Cuba and the U.S. have always had a grudge against each other. The situation became even worse after Cuban Revolution which took place between December 2, 1956 and January 2, 1959, and due to which Fidel Castro came to power. The relationships between these two nations were not so rosy at all at that time. Cuba could not be trusted because it was premised on an anti-American government, and American officials were afraid that Fidel Castro might lead the island into a communist bloc. It was connected with a fact that Castro’s government increased trade with the Soviet Union and hiked taxes on the American imports. In their turn, the United States responded with escalated economic retaliation which became the basis for the altercations between two nations. This paper will demystify the relations between Cuba and the U.S. after Cuban Revolution and the impact it left on the government.
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The Situation after the Cuban Revolution
In 1959, after seizing power in Havana, Fidel Castro among the other revolutionaries overthrew Fulgencio Batista (Schoultz 115). It happened after Cuban Revolution which was instigated by Castro who was the head of an armed militia force that had about 80 members. The revolution was supported by the vast majority of Cuban people as he promised them a democracy as well as restoration of nation freedom. However, it turned out that Fidel Castro was a political cheat as he ended up subjecting his people to Marxist tyranny, dictatorship, and extreme poverty. He ruled Cuba for more than five decades before relinquishing authority to his younger brother Raul in 2008 (Schoultz 121).
Furthermore, Cuban Revolution had some other major ramifications such as a lackluster economic growth and political dictatorship despite the fact that Cuba had been a highly developed country in the mid-nineteenth century. In this regard, the differences between Cuba and the United States began in 1958 when the latter stopped sending aid to the island due to the brutal fighting that was taking place there (Schoultz 127). By that time, the United States was controlling 80% of Cuban railroads and 90% of its electrical and telephone services. As a result, such the antagonistic relationships resulted in events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Another major impact was the U.S. blockade. It began after Cuba nationalized the American enterprises, hiked taxes on their imports, and established trade deals with the Soviet Union (Caravelis and Robinson 141).
Similarly, after slashing Cuban sugar imports, Washington imposed a ban on all the exports to Cuba. Moreover, President John F. Kennedy expanded the ban encapsulating stringent travel restrictions and making it a full economic embargo in such a way. Thus, this blockade was a huge blow because it cost Cuba seven years of development and a financial siege that lasted half a century. Moreover, the consequences were devastating as the economic infrastructure of Cuba was greatly dependent on the United States (Caravelis and Robinson 141).
In fact, the Cold War between these two nations had an ulterior objective of containing or rolling back communism but ended up exacerbating animosity between revolutionary governments. In 1961, the United States severed diplomatic ties with Cuba and began pursuing covert operations in quest of overthrowing Castro’s regime. As a result, this led to such events as Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuban Missile Crisis, Mariel Boat Lift, and Cuban Adjustment Act.
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The Bay of Pigs Invasion
The Bay of Pigs invasion was instigated by president Dwight D. Eisenhower due to his concerns about the nature of relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union. The plan was to invade the island and remove Fidel Castro from power through the coordination of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). After the 1960 election, John F Kennedy became the president. He was notified of the plan, and as a result, he gave his consent. The invasion took place on April 17-19, 1961 (Schoultz 143). Its plan was divided into three phases where phase one involved the destruction of Castro’s combat aircraft in order to impede the ability of Cuban forces to retaliate the attack. The second phase involved the destruction of combat planes that were not taken out during the phase one. This would be achieved by dropping bombs on Castro’s air force bases. Finally, the third phase was an actual invasion where the Brigade would invade Cuba by sea and air. At first, the invasion site was Trinidad which offered significant features and was an anti-Castro town. However, the landing location was later changed to the Bay of Pigs.
Fidel led the defense, but the attack itself collapsed by April 19th. It turned out to be a complete failure due to poor planning as well as inadequate supplying making it an embarrassment to President Kennedy. However, the President later negotiated the release of the captured Cuban exiles. The failed invasion convinced the revolutionaries that imperialism could be defeated. Moreover, the failure cemented the animosity between the two nations.
For Cuba, the invasion strengthened the position of Castro’s administration, and the country adopted socialism as well as established close ties with the Soviet Union. The invasion also led to the reassessment of Cuban policy. Meanwhile, President Kennedy examined why the attack failed and implemented a new covert program in Cuba (Roberts 121). In fact, the program was an amendment to the shortcomings that were noted in the Bay of Pigs Invasion. It was titled as Operation Mongoose, and its objective was removing the communist Castro’s regime from power. However, the operation also failed to achieve its goals.
The Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis took place between 14th and 28th October, 1962, and it became a pivotal moment in the Cold War between Cuba and the U.S.A. In fact, these two superpowers came close to the nuclear conflict. Fidel Castro built missiles installation in Cuba after receiving permission from the Soviet Union through a secret agreement. However, the spy satellites based in the United States noticed the missiles, and President Kennedy ordered a naval blockade on the island. The leaders of the U.S.A. and Soviet Union engaged in a tense political and military standoff that lasted for thirteen days while the world was on the brink of a nuclear war. In defense, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchew had settled an agreement with the Cuban premier (Fidel Castro) to have nuclear missiles in Cuba in order to prevent the future invasion (Senker 55). This was due to the animosity and the prevalent tension between the U.S and Cuba especially after the Bay of Pig Invasion and the Mongoose Operation.
In his turn, President Kennedy announced that any nuclear attack from Cuba would be treated as an attack from the Soviet Union and would be dealt with accordingly. His immediate reaction was imposing a naval quarantine that prevented shipment of offensive military weapons between the Cubans and Soviets. Many letters were exchanged throughout this scenario among which some were formal and ‘black channel’. At some point, President Kennedy’s advisors were convinced that the missiles would only be removed through an attack on Cuba even though the president opted to use diplomatic channels. However, they came to a consensus when the Soviets agreed to remove their missiles from the island only if the U.S.A. promised not to invade it.
However, on October 27th, a jet was shot down over Cuba and President Kennedy prepared for an attack, but they explored other diplomatic alternatives (Senker 55). Eventually, Kennedy agreed to remove military missiles from Turkey while the Soviet Union also agreed to destroy the nuclear missiles in Cuba under supervision of the United Nations. The missile crisis strengthened President Kennedy’s image domestically and internationally (Senker 56).
The Cuban Adjustment Act
The Cuban Adjustment Act was a federal law that was enacted and signed by President Lyndon Johnson on November 2, 1996. The proponents of this act stated that anybody who flew from Cuba to the United States would be granted citizenship after twelve months. Cubans were also given the prerogative to use migration programs such as immigrant Visa issuance, diversity lottery, refugee admission, and Cuban lottery. Immigrant Visas were available to individuals who qualified for family or employment-based visas as the preference system. However, the waiting period for the preference visas would vary depending on the category.
The Act also allowed the Attorney General to grant permanent residence to Cubans only if they were admissible as immigrants. Furthermore, Cubans were exempted from immigration quotas and other requirements such as paying a public charge, entering the U.S through a legal port, and having to proof their family or employment affiliations as a reason for residency. All in all, Cubans believed that leaving the island for the United States had more to do with finding economic freedom.
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Mariel Boatlift and Mass Emigration
Mariel Boatlift and Mass Emigration took place on April 20th, 1980 when Castro regime announced that Cubans wished to immigrate to the U.S to board boats at the Mariel port west of Havana. The boatlift movement was fuelled by the housing and job shortages which harmed the Cuban economy. Additionally, the embargo placed by the U.S. denied Cubans technology, medicine, and food which led to suffering and even death in extreme circumstances (Roberts 98). This gave most individuals an incentive to migrate to the U.S. in search for greener pastures. Large waves of people overwhelmed the United States as the Cuban guards had packed board after board. However, the guards overlooked the safety aspect of crowded boats-, and this led to death of some immigrants. The boatlift was an extraordinary undertaking and ensured the immigration of about 125,000 Cubans who had crossed South Florida (Roberts 112).
The vast majority of immigrants decided to settle in Miami, and this increased the labor market and the employment rate to some degree there. However, the influx of immigrants did not have a major effect on the wage rates of less skilled non-Cuban workers. This can be attributed to the fact that the immigrants were rapidly absorbed in the Miami labor force (Caravelis and Robinson 141). The boatlift also had major ramifications that affected the U.S. President Jimmy Carter when it turned out that some exiles were released from Cuban jails and mental hospitals. Thus, Carter and Castro eventually came to a consensus to end the exodus. The Mariel boatlift officially ended on 31st October, 1980.
The Cuban Revolution has been a proof that Stalinist bureaucratic degeneration is not inevitable. It culminated in a deterioration of bilateral relations as the U.S. instigated covert operations in quest of toppling the communist regime. Cuba was also subject to intense migratory pressures as its economy suffered U.S economic sanctions. For instance, after deposing the Batista regime, the U.S. placed an embargo on Cuban exports except for food and medicine. This happened after Fidel Castro lost American support and trust imposing heavy taxes on U.S. imports and publicizing private land and companies. In fact, Fidel Castro’s regime was a major threat to U.S. interests resulting in American operatives trying having him assassinated.