuel
drum floating in Dumfounding Bay near Miami, Florida. Roselli had
been strangled and stabbed and his legs were sawed off.
1976 Oct 6, A Cuban aircraft
from Venezuela with 73 people onboard was blown up on a flight over
the Caribbean. Castro blamed the explosion on the US. Luis Posada
Carriles, a veteran of the Cuban exile’s war against Castro, was
charged and twice acquitted in the bombing. Venezuelan authorities
kept him in jail for 9 years until his escape in 1985 when he
settled in El Salvador. In April, 2005, Posada sought asylum in the
US. In May, 2005, declassified documents were made public that
linked Posada to the bombing and indicated he was on the CIA's
payroll for years.
(SFC, 7/9/96, p.A8)(SFC,11/17/97, p.A14)(AP,
1976 Dec 3, Fidel Castro was
elected president of Cuba.
(WSJ, 8/5/06, p.A9)
1977 Mar 9, Pres. Carter
proposed an end to travel restrictions to Cuba, Vietnam, N. Korea
and Cambodia effective as of March 18.
1977 Somalia and Ethiopia
engaged in battle. The Soviet Union provided tanks to both sides.
Somalia tried and failed to push into the Ogaden area of Ethiopia.
The Somalis managed to reach the walled city of Harer, a center for
Islam in Ethiopia. An Ethiopian counter-offensive backed by Cuban
troops wrecked Somalia’s army and led to the 1991 of the Somali
(Econ, 8/12/06, p.19)(Econ, 10/14/06, p.49)(Econ,
1978 Jul 13, Walter Poenisch
completed a "swim for peace" from Cuba to the US in 34 hours and 15
min. He used flippers and made the swim unassisted.
(SFC, 5/13/97, p.A3)(http://www.swim4peace.com/)
1978 Oct 18, Jaume Ramon
Mercader del Rio Hernandez (b.1914), aka Jacques Mornard, Spanish
Communist and murderer of Leon Trotsky, died in Cuba. Declassified
archives showed that he was a Soviet agent. In 1940 Mercader fatally
wounded Trotsky with an ice axe in his study at his home in
Coyoacan, then a village on the southern fringes of Mexico City.
1978 The Cuban jazz band
Irakere performed at the Newport Jazz Festival.
(SFC, 6/16/96, BR p.42)
1979 Apr 28, Carlos Muniz
Varela, a Cuban travel agent and an activist for Puerto Rico's
independence, was killed in Puerto Rico.
1979 Nov 2, Black militant
Joanne Chesimard escaped from a New Jersey prison, where she was
serving a life sentence for the 1973 slaying of a New Jersey state
trooper. Chesimard moved to Cuba, was granted asylum in 1984, and
lived there as Assata Shakur. In 2013 she was added to the FBI’s
Most Wanted Terrorist List.
(AP, 11/2/99)(SFC, 5/3/13, p.A6)
1979 The Soviet Union
established a brigade in Cuba.
(SSFC, 1/20/02, p.A7)
1980 Apr 15, The Mariel
boatlift officially began. When it ended on Oct 31, some 207,000
refugees entered the US of which 125,000 were Cubans.
(NG, Oct. 1988, p.
1980 Apr 20, The first Cubans
sailing to the United States as part of the massive Mariel boatlift
(SFC,12/13/97, p.A14)(AP, 9/26/97)(AP,
1980 Sep 18, Cosmonaut Arnoldo
Tamayo, a Cuban, became the first black to be sent on a mission in
1980 Sep 26, The Cuban
government abruptly closed Mariel Harbor, ending the freedom
flotilla of Cuban refugees that began the previous April. By this
time the danzon, “Cuba’s national dance," had all but disappeared.
(AP, 9/26/97)(SFC,12/13/97, p.A14)
1981 Sebastian Arcos Bergnes
(d.1997 at 65), a dentist, helped found the Committee for Human
Rights in Cuba. He was arrested in 1981 and imprisoned for 7 years
in the Combinado del Este prison and again in 1992 on charges of
disseminating “enemy propaganda." In 1995 he left for the US for
1981 The Cuban-American
national Foundation was founded in Florida by Jorge Mas Canosa
(d.1997), as the voice of Cuban exiles dedicated to weakening the
Castro regime through politics.
(SFEC, 7/12/98, p.A21)
1981 Farmer’s markets emerged
in Cuba but were closed by Castro in 1986.
(SFC, 1/5/99, p.A10)
1981 Costa Rica under Pres.
Rodrigo Carazo Odio broke off relations Cuba. Ties were restored in
1982 Sep 11, Wilfredo Lam
(b.1902), Cuban artist, died in Paris, France. He is best known for
“The Jungle" (1943), later acquired by NYC’s MOMA.
(WSJ, 4/29/08, p.D7)
1982 The US State Dept. added
Cuba to its terror list following US accusations that the Castro
government was aiding Colombian guerrillas.
(WSJ, 9/15/06, p.A10)
1982 Robert Lee Vesco
(1935-2007), who fled the US in 1971 to avoid charges of bilking
mutual fund investors of $224 million, moved to Cuba.
1982 The cow named Ubre Blanca
(10), crossed from a Holstein and a Zebu, produced 241 pounds of
milk in a single day. The town of Nueva Geron, Cuba, erected a
marble statue for her after her death in 1985.
(WSJ, 5/21/02, p.A1)
1984 Mar, William Potts, on a
Miami-bound Piedmont Airlines flight that originated in Newark,
N.J., pushed his call button and gave the flight attendant a note
saying he had two accomplices aboard with explosives. He hijacked
the plane to Cuba, where he was arrested and served 13½ years in
prison. In 2013 he returned to the US to face piracy charges.
1984 Eriberto Mederos, aka El
Enfermero (the Nurse), joined the Cuban boat lift to America. He
became a US citizen in 1993. He had worked as the administrator of
electric shock therapy to political opponents of the Castro regime.
In 2001 he was arrested and faced deportation for lying about his
former occupation. In 2002 Mederos (79) was convicted in Florida for
concealing his past.
(SFC, 11/16/01, p.E3)(SFC, 8/2/02, p.A6)
1985 May 20, US began
broadcasts to Cuba on Radio Marti.
1985 Castro gave a series of
interviews to Frei Betto, a Brazilian friar, that were later
published as “Fidel and Religion."
(SFC, 1/22/98, p.B3)
1986 Fidel Castro closed the
farmer’s markets that had emerged in 1986 and promised to wage a
battle against private farmers.
(SFC, 1/5/99, p.A10)
1986 Cuba defaulted on a $12
billion debt owed mainly to European and Latin American governments.
(Econ, 4/16/05, p.34)
1986 Tad Szulc (d.2001)
authored “Fidel: A Critical Portrait."
(SFC, 1/18/00, p.A9)(SFC, 5/24/01, p.C4)
1987 An Ikea subsidiary in
Berlin and an East German company contracted for Cuban prison labor
to build 45,000 tables and 40,000 sofa groupings. The deal blossomed
into a scandal in 2012 following reports of the deal by a German
(SFC, 5/11/12, p.A7)
1988 Mar 22, In Angola the
battle of Cuito Cuanavale changed the region's political landscape,
accelerating the independence of Namibia and the fall of apartheid
in South Africa. While the Cuban and Angolan forces claimed victory,
South Africa claimed it lost only 31 soldiers against 4,785 who fell
on the other side.
1988 Jul, The apartheid regime
in South Africa, having entered into discussions with the ANC,
agreed to elections in Namibia in exchange for the withdrawal of
Cuban troops from Angola.
1988 The Grand Master of The
Order of St. John (Knights of Malta) died. Fidel Castro declared a
national day of mourning in Cuba.
(WSJ, 12/30/94, p.A6)
1989 Jan 10, Cuba began
withdrawing its troops from Angola, more than 13 years after its
first contingents arrived.
1989 Apr 2, Soviet leader
Mikhail S. Gorbachev began a visit to Cuba amid differences with
President Fidel Castro over the type of reforms Gorbachev was
instituting in the Soviet Union.
1989 Jul 13, Cuba executed four
military officers for conspiring to smuggle drugs to the United
States. Antonio de la Guardia, a colonel in the Interior Ministry,
was executed along with army general Arnaldo Ochoa and 2 other
officers in a drug trafficking case. Gen’l. Patricio de la Guardia,
Antonio’s twin, was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Patricio was
released in 1997. Patricio had led an int’l. para-military brigade
in Chile during the Allende years that was estimated at 15,000 men.
(SFC, 3/19/97, p.A14)(WSJ, 10/30/98, p.A19)(AP,
1989 Sep 3, A Cubana de
Aviacion jetliner crashed after takeoff in Havana, killing all 126
aboard and 26 people on the ground.
1989 Fidel Castro Inaugurated
the National Botanical Gardens, located just south of Havana. The
1,500-acre park fell on hard times after Cuba's 1990s economic
crisis precipitated by the collapse of the Soviet Union.
1990 Mar 27, The U.S. began
test broadcasts of TV Marti to Cuba, which promptly jammed the
1990 Rainaldo Arenas (b.1943),
gay writer, took his own life in the US after suffering from AIDS.
He left Cuba during the 1980 Mariel boatlift. His books included
“Before Night Falls" (1993) and “The Color of Summer" the 4th of 5
called the “Pentagonia" a “secret history of Cuba." In 2000 the film
version of Before Night Falls was directed by Julian Schnabel
(SFEC, 7/30/00, BR p.4)(SSFC, 12/17/00, DB p.49)
1990-1991 Cuba was producing 90 million cigars
(SFC, 7/13/96, p.A9)
1991 May 21, Cuban composer
Julian Orbon (b.1915) died in exile in Miami. Mr. Orbon was not
recognized by Cuba's musical establishment after he left the country
permanently in 1960. He contributed to the adaptation of the famous
Guantanamera tune with the verses of the Cuban poet Jose Marti
1991 May 23, Last Cubans troops
1991 Jun 19, Five Cubans stole
and flew a Russian-made Antonov AN-2 biplane to Miami.
1991 Aug 3, The Pan Am games
opened in Havana.
1991 Sep 11, Soviet President
Mikhail S. Gorbachev announced the Kremlin would withdraw thousands
of troops from Cuba, a move bitterly denounced by the Havana
1991 Cuba’s Fidel Castro
declared a national emergency, dubbed “The Special Period in
Peacetime." This represented an extended period of economic crisis
following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and, by extension, the
(Econ, 3/24/12, SR
1991 The organization Brothers
to the Rescue was founded in Florida to conduct search and rescue
missions for Cubans fleeing Cuba in the Florida Straits.
(WSJ, 3/26/96, p.A-18)
1991 Haitian refugees fled to
the US base at Guantanamo. Hundreds were refused further passage to
the US, many because of HIV infection.
(SSFC, 1/20/02, p.A7)
1992 Feb 2, The U.S. Coast
Guard shipped home 250 more Haitian refugees from the Guantanamo Bay
Naval Base in Cuba, a day after repatriating a shipload of about 150
1992 Feb 28, La Lupe (53),
Cuban singer, died of a heart attack in the Bronx.
1992 Feb, An execution was held
for a Cuban exile who tried to infiltrate the island.
(SFC, 8/21/96, p.A8)
1992 May 25, A 7.0 earthquake
on the Caribbean Plate hit Cuba.
1992 Cuban poet Dulce Maria
Loynaz (d.1997 at 94) won the prestigious Cervantes Award. She wrote
the novel “Garden" between 1928 and 1935 in a style considered a
precursor to “magical realism." It wasn’t published until the 1950s.
Other works included “Lyric Works" (1935); “Verses" (1920-1938);
“Love Letter for King Tutankhamen" (1953), “Collected Poems" (1984);
“Bestiary" (1985) and “A Summer in Tenerife" (1987).
(SFC, 4/29/97, p.A20)
1993 Dec 20, Alina Fernandez
Revuelta, a daughter of Cuban President Fidel Castro, flew to Spain,
where she was granted political asylum by the U.S. Embassy.
1993 Robert Quirk authored "the
biography: Fidel Castro."
(SFC, 1/18/00, p.A9)
1993 The autobiography of
Marita Lorenz was published. Lorenz at age 19 had been Fidel
Castro's mistress and was suspected to have been involved in a plot
to assassinate him. A 1999 American TV movie, "My Little Assassin,"
was roughly based on her life.
(WSJ, 10/8/99, p.W11)
1993 Cuba allowed limited
freedom for small private businesses in 157 spheres of activity.
(Econ, 10/16/04, p.33)
1993 In Cuba the dollar stores
were opened in large part to fight a growing black market in which
goods were traded in dollars without passing through the state's
1993 Pernod Ricard SA acquired
the Cuban Rum Havana Club in a 50-50 joint venture with the Cuban
(Econ, 4/16/05, p.34)(WSJ, 9/7/05, p.B2)
1994 May, Francisco Chaviano,
president of the Cuban National Council for Civil Rights, was
arrested. He was sentenced behind closed doors by a military court
about a year later for allegedly revealing state secrets while
documenting the cases of rafters who disappeared or died trying to
leave Cuba. Chaviano was released in 2007, 2 years shy of his
1994 Jun 29, US reopened
Guantanamo Naval Base to process refugees.
1994 Aug 5, Some desperate
Cubans invaded foreign embassies to demand asylum. Others hijacked
Havana harbor ferries and tried to take them to the United States.
Hundreds of Cubans spilled onto Havana's seaside Malecon boulevard,
picked up rocks and debris from crumbling buildings and hurled them
at police. Fidel Castro arrived in an army jeep to quiet the
disturbance. His appearance prompted some demonstrators to drop
their stones and applaud. In summer of 1994, food and fuel were
scarce and islanders sweated through hours-long blackouts that
stilled fans, air conditioners and water pumps.
1994 Aug 19, President Clinton
abruptly halted the nation's three-decade open-door policy for Cuban
1994 Aug 20, President Clinton
slapped new sanctions on Cuba that included prohibiting payments by
Cuban-Americans to their relatives in Cuba.
1994 Aug 27, The US State
Department said the US and Cuba had agreed to resume talks on Cuban
migration, with the hope of stemming the flow of refugees headed
1994 Sep 7, After a brief
meeting, the United States and Cuba temporarily suspended talks on
stemming the Cuban refugee exodus.
1994 Sep 9, The United States
agreed to accept at least 20,000 Cuban immigrants a year in return
for Cuba's promise to halt the flight of refugees.
1994 Oct 15, A Cuban exile took
part in a commando raid during which Arcilio Rodriguez Garcia, a
local official, was shot dead. Humberto Real Suarez and six others
were captured several hours after landing by boat. He was sentenced
to death in 1996 and the others were sentenced to 30-years in
prison. In late 2010 Cuba's Supreme Court commuted the death
sentence against Humberto Real Suarez, the last person remaining on
death row in Cuba.
(SFC, 4/26/96, p.A-14)(AP, 12/28/10)
1994 Nov 8-1994 Nov 21,
Hurricane Gordon caused 1,137 deaths in the Caribbean and eight in
the United States. The storm hit Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti before
1994 Adam Kufeld, photographer,
had his book “Cuba" published by Norton.
1994 Cuba introduced the
convertible peso (CUC) valued at one US dollar. The exchange rate
was 24 pesos for one CUC.
(Econ, 5/16/15, p.32)
1994 Private farmer’s markets
returned to Cuba following huge food shortages due to the collapse
of the Soviet Union.
(SFC, 1/5/99, p.A10)
1994 Oakland, Ca., adopted a
friendship agreement with Santiago, Cuba.
(SFC, 7/22/00, p.A17)
1994 UNESCO introduced the
Marti prize on the initiative of Cuba to recognize an individual or
institution contributing to the unity and integration of countries
of Latin America and the Caribbean.
1995 May, In Cuba Robert Lee
Vesco was arrested on charges of marketing Trixolane, a cancer and
arthritis drug, without the government’s knowledge.
(SFC, 8/21/96, p.A8)(Econ, 5/31/08, p.91)
1995 Cuban cigar production
dropped to 50 million per year.
(SFC, 7/13/96, p.A9)
1995 Pres. Castro and his
ministers celebrated a deal with York Medical Inc. for a joint
venture to develop Cuban pharmaceuticals.
(SFC, 3/17/99, p.A14)
1996 Feb 23, Juan Pablo Roque,
Cuban defector and author of "The Deserter," vanished from Miami and
returned to Cuba. In 1999 his wife sued the Cuban government for
(SFEC, 8/15/99, p.A5)
1996 Feb 24, Cuban war planes
shot down two unarmed private planes flown by a refugee group in
Florida. Cuba claimed the planes violated its airspace. 4 men were
killed including 3 US citizens. In 2001 Gerardo Hernandez (36) was
convicted of conspiracy in the deaths of the aviators. Antonio
Guerrero (43), convicted for spying while working a Navy base in
Florida, was sentenced to life in prison on Dec 27. In 2009
Guerrero’s sentence was reduced to 20 years.
(WSJ, 2/23/96, p.A-1)(SFC,12/18/97, p.A6)(AP,
2/24/98)(WSJ, 12/13/01, p.A1)(SFC, 10/14/09, p.A4)
1996 Feb 26, President Clinton
moved to step up economic sanctions on Cuba in response to Cuba’s
downing of two unarmed airplanes belonging to the Cuban-American
exile group Brothers to the Rescue.
1996 Mar 12, Pres. Clinton
signed the Helms-Burton Act. It shut off visas to executives and
shareholders of firms doing business in Cuba on property confiscated
from Americans. This stripped the3 White House of the power to end
the Cuban embargo.
p.E4)(http://tinyurl.com/lgpgt)(Econ, 3/24/12, SR p.11)
1996 May 1, Cubans began paying
income taxes for the first time in decades.
(SFC, 5/18/96, p.A-9)
1996 Jun 3, The Chilean State
Bank granted an additional $15 mil credit to the Nat’l. Bank of Cuba
for financing Chilean exports to the island.
(WSJ, 8/8/95, p. A10)
1996 Jun 6, Cuba announced
plans to create free trade zones on the island.
(SFC, 6/7/96, p.A15)
1996 Jun 12, Nation of Islam
leader Louis Farrakhan said he has sent a team to Cuba to study the
country’s health and education systems. He praised the Castro regime
for the virtual elimination of illiteracy.
(SFC, 6/12/96, p.A9)
1996 Aug 26, Robert Vesco was
sentenced in Cuba to 13 years in prison for economic crimes against
(SFC, 8/27/96, p.A8)
1996 Aug, Walter Van Der Veer
(52), an American, was arrested for promoting armed action against
Cuba. He went on closed trial in 1997. He was convicted and
sentenced to 15 years in prison.
(SFC, 10/3/97, p.B2)(SFC,11/27/97, p.B2)
1996 Oct 21, An American crop
duster flew over Cuba on its way to Bogota, Columbia. In 1997 Cuba
claimed before the UN that the plane dusted Cuban fields with a
biological pest, thrips palmi.
(SFC, 8/26/97, p.A4)
1996 Oct 24, A UN report said
Hurricane Lili destroyed 5,460 homes and damaged over 78,000. The
Clinton administration waived a ban on air service and approved a
charter flight for relief aid.
(SFC, 10/24/96, p.D5)
1996 The Buena Vista Social
Club, a Cuban recording group organized by Ry Cooder and Nick Gold,
recorded its debut album (released in 1997), at EGREM studios in
Havana. The group featured Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez, Compay Segundo,
Omara Portuondo, Ry Cooder and others. In 1999 the documentary film
“Buena Vista Social Club" was made by Wim Wenders.
(SFC, 5/29/99, p.B1)(SFEM, 10/3/99, p.31)
1997 Jan 21, The construction
of 2 Russian style VVER-440 nuclear reactors was continuing at
Juragua despite structural problems.
(WSJ, 1/21/97, p.A18)
1997 Jan 22, Canada and Cuba
announced a 14-point agreement. They pledged cooperation on human
rights and sought to shield foreign investors targeted for
punishment by Washington.
(SFC, 1/23/96, p.A8)
1997 Feb 12, The Clinton
administration gave permission to 10 U.S. news organizations to open
bureaus in Cuba.
