Spain Claims Cuba

Christopher Columbus claims Cuba for Spain.

Velazquez Becomes First Governor

Spanish conquistador Diego Velazquez becomes first governor of Cuba.

Havana Founded

City of Havana founded as San Cristobel de la Habana.

First Slaves Imported from Africa

French Fleet Occupies Havana
El Morro Castle Construction Begins

Construction of El Morro Castle, built by the Spanish, at an entrance to Havana harbor begins.

Havana Named Capital of Cuba
English Capture Santiago de Cuba

English capture Santiago de Cuba to assist trade with Jamaica.

English Withdraw from Cuba

English withdraw from Cuba after Spain acknowledges England’s right to Jamaica.

University of Havana Founded

Located in the Vedado district of Havana, the University of Havana or “Universidad de La Habana” was founded on January 5, 1728 as the oldest in Cuba, and one of the first to be founded in the Americas.

Battle of Havana

Battle of Havana

British and Spanish fleets fight in Havana Harbor.

Seven Years' War Begins

May 17

British Attack Havana

August 11
British attack Havana and take control of Cuba as part of the Seven Years’ War.

End of Seven Years' War

The British cede Cuba to Spain in the Treaty of Paris.

Martí Born in Havana

José Martí

January 28
José Julian Martí y Perez
, Cuban poet and essayist, patriot and martyr was born.

Ten Years' War (First War of Independence) begins

October 10
The Ten Years’ War begins and was part of Cuba’s fight for independence from Spain.

Ten Years' War Ends

February 10
Ten Years’ War of independence ends with truce with Spain.

Slavery Abolished

October 7
Slavery was abolished and made illegal by royal decree in Cuba.

Martí Leads Second War of Independence

February 24
José Martí leads The Second War for Independence.

Martí Killed in Battle

May 19
José Martí was shot and killed in battle against Spanish troops at the Battle of Dos Ríos.

Spanish–American War Begins

April 20
The Spanish–American War between Spain and the United States begins with the US blaming Spain for an explosion aboard the USS Maine in Havana harbor in Cuba. The US defeats Spain, the Treaty of Paris is signed and Spain cedes Cuba to the US.


US Provisional Governor Appointed

US Secretary of War, William Howard Taft creates the Provisional Government of Cuba,  names himself Provisional Governor of Cuba and establishes a naval base at Guantanamo Bay (GTMO).

Platt Amendment passed

United States passes the Platt Amendment, as part of the 1901 Army Appropriations Bill,  stating the conditions for the withdrawal of the US troops in Cuba from the Spanish-American War.

Guatanamo Bay Naval Base Lease Signed

Cuba and United States sign lease granting use of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

New Lease Signed for Guantanamo Bay

A new lease is signed in Havana for Guantanamo Bay.  The United States will pay about $2000 per year for the lease.

First President of Cuba Resigns


September 28
Tomas Estrada, first president of Cuba, resigns.

Second Occupation of Cuba Begins

US begins the Second Occupation of Cuba.

Gómez Becomes President

Jose Miguel Gómez

January 28
Jose Miguel Gómez, leading candidate for the Liberal Party, becomes president.

US ends the Second Occupation of Cuba.

US Returns to Cuba

US returns to Cuba to put down Afro-Cuban rebellion.

Cuba enters World War I

Cuba enters World War I on the side of the Allies.

Gerardo Machado begins dictatorship

Gerardo Machado

Socialist Party Established in Cuba
Fidel Castro Born

Fidel Castro born in province of Holguin.

Guevara Born

Ernesto "Che" Guevara

Ernesto “Che” Guevara is born in Rosario, Argentina.

Machado overthrown

Machado overthrown in a coup led by Fulgencio Batista.

US Signs Perpetual Lease for GTMO


May 29
Cuban–American Treaty of Relations is signed by the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba.

Cuba and US sign a perpetual lease of the Guantanamo Naval Base for about $4000 per year.

The naval base remains in US hands and the US continues to pay an annual rent although Cuba reportedly does not cash the checks.

United States abandons its right to intervene in Cuba.

New Treaty Ratified

June 9
Cuban–American Treaty of Relations Act is ratified and proclaimed by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.1

Communist Party Legalized

Communist Party is legalized again.

Batista Elected President

Fulgencio Batista

October 10
Fulgencio Batista, supported by the Democratic Socialists Coalition,  is elected president of Cuba.

1940 Constitution In Effect

October 10
The 1940 Constitution takes effect providing land reform, public education, a minimum wage and other social programs.

Hemingway Purchases Home in Cuba


Ernest Hemingway purchases a home in Cuba where he lives for the next 20 years.

Batista Seizes Power

Batista seizes power again and suspends the 1940 Constitution. Batista is a United States backed dictator from 1952-1959.

Castro Leads Revolt

July 26
Fidel Castro and brother Raul leads an unsuccessful revolt against Batista on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba.

