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Cuba

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Index
  1. Cuba Main Page
  2. Revolution Leader Fidel Castro Breaks Ties with U.S. and Allies Himself with the Soviet Union
  3. Bay of Pigs Disaster
  4. Soviet-Missile Crisis
  5. In Poor Health Castro Announces His Retirement
  6. Cubans Begin to Win Small Freedoms
  7. Cuba Takes Possible Steps Toward a New Leader Not Named Castro
  8. Pope Makes Long-Awaited Visit
  9. Exit Visa Requirement Is Dropped
  10. Cuba Resumes Diplomatic Relations with U.S.
Cuba Resumes Diplomatic Relations with U.S.

The Cuban government freed U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross, who had been in captivity for five years, on Dec. 17, 2014. Gross had been sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011 after his effort to create a way to communicate outside of the Cuban government's control. The government cited humanitarian grounds as the reason for Gross' release.

In response to the prisoner release, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would resume full diplomatic relations with Cuba, which includes opening an embassy in Havana. There hasn't been any diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba since 1961. The prisoner release was part of a deal negotiated in secret over 18 months. Canada hosted most of the talks that led to the deal. Pope Francis also hosted a meeting at the Vatican to help with negotiations between the two countries.

Talks began in early 2015 between the two countries over how to restore diplomatic relations after five decades. Both sides made demands ahead of the talks. Cuba asked the U.S. to remove its name from a list of states that sponsor terrorism. The U.S. insisted that its diplomats should be allowed to work freely and meet with dissidents in Cuba. A second round of talks was scheduled for late Feb. to hammer out these issues and more. Meanwhile, reaction to the resumed relations with the U.S. has been mixed in Cuba. Some praised the move while others were skeptical.

With diplomatic relations restored, the ban for Americans traveling to Cuba was lifted. Before Dec. 2014, Americans could only travel to Cuba with permission from the U.S. State Department. After Dec. 2014, tourists from the U.S. still had to go as part of a religious, educational, and cultural group, but the travel ban being lifted made it easier in other ways for Americans visiting Cuba. Internet access, an embassy, and the use of credit cards were soon available for the first time to assist Americans while in Cuba. Also, the U.S. government began allowing Americans to bring small quantities of items back from Cuba, including cigars. Cuban cigar makers estimated that their sales would increase from three million to six million in 2015, due to this new rule.

The highest-level meeting between the two sides in more than half a century came in April 2015. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez met in Panama on April 9. Their meeting came a day before the Summit of the Americas. According to U.S. officials, the meeting between Kerry and Rodriguez went well, lasting for at least two hours.

Later that week, President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro met at the Summit of the Americas in Panama. It was the first time the countries' leaders held a face-to-face meeting in more than 50 years. According to news reports, Obama and Castro vowed to open embassies in both countries. "Our governments will continue to have differences," Obama said. "At the same time, we agreed that we can continue to take steps forward that advance our mutual interests."

See also Encyclopedia: Cuba
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Cuba
National Statistical Office (In Spanish Only) http://www.cubagob.cu/otras_info/estadisticas.htm .

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