1997 Apr-1997 Sep, In
Cuba terrorist bombings during this period were carried out by a
ring of Salvadoran car thieves hired by Cuban exiles in Miami for
$15,000. The money was raised by Luis Posada Carriles. Posada at
first acknowledged and then denied a role in the attacks.
(SFC,11/17/97, p.A14)(SFC, 5/18/05, p.A9)
1997 May 5, Farmers in Loma del
Gato founded a work cooperative named Transicion and announced that
they would no longer do business with the government. The government
responded with harassing tactics.
(SFC, 1/5/99, p.A10)
1997 Jul 11, A Cuban An-24
passenger plane with 44 people plunged into the sea after take-off
from Santiago de Cuba enroute to Havana.
(SFC, 7/12/97, p.A14)
1997 Jul 16, In Cuba Vladimiro
Roca, Martha Beatriz Roque, Felix Bonne, and Rene Gomez Manzano were
detained for issuing a document "La Patria es de Todos," criticizing
the political system. They were scheduled for a trial on charges of
sedition in 1999. The Prosecution recommended a 6 year sentence for
Roca and 5 year sentences for the others after the 4 rejected a
government offer to go into exile. Roca was sentenced to 5 years,
Manzano and Bonne to 4 years, and Roque to 3 ½ years.
(USAT, 10/9/98, p.13A)(SFC, 2/27/99, p.A17)(SFC,
3/3/99, p.A10)(SFC, 3/16/99, p.A8)
1997 Jul 23, Elio Reve Matos,
salsa musician, died in a road accident. He developed the rhythm
known as “charangon," a combination of salsa styles that included
“changui" and “son."
(SFC, 7/26/97, p.A24)
1997 Aug 3, On Feb 8, 2011,
Otto Rene Rodriguez (52) told the Associated Press in an exclusive
interview that he received powerful C-4 explosives and $2,000 in
cash directly from Luis Posada Carriles to carry out an Aug 3, 1997,
bombing at Havana's Melia Cohiba hotel. He was captured trying to
enter the country on a subsequent trip with 1.5 kilos (3.3 pounds)
of C-4 that Posada had given him.
1997 Aug 4, In Cuba a small
explosion damaged a lobby in a Havana hotel. US-based groups were
blamed for this and a pair of bombings from 3 weeks ago. Otto Rene
Rodriguez Llerena confessed to the explosion at the Melia Cohiba
Hotel, which caused no injuries and little damage. He was sentenced
to death in 1999.
(WSJ, 8/5/97, p.A1)(SFC, 4/2/99, p.D2)
1997 Sep 4, In Cuba an
explosion shook 3 tourist hotels and one Italian tourist was killed.
Raul Ernesto Cruz Leon (25) of Salvador was arrested and accused of
carrying out a half-dozen hotel attacks. He worked for Luis Posada
Carriles, who was supported by the Cuban-American National
Foundation. Cruz was sentenced to death in 1999. In 2010 Cuba's
Supreme Court commuted the death sentence ruling that he should
serve 30 years in prison instead. Francisco Chavez Abarca of El
Salvador was later arrested and sentenced to 30 years in prison for
planting some of the bombs.
(SFC, 9/5/97, p.A12)(SFEC, 7/12/98, p.A21)(WSJ,
3/24/99, p.A1)(AP, 12/3/10)(SFC, 5/24/11, p.A2)
1997 Sep 10, A former
Salvadoran soldier was arrested and confessed to carrying out a
series of bomb attacks. A statement said that Raul Ernesto Cruz was
paid $4,500 for each bomb he planted and that he had been trained in
(SFC, 9/11/97, p.A12)
1997 Oct 10, Fidel Castro was
re-elected president at the close of the 5th national congress. His
brother Raul was re-elected as 2nd in command.
(SFC, 10/12/97, p.A19)
1997 Oct 17, The remains of
revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara (1928-1967) were laid to rest in
his adopted Cuba in Santa Clara, 30 years after his execution in
(SFC,10/18/97, p.A10)(AP, 10/17/98)
1997 Oct 22-1997 Oct 28, Fidel
Castro was hospitalized for hypertensive encephalopathy.
(SFEC, 7/20/98, p.A9)
1997 Oct 27, The US Coast Guard
arrested 3 Cuban American men on a yacht with sniper rifles,
ammunition, night-vision goggles and satellite navigation equipment.
They were stopped off Puerto Rico and were headed for Margarita
Island where Fidel Castro was to attend a summit. The men and 2
others were acquitted in 1999 of plotting to kill Castro.
(SFC, 12/9/99, p.A5)
1997 Nov 6, In Cuba a train-bus
crash killed at least 56 people at Urbano Rey in the eastern sugar
province of Holguin.
(WSJ, 11/7/97, p.A1)
1997 Nov 23, Jorge Mas Canosa,
Cuban exile leader and head of MasTec, died in Miami. He helped
create Radio Marti and TV Marti and served as chairman of the US
Information Agency stations that beamed uncensored news to Cuba.
1997 Dec 14, Cuban President
Fidel Castro declared Christmas 1997 an official holiday to ensure
the success of Pope John Paul II's upcoming visit in January.
(SFC,12/15/97, p.B1)(AP, 12/14/98)
1997 Dec 17, A US court ordered
Cuba to pay $187.6 million for three men killed when their planes
were shot down Feb 24, 1996 by MiG fighters.
(WSJ, 12/18/97, p.A1)
1997 Dec 20, Pope John Paul II
sent Christmas greetings to the Cuban people in advance of his visit
to the island.
1997 Joseph Scarpaci
co-authored "Havana: Two Faces of the Antillean Metropolis."
(SFC, 5/17/99, p.A8)
1997 The film “Guantanamera"
was directed by Tomas Gutierrez and Juan Carlos Tabio. it was about
contemporary life in Cuba.
(WSJ, 8/19/97, p.A17)
1997 The US launched a Cuban
democracy program. It sought to evade the country’s “information
blockade" by sneaking in computers, cell phones, DVD players and
other communications equipment to the island. Since 1997 USAID
grantees have worked with solidarity committees around the world to
call for international support for Cuba's peaceful activists.
1998 Jan 17, It was reported
that the US military had begun to clear away over 50,000 land mines
around Guantanamo Naval base. The base was defended by 400 marines.
(SFC, 1/17/98, p.A10)
1998 Jan 21-1998 Jan 25, Pope
John Paul II was scheduled to visit Cuba.
(SFC, 1/8/98, p.B2)
1998 Jan 22, On the first full
day of his visit to Cuba, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass,
preaching the message, "Be not afraid."
1998 Jan 23, Pope John Paul II
condemned the US embargo against Catholic Cuba.
1998 Jan 24, Pope John Paul II,
delivering blunt political messages during his visit to Cuba, called
for the release of "prisoners of conscience" and respect for freedom
of expression, initiative and association.
1998 Jan 25, In Cuba Pope John
Paul II spoke in Revolution Square on his final day in the country.
He urged Castro to respect human rights.
(WSJ, 1/26/98, p.A1)
1998 Feb 12, The Cuban
government announced that over 200 inmates held on political and
other charges would be released.
(SFC, 2/13/98, p.D2)
1998 Mar 12, Manuel Pineiro
(b.1934), the leader of Cuba’s intelligence apparatus, died in a car
crash at age 63.
(SFC, 3/14/98, p.A19)
1998 Mar 19, Pres. Clinton
eased US restrictions on humanitarian aid and travel to Cuba.
Cuban-American households would be allowed to send back $1,200 a
(WSJ, 3/20/98, p.A1)
1998 Mar 27, Two oil tankers
collided and spilled heavy crude into Matanzas Bay, 60 miles east of
(SFC, 3/28/98, p.A9)
1998 Apr 8, Cuba restored
relations with the Dominican Republic.
(WSJ, 4/9/98, p.A1)
1998 Apr 26, Jean Chretien,
Prime Minister of Canada, visited Cuba and with Fidel Castro
inaugurated a new $40 million terminal at the Havana airport.
(SFC, 4/20/98, p.A10)(SFC, 4/27/98, p.A12)
1998 Apr 27, Canada’s PM
Chretien urged Fidel Castro to release four leading dissidents. It
was reported that about 350 political prisoners were currently held.
(SFC, 4/28/98, p.A6)
1998 Jul 2, From California the
Oakland Youth Orchestra performed at the Gran Teatro de la Habana in
Cuba. The group had already performed in Mexico City, Toluca and
(SFC, 7/11/98, p.B6)
1998 Jul 15, Direct flights
between the US and Cuba resumed after 2 years. US authorities
expanded a “security zone" to include most of the Florida coast to
prevent anti-Castro protestors from entering Cuban waters.
(SFC, 7/16/98, p.A10)
1998 Aug 20, Fidel Castro (72)
visited the Dominican Republic for a regional meeting on trade
negotiations with Europe. He was greeted by Pres. Leonel Fernandez
(SFC, 8/21/98, p.A15)
1998 Aug 29, In Quito, Ecuador,
a Cuban plane with 90 people onboard crashed. 80 people were killed
including 5 children playing on the ground. At least 8 people
survived the crash of the Russian-made Tupelov-154.
(SFEC, 8/28/98, p.A15)(SFC, 8/31/98, p.A10)(AP,
1998 Sep 14, In Miami ten
suspected Cuban spies were arrested for trying to penetrate the
military and exile groups. Five men later pleaded guilty to lesser
charges; the trial of the other five has been postponed until May
2000. The 5 remaining men were convicted in June, 2001, for acting
as unregistered agents and conspiracy to commit crimes against the
US. In 2009 a federal judge lowered the life sentence of Ramon
Labanino to 30 years. The 19-year sentence against Fernando Gonzalez
was reduced to about 18 years.
(WSJ, 9/15/98, p.A1) (WSJ, 9/15/98, p.A1)(AP,
9/14/99)(SSFC, 8/5/07, p.A19)
1998 Sep 15-1998 Oct 1,
Hurricane Georges caused 602 deaths in the Caribbean and four in the
United States. The storm hit the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba,
Puerto Rico, Antigua, Guadeloupe, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla and
British and U.S. Virgin Islands before striking Alabama,
Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida.
1998 Sep 23, The death toll
from hurricane Georges reached 110. 17 people were killed in Haiti
and 17 in the Dominican Republic as the storm hit Cuba.
(SFC, 9/24/98, p.A12)(WSJ, 9/24/98, p.A1)
1998 Sep 24, The death toll
from Hurricane Georges reached 6.
(SFC, 9/25/98, p.A16)(SFC, 10/3/98, p.A11)
1998 Sep, Two Italian tourists,
Fabio Usubelli and Michelle Niccolai, were killed during a robbery.
In 1999 Sergio Antonio Durate Scull and Carlos Rafael Pelaez Prieto
were convicted and sentenced to death.
(SFC, 1/29/99, p.E9)
1998 Oct 14, The UN for a 7th
year called for an end to the US economic embargo against Cuba. Only
the US and Israel cast negative votes.
(SFC, 10/15/98, p.C4)
1998 Nov 7, Japan offered more
than $9 million in aid to Cuba with most of the money as a direct
donation to buy rice. A 5 month drought followed by Hurricane
Georges caused heavy agricultural losses.
(SFEC, 11/8/98, p.A28)
1998 Nov 22, Rolando Laserie,
Cuban vocalist, died at age 75 in Florida. He was known as El
Guapachoso, or the Ebullient One.
(SFC, 11/25/98, p.B4)
1998 Dec 1, Granma, the only
daily newspaper, recommended that Christmas be re-established as a
(SFC, 12/2/98, p.A10)
1998 Dec 17, A boatload of
Cubans capsized off Elliot Key, Fla., during an immigrant-smuggling
attempt and at least 8 people were drowned.
(SFC, 12/19/98, p.A7)
1998 The Latin American School
of Medical Science opened in Cuba. It was created as a regional
initiative after two hurricanes devastated Caribbean and Central
American nations. The first class of 1,500 students graduated in
(AP, 8/21/05)(Econ, 1/27/07, p.35)
1999 Jan 1, President Fidel
Castro, marking 40 years as Cuba's leader, portrayed his socialist
nation as a defender of humanity against rapacious capitalism.
1999 Feb 6, The Health Ministry
said 14 people died from food poisoning in Manguito. They had all
eaten products from a food vendor who also died.
(SFC, 2/8/99, p.A11)
1999 Feb 25, Cuba cut phone
service to AT&T and MCI WorldCom for unpaid bills. The phone
companies were withholding payments pending a lawsuit by relatives
of 4 Cuban Americans, whose aircraft were shot down in Feb 1996.
(SFC, 2/26/99, p.A14)
1999 Mar 18, A US federal judge
ordered US telephone companies to pay $6.2 million owed to Cuba to
the families of 3 Cuban Americans killed in 1996.
(SFC, 3/19/99, p.A12)
1999 May 3, In Baltimore the
Cuban baseball team beat the Baltimore Orioles 12-6. 7 members
missed the departure the next day and one coach, Rigoberto
Betancourt Herrera, was reported to have defected, as the others
over slept. The 6 stragglers departed May 5.
(SFC, 5/5/99, p.A1,6)(SFC, 5/6/99, p.A7)
1999 May 11, In Cuba 2
tornadoes killed 5 people.
(WSJ, 5/12/99, p.A1)
1999 May 14, Cuba and Russia
agreed on a joint venture to complete a nuclear reactor at the
Juragua power station in Cuba.
(SFC, 5/15/99, p.A14)
1999 May 28, In Cuba Pres.
Castro replaced Roberto Robaina (43) as foreign minister with Felipe
Perez Roque (34). Robaina had served in the office for 6 years.
(SFC, 5/29/99, p.A13)
1999 Jun 1, Cuba filed a $181.1
billion compensation claim against the US for deaths and injuries in
what it called a 40 year "dirty war" against Pres. Castro's
(SFC, 6/2/99, p.A12)
1999 Jun 7, In Cuba some 25
dissidents, led by Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, went on a hunger strike
and demanded the release of scores of people described as political
(SFC, 6/8/99, p.A12)(SFC, 6/15/99, p.C5)
1999 Jun 20, The Cuban
Evangelical Celebration, billed as the first Protestant gathering of
its kind, was held in Havana's Plaza of the Revolution with Castro
(SFC, 6/21/99, p.A10)
1999 Jul 3, A boat smuggling 11
people out of Cuba capsized and one person was killed. Joel Dorta
Garcia (27) and David Garcia Capote (33) were arrested and accused
of charging $8,000 for smuggling each passenger.
(SFC, 8/28/99, p.A11)
1999 Jul, Marta Beatriz Roque
began a liquids only hunger strike after she was imprisoned in Cuba
for her role in writing "The Homeland Belongs to All."
(WSJ, 8/27/99, p.A9)
1999 Aug 4, Cuban high jumper
Javier Sotomajor was stripped of his gold medal from the Pan
American Games after he tested positive for cocaine.
(WSJ, 8/5/99, p.A1)
1999 Oct 11, Israel confirmed
that some 400 Jews from Cuba were brought to Israel over the last 5
years in a secret operation.
(SFC, 10/12/99, p.A8)
1999 Oct 14, Hurricane Irene
drenched Cuba and proceeded to the Florida keys.
(SFC, 10/15/99, p.D4)
1999 Nov 6, The UN General
Assembly approved for the 8th time in 8 years a resolution
condemning the US embargo of Cuba.
(SFC, 11/27/99, p.A14)
1999 Nov 16, A 2-day
Ibero-American summit for heads of state from Latin America, Spain
and Portugal met in Havana. Int'l. finance and the effects of
economic globalization on developing countries was the central
theme. The 18 heads of state signed a Havana Declaration.
(SFEC, 11/14/99, p.A22)(SFC, 11/17/99, p.A20)
1999 Nov 25, A 5-year-old boy,
one of 14 escapees from Cuba, was saved by sport fisherman off
Florida while 9 people drowned. The fate of Elian Gonzalez was in
question after his father called for his return to Cuba. This set
off an international custody battle between relatives in Miami and
Elian's father in Cuba.
(SFC, 11/26/99, p.A3)(SFC, 12/1/99, p.A7)(AP,
1999 Dec 3, Regular but
restricted passenger service from NY to Havana was resumed for the
1st time in nearly 4 decades with a flight by Marazul Charters.
(SFC, 12/4/99, p.A6)
1999 Dec 13, In Louisiana 8
Cuban nationals at the St. Matin Parish jail in St. Martinville took
as hostage Warden Todd Louvierre, 2 deputies, and 5 inmates. They
demanded either freedom or deportation. 2 Cubans surrendered on Dec
17 and freed 3 female hostages. An agreement was reached Dec 18 for
the Cubans to return to Cuba.
(SFC, 12/15/99, p.A3)(SFC, 12/18/99, p.A3)(SFEC,
1999 Dec 25, A Cuban airplane,
Russian-made YAK-42, with 22 people crashed just before landing in
the northern Venezuelan state of Carabobo.
(SFEC, 12/26/99, p.D6)
2000 Jan 5, Touching off angry
protests by Cuban-Americans in Miami, the US government decided to
send six-year-old Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba. After a legal battle,
and the seizure of Elian from the home of his US relatives, the boy
was returned to Cuba in June.
(SFC, 1/6/00, p.A1)(AP, 1/5/01)
2000 Jan 12, US Attorney
General Janet Reno said that the Florida court order granting
temporary custody of Elian Gonzalez to his great uncle had no force
or effect on the INS decision that the boy should be returned to his
father in Cuba.
(SFC, 1/13/00, p.A3)
2000 Jan 14, In a massive
demonstration demanding the return of Elian Gonzalez, tens of
thousands of Cuban women marched to the U-S mission in Havana,
waving Cuban flags and chanting, “Bring back our son!"
2000 Feb 26, Jose Imperatori,
vice consul at the Cuban interests section in Washington, was
expelled from the US after he refused to leave voluntarily under
charges of spying.
(SFEC, 2/27/00, p.A15)
2000 Feb 27, Jose Imperatori,
the Cuban diplomat expelled from the US for spying, took refuge in
the Cuban embassy in Ottowa.
(SFC, 2/28/00, p.C2)
2000 Mar 21, A US Federal Judge
ruled that Elian Gonzalez should be returned to his father in Cuba.
(SFC, 3/22/00, p.A3)
2000 Apr 6, Juan Miguel
Gonzalez, the father of Elian Gonzalez, arrived in Washington DC
with his wife and baby son to press his case for the return of his
son from relatives in Miami.
(SFC, 4/7/00, p.A1)
2000 Apr 12, Attorney General
Janet Reno met in Miami with the US relatives of Elian Gonzalez,
after which she ordered them to bring the six-year-old boy to an
airport the next day so he could be taken to a reunion with his
father in Washington. Elian was seized by federal agents ten days
after Reno’s order to turn him over.
(SFC, 4/13/00, p.A1)(AP, 4/12/01)
2000 Apr 14, Leaders of
developing nations called for a “New Global Human Order’ to spread
the world’s wealth and power. The Group of 77, expanded to 133, made
the call during a 3 day summit in Havana.
(SFC, 4/15/00, p.A12)
2000 Jun 17, In Cuba, more than
300,000 people turned out to protest the continued stay of Elian
Gonzalez in the United States; it was the largest such demonstration
since the previous December, when Cuba launched a national campaign
of mass gatherings demanding the boy’s return.
2000 Jul 26, In Cuba over 1
million protestors marched in Havana against the US trade embargo.
(SFC, 7/27/00, p.C3)
2000 Jul 27, In Cuba Oakland’s
Mayor Jerry Brown signed an agreement with Mayor Nicolas Carbonell
Igarza of Santiago, Cuba, for people-to-people exchanges as sister
cities. The next day Brown met and lunched with Pres. Castro.
(SFC, 7/29/00, p.A17)
2000 Sep 19, Nine Cubans were
rescued at sea after their Antonov AN-2 biplane plunged into the
Gulf of Mexico. The cargo ship Chios Dream pulled found the
survivors and a 10th body. Immigration officials soon granted their
legal entry to the US.
