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The Republic of Cuba

Havana CubaThe island nation of Cuba was populated by different Mesoamerican Indian tribes before the Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus landed there in 1492 and claimed it for the Kingdom of Spain.

After the Spanish-American War, Spain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris in 1898 which ceded Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam to the United States for the sum of 20 million US dollars. A few years later Cuba gained its independence from the United States on May 20, 1902 becoming the Republic of Cuba.

Under the new Cuban constitution, the U.S. retained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs, to supervise its finances and oversee its foreign relations. Under the Platt Amendment, the U.S. obtained a lease on the Guantánamo Bay naval base from the Cuban government.

Cuba eventually came under the dictatorship of former president Fulgencio Batista, but popular unrest and instability led to Batista being ousted in January of 1959 by the July 26 movement, who established a government under the leadership of Fidel Castro. Since 1965 the country has been governed as a single-party state by the Communist Party.

By 1958, Cuba had become a rather well-advanced country by Latin American standards, as well as world standards. But, the island country was affected by the largest labor union privileges in Latin America, which included bans on firing workers and the mechanization of industries.

Havana CubaCubans believed these were obtained mainly at the cost of the unemployed and peasants which made for economic disparities. This caused unemployment to become a problem when graduates entering the workforce could not find jobs.

At the same time the middle class became increasingly dissatisfied with not only the unemployment but increasing political persecution. Batista continued to stay in power until he was finally forced into exile around the end of1958.

By late 1958, rebels had broken out of the Sierra Maestra and instigated a general popular insurrection. After these fighters captured Santa Clara, Batista decided to flee with his family to the Dominican Republic. Later he went into exile on the Portuguese island of Madeira and finally settled in Estoril, near Lisbon.

The forces of Fidel Castro entered the capital on the 8th of January 1959. The liberal Manuel Urrutia Lleó became the provisional president. But from 1959 through 1966 Cuban insurgents waged a six-year rebellion in the Escambray Mountains against this new Castro government, however the rebellion was eventually crushed by the Castro government.

Towards the end of his term in office in 1960, US President Eisenhower approved a CIA plan to arm and train a group of Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro regime. The invasion, known as the Bay of Pigs, took place during the Kennedy presidency on April 14th, 1961.

Havana CubaSomewhere around 1,400 of these trained Cuban exiles disembarked at the Bay of Pigs, but failed in their attempt to overthrow Castro. Then in January of 1962, Cuba was suspended from the Organization of American States (OAS), and later that same year the OAS began to impose sanctions against Cuba of similar nature to the US sanctions that had been implemented earlier.

It was during the presidency of John Fitzgerald Kennedy the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in October of 1962.

The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred when leaders of the United States. and the USSR engaged in a tension-filled, 13-day political and military standoff over the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles on Cuba, just 90 miles from Florida.

In a TV address on October 22nd, 1962, President John Kennedy addressed Americans about the presence of these missiles, explained his decision to initiate a naval blockade around Cuba and made it clear to the USSR that the U.S. was prepared to respond with military force if needed to neutralize what was perceived as a threat to US national security.

Following this news, many people feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war. However, disaster was finally avoided when the U.S. agreed to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s offer to remove the Cuban missiles in exchange for the U.S. promising not to invade Cuba. Kennedy also secretly agreed to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey.

The failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion and Fidel Casto's relations with Hugo Chávez, former President of Venezuela, and Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, were sources of aggravation and embarrassment to the US government.

Havana CubaThis plays a large role in the reason that US sanctions against Cuba remain to this day, even though Fidel stepped down as president and relations with his brother and current president Raul Castro have softened. The US government clearly does not like having someone so close to home who openly defied them for decades. It is clearly time for the Cuban people to stop having to pay the price for the hostility between these 2 governments.

Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean with over 11 million inhabitants and is the second-most populous. It is a multi-ethnic country whose people, culture and customs derive from diverse origins, including the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, a long period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves, a close relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and its close proximity to the United States.

Cuba today is the only remaining communist state to receive a "very high" human development ranking from the United Nations, and also ranks quite well in terms of its healthcare and educational institutions.

In spite of decades of difficulties arising from US sanctions and the breakup of the former Soviet Union, Cuba has managed to provide Cubans with excellent and affordable healthcare and good educational opportunities.

Even with the sanctions and the loss of aid from the former Soviet Union, the Cuban people have proven to be a very resilient people that manage to simply enjoy life.

See travel information at: www.insightcuba.com

See photographer Alison Wright's images of Cuba at: www.alisonwright.com

Read about Havana on Wikipedia

Climate data for Cuba
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 25.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 22.2
Average low °C (°F) 18.6
Rainfall mm (inches) 64.4
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 5 5 3 3 6 10 7 9 10 11 6 5 80
 % humidity 75 74 73 72 75 77 78 78 79 80 77 75 76.1
Source: World Meteorological Organisation - UN Climate-Charts.com


Yabanci is a book by a Dutch woman who moved from Holland to Turkey to start a new life in a Turkish village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A great read for those who are considering a move abroad or have lived in a different culture. Available in English as an ebook or in Dutch in both print and popular ebook formats... take a look


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