Castro Gives “History Will Absolve Me” Speech

October 16
Fidel Castro gives his four-hour “History Will Absolve Me” speech during his trial for the charges brought against him for the attack in Santiago de Cuba.

Batista Frees Castro

May 1
Batista issues an amnesty that frees Castro and others members from prison.

Castro meets Che Guevera

June 1
Fidel Castro and his brother Raul are introduced to Che Guevara in Mexico City.

Castro Begins Guerrilla Warfare

Castro, aided by Che Guevara, wages guerrilla war in Cuba from the Sierra Maestra Mountains.

Students Attack Presidential Palace

March 13
An anti-communist University student group charged the Presidential Palace in Havana to assassinate Cuban dictator, Batista. The attack was unsuccessful and 50 students were killed.

US Withdraws Aid to Batista

The United States suspends military aid to Batista forces.

Castro Overthrows Batista

January 1
Fidel Castro leads a guerrilla army into Havana and forces Batista to flee the country.  Batista resigns presidency.

Castro Becomes Prime Minister

February 16
Castro is sworn in as prime minister and brother Raul Castro becomes his deputy. Che Guevara becomes third in command.


Castro Visits Princeton University

April 29
Castro speaks on the theme of “The United States and the Revolutionary Spirit” at Princeton University, New Jersey.

CIA Issues Memo on Castro

December 11
The United States Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) issues memorandum urging “the elimination of Fidel Castro.”

Cuba Allies with Soviet Union

Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev offers support to Cuba.  Cuba allies with the Soviet Union.

US Businesses Nationalized

August 6
All US businesses and commercial property in Cuba are nationalized with no compensation by the Cuban government.

US Imposes Embargo

October 19
The United States embargoes all exports to Cuba except food and medical supplies.

Cuba Becomes Communist State

March 1
Castro proclaims Cuba a communist state and allies with USSR. Castro announces he is a Socialist.

US Ends Relations with Cuba

March 27
US breaks off all diplomatic relations with Havana.

Bay of Pigs Invasion

April 15
Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exiles, with United States support, fails.

Cuban Missile Crisis

Sunday, January 21
Cuba expelled from the Organization of the American States (OAS).

October 15–28

Castro indicates Cuba will soon have new defenses against the US.

Castro allows Union of Soviet Socialist Republics(USSR) nuclear missiles on Cuba.

Wednesday, August 29
U-2 spy plane photos verify service-to-air missile (SAM) site under construction in La Coloma, Cuba.

Sunday, October 14
U-2 photos show medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) and intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) launch pads under construction.

Friday, October 19
Ex-Comm, group of American political leaders, discuss Cuban quarantine.

Saturday, October 20 
Ex-Comm recommends quarantine.

Sunday, October 21
President John F. Kennedy orders a naval blockade of Cuba. Operation is reviewed and approved.

Monday, October 22
President John F. Kennedy addresses the public and announces a naval blockade of Cuba. US Military issues DEFCON 3.

Tuesday, October 23
Khrushchev orders Soviet ships to stop 750 miles from Cuba.

Wednesday, October 24
Soviet Union Premier Nikita Khrushchev responds to Kennedy’s message that the US blockade was an “act of aggression.” Refuses to remove missiles from Cuba. US Military issue DEFCON 2.

Thursday, October 25
Kennedy orders flights over Cuba to increase from once to twice per day.

Friday, October 26
Ex-Comm discusses plans to invade Cuba.

Soviets offer to withdraw missiles in return for a US guarantee to not invade Cuba.

Saturday, October 27
Khrushchev sends message to Kennedy that deal must include removal of US Jupiter missiles from Turkey.

US U-2F shot down with surface-to-air missile near Banes, Cuba.

Kennedy ignores first message and responds to second message.

Kennedy proposes removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba under United Nations supervision and guarantee that US would not attack Cuba.

Sunday, October 28
Khrushchev agrees to remove Soviet missiles. He accepts Kennedy’s pledge not to invade Cuba. Kennedy agrees to remove missiles from Turkey.

US announces removal of the last Soviet missiles from Cuba.

Operation Peter Pan brings Cuban children to the US.

Political Party Renamed Communist Party of Cuba

October 3
Cuba’s sole political party renamed the Communist Party of Cuba.

Guevara Executed

October 9
Socialist revolutionary and guerilla leader, Che Guevara executed in La Higuera, Bolivia at the age of 39.

Cuban Troops to Africa

©Wikimedia Commons User:Egs / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Cuba begins sending troops to Africa to assist in revolutions.

Mariel Boatlift

April 15 – October 31
Approximately 125,000 Cubans flee to the United States.

Castro Speaks During Visit to Nicaragua

January 11

Castro makes the following statement in a speech in Nicaragua:  “In our country we have a military base against the will of our people.  It has been there throughout the twenty-six years of the revolution, and it is being occupied by force.” 3 4

Reagan Affirms Purpose of GTMO


In an interview with Soviet journalists, US President Ronald Reagan affirms that the purpose of the Guantanamo Naval Base is political to impose the US presence, even if the Cubans don’t want it. 3 4

TV Marti Launches


March 27
US launches TV Martí, US funded anti-Castro broadcast aimed at Cuba.