(SFC, 9/20/00, p.A12)(SFC, 9/22/00, p.A9)
2000 Sep 25, In Cuba thousands
of protestors joined Fidel Castro to protest US immigration
(SFC, 9/26/00, p.A14)
2000 Oct 26, In Venezuela Pres.
Chavez greeted Fidel Castro and they planned an accord for oil
shipments to Cuba in exchange for bartered products and services.
(SFC, 10/27/00, p.D2)
2000 Oct, Cuba imposed a new
telephone tax in response to the US decision to use $58 million in
frozen Cuban assets to pay the families of Cuban American pilots
shot down by Cuban fighter jets in 1996.
(SFC, 12/16/00, p.A21)
2000 Oct, Pres. Clinton signed
into law the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act
(TSRA), which for the first time allowed US companies to sell
agricultural products, medical supplies, and processed foods on a
cash basis directly to Cuba.
2000 Nov 17, In Panama Luis
Posada, an anti-Castro terrorist, was arrested along with other
Cuban-Americans associated with anti-Communist groups, after Fidel
Castro arrived for a regional summit.
(SFC, 11/22/00, p.A19)
2000 Dec 8, Fidel Castro spoke
in Havana at the unveiling of a statue to John Lennon of the
(WSJ, 6/14/01, p.A18)
2000 Dec 13, Russia’s Pres.
Putin traveled to Cuba for business and rest. There was a $20
billion debt owed by Cuba to the former Soviet Union.
(SFC, 12/14/00, p.C8)(SSFC, 12/17/00, p.D2)
2000 Dec 14, Vladimir Putin,
the first Russian president to visit Cuba since the collapse of the
Soviet Union, held talks with Fidel Castro in Havana.
2000 Dec 17, Cuba and Russia
agreed to abandon the nuclear power plant at Juragua. Pres. Putin
pushed Castro to recognize a small portion of the Soviet-era debt,
estimated at $20 billion.
(SFC, 12/18/00, p.E6)
2000 Dec 24, Heavy weekend
rains swamped Havana and left 2 people dead.
(SFC, 12/27/00, p.C4)
2000 Dec 24, Alberto Vazquez
(17) and Maikel Fonseca (16) died from freezing temperatures after
they climbed into the wheel well of a British Airways Boeing 777
destined for London.
(SFC, 1/18/01, p.A14)
2001 Feb 5, Cuba freed 2
prominent Czechs held for over 3 weeks for attempting to meet with
(WSJ, 2/6/00, p.A1)
2001 Apr 19, A US cargo ship
departed from Jacksonville, Fla., for Cuba, the 1st scheduled ship
in 40 years. 2 days later the ship failed to dock in Cuba.
(SFC, 4/20/01, p.A13)(WSJ, 4/23/01, p.A1)
2001 May 15, Fidel Castro
arrived in Syria from Qatar for a 2-day visit.
(SFC, 5/16/01, p.D14)
2001 May 31, A group of
journalists led by Raul Rivero formed an independent association,
the 1st under Castro’s rule.
(SFC, 6/1/01, p.D3)
2001 Jun 8, Five Cuban men were
convicted in the US for operating as unregistered foreign agents.
Gerardo Hernandez (36) was sentenced to life in prison on Dec 12 for
conspiracy in the deaths of 4 aviators shot down by Cuba in 1996.
Antonio Guerrero (43), convicted for spying while working a Navy
base in Florida, was sentenced to life in prison on Dec 27. In 2009
Guerrero’s sentence was reduced to 20 years. Fernando Gonzalez,
known to US authorities by his alias, Ruben Campa, completed his
sentence in 2014 at a prison in Arizona and was deported to Cuba.
(SFC, 12/13/01, p.A4)(SFC, 12/28/01, p.A5)(SFC,
10/14/09, p.A4)(AP, 2/27/14)
2001 Jul 13, Pres. Bush ordered
toughened enforcement of the sanctions against Cuba and promised to
expand support for human rights activists there.
(SFC, 7/14/01, p.A11)
2001 Aug 1, A boatload of
Cubans capsized off Key West and at least 2 people died. 4 were
missing and 22 were rescued.
(WSJ, 8/2/01, p.A1)
2001 Aug 17, Gen. Raul Menendez
Tomassevitch, a founding member of the Communist Party of Cuba,
(SFC, 8/18/01, p.E3)
2001 Aug 23, Frank Emilio
Flynn, blind pianist and Latin jazz pioneer, died at age 80 in
(SFC, 8/30/01, p.C2)
2001 Sep 21, Ana Belen Montes,
an employee of the US Defense Intelligence Agency since 1985, was
charged with spying for Cuba. She pleaded guilty in 2002 and was
sentenced to 25 years in jail. In 2013 it was reported that Marta
Rita Velazquez, a former legal officer at the State Department’s
Agency for Int’l. Development had introduced Montes to a Cuban
intelligence officer in Dec 1984, and then accompanied her on a
clandestine trip to Cuba for spy craft training. Charges against
Velazquez were announced on April 25, 2013.
(SFC, 9/22/01, p.A20)(WSJ, 3/20/02, p.A1)(SFC,
10/16/02, p.A9)(SFC, 4/26/13, p.A15)
2001 Nov 4, Hurricane Michelle
hit Cuba and forced the evacuation of 750,000. At least 5 people
(SFC, 11/5/01, p.A1)(SFC, 11/6/01, p.A13)
2001 Nov 20, A speedboat,
believed to be carrying 30 smuggled Cubans, capsized in the Florida
Straits and all were believed drowned.
(SFC, 11/21/01, p.A17)
2001 Dec 12, Gerardo Hernandez,
the leader of a Cuban spy ring, received a life sentence in federal
court in Miami for his role in the infiltration of US military bases
and the deaths of four Cuban-Americans in 1996.
2001 Dec 14, The US shipped a
load of corn to Cuba, the 1st American food shipment there since
(SFC, 12/15/01, p.A8)
2001 Dec 16, The first U.S.
commercial food shipments since 1963 arrived in communist Cuba. The
Mexican freighter N.V. Ikon Mazatlan arrived in Cuba with 26,400
tons of American corn a day after 500 tons of American frozen
chicken parts were received.
(SFC, 12/17/01, p.A3)(AP, 12/16/02)
2001 Dec 18, Cuba reported that
attackers killed a visiting Florida couple, their 8-year-old
grandson and 2 others during a highway robbery in Matanzas province.
(SFC, 12/19/01, p.A4)(WSJ, 12/19/01, p.A1)
2001-2003 Cuba ran up an oil debt to Venezuela of
some $752 million.
(WSJ, 2/2/04, p.A1)
2001-2004 Activists of Oswaldo Paya’s Christian
Liberation Movement gathered 25,000 signatures in a vain attempt to
persuade Cuba’s National Assembly to change the constitution to
allow multi-party democracy.
(Econ, 12/17/05, p.38)
2002 Jan 4, George and Marisol
Gari, members of the Wasp network Cuban spy ring, were sentenced in
Florida to 7 and 3.5 years.
(SFC, 1/5/02, p.A6)
2002 Jan 6, Construction began
to expand Camp X-Ray at the US Guantanamo base in Cuba to house
detainees from Afghanistan. The 1st prisoners arrived Jan 11. As the
number of prisoners rose Camp Delta was added.
(WSJ, 1/26/05, p.A10)
2002 Jan 10, A US military
transport took off carrying al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners to the US
Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba. Prisoners were set up in an area
called Camp X-Ray. In 2004 David Rose authored “Guantanamo: The War
on Human Rights."
(SFC, 1/11/02, p.A5)(SFC, 1/26/02, p.A10)(SSFC,
2002 Jan 27, Honduras restored
diplomatic ties with Cuba just before Ricardo Maduro took office.
(WSJ, 1/28/02, p.A1)
2003 Feb 1, Mongo Santamaria
(81/85), Cuban-born Latin jazzman, died in Miami.
(WSJ, 2/3/03, p.A1)(SFC, 2/5/03, p.A22)(SSFC,
2002 Feb 3, In Havana Fidel
Castro met with Pres. Fox of Mexico.
(SFC, 2/4/02, p.A4)
2002 Feb 4, In Havana Pres. Fox
of Mexico met with 7 prominent dissidents.
(SFC, 2/5/02, p.A7)
2002 Feb 27, In Havana 21
Cubans took refuge in the Mexican Embassy after plowing through its
gates in a stolen bus. Mexican diplomats found the Cubans to be
economic refugees and requested a raid. A Cuban special unit
arrested the asylum seekers on Mar 1.
(SFC, 3/1/02, p.A16)(SFC, 3/2/02, p.A8)
2002 Mar, In Cuba Anthony
Boadle began working as Reuters' bureau chief and continued through
2008. He published reports favoring local counterrevolutionaries and
the interests of the United States and the European Union. In 2011
Cuban state-television accused Boadle of working as a CIA operative.
2002 May 5, In Cuba Fidel
Castro freed Vladimiro Roca (59), jailed 5 years ago for sedition,
ahead of Pres. Carter’s visit.
(SFC, 5/6/02, p.A3)
2002 May 10, In Cuba activists
of the Varela Project delivered 11,000 petitions for greater freedom
to Pres. Castro. Oswaldo Paya created the project based on Article
88 of the 1976 Constitution. The regime responded with a
counter-referendum in which 8 million citizens were persuaded to
vote for a June 27 constitutional amendment that declared socialism
(SFC, 5/11/02, p.A9)(WSJ, 5/13/02, p.A1)(Econ,
3/24/12, SR p.9)
2002 May 12, Former US Pres.
Jimmy Carter arrived in Cuba and Castro offered him an unfettered
access. He was the 1st US president, in or out of office, to visit
since the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power.
(WSJ, 5/13/02, p.A1)(AP, 5/12/03)
2002 May 13, In Cuba former US
Pres. Carter challenged US government conservatives to prove charges
that Cuba has developed biological weapons and shared such
technology with renegade states.
(SFC, 5/14/02, p.A9)
2002 May 14, Former Pres.
Carter addressed the Cuban people and said the US should end its
embargo and that Cuba should become more democratic.
(SFC, 5/15/02, p.A1)
2002 May 16, Jimmy Carter met
with over 20 dissidents and urged them to continue fighting for
democratic change and human rights.
(SFC, 5/17/02, p.A14)
2002 May 17, Former President
Jimmy Carter ended a historic visit to Cuba sharply at odds with the
Bush administration over how to deal with Fidel Castro, saying
limits on tourism and trade often hurt Americans more than Cubans.
2002 May 20, Pres. Bush marked
Cuban Independence Day with a speech that offered Cuba greater
economic and political ties in exchange for free and transparent
elections and an open economy.
(WSJ, 5/20/02, p.A3)(SFC, 5/21/02, p.A3)
2002 Jun 12, Fidel Castro led
hundreds of thousands of people in support of a constitutional
amendment declaring Cuba's socialist state "untouchable." It was a
protest to President Bush's policies toward Cuba and defiance for
democratic reforms of his one-party system. A proposed amendment
outlined Cuba as a socialist state of workers… organized with all
and for the good of all…"
(AP, 6/12/02)(SFC, 6/12/02, p.A13)
2002 Jun 27, Cuba's one-party
socialist state was engraved in the constitution as "irrevocable"
after Fidel Castro's communist parliament followed his lead and
rejected domestic and foreign efforts to introduce democratic
2002 Jul 8, Ralph Nader
attended a dinner with Cuban leader Fidel Castro as the consumer
advocate began a three-day visit to the communist nation.
2002 Jul 8, Cuban poet and
writer Cintio Vitier was named winner of Mexico's Juan Rulfo Prize
2002 Jul 22, North Dakota's
Gov. John Hoeven headed to Cuba to promote trade of peas, wheat and
other foods to the communist island from his state. It was only the
2nd visit to Cuba by a sitting American governor in some 40 years.
2002 Jul 29, In Canada at least
23 young Cubans from a group who traveled to see Pope John Paul II
decided not to return to the communist-ruled island.
2002 Aug 29, Assailants entered
a home in Artemisa, a village in western Cuba and killed five
people, including four members of a family, apparently by cutting
2002 Sep 29, Cuba struck deals
to buy more than $66 million of American food during a mammoth
agribusiness show aimed at bringing more U.S. farm products to the
communist island. More contracts were expected.
2002 Oct 21, Millions of Cubans
went to the polls to choose new municipal officials, the men and
women charged with solving all manner of neighborhood problems, from
lack of water to deteriorating buildings.
2002 Oct 23, The European
Parliament's Conference of Presidents announced that it chose
Oswaldo Paya of Cuba for the prestigious 2002 Sakharov Prize for
Freedom of Thought.
2002 Nov 11, A two-seat crop
sprayer crammed with eight members of a Cuban family, including a
baby, landed at the Key West airport in an apparent bid for asylum
by those aboard.
2002 Nov 26, Cuban musician
Polo Montanez (47), born as Fernando Borrego, died from head
injuries suffered in a Nov 20 car crash. His country-style music was
hugely popular throughout Latin America.
(AP, 11/27/02)(SFC, 11/29/02, p.A27)
2002 Dec 10, A train accident
at Coliseo, Cuba, killed 14 people and injured more than 70.
(AP, 12/11/02)(SFC, 12/12/02, p.A20)
2003 Jan 19, In Cuba more than
97 percent of voters showed overwhelming support for the nation's
socialist system by electing 609 candidates who ran uncontested for
2003 Feb 27, In Cuba
America’s top diplomat said that the Castro government had seized
some 5,101 books shipped in by the US government.
(SFC, 2/28/03, A13)
2003 Mar 2, Fidel Castro
offered to mediate with North Korea over its nuclear program, though
he acknowledged Cuba’s ability to stem the growing crisis was
2003 Mar 6, Pres. Fidel
Castro was elected a sixth term and he wasted no time in criticizing
the US, warning that Cuba doesn’t need its foreign office.
2003 Mar 10, The
European Union opened a new office in Cuba.
2003 Mar 19, A Cuban airliner
was hijacked to Key West. 6 hijackers took control of the plane
without telling the 25 passengers and six crew members about their
asylum plans. The six were later convicted of federal hijacking
(SFC, 3/20/03, p.A15)(AP, 3/19/04)
2003 Mar 20, Fidel Castro's
agents arrested some of the government's leading critics in a
crackdown on dissidents accused of working with US diplomats to
undermine Cuba's socialist system. Jail sentences of over 20 years
were later imposed on 75 of the dissidents.
(AP, 3/21/03)(Econ, 1/4/14, p.11)
2003 Apr 1, In the second
hijacking of a Cuban plane in as many weeks, a hijacker claiming to
have two grenades surrendered an hour after forcing the aircraft to
land in Florida with 32 people aboard. Adermis Wilson Gonzalez was
convicted of air piracy and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
(AP, 4/2/03)(AP, 3/24/14)
2003 Apr 3, Cuban security
forces arrested the hijackers of a passenger ferry, rescuing nearly
2003 Apr 4, A standoff between
Cuban troops and the hijackers of a small ferry who had tried to
sail to Florida ended as soldiers stormed the boat and hostages
jumped overboard to safety.
2003 Apr 7, Cuba handed down
sentences of 15-27 years to the 1st 7 of 80 recently rounded
dissidents. Activists of Oswaldo Paya’s Christian Liberation
Movement made up more than two-thirds of those arrested. In response
the EU imposed diplomatic sanctions and Cuban officials boycotted
embassy functions in what came to be called the “cocktail war." The
sanctions were suspended in 2005 and lifted in 2008.
(AP, 4/8/03)(Econ, 12/17/05, p.38)(Econ, 6/28/08,
2003 Apr 11, Fidel Castro's
government executed three men who hijacked a ferry by firing squad
in a chilling message to anyone else who tries to commandeer a boat
or plane to the United States.
2003 Apr 17, In central Cuba a
bus and a semi truck collided on a highway, killing at least 30
people and injuring 71.
2003 Jul 10, Cuba signed an
operating agreement with the Port of Corpus Christi, an agreement
that could help erode the long-standing US embargo of the island.
2003 Jul 11, The Canadian
government gave Air Canada the right to operate scheduled passenger
flights to Cuba.
2003 Jul 13, Compay Segundo
(95), a once-forgotten Cuban musician who gained worldwide fame with
the "Buena Vista Social Club," died in Havana.
2003 Jul 16, Celia Cruz (77),
Cuban-born Latin music singer, died in Fort Lee, NJ.
(SFC, 7/17/03, p.A21)
2003 Jul 26, Cuba celebrated
the 50th anniversary of the start of Fidel Castro's revolution
against Fulgencio Batista.
2003 Sep 26, In Cuba Brazil's
Pres. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed business accords with Castro
that included an agreement to renegotiate Havana's $40 million debt
2003 Sep 27, Brazil and Cuba
signed $200 million in new business deals in Cuba by private
2003 Sep 28, Cuba's foreign
minister made an impassioned appeal for the lifting of the trade
embargo against his country, saying the blockade has cost the
Caribbean nation $72 billion in the last 42 years.
2003 Oct 3, Oswaldo Paya, top
democracy activist, launched a new challenge to Fidel Castro's
government as part of the Varela Project, turning in more than
14,000 signatures of people seeking a human rights referendum just
six months after a crackdown on the opposition.
2003 Nov 2, In Havana, Cuba, 71
American firms from 18 states and Puerto Rico opened trade fair
displays under an exception in a 42-year US trade embargo.
2003 Dec 8, Cuban pianist Ruben
Gonzalez (84), who found new fame in the mid-1990s playing with
Compay Segundo's Buena Vista Social Club band, died in Havana.
2003 Dec 13, More than 250 US
agribusiness representatives traveled to Cuba for sales talks,
marking the 2nd anniversary of the first US commercial food
shipments to the island.
2004 Jan 21, Ecumenical
Patriarch Bartholomew arrived in Cuba to consecrate St.
Nicholas Cathedral on Jan. 25, said Metropolitan Athenagoras of
Panama and Central America. There were 1,200 practicing Orthodox
Christians in Cuba.
2004 Feb 26, President Bush
tightened U.S. travel restrictions against Cuba.
2004 Feb, UNESCO awarded its
press freedom prize to Cuba's jailed independent reporter Raul
2004 Mar 15, The U.S. military
said it released 23 Afghan and three Pakistani citizens from the
U.S. Navy prison for terrorist suspects in Cuba, leaving about 610
still in detention.
2004 Apr 13, Cuba agreed to buy
$13 million in food from American companies and reached a tentative
deal for up to $10 million in farm goods from California.
2004 Apr 29, Thousands of
Cubans, young and old, played their favorite game into the night to
break the world record for most people playing chess simultaneously.
2004 May 11, Cuba’s dollar-only
stores “closed for inventory." Cuba blamed new US measures aimed at
squeezing the island’s economy.
(SFC, 5/12/04, p.A9)
2004 May 17, Cuba’s dollar-only
stores were ordered to mark up their prices 10-30% for staples.
2004 May 27, Cuba and Mexico
agreed to return their respective ambassadors following a dispute
earlier this month.
(WSJ, 5/28/04, p.A1)
2004 Jun, The US Treasury Dept.
imposed restrictions requiring that academic trips to Cuba be at
least 10 weeks long. This eliminated popular 1-2 week visits offered
by US universities.
(SSFC, 4/9/06, p.F4)
2004 Jul 18, Mexico and Cuba
said they will reinstate ambassadors in each other's countries at
the end of the month.
2004 Jul 22, The Cuban
government released political prisoner Martha Beatriz Roque from a
hospital where she was serving a 20-year sentence. She is the
seventh and best-known person let out of jail in three months.
2004 Aug 13, Hurricane Charley
roared across Cuba, ripping apart roofs, downing power lines and
yanking up huge palm trees on its way to Florida. Charley hit
Florida with winds at 145mph. It flattened oceanfront homes, killed
23 people and left thousands more homeless.
(AP, 8/13/04)(AP, 8/14/04)(AP, 8/14/04)(AP,
8/16/04)(WSJ, 8/20/04, p.A1)
2004 Aug 26, Cuba broke
diplomatic ties with Panama after the outgoing Panamanian president
Mireya Moscoso pardoned four Cuban exiles, including Luis Posada
Carriles, the communist government accuses of trying to assassinate
President Fidel Castro.
