Cuba is an island state of Central America; it includes the homonymous island, the Isla de la Juventud and about 1600 islands and islets, including the archipelago of Camagüey and that of the Canarreos. The island of Cuba, the largest of the Greater Antilles, is located between the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, about 200 km E of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico) and 150 km S of Florida (USA).
Conquest and colonization. In the pre-Columbian era, Cuba was inhabited by Amerindian populations such as the Taino, the Ciboney and the Guanajatabey. Reached by Cuba Colombo in 1492, Cuba was colonized in 1511 and became a base for the Spanish conquest of Central America. The indigenous people quickly became extinct due to forced labor, disease and genocide, Cuba was populated by African slaves and constituted a governorship under the viceroyalty of New Spain. For over two centuries it had a relatively modest economic importance, while its strategic and commercial role as “gateway to the Antilles” was more important. From the second half of the century. 18 ° economic activity developed, based on the cultivation of sugar cane and tobacco, on wild breeding and on the exploitation of forests. After the mid-eighteenth century, economic development increased the population tenfold and led to the formation of an oligarchy of landowners and close economic ties with the United States. The development of the independence movement was intertwined with the conflicting pressures of the various social strata: the demands for the liberation of slaves were opposed by the oligarchy, which aspired to annexation to the United States. A first war of independence (1868-78) ended with the granting of some reforms, including the abolition of slavery. A second insurrection (1895) was bloodyly suppressed and prompted the intervention of Washington, ultimately starting the Spanish-American War (1898). Having defeated Spain, the USA had the so-called “Platt amendment” included in the Constitution of the new state (1901),
Independence, the Batista regime, the revolution. The first decades after independence were characterized by a notable political instability due to the recurring conflicts between the factions of the oligarchy and the protest of the lower classes. The United States therefore intervened repeatedly to ensure its control over the local economy. The depression of the 1930s was accompanied by unrest and riots that marked the crisis of the political system. The rise to power of F. Batista y Zaldivár reconfirmed the traditional relations with the powerful neighbor. Internally, Batista’s authoritarianism went hand in hand with the modernization of the country. However, the social confrontation was not avoided. The revolutionary movement set up in 1953 by F. Castro eventually led to the fall of the dictatorship. A first attempt was made on July 26 of that year with the assault on the Moncada barracks, which ended with the arrest of F. Castro and some of his comrades. Released in 1955, Castro set up the Movimiento 26 de julio and in 1958, together with E. “Che” Guevara, led an expedition of 82 people, which started the occupation of the Sierra Maestra and a guerrilla that on 8 January 1959 led the revolutionaries to conquer the capital Havana. For Cuba religion and languages, please check ezinereligion.com.
The Cuba of F. Castro: the socialist experiment. With the institutions of the past regime dissolved, Castro initiated radical reforms, which provoked a reaction from the United States, which saw its own interests affected. The Havana government re-established diplomatic relations with the USSR in 1960 and launched an extensive nationalization program. Washington’s refusal to return the Guantánamo base aggravated the situation and, after the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the two states (1961) and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in the same year, the revolutionary process took on an overtly socialist character, while the US embargo and isolation from the continental context led Havana to ever closer relations with the USSR, on whose economic, political and military support it was now dependent. In Oct 1962 there was a moment of extreme tension (“missile crisis”) due to the installation of Soviet C-shaped missiles, as a response to the construction of NATO missile bases in Turkey, but also to meet Castro’s requests to in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs episode. The US decided to establish an air-naval blockade around the island and asked the Soviets to dismantle the missile bases; after a few critical moments, an agreement was finally reached, on a Soviet proposal, which provided for the withdrawal of the missiles in exchange for the commitment not to invade Cuba. The subsequent Cuban attempt to break the encirclement, trying to extend the revolution in Latin America , was not successful. However Cuba played a significant role in supporting liberation movements such as the Congolese, first and foremost. Meanwhile, the Cuban Communist Partido (PCC; born from the merger of Movimiento 26 de julio with the PSP) from 1970 consolidated in power and confirmed Castro as first secretary. In 1976 the new Constitution was approved and Castro was elected president of the Council of State and of the new Council of Ministers (confirmed in 1981 and 1986). Meanwhile, various social indicators revealed that Cuba was achieving important results, particularly in the fields of education and health. During the 1970s and 1980s, numerous Latin American countries re-established relations with Havana. Relations with the United States, on the other hand, remained tense.