Since Cuba’s independence in 1902, its relationship with the United States has been unsteady primarily because of Cuba’s opposition to American hegemonic ambitions and designs, as exemplified by the 1934 Treaty of Relations and the 1902 Platt Amendment. The relations even worsened following Cuba’s revolution in 1959 which swept Fidel Castro to power and resulting in Cuba’s adoption of communist ideology and the nationalization of American owned businesses in 1961. In reaction to these hostile moves, the United States severed diplomatic relations with Cuba as well as imposed a trade embargo against it. These developments however, pushed Cuba deeper into the Soviet orbit/ camp. Next, the United States in an attempt to reverse the situation, embarked on operation ‘Mongoose’ to undermine the Castro regime. The situation was also exacerbated by additional Cuban victories over its challenge of American global power in this hemisphere, including the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis and the 1980 Mariel boatlift.
Over time, the Cuban government survived all punitive measures and policies introduced by the United States until the 1996 ‘brothers to the rescue’ incident in which two American aircraft operated by Cuban exiles were shot down over Cuban airspace, thus triggering the passage of the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, also known as the Helms-Burton Act. Under the provisions of this Act, the United States denied admission to the U.S. of those connected with the seizure of American property in Cuba, as well as permitting American citizens whose property were confiscated in Cuba to bring lawsuits and collect monetary damages against Cuban assets frozen in the U.S. Regardless of these measures, the isolation and hostility toward Cuba by the United States endured for about 50 years. But, under President Barack Obama’s Administration, a new page has been turned in U.S. -Cuba relations. This new rapprochement may permanently bridge the economic and political divide between the two nations.
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