(AP, 8/27/04)(SFC, 5/18/05, p.A9)
2004 Sep 14, Hurricane Ivan
whipped western Cuba with 160 mph winds. The hurricane knocked some
25 million barrels of oil off world markets by causing undersea
mudslides in the Gulf of Mexico.
(AP, 9/14/04)(WSJ, 10/27/04, p.A1)
2004 Sep 29, Russian Foreign
Minister Sergey Lavrov met with President Fidel Castro and other
Cuban leaders as the countries worked on re-creating more modest
versions of political and economic alliances that unraveled after
the Soviet Union's collapse.
2004 Oct 22, Rosa Elena Simeon
(61), Cuba's minister of science, technology and environment, died.
2004 Oct 25, Cuba said that
dollars will no longer be accepted at island businesses and stores
in a dramatic change in how commercial transactions have been done
here in more than a decade.
2004 Oct 28, For the 13th
straight year, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly urged the
United States to end its more than four decade trade embargo against
2004 Nov 8, The U.S. dollar was
eliminated from circulation in Cuba.
2004 Nov 14, Religious figures
and Cuban government officials in Havana laid down the first stone
of what will become the island's first-ever Russian Orthodox church.
2004 Nov 15, In Las Vegas 43
members of “Havana Night Club" revue, a Cuban dance troupe, asked
for asylum. In 2005 the US granted asylum to 49 members of the
(SFC, 11/16/04, p.A2)(SFC, 7/22/05, p.A8)
2004 Nov 19, Cuba and Panama
agreed to restore consular relations, taking a step toward renewal
of full diplomatic ties at a meeting on the sidelines of an
2004 Nov 22, Chinese President
Hu Jintao met with Fidel Castro in Havana for talks focusing on the
broadening ties between Cuba and China.
2004 Nov 30, Cuba's communist
government freed dissident writer Raul Rivero from prison. Cuba
unexpectedly released three political dissidents for health reasons:
economics writer Oscar Espinosa Chepe, who has a liver ailment,
Marcelo Lopez, who has a neurological disorder, and Margarito
Broche, who suffered a heart attack in prison.
2004 Dec 14, The Bolivarian
Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) began with the
2004 Dec 17, Three days of
trade talks ended in Havana. Cuba agreed to buy about $125 million
in farm goods from attending U.S. companies.
2004 Dec 25, President Fidel
Castro said a 100-million-barrel crude oil deposit had been
discovered off Cuba by Canadian firms. Cuba imports about half the
petroleum it needs.
2005 Jan 4, Cuban Foreign
Minister Felipe Perez Roque said the island nation was renewing
contacts with France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Austria, Greece,
Portugal and Sweden after an EU panel recommended that member states
stop inviting dissidents to their National Day celebrations at their
embassies in Havana.
2005 Jan 10, Cuba said it was
resuming formal ties with all of Europe, ending a deep freeze in
relations following a 2003 crackdown on dissidents and the
firing-squad executions of three men who tried to hijack a ferry.
2005 Jan 18, Cuba's National
Gazette published a new resolution by the Commerce Ministry that
beginning on Feb. 7, smoking will be prohibited in theaters, stores,
buses, taxis and other enclosed public areas.
2005 Jan 31, EU foreign
ministers agreed to restore normal diplomatic relations with the
Cuban government while pledging to increase contacts with critics of
Pres. Fidel Castro.
2005 Feb 7, Cuba began an
island-wide ban on smoking in public places such as stores,
theaters, and office buildings.
2005 Mar 17, President Fidel
Castro announced a 7 percent revaluation of Cuba's national
currency, giving Cubans slightly more buying power as the
communist-run island moves to reassert greater control over its
2005 Mar 24, In a move to
further strengthen Cuba's national currency, Cuban President Fidel
Castro announced that one of two types of money accepted on the
island will no longer be automatically traded 1-1 to the US dollar.
Beginning April 9, the exchange rate for the Cuban convertible peso
will no longer be on par with the American dollar and instead will
be tied to several foreign currencies, initially marking an 8
percent revaluation. The move will also help raise the value of the
2005 Apr 17, Millions of Cubans
elected municipal assemblies across the communist-run island Sunday
in local elections Pres. Castro defended as "the most democratic in
2005 May 4, It was reported
that Cuba and Venezuela agreed to start a joint shipyard in
Venezuela, the latest sign of strengthening economic ties between
the Latin nations.
2005 May 13, A senior Chinese
official met with President Fidel Castro during a visit aimed at
cementing political and economic ties between the two communist
2005 May 21-2005 May 22, Some
160 delegates from Cuba’s opposition movement held an assembly in
Havana without government interference.
(Econ, 5/28/05, p.40)
2005 Jun 19, Local Cuban media
reported that the communist government has revoked some 2,000
licenses from self-employed workers across the island, part of a
campaign to reassert state control over the economy.
2005 Jun 23, UN human rights
experts said they have reliable accounts of detainees being tortured
at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
2005 Jun 28, Cuban leader Fidel
Castro made a surprise visit to Venezuela for what he described on
arrival as an ''historic encounter'' with his top ally, Pres. Hugo
Chavez, and a 2-day summit with Caribbean leaders. This was his 4th
trip to Venezuela since 1999 and his first outside of Cuba since
2005 Jul 8, Hurricane Dennis
slammed Cuba, sweeping away coastal homes and sending waves crashing
over Havana's seawall. At least 10 people were killed.
2005 Jul 10, Hurricane Dennis
swamped homes, ripped off roofs and felled power lines and trees
when it hurtled into northwest Florida and Alabama with 120-mph
(190-kph) winds. The storm left at least 16 dead in Haiti. Dennis
killed at least 16 people in Cuba, damaged or destroyed 15,000 homes
and caused an estimated $1.4 billion in property damage.
(Reuters, 7/11/05)(WSJ, 7/11/05, p.A1)(AP,
2005 Aug 6, Ibrahim Ferrer
Planas, Cuban singer, died. In 1996 he recorded with Ry Cooder for
the "Buena Vista Social Club" which was followed by his own solo
(Econ, 8/20/05, p.68)
2005 Aug 9, A three-judge panel
of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ordered a new
trial after agreeing with defense attorneys who challenged the 2001
convictions five Cuban intelligence agents. All five acknowledged
being Cuban agents but said they were spying on "terrorist" exile
groups opposed to Castro, not the U.S. government.
2005 Aug 16, Nebraska Gov. Dave
Heineman secured a deal for his state to export $17 million in
agricultural goods to communist Cuba. The first US shipment of great
northern beans to the island since Fidel Castro came to power in
2005 Aug 20, Cuba and Panama
restored diplomatic ties, one year after they were broken off in a
dispute sparked by the decision by Panama's previous president to
pardon four Cuban exiles accused of trying to assassinate Cuban
President Fidel Castro.
2005 Aug 20, In Cuba the Latin
American School of Medical Science, created as a regional initiative
in 1998 after two hurricanes devastated Caribbean and Central
American nations, graduated its first class of 1,500 students.
(AP, 8/21/05)(Econ, 1/27/07, p.35)
2005 Aug 21, A merchant vessel
rescued 3 people north of Matanzas, Cuba, after 5 days at sea. No
one else was found. 31 people were believed killed in the Florida
Straits in their attempt to reach the US.
2005 Sep 10, Zimbabwe President
Robert Mugabe arrived in Cuba, criticizing the International
Monetary Fund, even though the organization a day earlier deferred a
decision for six months on whether to expel the African nation.
2005 Oct 13, At the
Ibero-American Summit in Spain, foreign ministers from Latin
America, Spain and Portugal backed Cuba on in two of its battles
against the US, calling for an end to the US embargo and the
expulsion from the U.S. of a Cuban militant wanted for a 1976 plane
2005 Oct 26, A group of woman
who have held a weekly march the last two years to protest the Cuban
government's jailing of their activist husbands were gratified to
learn they will share the EU's top human rights prize, something
they hope will draw attention to their cause.
2005 Oct 31, Farmers brought
California vegetables, North Carolina turkeys and Arkansas rice to
Cuba's annual trade fair, showing that Americans are still hungry
for the communist country's market despite U.S. rules that make
2005 Nov 2, In Florida 2 men
pleaded guilty to organizing a Cuban smuggling trip that ended when
their speedboat capsized and a 6-year-old boy drowned on Oct 12.
2005 Nov 23, Cuba announced a
major increase in government salaries saying that it wanted to
reward workers with high productivity and advanced university
2005 Nov 30, In Cuba Panama's
President Martin Torrijos greeted dozens of his compatriots as they
arrived in Havana for free eye operations, the latest sign of
warming relations between the two countries.
2005 Dec 7, Some 25 American
anti-war activists marched from the eastern Cuban city of Santiago
toward the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay to protest treatment of
terror suspects there.
2005 Dec 15, The US government
denied permission to Cuba to participate in the inaugural World
Baseball Classic to be held in March 2006.
(SFC, 12/15/05, p.A1)
2005 Dec 16, Exploratory peace
talks between Colombia and its second-largest rebel group began in
Cuba with help from the Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia
Marquez and facilitators from Spain, Norway and Switzerland.
2005 Dec 22, Cuba announced it
had turned a corner in its recovery from severe financial crisis,
reporting 11.8 percent growth in 2005 using its own method for
calculating gross domestic product.
2005 Dec 30, In Florida 87
Cubans reached shore in a series of landings that made police
(WSJ, 12/31/05, p.A1)
2005 Eric Saar and Viveca Novak
authored “Inside the Wire: A Military Intelligence Soldier’s
Eyewitness Account of Life at Guantanamo."
(Econ, 6/11/05, p.80)
2005 Cuba’s population reached
2005 Venezuela’s government
gave Cuba a contract to modernize Venezuela’s identity card system.
(Econ, 2/13/10, p.40)
2006 Jan 9, The US sent 15
migrants back to Cuba after officials concluded that the section of
the partially collapsed bridge where they landed did not count as
dry land under the government's policy because it was no longer
connected to any of the Keys.
2006 Jan 18, President Fidel
Castro announced a long-awaited renovation of Cuba's energy system
to combat blackouts that have afflicted the island nation for the
past two summers.
2006 Jan 20, The US Treasury
Department issued a license allowing the Cubans to participate in
the 16-team World Baseball Classic.
2006 Jan 24, Fidel Castro
accused the US of seeking to rupture the minimum remaining
diplomatic ties with his country, addressing tens of thousands of
Cubans before starting a march outside the American mission in
2006 Feb 3, Some 200,000 Cubans
crowded Revolution Plaza for a ceremony granting Hugo Chavez
UNESCO's 2005 Jose Marti International Prize. President Castro
himself handed over the framed certificate to Venezuela’s Pres.
Chavez. UNESCO introduced the Marti prize in 1994 to recognize an
individual or institution contributing to the unity and integration
of countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
2006 Feb 4, A three-day energy
meeting in Mexico City wrapped up after moving to a Mexican-owned
hotel. It was the first private-sector oil summit between Cuba and
the US. The meeting between Cuban officials and US energy executives
was moved to another hotel after the Hotel Maria Isabel Sheraton
asked the Cubans to leave. On Feb 6 Mexico launched an investigation
into whether the US government pressured the American-owned hotel
into expelling Cuban guests.
2006 Feb 27, US District Judge
Federico Moreno in Miami ordered US federal officials to "use their
best efforts" to help the Cubans return to the United States. Moreno
wrote that "those Cuban refugees who reached American soil in early
January 2006 were removed to Cuba illegally."
2006 Mar 2, It was reported
that Cuban academics hoping to attend a gathering of Latin America
experts in Puerto Rico had been denied visas by the American
government, marking the latest in the current US administration's
trend of shutting out Cubans.
2006 Mar 10, Cuba said it will
open embassies in four more Caribbean countries, a move that will
give it a diplomatic presence in all 15 Caribbean Community nations.
2006 Mar 18, In Cuba the wives
and mothers of about two dozen political prisoners marched along
several of the city's main avenues, singing hymns and carrying signs
reading "amnesty" to commemorate the third anniversary of the
crackdown that put their husbands behind bars.
2006 Mar 24, A group of Cuban
migrants who reached an abandoned bridge in the Florida Keys only to
be sent back to Cuba received official confirmation from American
officials that they can return to the US for good on humanitarian
2006 Apr 5, Cuban coast guard
officials fatally shot a suspected migrant smuggler and arrested two
others after confronting them in an apparent operation to ferry 39
migrants out of the country on a US-registered speedboat. State
television later said that the migrant smuggler who was fatally shot
had left the island as a migrant himself three weeks earlier, but
returned as a crew member on the same boat to repay a debt.
(AP, 4/7/06)(AP, 4/8/06)
2006 Apr 10, Cuba and Venezuela
signed agreements for a joint venture to revamp an unfinished
Soviet-era refinery in Cuba and supply it with oil from Venezuela.
(WSJ, 4/12/06, p.A7)
2006 Apr 14, Cuba ordered the
expulsion of a Czech diplomat, accusing him of spying for the United
States. Stanislav Kazecky, who was in charge of political, cultural
and media affairs for the Czech embassy, was given 72 hours to
2006 Apr 19, Cuba agreed to buy
another $30 million in food from Nebraska, strengthening trade
relations with the US farm state already selling corn, wheat,
soybeans and other products to the communist island.
2006 Apr 28, Representatives of
the Colombian government and that nation's second largest rebel
group wrapped up four days of talks in Cuba without resolution, but
agreed to meet again after their country's May 28 elections.
2006 Apr 29, Bolivia's new
left-leaning president, Evo Morales, signed a pact with Cuba and
Venezuela on rejecting US-backed free trade and promising a
socialist version of regional commerce and cooperation. Bolivia
became the 3rd member of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas
(AP, 4/29/06)(Econ, 5/6/06, p.38)
2006 May 5, Forbes Magazine in
an article titled, "Fortunes Of Kings, Queens And Dictators," put
Fidel Castro in 7th place in a group of 10 world leaders with "lofty
positions and vast fortunes." The magazine estimated Castro's
personal wealth to be $900 million, nearly double that of the $500
million of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and just under Prince Albert
II of Monaco's estimated $1 billion. Forbes said it assumed Castro
has economic control over a web of state-owned companies including a
convention center, a retail conglomerate and an enterprise that
sells Cuban-produced pharmaceuticals. On May 15 Castro and Cuba’s
Central Bank President Francisco Soberon denied the claims. Soberon
said that all the money made from those companies is pumped back
into the island's economy, into sectors including health, education,
science, security, defense and solidarity projects with other
2006 May 9, Cuba, Saudi Arabia,
China and Russia won seats on the new UN Human Rights Council
despite their poor human rights records. Two rights abusers, Iran
and Venezuela, were defeated.
2006 May 10, A Cuban
pro-democracy activist presented a proposal for a new constitution
with expanded freedoms for Cubans, calling for the right to
criticize the government and operate private businesses.
2006 May 19, The UN panel that
monitors compliance with the world's anti-torture treaty said the
United States should close its prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and
avoid using secret detention facilities in the war on terror.
2006 Jun 1, Bolivian doctors
staged a 1-day strike to protest the presence of 600 Cuban
physicians providing free care as Pres. Morales cultivates links to
(WSJ, 6/2/06, p.A1)
2006 Jun 12, US officials said
that the Cuban government had cut off electricity to the US
diplomatic mission in Havana on June 5 and that requests for power
to be restored have gone unanswered. Power was restored the next
(AP, 6/13/06)(AP, 6/14/06)
2006 Jun 21, Juan Carlos
Robinson Agramonte (49), a Communist official long held up as an
example of Cuba’s future leadership, was sentenced to 12 years in
prison for influence-peddling.
2006 Jun 30, Cuban librarians
criticized attempts by the Miami-Dade County school board to ban a
children's book that presents a positive depiction of life on the
2006 Jul 10, A US presidential
commission urged Washington to spend $80 million to help
nongovernmental groups hasten change in Cuba, but some dissidents
here said the move would do them more harm than good.
2006 Jul 31, Cuban President
Fidel Castro temporarily ceded power to his brother, Raul, after
gastrointestinal surgery. In 2011 Fidel Castro said he resigned five
years ago from all his official positions, including head of Cuba's
(AP, 7/31/07)(AP, 3/22/11)
2006 Aug 1, Fidel Castro
remained out of sight after undergoing intestinal surgery and
temporarily turning over power to his brother Raul. He released a
statement in which he sought to reassure Cubans that his health was
stable after intestinal surgery.
(AP, 8/1/06)(AP, 8/1/07)
2006 Aug 8, Gustavo Arcos
Bergnes (79), who fought alongside Fidel Castro in the Cuban
revolution but was later imprisoned as a dissident, died in Havana.
2006 Aug 13, On his 80th
birthday, Fidel Castro cautioned Cubans that he faced a long
recovery from surgery and advised them to prepare for "adverse
news," but he urged them to stay optimistic.
2006 Aug 14, Cuban state
television aired the first video of Fidel Castro since he stepped
down as president to recover from surgery, showing the bedridden
Cuban leader talking with his brother Raul as well as Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez.
2006 Aug 28, Tropical Storm
Ernesto hit Cuba west of the US naval air base at Guantanamo after
killing 2 people in Haiti.
(AP, 8/28/06)(AP, 8/29/06)
2006 Sep 8, The Miami Herald
reported that 10 South Florida journalists, including three with the
Herald's Spanish-language sister paper, received thousands of
dollars from the federal government for their work on radio and TV
programming aimed at undermining Fidel Castro's communist regime.
The Herald fired 3 of the journalists.
2006 Sep 10, In Cuba leaders of
the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) of 116 developing nations began
gathering for a 6-day summit (Sep 11-16). NAM was founded in 1961.
2006 Sep 11, In Cuba a weeklong
summit of the Nonaligned Movement began with poverty, health care
and the Middle East at the top of the agenda. It will culminate with
the meeting of 50 heads of state, including anti-American leaders
from Iran and Venezuela.
2006 Sep 15, Cuba took over the
leadership of the Nonaligned Movement from Malaysia, with Defense
Minister Raul Castro standing in for his ailing brother Fidel.
2006 Sep 16, In Cuba
representatives of 118 Nonaligned Movement nations condemned
Israel's attacks on Lebanon and supported a peaceful resolution to
the US-Iran nuclear dispute in the final declaration.
2006 Sep 16, Pakistani
President Pervez Musharraf and Indian PM Manmohan Singh held
"historic" talks on the disputed Kashmir region, on the sidelines of
a developing-world summit in Havana. They also agreed to restart
peace talks suspended since train bombings killed more than 200
people in Mumbai in July.
(AFP, 9/16/06)(AP, 9/16/06)
2006 Sep 28, Russia agreed to
grant Cuba credit worth $350 million and restructure some of its
recent debt during a visit by PM Putin. The two countries also
signed a military cooperation agreement.
2006 Nov 4, William Lee Brent
(75), a Black Panther who hijacked a passenger jet to communist Cuba
in 1969 and spent 37 years in exile, died in Cuba. A decade ago,
Times Books published his memoirs, "Long Time Gone," which told of
his coming of age on Oakland's streets and of joining the Black
Panthers when he was 37, rising to become a bodyguard for leader
2006 Nov 8, The UN General
Assembly voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to urge the United States to
end its 45-year-old trade embargo against Cuba after defeating an
amendment calling on Fidel Castro's government to free political
prisoners and respect human rights.
2006 Dec 6, Hector Palacios, a
well-known dissident jailed in a Cuban government crackdown on the
opposition three years ago, was unexpectedly released from prison.
2006 Dec 15, Ten US
legislators, the largest congressional delegation in years, arrived
in Cuba to push for an end to over 4 decades of hostility.
(SFC, 12/16/06, p.A6)
2006 Dec 22, Cuban finance
officials acknowledged in an unusually critical year-end report that
the country's economy is still suffering the affects of the severe
crisis of the 1990s but nevertheless grew 12.5 percent in 2006.
