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Cuba's Fate Linked to the United States

By Aileen S. Yoo
Washingtonpost.com Staff
Updated January 1999

    Bay of Pigs
Cuban leader Fidel Castro looks out from a tank during the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. (AP File Photo)
The fate of Cuba has been intertwined with the economic and political will of the United States for more than a century, since U.S. gunboats protected Americans in Cuba during the island's colonial war against Spain. A generation later the United States controlled almost half of the island's sugar production.

The U.S.-Cuban relationship turned from symbiotic to hostile by the early 1960s, when rebel president Fidel Castro allowed the Soviets to base missiles pointed at the United States on his soil. Communist Castro has softened his posturing in the past few years, enlisting the aid of Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II in a lobbying effort to ease the U.S. imposed embargo that affects Cuba's population of 12 million.

In January 1999, President Clinton responded to the pontiff's overtures by loosening the embargo a bit more, including a resumption of direct postal service, authorization for any U.S. citizens to send as much as $1,200 a year to recipients in Cuba and permission for U.S. firms to sell fertilizer, pesticides and agricultural equipment to independent farmers and privately owned restaurants.

Bay of Pigs To learn more about major events shaping the Cuban economy and political landscape, click on the Cuba Map, and then access background sketches linked to Cuban cities in the javascript pop-up window.

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