2007 Jan 6, Cindy Sheehan,
American "peace mom," called for the closure of the US military
prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She and other activists arrived to
draw attention to the nearly 400 terror suspects held at the remote
2007 Jan 10, Cuban dissident
Manuel Valdes Tamayo (50) died. He was one of 75 activists jailed in
a massive crackdown in 2003 and released a year later for health
2007 Feb 6, Church officials
said The Episcopal Church has named a woman as bishop in Cuba, the
first such appointment by the church in the developing world.
2007 Feb 8, Cuba deported
reputed drug kingpin Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamante to Colombia,
which plans to extradite him to the United States to face
trafficking and money laundering charges.
2007 Feb 23, It was reported
that Cuban press authorities have told certain Havana correspondents
for the Chicago Tribune, the BBC and a major Mexican newspaper that
they can no longer report from the island.
2007 Feb 24, Mario Chanes de
Armas (80), both companion and prisoner of Fidel Castro, died in
Miami. He had accompanied Castro in the 1956 revolutionary invasion
of Cuba. Chanes de Armas was later arrested under
“counter-revolution" charges and spent almost 30 years in prison at
the Isle of Pines before receiving permission to leave for
(Econ, 3/3/07, p.90)
2007 Feb 25, State news media
reported that Cuba has opened an experimental wind farm, hoping
alternative energy sources can one day ease occasional power
shortages while reducing the island's dependence on oil.
2007 Feb 28, Honduras named its
first ambassador to Cuba in 45 years, completing the restoration of
diplomatic ties with communist-run island that were severed during
the Cold War.
2007 Mar 27, In Cuba Faustino
Oramas (95), a popular traditional singer and among the last
original members of the Buena Vista Social Club, died of cancer.
2007 Apr 6, In Florida US
District Judge Kathleen Cardone ruled that Luis Posada Carriles
could be released on $250,000 bond. He is being held at the Otero
County jail in New Mexico on charges he lied to immigration
authorities in a bid to become a naturalized citizen. Posada, a
former CIA operative, is wanted in Cuba in the 1976 bombing of a
Cuban jetliner that killed 73 people, a charge Posada denies. Castro
has repeatedly accused the US government of protecting Posada.
2007 Apr 12, Tens of thousands
of people marched through the streets of Cali to protest the bombing
of the city's police barracks, blamed on Colombia's largest leftist
2007 Apr 13, An Austrian bank
recently bought by a US-led consortium acknowledged it told a
Cuban-born client to take her business elsewhere and suggested that
Washington's ban on commerce with Cuba was behind the decision.
2007 Apr 16, Most of Cuba's
leading opposition groups issued a joint statement declaring they
were united in their struggle for peaceful change toward democracy
on the island.
2007 Apr 19, In Cuba the
Committee to Protect Journalists denounced the Apr 13 arrest and
sentencing of Oscar Sanchez Madan (44), an independent Cuban
journalist, who wrote critical articles about dissident groups and
the hardships of island life.
2007 Apr 19, Luis Posada
Carriles (79), an anti-Castro exile wanted in Cuba for the 1976
bombing of a Cuban airliner, was freed from a New Mexico jail after
he posted $250,000 bond and his family put up another $100,000. He
must wear an electronic monitoring device while under house arrest
at his wife's home in Miami pending his May 11 trial on immigration
fraud charges. Posada's immigration case was later thrown out by a
federal judge, but the government appealed.
(AP, 4/20/07)(AP, 4/19/08)
2007 Apr 22, Jorge Luis Garcia
Perez, a veteran dissident leader who wrote a book about Cuban
prison conditions while behind bars, was freed after serving his
entire 17-year sentence.
2007 Apr 28, President Hugo
Chavez said that Venezuela is ready to become the sole energy
supplier to Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Haiti, presenting the
countries with his most generous offer yet of oil-funded diplomacy
in the region.
2007 Apr, Yoani Sanchez (32)
began posting her Generacion Y blog from Havana.
2007 May 3, A pair of heavily
armed Cuban soldiers seized a city bus, killed an army officer and
triggered a gun battle in a foiled bid to hijack a charter flight
bound for the United States.
2007 May 8, Cuba released
Roberto de Jesus Guerra Perez, a journalist who served 22-months in
prison for participating in an anti-government rally. Guerra has
been a contributor to Miami's Payolibre and Nueva Prensa Cubana, as
well as the US government-funded Radio Marti.
2007 May 8, The US hired a
Florida firm to build a Guantanamo camp by next May to house fleeing
Cubans should there be an exodus when Castro dies.
(WSJ, 5/9/07, p.A1)
2007 May 30, Cuba agreed to buy
$118 million in US food products ranging from pork and corn to
soybeans and Spam, and said it was negotiating deals that could
bring the total to nearly $150 million.
2007 Jun 1, Vietnam became
Cuba's latest partner in oil exploration and drilling in the Gulf of
Mexico under one of several agreements signed during a visit by
Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nong Duc Manh.
2007 Jun 6, President Hugo
Chavez called for the creation of a common defense pact between
Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia. The leftist Latin American
bloc announced the creation of a development bank to finance joint
2007 Jun 10, New Episcopal
Bishop Nerva Cot Aguilera, the church's first female bishop in Cuba
and the developing world, was consecrated at the Holy Trinity
Episcopal Cathedral in Havana.
2007 Jun 11, Cuba's largest
foreign investor, Canada’s Sherritt International Corp., saw
business running smoothly under acting President Raul Castro and
will push ahead with a $1.2 billion expansion in nickel mining, and
oil and electricity production.
2007 Jun 18, Vilma Espin
Guillois (77), a guerrilla warrior and women's rights pioneer, died.
She was the first lady of the Cuban revolution and wife of acting
Pres. Raul Castro.
2007 Jul 23, Fidel Castro
suggested that a two-time Cuban Olympic boxing champion and his
teammate had defected, blaming their disappearance at the Pan
American Games in Brazil on American money.
2007 Aug 5, Two boxers
(Guillermo Rigondeaux (25), Cuba's top boxer and a two-time Olympic
bantamweight champion, and Erislandy Lara (24), an amateur
welterweight world champion) deported by Brazil were back in Cuba
after they disappeared during the Pan American Games last month and
were arrested at a resort where officials said they partied and ran
up an exorbitant bill.
2007 Oct 6, In eastern Cuba a
bus collided with a train, killing at least 28 people and injuring
2007 Oct 21,
Cubans opened an election cycle that will lead to a decision
next year on whether ailing leader Fidel Castro will remain atop the
communist-run island's supreme governing body.
2007 Oct 24,
Pres. Bush denounced Castro’s regime and called on the Cuban
people to shed his rule.
(WSJ, 10/25/07, p.A1)
2007 Oct 26,
The head of the Cuban national ballet implored American
artists, writers and intellectuals to denounce Washington's
45-year-old embargo against the communist-run island, saying that
cultural exchanges between both countries should not be considered
2007 Oct 30, The UN General
Assembly voted for the 16th straight year to urge the United States
to end its trade embargo against Cuba, whose foreign minister
accused the US of stepping up its "brutal economic war" to new
2007 Nov 15, Gen. Sergio del
Valle Jimenez, a doctor in Fidel Castro's rebel army in the late
1950s and army chief of staff during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis,
2007 Nov 23, In Cuba Robert
Vesco (b.1935), a fugitive financier, died of lung cancer. He had
been wanted in the US for crimes ranging from securities fraud and
drug trafficking to political bribery. News of this death was not
publicly reported for another 5 months.
(SFC, 5/3/08, p.A6)(Econ, 5/31/08, p.91)
2007 Dec 3, In Cuba a human
rights leader said that police have detained 29 anti-government
activists in less than two weeks and seven remain jailed, including
a man who called for the communist-run island to tolerate
2007 Dec 10, Cuba said it would
sign an international agreement on civil and political rights while
a few blocks away government supporters shoved and shouted down
activists calling for improved human rights on the communist-run
2007 Dec 21, Caribbean leaders
gathered in Cuba for a regional oil summit. Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez presided at a regional petroleum summit, pressing his
efforts to counter US influence in Latin America and the Caribbean
by suggesting more of his neighbors could pay for cheap oil with
goods or services in lieu of cash.
2008 Jan 7, Philip Agee (72), a
former CIA agent who became an outspoken critic of Washington's Cuba
policy, died in a Havana hospital following ulcer surgery. Agee quit
the CIA in 1969 after 12 years working mostly in Latin America at a
time when leftist movements were gaining prominence and
sympathizers. His 1975 book "Inside the Company: CIA Diary," cited
alleged CIA misdeeds against leftists in the region that included a
22-page list of purported agency operatives.
2008 Jan 15, Brazil signed
accords with Cuba offering economic aid and sealed a deal to drill
for oil off the island’s coast. Brazil’s Pres. Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva Trade with businessmen in tow signed trade and investment
deals totaling some $1 billion.
(WSJ, 1/16/08, p.A1)(Econ, 6/28/08, p.45)
2008 Jan 20, Some 8.4 million
Cubans ratified a slate of parliamentary candidates that included
the ailing Fidel Castro (81).
(SFC, 1/21/08, p.A3)
2008 Feb 4, Tata Guines
(b.1930), Cuban conga drummer, died. His six decade career helped
popularize Afro-Cuban rhythms worldwide.
2008 Feb 19, An ailing,
81-year-old Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba's president after nearly a
half-century in power, saying he will not accept a new term when
parliament meets Feb 24.
2008 Feb 24, In Cuba Raul
Castro became the new president. The island's parliament tapped
revolutionary leader Jose Ramon Machado (77) for the government's
No. 2 spot.
2008 Feb 28, Cuba's government
signed two key international human rights treaties that Fidel Castro
long opposed, but said it had reservations about some provisions and
accused the United States of impeding the Cuban people's enjoyment
of their rights.
2008 Mar 13, Cuba and Mexico
declared their once-chilly relations fully restored, and Cuba's
foreign minister said he will soon deliver a formal invitation for
Mexico's president to visit the island.
2008 Mar 20, Cuba issued what
appears to be the first public report on prices and inflation in the
private sector, in an unusually realistic acknowledgment of the key
role the informal economy plays in island life.
2008 Mar 28, President Raul
Castro's government said it is allowing cell phones for ordinary
Cubans, a luxury previously reserved for those who worked for
foreign firms or held key posts with the communist-run state.
2008 Mar 31, New President Raul
Castro's government has lifted a ban on Cubans staying at hotels
previously reserved for foreigners, ending another restriction that
had been especially irksome to citizens.
2008 Apr 2, Cubans snapped up
DVD players, motorbikes and pressure cookers for the first time as
Raul Castro's new government loosened controls on consumer goods and
invited private farmers to plant tobacco, coffee and other crops on
unused state land.
2008 Apr 2, Norberto Collado
Abreu, the helmsman of the Granma yacht that carried Fidel Castro
from Mexico to Cuba to launch his revolution in 1956, died in
2008 Apr 11, In Cuba new
regulations allowed thousands of Cubans to get title to state-owned
homes, a step that might lay the groundwork for broader housing
2008 Apr 14, In Cuba lines
stretched for blocks outside phone centers as the government allowed
ordinary Cubans to sign up for cellular phone service for the first
2008 Apr 17,
A government spokesman said South Africa has waived Cuban debt
totaling more than 100 million dollars.
2008 Apr, According to the US
Coast Guard 36 Cubans died at sea this month while attempting to
reach the US. Some 3,846 Cubans had made the trip over the last 8
months with about 40% intercepted at sea.
(Econ, 6/14/08, p.50)
2008 May 1, Cuba announced a
major shake-up of its troubled farm sector on May Day, shifting
control of the island's farms from officials at the Agriculture
Ministry to more than 150 local councils.
2008 May 2, In Cuba computers
went on sale to the general public and potential consumers were
lining up outside store windows to gawk and consider buying.
2008 May 18, Cuban officials
said they have documented proof that US officials on the island are
delivering private funds to political dissidents in order to
undermine the communist government.
2008 Jun 6, An official said
Cuba has authorized sex-change operations and will offer them free
for qualifying citizens.
2008 Jun 13, Leonard B.
Auerbach (61), an American fugitive, was deported from Cuba to face
federal charges in California of sexually abusing a Costa Rican girl
and possessing child pornography. He was arrested on May 7, about a
month after his arrival.
2008 Jun 16, Smugglers fleeing
from Cuba's Coast Guard overturned a boat loaded with US-bound
migrants to distract pursuers, killing a woman and an 11-year-old
boy. The smugglers, who were charging US$10,000 a head to take 20
people to the United States, escaped in their speedboat after being
surprised by the Coast Guard.
2008 Jun 19, The EU agreed to
lift its 2003 diplomatic sanctions against Cuba, but imposed tough
conditions on the communist island to maintain sanction-free
(AP, 6/20/08)(Econ, 6/28/08, p.44)
2008 Jun 24, Cuba's Roman
Catholic Church protested the communist government's growing support
of gay rights, including a daylong event raising awareness against
homophobia and a law allowing sex-change operations.
2008 Jul 11, President Raul
Castro warned Cubans to prepare for a "realistic" brand of communism
that is economically viable and does away with excessive state
subsidies designed to promote equality on the island.
2008 Jul 18, Cuba’s Communist
officials decreed that private farmers and cooperatives can use up
to 100 acres (40 hectares) of idle government land, as President
Raul Castro works to revive the floundering agricultural sector.
2008 Aug 23, In Beijing Angel
Matos, a Cuban taekwondo athlete, and his coach Leudis Gonzalez were
banned for life after Matos kicked the referee in the face following
his bronze-medal match disqualification.
2008 Aug 24, The Beijing
Olympics, played out against a background of political intrigue and
featuring 16 days of compelling and controversial action, drew to a
spectacular close. China's haul of 51 gold medals was the largest
since the Soviet Union won 55 in Seoul in 1988. The US won 36 gold
medals and Russia came in 3rd with 23. Jamaica ended up with 11
medals including 6 gold. Cuba took home 24 medals, but only 2 gold.
(AP, 8/24/08)(Econ, 8/30/08, p.38)
2008 Aug 28, It was reported
that Cuba had notified at least 2 foreign governments that it could
not meet debt payments.
(WSJ, 8/28/08, p.A8)
2008 Aug 30, Gustav swelled to
a fearsome Category 3 hurricane with winds of 120 mph (195 kph) as
it shrieked toward the heartland of Cuba's cigar industry on a track
to hit the US Gulf Coast, three years after Hurricane Katrina. 78
people were already left dead in the Caribbean.
2008 Aug 31, Cubans returned
from shelters to find flooded homes and washed-out roads, but no
deaths were reported after a monstrous Hurricane Gustav roared
across the island and into the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico.
2008 Sep 6, Cuba politely
declined a US offer to send a disaster assessment team to the island
after Hurricane Gustav, saying it would rather Washington suspend
restrictions on travel and the sale of food and other materials it
needs to recover.
2008 Sep 8, Deadly Hurricane
Ike roared across Cuba, blowing buildings to rubble and sending
waves surging over homes. Some 900,000 Cubans evacuated from its
path, which forecasters said could take it to Louisiana or Texas
later this week.
2008 Sep 9, Hurricane Ike
roared south of Havana, Cuba, after tearing across the island
nation, ravaging homes, killing at least four people and forcing 1.2
million to evacuate.
2008 Sep 10, Hurricane Ike
barreled across the warm, energizing waters of the Gulf of Mexico on
its way toward the Texas coast after crashing through Cuba's tobacco
country and toppling aging Havana buildings. Ike had already killed
at least 80 people in the Caribbean.
2008 Sep 15, Cuba said
hurricanes Gustav and Ike together delivered the worst
hurricane-related blow in Cuba's storm-battered history, causing
"around US$5 billion" in collective damage.
2008 Oct 20, Our Lady of Kazan,
Cuba's first Russian Orthodox cathedral, was consecrated amid church
bells and the presence of President Raul Castro, in a sign of
goodwill toward the island's former chief benefactor. Cuba's Russian
community has dwindled to several hundred as most returned home
following the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe.
2008 Oct 20, Mexico agreed to
deport Cubans who sneak illegally through Mexican territory to reach
the US, a step toward cutting off an increasingly violent and
heavily used human trafficking route. 21 prisoners died in a fight
between inmates at a prison across the border from McAllen, Texas.
Police said two soldiers and a security guard were found stabbed to
death at a housing construction site in the village of Las
Margaritas, northern Mexico. The body of a federal policeman was
found riddled with gunshot wounds in Tijuana.
2008 Oct 23, Cuba and the
European Union ended a five-year standoff by signing an agreement
that calls for EU members to send the island euro2 million (US$2.6
million) in immediate hurricane recovery aid and up to euro30
million (US$38.8 million) more in financing next year.
2008 Oct 29, The UN General
Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution urging the US to
repeal its trade embargo against Cuba, and the island nation's
foreign minister said he expects the next American president to
2008 Oct 31, Brazil's state-run
oil company signed an agreement to explore for oil in deep Caribbean
waters north of Cuba that officials in Havana say could contain 20
billion barrels of crude.
2008 Nov 9, Hurricane Paloma
leveled hundreds of homes along Cuba's southern coast before rapidly
losing steam over land, weakening from a dangerous Category 4 storm
into a tropical depression in less than a day.
2008 Nov 19, Chinese President
Hu Jintao promised Cuba at least $78 million in donations, credit
and hurricane relief. Hu also met with a thin-looking Fidel Castro
before leaving for the Asia-Pacific economic summit in Peru. China
agreed to donate $8 million to Cuba and extend the second, $70
million phase of $350 million in previously agreed-upon credit to
renovate Cuban hospitals.
2008 Nov 28, In Cuba Russia's
president Medvedev met with Fidel Castro, discussing Guantanamo Bay
and hopes for a multipolar world with Cuba's former leader during a
tour of Latin America aimed at raising Moscow's presence in the
2008 Dec 13, Cuban President
Raul Castro arrived in Venezuela on his first international visit as
2008 Tom Gjelton, NPR
correspondent, authored “Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba," a
history of Bacardi rum.
(SFC, 9/9/08, p.E3)
2009 Jan 12, Cuba published new
regulations encouraging classic car owners to apply for taxi
licenses and set their own prices for the first time in nearly a
decade as the communist government turns to the free market to
improve its woeful transportation system.
2009 Jan 28, Cuba’s President
Raul Castro began the first visit to Russia by a Cuban leader since
the end of the Cold War, the latest sign of reviving ties between
the two countries.
2009 Jan 30, Russia moved to
rebuild ties with Cold War ally Cuba, granting it loans and signing
deals on energy and industrial cooperation.
2009 Feb 9, In Cuba Orlando
"Cachaito" Lopez (b.1933), considered the "heartbeat" of Cuba's
legendary Buena Vista Social Club for his internationally acclaimed
bass playing, died of complications from prostate surgery.
2009 Feb 11, Officials in
Uruguay said a Cuban long-distance runner and track coach have
disappeared and apparently intend to defect. Aguelmis Rojas and
Rafael Diaz had arrived in January on a sports exchange program in
2009 Mar 2, Cuban President
Raul Castro's ousted powerful officials close to his brother Fidel
in the biggest government shakeup since he took power a year ago.
2009 Mar 11, Pres. Obama signed
a bill rolling back the Bush administration restrictions on Cuban
Americans visiting relatives in Cuba.
(SFC, 3/12/09, p.A8)
2009 Mar 18, Costa Rica said it
will re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba, and El Salvador's new
president-elect, Mauricio Funes, promised to do the same after he
2009 Mar 31, The US Government
Accountability Office released a report saying 4 countries
designated a terrorism sponsors received $55 million from a US
supported program promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy under
the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation program. Between 1997 and 2007 Iran
received over $15 million, $14 million went to Syria, while Sudan
and Cuba received over $11 million each.
(WSJ, 3/31/09, p.A3)
2009 Apr 7, Cuba’s President
Raul Castro met with six visiting members of the Congressional Black
Caucus for more than four hours, his first face-to-face discussions
with US leaders since he became president last year. A "very
healthy, very energetic" Fidel Castro asked visiting Congressional
Black Caucus members what Cuba could do to help President Barack
Obama improve bilateral relations during his first meeting with US
officials since falling ill in 2006.
(AP, 4/7/09)(AP, 4/8/09)
2009 Apr 8, The US Justice
Dept. filed terrorism-related charges against Luis Posada Carriles
(81), a prominent Cuban exile wanted by the Castro government for
involvement in several 1997 hotel bombings in Cuba.
(WSJ, 4/10/09, p.A4)(http://tinyurl.com/c5j5b5)
2009 Apr 13, Pres. Obama eased
curbs on Cuba travel and money transfers. A broader economic embargo
introduced by Pres. Kennedy in 1962 remained in place.
(WSJ, 4/13/09, p.A1)
2009 Apr 15, In Washington, DC,
the FBI arrested Walter Kendall Myers (72) and his wife, Gwendolyn
(71), for spying. For three decades, Myers and his wife had shuffled
secrets to their Cuban contacts. Kendall Myers first worked for the
State Department as a lecturer at the Foreign Service Institute and
later as a European analyst in the department's intelligence arm,
the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, from 2000 until his
retirement in October 2007. On Nov 20 Myers and his wife pleaded
guilty to serving as covert agents since 1979. Myers agreed to serve
life in prison and his wife agreed to serve 6-7½ years.
(AP, 6/6/09)(SFC, 11/21/09, p.A4)
2009 Apr 29, In Cuba a
statement published in state newspapers said that effective
midnight, flights from Cuba to Mexico would be grounded due to swine
flu. After that, airlines can fly presumably empty planes to the
island and pickup Mexico travels. This amended a blanket 48-hour ban
on flights between Mexico and Cuba announced a day earlier.
2009 May 6, Spanish authorities
said they have arrested 29 people suspected of forging credit cards
to finance an elaborate scheme to smuggle Cubans into the US from
2009 May 12, The US won a seat
on the UN Human Rights Council for the first time along with Cuba,
Saudi Arabia, China and Russia, four countries accused of serious
human rights violations.
(SFC, 5/13/09, p.A2)
2009 May 16, In Cuba President
Raul Castro's daughter led hundreds of Cuban gays in a street dance
to draw attention to gay rights on the island.
2009 May 29, Cuba criticized
Microsoft for blocking its Messenger instant messaging service on
the island and in other countries under US sanctions, calling it yet
another example of Washington's "harsh" treatment of Havana.
2009 May 30, Cuba agreed to
resume negotiations with the US over immigration and mail service
between the two countries. Cuba also expressed a willingness to
cooperate with the US on fighting terrorism and drug trafficking,
and on hurricane disaster preparedness.
2009 Jun 1, In El Salvador
Mauricio Funes, a journalist from a party of former Marxist
guerrillas, became the country's first leftist president,
immediately restoring ties with Cuba while promising to remain
friendly with the United States.
2009 Jun 3, The Organization of
American States (OAS), meeting in Honduras, cleared the way for
Cuba's possible return to the group by lifting a 1962 ban on the
communist-run country, a move backed by Washington despite initial
2009 Jun 8, Cuba formally
rejected an offer to rejoin the Organization of American States
(OAS), echoing the sentiments of Fidel Castro who has long
maintained his island has no use for the group.
2009 Jul 13, In Cuba the body
of Rev. Mariano Arroyo Merino (74) was discovered in his room at the
parish he served in the coastal neighborhood of Regla, situated on
Havana Bay across from the capital. Authorities were still
investigating the death of another Spanish priest, the Rev. Eduardo
de la Fuente Serrano, whose body was found in a remote, sparsely
populated area just outside the capital in mid-February.
2009 Jul 15, In Egypt the
two-day Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) opened in Sharm-El-Sheik. 50
leaders from the 118-nation grouping of mostly of African, Asian and
Latin American nations gathered for their 15th meeting to address
the world's biggest problems, such as terrorism and financial
instability. Cuba's Pres. Raul Castro called for an international
financial system that better takes into account developing countries
2009 Jul 29, Cuban state media
said Russia and Cuba have signed agreements to search for oil in the
Gulf of Mexico. Moscow extended the island $150 million in credit
for construction materials and farm machinery.
2009 Jul 31, Cuba suspended
plans for a Communist Party congress and lowered its 2009 economic
growth projection from 2.5% to 1.7%, as the island's economy
struggled through a "very serious" crisis.
2009 Aug 1, Raul Castro
announced that Cuba will cut spending on education and health care,
potentially weakening the building blocks of its communist system in
a bid to revive a foundering economy.
2009 Aug 10, In Cuba 14 people
were killed and at least 33 hospitalized after two trucks loaded
with passengers collided in the central Cuban province of Ciego de
2009 Aug 25, New Mexico Gov.
Bill Richardson met with Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba's
parliament, as well as members of the island's chamber of commerce
as he headed a trade mission there this week.
2009 Sep 11, In Cuba Juan
Almeida Bosque (b.1927), a comrade-in-arms of Fidel Castro since the
start of his guerrilla struggle more than a half-century ago, died
of a heart attack. Almeida was the only black commander among the
2009 Sep 20, Cubans in their
multitudes flocked to sprawling Revolution Plaza for a massive
open-air "peace concert" headlined by Colombian rocker Juanes, an
event criticized by some Cuban-Americans who say the performers are
lending support to the island's communist government simply by
2009 Sep 21, Bisa Williams,
senior US diplomat in Cuba for the highest level talks in decades,
met with opposition activists in Havana. Williams led a delegation
with the USPS that held talks September 17 in a first round of talks
aimed at restarting bilateral mail service which was cut off in
2009 Oct 12, Yoani Sanchez, a
Cuban blogger, was denied government permission to travel to New
York to receive a top journalism prize. She has become an
international sensation for offering frank criticism of her
country's communist system. In May Cuban authorities had denied
Sanchez permission to fly to Madrid to accept the Ortega y Gasset
Prize in digital journalism for creating her Generation Y blog
(2007), which gets more than 1 million hits a month. Around the same
time, Time magazine deemed Sanchez one of the world's 100 most
2009 Oct, A project overseen by
the US Agency for International Development (USAID) began to send
Venezuelan, Costa Rican and Peruvian young people to Cuba in hopes
of ginning up rebellion. The travelers worked undercover, often
posing as tourists, and traveled around the island scouting for
people they could turn into political activists.
2009 Nov 6, In Cuba Yoani
Sanchez, acclaimed dissident blogger, was forced into an unmarked
car, beaten, threatened and dumped onto a street..
(Econ, 11/21/09, p.40)
2009 Nov 20, In Cuba Reinaldo
Escobar, the husband of acclaimed dissident Cuban blogger, Yoani
Sanchez, was punched and shouted down by a pro-government mob after
he challenged the presumed state agents who earlier roughed up his
wife, to a street corner debate.
2009 Dec 3, In Cuba activists
from 32 little-known organizations opposed to the communist
government issued a call for an end to social repression on the
island at a gathering in the home of a prominent human rights
2009 Dec 11, Mexico's foreign
minister met with Cuban President Raul Castro for three hours, the
latest sign her country and the island have repaired recently chilly
2009 Dec 12, It was reported
that Cuba has detained an American government contractor and accused
him of distributing cell phones, laptops and other communications
equipment to political opposition groups on the island.
(SFC, 12/12/09, p.A2)
2009 Juanita Castro 76 authored
"Fidel and Raul, My Brothers, the Secret History." It was co-written
with Mexican journalist Maria Antonieta Collins. From 1961-1964 she
collaborated with the US CIA against her brothers' rule before going
into exile in Miami.
2009 Max Marambio authored,
"Las Armas de Ayer" (The Weapons of Yesteryear), which Fidel Castro
praised in one of his frequent opinion pieces. Marambio was the
former head bodyguard of Chilean socialist President Salvador
Allende, who was toppled in a 1973 military coup. Marambio sought
refuge in Cuba after the coup and took part in secret military
missions before becoming one of Cuba's wealthiest business leaders.
2009 A US government contractor
sent Serbian music promoter Rajko Bozic to Cuba to recruit Aldo
Rodriguez, one of Havana's most notorious rappers, to spark a youth
movement against the government. USAID later said the programs were
part of a four-year contract that ended in 2012, but denied they
2010 Jan 19, In Cuba Mariela
Castro, the daughter of pres. Raul Castro and head of the Center for
Sex Education, said Cuba has begun performing state-sponsored
sex-change operations. The government had lifted a longtime ban on
the procedure in 2007.
(SFC, 1/20/10, p.A2)
2010 Jan, In Cuba a cold spell
left 26 patients dead at the Havana Psychiatric Hospital. On Jan 31,
2011, over a dozen employees and officials at the hospital were
convicted of negligence and sentenced from 5 to 15 years in prison.
(SFC, 2/1/11, p.A2)
2010 Feb 1, It was reported
that Cuba has declared a two-month amnesty for citizens to register
unlicensed guns. Starting Feb. 12, Cubans will have the "exceptional
and one-time only" chance to register their guns with police, and
will be allowed to keep them provided they are over 18 and have
passed the proper tests administered at police stations.
2010 Feb 23, In Cuba Orlando
Zapata Tamayo (42), an opposition political activist imprisoned
since 2003, died after a lengthy hunger strike. His 3 year prison
sentence for disrespecting authority had been lengthened to 25
years, in part because of his political activism while behind bars.
The next day Cuban President Raul Castro issued an unprecedented
statement of regret over the death of Tamayo.
(AP, 2/24/10)(AP, 2/24/10)
2010 Mar 9, In Switzerland a
senior Google executive welcomed a US decision to relax restrictions
on exporting Internet communications services to Iran, Sudan and
2010 Mar 17, Uniformed Cuban
security agents prevented the mothers and wives of dissidents from
marching on the outskirts of Havana to demand release of their loved
ones, shoving them into a bus when they lay down in the street in
2010 Apr 1, In Cuba some small
state-run barber shops and beauty salons were turned over to
employees on a trial basis, a significant step toward loosening
strict controls on the state-run retail sector.
(SFC, 4/14/10, p.A2)
2010 Apr 13, A top Chilean
executive, Roberto Baudrand (59), was found dead in his Havana
apartment after being detained by Cuban authorities investigating
his company, which is owned by a revolutionary-turned-businessman
and friend of Fidel Castro. Baudrand was general manager of
Alimentos Rio Zaza SA and served as point man in Cuba for business
leader Max Marambio.
2010 Apr 15, In Cuba historian
Esteban Morales posted an article on a state Web site saying
corruption at the highest levels of government posed the greatest
threat to Cuba’s communist government.
(SFC, 4/16/10, p.A2)
2010 Apr 17, Cuban tobacco
grower Alejandro Robaina (b.1919), an international symbol of the
island's cigar-making prowess, died.
2010 Apr 19, Winners of the
2010 Goldman Environmental Prizes, known as the "green Nobels," were
honored in San Francisco. Sereivathana Tuy of Cambodia won for his
efforts in stopping farmers from killing elephants. Randall Arauz of
Costa Rica won for his campaign to halt the maiming and killing of
sharks for their fins. Humberto Rios Labrada (47) of Cuba won for
his campaign to shift farming practices toward increasing diversity
and reducing chemical use. Malgorzata Gorska of Poland won for her
fight to stop a highway through the Rospuda Valley, one of Poland’s
last vestiges of untouched wilderness. Thuli Makama of Swaziland won
for her efforts in getting citizen participation on the Swaziland
board in charge of the environment. She helped prompt investigations
into allegations of private park rangers killing suspected poachers
in sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarchy. Lynn Henning of the
USA won for exposing polluting practices of livestock ranches in
(AP, 4/19/10)(SFC, 4/19/10, p.A1)
2010 Apr 25, Cuba held
elections to fill municipal assemblies across the island in a vote
the communist government says belies criticism in Washington and
Europe that Fidel Castro's half-century old revolution is not
2010 May 1, Cuba quietly began
requiring foreign tourists and Cubans who live overseas to hold
travel insurance approved by island authorities, while making those
who don't have coverage buy a local policy that can cost over $3 a
2010 May 2, Cuba allowed a
small group of dissidents to hold a protest march after the
country's top Roman Catholic clergyman negotiated with authorities,
ending three straight weeks of ugly confrontations.
2010 May 5, Cuba reported its
worst sugar harvest since 1905.
(SFC, 5/6/10, p.A2)
2010 May 15, In Cuba hundreds
of gay and lesbian activists, some dressed in drag and others
sporting multicolored flags representing sexual diversity, marched
and danced through the streets of Havana along with the daughter of
Cuban President Raul Castro as part of a celebration aimed at
eliminating homophobia around the world.
2010 May 16, In Cuba the
government said private farmers will purchase supplies directly in
future instead of having them allocated by the state, in the latest
concession to their demands for more autonomy.
2010 Jun 3, Cuba urged people
to save water amid what it is calling a "critical" and "tense"
drought that has left reservoirs at 40 percent capacity.
2010 Jun 11, Roman Catholic
leaders announced that Cuban authorities have agreed to free Ariel
Sigler, an ill political prisoner, and transfer six others to jails
nearer home, the latest in a rare series of concessions from a
government not known for its tolerance of dissent.
2010 Jun 28, In Cuba President
Bashar Assad of Syria sat down with Raul Castro as part of his first
tour of Latin America, a trip that is taking him to meetings with
many of the region's left-leaning governments.
2010 Jun 30, Amnesty
International released a report saying Cuba uses repressive laws, a
well-oiled state security apparatus and complicit courts to stifle
political dissent as it harasses, spies on and imprisons those who
openly oppose its communist system.
2010 Jul 1, Francisco Chavez
Abarca of El Salvador, was arrested in Venezuela, traveling on a
false passport, and quickly flown to Cuba to face charges in a 1990s
bombing campaign. On Sep 27 Abarca said on state TV that he was
hired to plant bombs by Luis Posada Carriles, an 80-year-old
anti-Castro militant and former CIA operative.
2010 Jul 6, Venezuela announced
plans to extradite a Salvadoran man wanted by Cuba as a suspect in a
series of bombings. Cuba believes Chavez Abarca placed an explosive
that damaged a hotel disco on April 2, 1997, and another bomb later
that month that failed to explode on the 15th floor of the same
hotel. Cuban officials also suspect him in a 1997 bombing of a Cuban
2010 Jul 7, Cuba promised the
Roman Catholic Church it will free 52 political prisoners, slashing
the number held by nearly a third in what would be the communist-led
island's largest release of dissidents since Pope John Paul II
visited in 1998.
2010 Jul 8, Cuban opposition
activist Guillermo Farinas ended his 134-day hunger strike,
following signs the communist government is making good on its
promise to release 52 political prisoners. The court also reduced
Manuel Contreras' life sentence to just 20 years in prison,
reflecting a compromise between the right and left over how to
punish "dirty war" crimes.
2010 Jul 10, Cuban church
officials released the names of 12 more political prisoners who will
be freed and sent into exile in the coming days under a landmark
agreement with President Raul Castro's government, bringing to 17
the total number of jailed dissidents who have accepted asylum in
2010 Jul 13, Seven former
political prisoners from Cuba smiled and gave victory signs after
they and their families arrived in Madrid, the first of 52
dissidents the Cuban government has promised to free in a historic
2010 Jul 16, Kendall Myers
(73), a retired US intelligence analyst and great grandson of
Alexander Graham Bell, was sentenced to life in prison for spying
for Cuba. His wife was sentenced to 5½ years.
(SFC, 7/17/10, p.A5)
2010 Jul 18, Spain said 9 more
Cuban political prisoners will fly this week to freedom in Madrid
along with around 50 of their relatives.
2010 Aug 1, President Raul
Castro said more Cubans will be allowed to work for themselves and
hire their own workers as the government tries to create more
2010 Aug 23, President Raul
Castro ordered Max Marambio, a Chilean businessman, to return to
Cuba for questioning about bribery and fraud at Rio Zaza, which was
shut down earlier this year. For years the company had enjoyed a
near monopoly on sales of packaged fruit juice and milk. Marambio
declined the offer.
(Econ, 8/28/10, p.29)
2010 Aug, In Cuba Manuel
Garcia, the public face of the Cuban cigar industry, was jailed for
masterminding graft on a grand scale.
(Econ, 4/30/11, p.40)
2010 Sep 7, The Rev. Lucius
Walker (b.1930) died of a heart attack in New York. He headed the
nonprofit Pastors for Peace, which since 1992 has brought tons of
supplies to Cuba via Mexico and Canada in defiance of Washington's
nearly half-century-old trade embargo.
2010 Sep 13, The Cuban Workers
Federation said Cuba will lay off more than 500,000 state employees
by March and expand private employment to give them work in the
biggest shift to the private sector since the 1960s.
2010 Sep 17, Cuba's Roman
Catholic Church revealed the names of four more political prisoners
to be released into exile in Spain, bringing to 36 the number freed
and sent off the island under an agreement with President Raul
2010 Oct 4, A Cuban human
rights leader revealed the names of nine inmates apparently offered
early release by the government in exchange for accepting exile,
including some convicted of violent crimes such as hijacking,
assault and piracy.
2010 Oct 6, In Cuba a
resolution from the Foreign Relations Ministry was published into
law making the guayabera Cuba's official formal dress garment and
mandating that government officials wear them at state functions.
2010 Oct 9, It was reported
that Cuba will release into exile in Spain a lawyer jailed for
allegedly revealing state security secrets and two hijackers, none
of whom were on a list of 52 political prisoners the government has
agreed to free in a deal with the Roman Catholic Church.
2010 Oct 21, In Cuba the office
of Havana Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega announced the names
of five more Cuban inmates who have accepted exile in Spain in
return for freedom, though none are among a group of 52 political
prisoners jailed in a 2003 roundup of dissidents.
2010 Oct 21, The European
Parliament awarded its annual human rights prize to Guillermo
Farinas (48), the Cuban dissident whose 134-day hunger strike helped
draw attention to the plight of political dissidents jailed in a
2003 crackdown on dissent.
2010 Oct 26, The Czech Republic
became the second European Union country after Spain to grant asylum
to a Cuban political prisoner. Jimenez Posada, a lawyer, arrived
with his wife, brother, son and niece. He was arrested in 2003 and
received a 12-year prison term three years later for subversion.
2010 Oct 26, The UN General
Assembly voted 187-2 to end US sanctions against Cuba. Only the US
and Israel voted in favor.
(SFC, 10/27/10, p.A2)
2010 Nov 1, In Cuba Roman
Catholic officials announced the names of three more Cuban prisoners
who have accepted exile in Spain in return for freedom.
2010 Nov 3, Cuban President
Raul Castro joined an American archbishop and other Roman Catholic
leaders to open a national seminary on the outskirts Havana, the
first religious construction on the communist-run island in more
than a half century.
2010 Nov 4, In Cuba all 68
people on board an Flight 883 of Aero Caribbean were killed when
their plane crashed in the central mountains after issuing an
emergency call. The plane was a 15-year-old ATR-72-212 twin
turboprop built by ATR, a joint venture of Europe's EADS and Italian
2010 Nov 7, Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez said on Cuban television that Colombia will
extradite Walid Makled, known as "The Turk," a businessman accused
of being a major drug kingpin back to his native Venezuela to face
justice. Makled has said in a television interview that he poured $2
million into a 2007 Chavez political campaign and in return got a
concession at Venezuela's Puerto Cabello, his alleged shipping point
2010 Nov 13, In Cuba the first
of 13 remaining Cuban dissidents jailed since 2003 was released from
prison and returned to his home in the capital, a strong signal the
government intends to release all of the men despite their refusal
to go into exile.
2010 Dec 6, Cuba’s Supreme
Court, for the second time this month, commuted the death sentence
of a Salvadoran man convicted of plotting a series of Havana hotel
bombings in 1997, leaving just one person left on the island's death
row. Otto Rene Rodriguez Llerena's sentence was reduced to 30 years
2010 Dec 8, South African
President Jacob Zuma announced a 210 million rand ($30 million)
credit package for Cuba and forgave Cuba's debt to South Africa
during a state visit to the island nation, a decision his opponents
2010 Dec 14, EU Parliament
President Jerzy Buzek said that Guillermo Farinas, whose 134-day
hunger strike helped draw attention to the plight of Cuban political
dissidents, would be represented by an empty chair at the midweek
ceremony to award the Sakharov Prize for the Freedom of Thought.
2010 Dec 15, Cuban dissident
Guillermo Farinas (48) used a video address at today’s award of the
EU's main human rights prize, to call for the release of political
prisoners in his homeland and for the government to end attacks on
the opposition. Farinas was not allowed by Cuba to travel to receive
the prize in Strasbourg, France.
2010 Dec 18, Cuban President
Raul Castro told legislators that the future of the country's
revolution is at stake as the government tries to institute sweeping
economic reforms, adding that the changes are meant to strengthen
socialism — not replace it.
2010 Dec 21, In Cuba Francisco
Chavez Abarca of El Salvador was handed a 30-year prison sentence
for his role in a string of bombings at tourist hotels in the 1990s.
The bombings killed an Italian tourist in 1997.
2010 Dec 28, Cuba's Supreme
Court commuted the death sentence against a Cuban-American who was
the last person remaining on death row in the island nation. The
court sentenced Humberto Eladio Real to 30 years in prison instead.
On Oct. 15, 1994, Real and six other members of a Florida-based
exile group came ashore in northern Cuba, armed with assault rifles
and other weapons. A man was killed, and the group was captured
2010 Dec 29, Cuba’s official
Gazette said that effective January 1, personal cleanliness products
will be cut from ration books that islanders have come to rely on as
part of a small supply of basic goods.
(SFC, 12/30/10, p.A2)
2011 Jan 14, US Pres. Obama
issued a directive relaxing the rules on travel and remittances to
Cuba. It allowed Americans to send up to $2000 a year to ordinary
(Econ, 1/22/11, p.47)
2011 Jan 21, Cuba suspended
indefinitely all mail service to the United States, extending a ban
announced in November and expanding it to cover letters as well as
packages. Deliveries were suspended in November following a US
decision to increase security measures following last year's failed
terror threat involving packages mailed from Yemen.
2011 Feb 4, Cuba freed Guido
Sigler, a prominent political prisoner, and the Roman Catholic
Church said another, Angel Moya, would be released soon and allowed
to stay in the country.
2011 Feb 8, Cuban officials
celebrated the arrival of a 1,600km fiber optic cable from
Venezuela, whose government put up the $70 million cost. It was
expected to become operational this summer.
(SFC, 2/10/11, p.A2)(Econ, 3/5/11,
2011 Feb 11, Cuba agreed to
release 2 prominent dissidents who have refused for months to accept
exile in Spain. Hector Maseda and Angel Moya said they wanted to
remain in jail until other opposition leaders were freed and other
demands were met. Jail officials the next day simply tossed the men
out, saying they could no longer stay behind bars.
(AP, 2/11/11)(AP, 2/12/11)
2011 Mar 8, The US government
gave permission to eight more airports to offer direct charter
flights to and from Cuba in the latest small opening in the
49-year-long trade embargo against the communist island.
2011 Mar 11, One of Cuba's
leading dissidents, Oscar Elias Biscet (49), was freed from prison.
He vowed to keep protesting against the government that had just
released him. He was one of 52 who had been jailed since a 2003
government crackdown on opponents known as Cuba's "Black Spring"
that strained the communist-led island's international relations.
2011 Mar 12, A Cuban court
found US contractor Alan Gross guilty of crimes against the state
and sentenced him to 15 years in prison, a verdict that brought a
swift and strongly worded condemnation from Washington.
2011 Mar 23, Cuba released the
last two of 75 dissidents jailed in a 2003 crackdown, closing a
controversial chapter in the long battle between the island's
communist-led government and its opponents.
2011 Mar 28, Former US
President Jimmy Carter arrived in Cuba to discuss economic policies
and ways to improve Washington-Havana relations.
2011 Mar 29, In Cuba former US
President Jimmy Carter and President Raul Castro discussed US-Cuba
relations in a meeting in which Castro repeated an offer to hold
talks with the United States on any issue.
2011 Mar 30, Cuban state media
said the government has authorized state banks to offer credit to
farmers and small-business owners.
(SFC, 3/31/11, p.A2)
2011 Mar 30, Former President
Jimmy Carter left Cuba without gaining the release of Alan Gross, a
US government contractor jailed the past 16 months.
2011 Apr 7, Spain said around
30 former Cuban political prisoners and 200 relatives will be
brought to Madrid, the largest group yet to arrive since the two
countries agreed to the transfers.
2011 Apr 8, A total of 37 Cuban
ex-political prisoners and more than 200 relatives arrived in Madrid
in the largest and last such exodus since Spain started accepting
dissidents last summer.
2011 Apr 16, Cuba kicked off a
crucial 4-day Communist Party congress with a big military and
civilian parade to mark 50 years since the defeat of CIA-backed
exiles at the Bay of Pigs. Pres. Raul Castro (79) proposed term
limits for Cuba's leaders, admitted that errors have left the
country with no obvious successor and promised to rejuvenate the
island's political class.
(AP, 4/16/11)(AP, 4/17/11)
2011 Apr 18, Cuban delegates at
a Communist Party summit approved about 313 “guidelines" for
economic reforms in a unanimous vote, including a measure that
apparently recommends the legalization the buying and selling of
(AP, 4/19/11)(Econ, 3/24/12, SR p.3)
2011 Apr 19, Cuban delegates to
a key Party Congress picked Raul Castro (79) to replace his ailing
brother at the helm, while weathered veterans moved up to the No. 2
and 3 positions. Raul acknowledged the lack of fresh faces, saying
the country had failed to develop young leaders because of errors
committed in the past.
2011 May 1, Hundreds of
thousands of Cubans marched through Havana and other cities to mark
2011 May 5, A Cuban court
sentenced Chilean revolutionary-turned-businessman Max Marambio,
long a friend of Fidel Castro, to 20 years in prison for fraud and
bribery following a trial in absentia. Communist Party newspaper
Granma also said a 15-year sentence was handed down to Alejandro
Roca Iglesias, who was removed as food minister in March 2009.
2011 May 8, Cuban dissident
Juan Wilfredo Soto (46) died in Santa Clara. He was detained May 5
during an anti-government protest. Government opponents accused
police of beating him and provoking his death. A medical examiner
and relatives of a late Cuban dissident later concluded that Soto
died of natural causes and showed no signs of being beaten.
(AP, 5/8/11)(AP, 5/12/11)
2011 May 14, Cubans held a
short but colorful parade celebrating sexual diversity to mark the
International Day Against Homophobia.
2011 Jun 10, Venezuelan
president Hugo Chavez had surgery in Cuba for an abscess in his
pelvis. A government spokesperson said the operation was successful
and he would remain in Cuba for several more days, while he
2011 Jul 15, Cuban authorities
shut down Canadian firm Tri-Star Caribbean and arrested company
president Sarkis Yacoubian. The company, considered a competitor of
Tokmakjian Group, did around $30 million in business with Cuba.
Ontario-based Tokmakjian Group, one of the top Canadian companies
doing business on the communist-run island, was shut down in
2011 Aug 8, Cuban state media
reported that Cuba and Angola, long-standing allies, have boosted
military cooperation during a visit to the communist-run Caribbean
island by Angolan defense officials.
2011 Aug 13, In Cuba a gay man
and a woman whose sex-change operation was paid for by the state
were married in Havana.
(SSFC, 8/14/11, p.A5)
2011 Aug 22, Cuba succeeded
North Korea as chair of the world's main forum against nuclear arms
that has been stalemated since it wrote the nuclear test ban treaty
in 1996. The leadership role rotates through the body's members
alphabetically (in French).
2011 Sep 3, Cuba’s Gen. Julio
Casas Regueiro (b.1936), the defense minister since 2008, died. The
former accountant fought in Cuba's revolution, then used his
training to run the military's lucrative economic enterprises for
two decades before becoming defense minister.
2011 Sep 28, Cuba legalized the
sale and purchase of automobiles for all citizens.
(SFC, 9/29/11, p.A2)
2011 Sep 29, Cuba announced the
elimination of its Ministry of Sugar in a sign of how far the
symbolic crop has fallen since its heyday.
2011 Sep, Cuban authorities
arrested Cy Tokmakjian, a Canadian-Armenian. His company had the
lucrative sole concession to import Hyundai vehicles to Cuba.
(Econ, 5/25/13, p.36)
2011 Oct 7, Rene Gonzalez (55),
a dual US-Cuban citizen, left a federal lockup in the Florida
Panhandle. He was the first member of a Cuban spy ring to walk free
from prison in the US after spending 13 years behind bars.
2011 Oct 11, In Cuba Amado
Fakhre, a British citizen and head of the Coral Capital investment
fund, was detained by security agents. His company owned Havana’s
poshest hotel in partnership with the government and hoped to win a
$400 million contract to build homes around a golf course.
(Econ, 11/12/11, p.46)(Econ, 5/25/13, p.36)
2011 Oct 14, Cuban dissident
Laura Pollan (63) died. She had founded the opposition group Ladies
in White in 2003 following the arrest of her husband. For nearly a
decade the group staged weekly protest marches with other wives of
political prisoners to press for their release.
(AP, 10/14/11)(Econ, 10/29/11, p.110)
2011 Dec 23, Cuba's supreme
governing body pardoned 2,900 prisoners, including some convicted of
political crimes, though no mention was made of Alan Gross, a jailed
American whose case has become a sticking point between Havana and
2011 Dec 24, A boat carrying
Haitian migrants sank off Cuba's eastern coast. 38 migrants were
killed and 87 others rescued by Cuban civil defense forces.
2012 Jan 1, In Cuba Rene Cobas,
a common criminal not jailed for political reasons, died of an
apparent heart attack in the Boniato prison near Santiago. He had
launched a hunger strike because he was not part of a large prison
2012 Jan 11, Cuba and Iran
highlighted the "right of all nations to the peaceful use of nuclear
energy" during a visit by Iranian Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the
communist-ruled island. Ahmadinejad slammed capitalism as bankrupt
and called for a new world order.
2012 Jan 17, In Cuba a decaying
residential building collapsed in a densely packed area of Havana,
killing three people and injuring six.
2012 Jan 19, In Cuba Wilman
Villar (31), an imprisoned dissident who went on a hunger strike to
protest his four-year sentence, died of pneumonia in the eastern
city of Santiago. His widow acknowledged on Jan 30 that his legal
troubles stemmed from a domestic violence incident and that he
aligned himself with the opposition only after he was detained for
(AP, 1/19/12)(AP, 1/30/12)
2012 Jan 27, Cuba convicted six
people of cutting down African mahogany trees in the National
Botanical Gardens and sentenced them to eight and 10 years in
2012 Jan 29, Cuba’s Communist
leaders ended a 2-day closed-door party conference. They vowed not
to cede any ground to "the enemy," pledged to fight corruption and
continue overhauling the island's listing Marxist economy with an
injection of free market reform. Raul Castro reiterated a pledge to
institute term limits for Cuban officials.
(AP, 1/29/12)(SFC, 1/30/12, p.A2)
2012 Feb 3, In Cuba Fidel
Castro (85) spent six hours presenting a two-volume memoir to an
audience at a Havana convention center. His two-tome memoir,
"Guerrilla of Time," fills nearly 1,000 pages and covers Castro's
life from childhood until December 1958, the eve of the triumph of
the Cuban Revolution. It is based on interviews with journalist
2012 Feb 23, Fifteen Cuban
migrants were rescued and one died after the group tried to swim to
two tiny islands just west of Puerto Rico. The migrants had jumped
into the water as federal agents and Dominican Navy officers
approached a makeshift boat that had departed from the Dominican
2012 Feb 25, Venezuela’s
President Hugo Chavez arrived in Cuba for urgent surgery to remove a
tumor he says is probably malignant.
2012 Feb 28, Cuban doctors
successfully extracted a tumor from Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez's pelvic region and he was stable and recovering with family
at his side.
2012 Mar 15, Cuban police
evicted 13 dissidents from a church they had been occupying for two
days demanding that Pope Benedict XVI air a list of grievances
during his upcoming trip to the island. Cuba’s Cardinal Jaime Ortega
called for the ouster.
(AP, 3/15/12)(SFC, 3/17/12, p.A2)
2012 Mar 23, Pope Benedict XVI
departed for Mexico as part of a pilgrimage that will also take him
to Cuba. He denounced the drug-fueled violence wracking Mexico and
urged Cubans to use dialogue to find new models to replace Marxism.
2012 Mar 25, Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez was in Cuba to begin radiation therapy
treatment one month after undergoing surgery that removed a
2012 Mar 26, Pope Benedict XVI
arrived in Santiago, Cuba, in the footsteps of his more famous
predecessor, gently pressing the island's longtime communist leaders
to push through "legitimate" reforms their people desire, while also
criticizing the excesses of capitalism.
2012 Mar 28, In Cuba tens of
thousands of people massed in Havana's Revolution Plaza for Pope
Benedict XVI's Mass on the final day of his visit. The Pope demanded
more freedom for the Catholic Church in Cuba and preached against
"fanaticism" in an unusually political sermon. Shortly after the
Mass, Benedict met for about half an hour with Fidel Castro.
2012 Mar 31, Cuba said it will
honor an appeal by Pope Benedict XVI and declared next week's Good
Friday a holiday for the first time since the early days following
the island's 1959 Revolution, though a decision on whether the move
will be permanent will have to wait.
2012 Mar 31, Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez traveled to Cuba for another round of cancer
2012 Apr 6, In Cuba Good Friday
was an official holiday for the first time in a half century, but
few Roman Catholics on the island seemed to be using the day off to
attend Mass. The Communist government declared the holiday to honor
a request that Pope Benedict XVI made during last week's visit.
2012 May 18, Spanish company
Repsol said an exploratory oil well off the northern coast of Cuba
has proved a failure and will be capped and abandoned, a
disappointment for a cash-strapped nation hoping for an economic
2012 Jun 9, In Cuba Garcia
Perez was beaten and arrested by police after testifying about
opposition harassment before a US Senate committee via a video
hookup from the US Interest section in Havana.
(SFC, 6/14/12, p.A5)
2012 Jul 5, China pledged
financial aid to Cuba as it undertakes historic economic reforms,
promising visiting President Raul Castro a new credit line as well
as help in health care and technology. During Raul Castro's four-day
visit to China he met President Hu Jintao and secured pledges from
Beijing for financial aid, among other measures, to help the country
in sectors such as technology and healthcare.
(AFP, 7/5/12)(AFP, 7/8/12)
2012 Jul 8, In Vietnam Cuban
President Raul Castro met with state leaders following a visit to
China, as Havana looks to old communist allies while it attempts to
push through historic economic reforms.
2012 Jul 11, Cuban public
health officials said confirmed cholera cases have risen from 85 to
110, with the worst hit area in the province of Granma. Cholera had
been eradicated in Cuba over 100 years ago. Haiti was suspected as
the source of the new outbreak.
(SFC, 7/12/12, p.A2)(Econ, 7/14/12, p.32)
2012 Jul 22, Cuban activist
Oswaldo Paya (60) died in a car crash in La Gavina. Fellow activist,
Harold Cepero Escalante, was also killed. Paya had spent decades
speaking out against the communist government of Fidel and Raul
Castro and became one of the most powerful voices of dissent against
their half-century rule. Cuba later charged Angel Carromero, a
Spanish citizen and the driver of the car, with homicide while
driving a vehicle on public roads. On Dec 14 Spain's Deputy PM
Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said that Carromero would be returning to
Spain to complete his 4-year sentence, but did not give an exact
(AP, 7/23/12)(AP, 7/31/12)(AP, 12/14/12)
2012 Jul 26, Cuban President
Raul Castro said that his government is willing to mend fences with
bitter Cold War foe the United States and sit down to discuss
anything, as long as it is a conversation between equals.
2012 Jul, Ocean freight service
between Miami and Havana was launched by International Port Corp. to
significant fanfare. By April, 2013, the service ground to a halt
over numerous technical and financial problems.
2012 Aug 21, Cuba said it has
sentenced 12 people to prison for corruption, including high-ranking
government officials and employees of a jointly run Cuban-Canadian
2012 Sep 3, Cuba raised import
duties on cargo shipments, as well as on many bulk goods brought in
by airline passengers. The steep hike in customs duties took effect,
catching many air travelers unaware and leaving some shocked at the
2012 Sep 8, Another prisoner
died at the US Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was apparently
found unconscious in his cell at the isolated, high-security prison.
He was the ninth detainee to die at the facility since it was opened
in January 2002. He was identified on Sep 11 as Adnan Latif of
Yemen, a man with a history of mental illness who battled guards
inside the prison and challenged his confinement all the way to the
Supreme Court. An autopsy revealed that Latif died from an overdose
of psychiatric medication.
(AP, 9/10/12)(AP, 9/11/12)(AP, 11/29/12)
2012 Sep 9, In Cuba an evening
blackout cut the lights in much of western Cuba, including the
capital Havana. Power was restored by the next day.
2012 Oct 6, Cuban authorities
released noted blogger Yoani Sanchez more than a day after she was
taken into custody near the eastern city of Bayamo, where she
traveled for a Spanish man's trial over a car crash that killed
another prominent dissident.
2012 Oct 16, The Cuban
government announced that it will no longer require islanders to
apply for an exit visa, eliminating a much-loathed bureaucratic
procedure that has been a major impediment for many seeking to
travel overseas. Effective Jan. 13, and beginning on that date
islanders will only have to show their passport and a visa from the
country they are traveling to.
2012 Oct 25, Hurricane Sandy
crossed mountainous eastern Cuba as a Category 2 storm. 11 people
were killed in eastern Santiago and Guantanamo provinces as its
howling winds and rain toppled houses and ripped off roofs. About
30% of Cuba’s coffee crop was reportedly lost.
(AP, 10/25/12)(AP, 10/26/12)(Econ, 11/3/12, p.38)
2012 Oct 26, In Cuba Eloy
Gutierrez-Menoyo (b.1934)), a moderate, pro-dialogue dissident,
died. He went from rebel commander fighting alongside Fidel Castro
to a foe launching commando raids against the island before settling
inside Cuba. Gutierrez-Menoyo spent 22 years in Cuban prisons,
losing vision in one eye and hearing in one ear. He was freed in
2012 Nov 3, Cuba denounced the
American diplomatic mission on the island for what it called
subversive activities designed to undermine the government of Raul
Castro. US officials acknowledged that the US Interests Section in
Havana does regularly offer free courses in using the Internet to
Cubans who want to sign up.
2012 Nov 13, The UN General
Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn the US commercial, economic
and financial embargo against Cuba for the 21st year in a row. The
final tally was 188-3, with Israel and Palau joining the United
2012 Nov 19, In Cuba the rebel
former seminarian known as Ivan Marquez and government
representative Humberto de la Calle, a sage veteran of Colombian
politics, sat down in Havana to negotiate in earnest an end
Colombia's stubborn five-decade-old conflict. Their talks were
inaugurated in Norway last month.
2012 Dec 11, Cuba formally
authorized the creation of the first non-agricultural cooperatives,
a measure expected to permit the growth of midsize businesses as
part of President Raul Castro's plan to open the economy to some
2012 Dec 11, Doctors in Cuba
operated on Venezuelan President Hugo for cancer, after the illness
reappeared despite a year and a half of surgeries and treatments.
2013 Jan 7, An island doctor
said Cuba is eliminating longstanding restrictions on health care
professionals' overseas travel as part of a broader migration reform
that takes effect next week.
2013 Jan 14, In Cuba long lines
formed outside travel agencies, migration offices and the US
Interests Section in Havana on the first day of a new law easing
travel restrictions on Cubans.
2013 Jan 14, Cuba reportedly
began using the ALBA-1 cable to Venezuela, but only for incoming
traffic. Outgoing data still travelled via satellite, according to
an Internet analysis firm.
(SFC, 1/22/13, p.A2)
2013 Jan 15, Cuba's Public
Health Ministry acknowledged 51 new cases of cholera in Havana amid
growing concerns about the illness' spread and disappointment in the
diplomatic community over the government's lack of transparency.
2013 Jan 28, In Santiago,
Chile, Cuban Pres. Raul Castro assumed the presidency of the
Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
(SFC, 1/29/13, p.A2)
2013 Feb 18, In Brazil
protesters backing the Cuban government blocked the screening of a
documentary featuring Cuba's best-known dissident, the blogger Yoani
Sanchez, who was in attendance after being allowed to leave the
communist island for the first time in nearly a decade. This was the
first stop on her 80-day tour of about a dozen nations.
2013 Feb 24, Cuba's parliament
reconvened with new membership. Raul Castro announced that he will
step down in 2018 following a final five-year term, for the first
time putting a date on the end of the Castro era. He tapped rising
star Miguel Diaz-Canel (52) as his top lieutenant and first in the
line of succession.
2013 Mar, In Mexico 7 young
members of the National Ballet of Cuba defected while on a
(SFC, 4/4/13, p.A2)
2013 Apr 10, A Florida couple,
Joshua Michael Hakken and his wife, Sharyn, accused of kidnapping
their two young sons and fleeing by boat to Cuba were handed over to
the US and imprisoned. The children were returned to their maternal
grandparents, who have official custody. Hakken lost custody of his
sons last year after a drug possession arrest in Louisiana and later
tried to take the children from a foster home at gunpoint.
2013 Apr, In Cuba Sarkis
Yacoubian, a Canadian businessman, was indicted on charges of
bribery, tax evasion and "activities damaging to the economy." He
was arrested on July 15, 2011, and reportedly faced up to 12 years
2013 Apr, Cuba removed a
five-decade ban on professional boxing.
(Econ, 1/17/15, p.58)(http://tinyurl.com/nnbuevz)
2013 May 6, Cuban spy Rene
Gonzalez (56), who spent 13 years in a US prison, renounced his
American citizenship, part of a deal that allows him to avoid
returning to the US to serve out the remainder of his probation. He
is one of the so-called "Cuban Five," intelligence agents convicted
in 2001 of spying on US military installations in South Florida.
2013 May 30, Cuban blogger
Yoani Sanchez returned to the island homeland that officially
considers her a traitor, concluding a more than three-month
globe-trotting tour that cemented her status as the most
internationally recognizable face of Cuba's small dissident
2013 Jun 4, Cuba began offering
Internet access at more than 100 public access points. An hour of
computer time cost about one-fifth the average monthly wage.
(SFC, 6/5/13, p.A2)
2013 Jun 19, The United States
said it has agreed to resume bilateral talks with Cuba on migration
issues next month, the latest evidence of a thaw in chilly relations
between the Cold War enemies.
2013 Jun, Cuba agreed to return
to the Caribbean Series, a baseball tournament which it left in
(Econ, 10/5/13, p.42)
2013 Jul 1, In Cuba a privately
run wholesale market opened near Havana’s airport. Drivers had
earlier gathered on the outskirts of Havana to sell fruit and
vegetables without state sanction.
(Econ, 6/29/13, p.35)
2013 Jul 15, Panama's president
said the country has seized a North Korean-flagged freighter
carrying what appeared to be ballistic missiles and other arms that
had set sail from Cuba. North Korea and Cuba said the weapons were
antiquated and were being sent for repair. North Korea called for
the release of the ship and its and 35 crew members.
(AP, 7/16/13)(SFC, 7/18/13, p.A4)(SFC, 7/19/13,
2013 Jul 31, Cuba’s public
health ministry said 7 people have died after drinking wood alcohol,
or industrial methanol, they thought was rum. By Aug 2 the death
toll rose to 11 with more than 40 people hospitalized.
(Reuters, 7/31/13)(Reuters, 8/2/13)
2013 Aug 9, Cuba's “first"
English-language bookstore, cafe and literary salon opened in
Havana, offering islanders and tourists alike a unique space to
converse, thumb through magazines and buy or borrow tomes in the
language of Shakespeare. It was opened by New York City native
Conner Gorry (43) a journalist living in Cuba since 2002.
2013 Sep 16, The United States
and Cuba sat down in Havana for a second round of talks on
re-establishing direct mail services between the two countries after
a 50-year ban.
2013 Sep 16, Cuba’s Catholic
bishops issued their first pastoral letter in two decades. They
called for political reform in tandem with social and economic
changes already under way.
(SFC, 9/17/13, p.A2)
2013 Sep 27, Cuba announced 18
new categories of independent employment under Pres. Raul Castro’s
economic reforms. These included real estate agents and raised the
total to 199.
(SSFC, 9/29/13, p.A19)
2013 Sep 27, Cuba announced
that its athletes will be allowed to sign contracts to compete in
foreign leagues, a shift from decades of policy that held
professional sports to be anathema to socialist ideals.
2013 Oct 11, A Panamanian
official said two Cuban fighter jets seized from a North Korean ship
in July were in perfect condition to operate and the 15 plane
engines that were found along with them were relatively new and
could be used as replacements.
2013 Nov 2, Cuba closed dozens
of home-based movie theaters and reaffirmed its plans to end the
private sale of imported goods as communist authorities pressed for
"order, discipline and obedience" in the growing small business
2013 Nov 12, China, Cuba,
Russia and Saudi Arabia won seats on the UN Human Rights Council,
despite fierce international criticism of their records.
2013 Nov 6, William Potts (56),
a former US militant who hijacked a plane to Cuba in 1984, flew home
to the United States where he faced federal charges for air piracy.
On July 16, 2014, Potts was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The
sentence effectively gave him credit for serving 13 years in Cuba
making him eligile for parole in 7 years.
(AP, 11/6/13)(SFC, 7/18/14, p.A6)
2013 Nov 29, Cuba was hit by
torrential rains that caused multiple buildings to collapse in
Havana. 2 people were killed.
(SSFC, 12/1/13, p.A4)
2013 Dec 9, In Florida one
suspected Cuban migrant was found dead, and two others were missing
and feared drowned, after a homemade raft with a sole survivor on
board was found floating in Biscayne Bay.
2013 Dec 10, In South Africa
world leaders, family, friends and thousands of mourners paid
tribute to South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
Thousands attending the commemoration booed and jeered President
Jacob Zuma. President Barack Obama was cheered and shook hands with
Cuban President Raul Castro in a simple gesture stoked talk of a
possible rapprochement between the leaders of two Cold War foes.
(AP, 12/10/13)(Reuters, 12/11/13)
2013 Dec 19, Cuba announced it
will allow unrestricted car imports for the first time in half a
century, marking the end of an era that made icons of the island's
vintage automobiles. Cubans soon found that imported cars were
priced far beyond what an average salary could afford.
(AFP, 12/19/13)(Econ, 1/11/14, p.30)
2013 Dec 20, Cuba’s VP Marino
Murillo told parliament that the peso pegged to the dollar, known as
the CUC, would disappear, the first time the government has
explicitly said that. He promised that savings in the convertible
pesos would retain their value until the change took place.
2013 Dec 20, In Cuba lawmaker
Mariela Castro cast a no vote to a workers’ rights bill that she
felt did not go far enough to prevent discrimination against people
with HIV or with unconventional gender identities. This appeared to
be the first no vote ever in the 612-seat post-revolution National
(SFC, 8/20/14, p.A2)
2013 Dec 21, Cuba’s President
Raul Castro warned his country could remain estranged from the
United States for decades if Washington does not drop political
2014 Jan 1, Cuba enacted a law
banning the resale of clothes imported from abroad.
(Econ, 1/11/14, p.30)
2014 Jan 24, Leading Cuban
dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer was arrested after meeting with
European diplomats in Havana.
2014 Jan 26, Cuban activists
said dozens of dissidents have been detained in a "wave of political
repression" ahead of a major international summit in Havana.
2014 Jan 28, In Cuba Latin
American and Caribbean leaders (CELAC) opened a regional summit in
(AP, 1/28/14)(Econ, 2/1/14, p.28)
2014 Jan 29, In Cuba the
leaders of 33 regional nations signed a resolution in Havana
declaring the region a “zone of peace."
(SFC, 1/30/14, p.A4)
2014 Jan 30, Panama’s judicial
authorities ordered the release of 32 of 35 crew members of a North
Korean ship detained last July for carrying hidden arms from Cuba.
The Chon Chon Gang was carrying Cuban fighter jects and missiles.
Owners this month agreed to pay a $670,000 fine.
(SFC, 1/31/14, p.A2)
2014 Feb 4, A Cuban doctor
working in Brazil has sought political asylum in the office of a
conservative party complaining that Cuba's government takes too big
a slice of her pay. Under an agreement signed last year with Cuba
through the Pan-American Health Organization, or PAHO, the Cubans
get only one fifth of the 10,000 reais ($4,100) a month that Brazil
pays each physician in the program. The rest goes to the Cuban
2014 Feb 10, The EU agreed to
launch negotiations with Cuba to increase trade, investment and
dialogue on human rights in its most significant diplomatic shift
since Brussels lifted sanctions on the island in 2008.
2014 Feb 27, Huber Matos
Benitez (95), Cuban revolutionary-turned-political prisoner, died in
(Econ, 3/15/14, p.86)
2014 Mar 6, Cuba said it has
accepted a proposal by the EU to open negotiations on a new
2014 Mar 9, In Cuba Melba
Hernandez (b.1921), a "heroine of the Cuban Revolution," died. She
was one of two women who helped Fidel Castro launch his
revolutionary battle with a failed 1953 attack on the Moncada
2014 Mar 21, Cuba state media
hundreds of thousands of medical workers will be getting a raise. At
the high end, doctors with two specialties will see their salary go
from the equivalent of $26 a month to $67. An entry-level nurse will
make $25, up from $13.
2014 Mar 29, Cuba’s parliament
approved a new foreign investment law that for the first time
allowed Cubans living abroad to invest in some enterprises.
(Econ, 4/5/14, p.30)
2014 Apr 2, In Mexico
Cuauhtemoc Gutierrez de la Torre, president of the PRI in Mexico
City, denied a report that he kept a network of prostitutes on the
party payroll for his personal use. The PRI quickly put him on leave
and called for a police investigation.
(Econ, 4/5/14, p.31)
2014 Apr 3, It was reported
that the US government masterminded the creation of a "Cuban
Twitter" — a communications network designed to undermine the Cuba’s
communist government, built with secret shell companies and financed
through foreign banks. The project, dubbed "ZunZuneo," slang for a
Cuban hummingbird's tweet, was publicly launched soon after Cuba’s
2009 arrest of US contractor Alan Gross.
2014 Apr 8, In Cuba Alan Gross
(64), arrested in 2009, said he had begun a fast the previous week
to protest his incarceration. The former contractor for the US
Agency for Int’l. Development, was serving a 15-year sentence for
crimes against the state after he was caught setting up illegal
Internet access for the country's small Jewish community.
(AP, 4/9/14)(SFC, 4/9/14, p.A2)
2014 Apr 12, France's foreign
minister arrived in Cuba for a brief but historic visit, the first
by such a high-ranking French official in 30 years and a sign of the
quickening pace of improving ties between the European Union and
2014 Apr 26, Cuba arrested 4
exiles from Miami accusing them of planning terrorist actions and
alleged their targets were military. They were later named as Jose
Ortega Amador, Obdulio Rodriguez Gonzalez, Raibel Pacheco Santos and
Felix Monzon Alvarez.
(AP, 5/7/14)(SFC, 5/8/14, p.A2)
2014 Jun 7, A Cuban migrant
trafficking scheme left four people dead. In 2015 two men were
sentenced to life imprisonment and five people received prison
sentences ranging from eight to 25 years.
2014 Jun 9, Cuban authorities
said eight people are under arrest in connection with a scandal
involving the illicit sale of university entrance exams, days after
thousands of high school students were forced to retake the test.
(SFC, 6/10/14, p.A2)
2014 Jun 18, Cuban health
authorities confirmed the country's first six cases of chikungunya
fever, a debilitating, mosquito-borne virus that is suspected of
afflicting tens of thousands across the Caribbean since its arrival
in the region last year.
2014 Jul 11, Russia’s President
Vladimir Putin arrived in Havana to begin a six-day Latin American
tour seeking to boost trade and ties in the region.
2014 Jul 16, A Russian security
source said Russia has quietly reached a provisional agreement with
Cuba on reopening a big Soviet-era base at Lourdes from which it
spied in the United States.
2014 Jul, Russia wrote off 90%
of Cuba’s $35 billion Soviet debt.
(Econ, 7/19/14, p.33)
2014 Aug 7, In eastern Cuba a
homemade boat carrying 32 people left Manzanillo. After three weeks
15 badly sunburned and dehydrated survivors were rescued by the
(Reuters, 9/5/14)(Reuters, 10/5/14)
2014 Sep 1, The Cuban
government enacted new rules sharply limiting the amount of
goods people can bring into the country and raising customs
duties of many items that are still allowed.
(SFC, 9/2/14, p.A5)
2014 Sep 26, Cuba notified
Ontario-based Tokmakjian Group that its president, Cy Tokmakjian
(74) has been sentenced to 15 years in Cuban prison on
corruption-related charge. Tokmakjian Group said the charges against
its president were concocted as an excuse to seize the automotive
firm's $100 million in assets in Cuba.
2014 Dec 9, Former Cuban leader
Fidel Castro was awarded China's Confucius Peace Prize, portrayed by
organizers as an alternative to the Nobel Prize. The prize was
handed to a Cuban foreign student representative at a ceremony at a
2014 Dec 17, US officials said
the United States is planning to open an embassy in Cuba as part of
its plan to open talks and normalize relations with the island
nation. Cuba released Rolando Sarraff (51), a US spy who's been
imprisoned in for nearly 20 years, in exchange for the last three of
five Cuban spies convicted in 2001. Cuba also released 53 other
(Reuters, 12/17/14)(AP, 12/17/14)(SFC, 12/18/14,
p.A17)(SFC, 12/19/14, p.A6)
2014 Dec 30, Cuban officials
detained dozens of members of the political opposition ahead of a
protest art performance seen as a test of tolerance for dissent.
2015 Jan 7, Cuba freed three
detainees, as Havana began to release 53 people the United States
considers political prisoners.
2015 Jan 8, Cuba freed two more
detainees, as Havana continued to release 53 people the US considers
political prisoners, as part of an agreement between the two nations
aimed at ending decades of hostility.
2015 Jan 12, US officials said
Cuba has released all 53 prisoners it had promised to free.
2015 Jan 15, The United States
said it will ease travel and trade restrictions with Cuba on Jan 16,
implementing last month's agreement to begin normalizing ties with
the Cold War-era foe.
2015 Jan 21, The highest-level
US delegation to Cuba in 35 years began talks on immigration.
Americans vowed to continue to grant safe haven to Cubans with
special protections denied to other nationalities. Cuba complained
the US law promotes dangerous illegal immigration and protested
against a separate U.S. program that encourages Cuban doctors to
2015 Jan 22, The United States
and Cuba began historic discussions on restoring diplomatic
relations, aiming to reach agreement on the opening of embassies in
each other's countries.
2015 Feb 21, Cuba released Cy
Tokmakjian (71), a Canadian automobile executive, who had been held
for more than 3 years on corruption charges. His family held that
his prosecution was an excuse to seize his company’s $100 million
assets in Cuba.
(SSFC, 2/22/15, p.A5)
2015 Feb 27, US and Cuban
officials met in Washington DC for a second round of talks aimed at
restoring diplomatic relations amid friction over Cuba's place on a
US list of state sponsors of terrorism.
2015 Mar 10, Cuba offered its
"unconditional support" to Venezuela after US President Barack Obama
authorized new sanctions against senior officials of the turbulent
South American oil producer.
2015 Mar 12, It was reported
that Cuba is allowing free, public Internet service for the first
time at a Havana cultural center. It quietly began offering open
Wi-Fi in recent weeks.
2015 Mar 20, Cuban media
reported that a local court last week condemned several government
officials to prison terms of between five and 15 years for stealing
and selling millions of eggs on the black market.
2015 Apr 9, US and Cuban
diplomats met in Panama City in the highest-level meeting between
the two governments in more than half a century one day ahead of the
opening of the Seventh Summit of the Americas.
2015 Apr 10, President Barack
Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro shook hands at the opening of
the Summit of the Americas in Panama, a symbolically charged gesture
as the pair seek to restore ties between the Cold War foes.
2015 Apr 11, President Barack
Obama met Cuban President Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas
in Panama in the highest-level talks between the two countries in
nearly 60 years. The two men agreed to push ahead on improving
relations after decades of hostility.
2015 Apr 19, Cuba held
municipal elections. Turnout fell almost 6% compared to the 2012
poll to about 88%.
(Econ., 4/25/15, p.36)
2015 May 10, Cuban President
Raul Castro (83) thanked Pope Francis for brokering the thaw between
Havana and Washington and said the pope so impressed him that he
might return to the Catholic Church, despite being a communist.
2015 May 11, Francois Hollande
became the first French president to visit Cuba, using a one-day
trip to build business and diplomatic relations five months after a
detente between Havana and Washington.
2015 May 29, The United States
dropped Cuba from its blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism.
2015 Jun 4, Colombia and FARC
rebels agreed on the terms of an 11-member Truth Commission as peace
talks continued in Havana.
(Econ, 7/4/15, p.28)
2015 Jun 9, US traders said
Cuba has suspended imports of US chicken citing a bird flu epidemic
ravaging the US poultry industry. More than 44 million chickens,
turkeys and other birds have been culled since last December.
2015 Jun 10, Acclaimed Cuban
novelist Leonardo Padura (59) was awarded Spain's Princess of
Asturias award for literature. His 2009 novel, "The Man Who Loved
Dogs," was praised by critics internationally.
2015 Jun 18, Cuba said it's
expanding Internet access by adding Wi-Fi capacity to dozens of
state-run Internet centers and more than halving the cost that users
pay for an hour online.
2015 Jul 7, Cuba and Norway
called for restraint in Colombia as they helped facilitate peace
negotiations in Havana between Colombia and FARC rebels.
2015 Jul 20, The United States
and Cuba quietly ushered in a new era of post-Cold War relations,
formally restoring diplomatic ties severed more than five decades
ago and re-establishing embassies in each other’s capitals.
2015 Jul 27, The US State
Department took Malaysia and Cuba off its “tier 3" list of countries
failing to combat modern-day slavery, leaving the US open to
criticism that politics is swaying the often-contentious rankings in
its annual human trafficking report. Burundi, Belize, Belarus,
Comoros and South Sudan were downgraded to Tier 3, where Thailand
remained for a second year.
(AP, 7/27/15)(Reuters, 7/27/15)
2015 Aug 14, US Marines raised
the American flag at the embassy in Cuba for the first time since
1961, symbolically ushering in an era of renewed diplomatic
relations between the two Cold War-era foes.
2015 Aug 19, Ghana’s health
minister said it is going to bring in about 170 Cuban doctors to
work at health facilities amid a doctors' strike.
2015 Sep 11, Cuba's highest
authority said it is releasing 3,522 prisoners ahead of next week's
visit to the island by Pope Francis, the third time Cuba has granted
inmates freedom before a papal visit.
2015 Sep 18, The United States
issued regulations easing restrictions on American companies seeking
to do business in Cuba and opening up travel in the latest action to
weaken the US trade embargo amid warming relations with the
2015 Sep 19, Pope Francis began
a 10-day trip to Cuba and the United States, embarking on his first
trip to the onetime Cold War foes after helping to nudge forward
their historic rapprochement.
2015 Sep 20, In Cuba Pope
Francis met with Fidel Castro after urging thousands of Cubans to
serve one another and not an ideology.
(SFC, 9/21/15, p.A2)
2015 Sep 23, Colombian
President Juan Manuel Santos announced a surprise trip to Cuba for a
key meeting with government negotiators and the rebels' top military
commander. A joint statement said they have overcome the last
significant obstacle to a peace deal by settling on a formula to
punish belligerents for human rights abuses.
(AP, 9/23/15)(SFC, 9/24/15, p.A5)
2015 Sep 29, Pres. Obama held
private talks with Cuban Pres. Raul Castro on the sidelines of the
UN gathering of world leaders.
(SFC, 9/30/15, p.A2)