President Fidel Castro announces Cuba had entered a “Special Period” with reduced levels of import from the Soviet Union due to it’s economic collapse.

UN General Assembly Passes Embargo Resolution

August 19
The United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution condemning the ongoing impact of the US embargo and declaring it in violation of the Charter of the UN and international law. This resolution is passed annually.

GTMO Converted to Prison

November 15
Guantanamo Naval Base starts to be used as a prison.

Cuba OKs Private Investments in State Enterprises

October 30
Cuba opens state enterprises to private investment.

Cuba Shoots Down U.S. Civilian Planes

February 24
Cuban fighter jets shoot down 2 Cessna aircraft flown by Cuban-Americans dropping anti-Castro leaflets.

US Implements Permanent Embargo

March 12
US Trade embargo made permanent in response to the downing of the planes.

Pope John Paul II visits Cuba

January 24
Pope John Paul II meets Fidel Castro and spends five days visiting Cuba. Celebrates Mass on Revolution Square in Havana.

5-year-old Boy Found Afloat

November 25
Five-year-old Cuban Elian Gonzalez found afloat in Straits of Florida.  After negotiations, the boy is returned to his father in Cuba.

Putin Visits Cuba

Vladimir Putin visits Cuba
©Wikimedia Commons Kremlin.ru / CC-BY-SA-4.0

December 14
Russian president Vladimir Putin visits Cuba and signs accords.

US to House Prisoners

January 8

Cuba learns the US will use Guantanamo Bay to house prisoners.

January 11
First detainees from Afghanistan and Pakistan arrive at Guantanamo detention facility. 11

January 16

©Wikimedia Commons User:Magnus Manske / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, states that the captives at GTMO are prisoners of war entitled to rights under the Geneva Convention.

At the United Nations Assembly, Castro demands that the Guantanamo territory be returned to Cuba.

Bush administration says that GTMO detainees have no rights under the US Constitution or in the US justice system.

Carter Visits Cuba

May 20
Former President Jimmy Carter visits Cuba on a goodwill mission, criticizes the embargo.

"Black Spring" Crackdown

March 18
Cuba cracks down on anti-Castro dissidents.


Number of detainees at GTMO reaches about 680.

Bush Tightens Cuba Travel Restrictions

February 26
United States sanctions restrict US-Cuba family visits and cash remittances from expatriates.

Cuba’s Human Rights Record Censured

April 15
The United Nations Human Rights Commission passed a motion censuring Cuba for human rights abuses.

5 British Citizens Held at GTMO

March 12

An article in the NY Times reveals that 5 British citizens who were held at GTMO were beaten and tortured.  They were released to the British and never charged by the British. 5

Supreme Court Affirms Detainees’ Right to Use Courts

June 30
United States Supreme Court rules foreign nationals at Guantanamo detention facility have the right to legal consul.

Castro Hands over Power to Undergo Surgery

May 15
Following a Freedom of Information lawsuit by the Associated Press, the Pentagon releases a detailed list of GTMO detainees.6

June 29
In a 5-3 ruling, the US Supreme Court places limits on the government’s ability to try detainees.7

July 31
Raul Castro assumes duties of president of Cuba while Fidel Castro recovers from surgery.

Fidel Castro Resigns

February 24
Fidel Castro resigns as President of Cuba.

photograph by Roosewelt Pinheiro/ABr, distributed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil.

Raul Castro is elected president by the National Assembly.

Cuba Lifts Restrictions On Personal Cellphones

March 29

Bans on private ownership of mobile phones and computers lifted.

Court Rules Detainees Have Constitutional Right

June 12

US Supreme Court says that detainees have the right to go before a federal judge to challenge their indefinite imprisonment. 12

EU Agrees to Lift Sanctions on Cuba

June 19
European Union lifts diplomatic sanction imposed on Cuba in 2003 over crackdown of dissidents.

Executive Order Signed to Close GTMO

January 22
US President Barack Obama issues an order to close the Guantanamo prison. United States Senate votes to keep the prison at Guantanamo open.

OAS lifts 47-year suspension of Cuba

June 3
Organization of American States votes to lift ban on Cuban membership imposed in 1962.

Bill Limits Trying Detainees

Congress passes a defense policy bill which limits the administration from trying detainees in a civilian court.

US Eases Cuban Travel Restrictions

January 14
US President Barack Obama relaxes restrictions on travel to Cuba.

Cuba Passes Law Allowing Private Home Sales

November 3
Cuba passes law allowing individuals to buy and sell private property for the first time in 50 years.

Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture

Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.  Conclusion:  Torturing prisoners does not provide reputable intelligence or gain cooperation from detainees, but it does damage the international standing of the US.

NA Reelects Raul Castro

February 24
The National Assembly reelects Raul Castro as president.

Cuba Agrees to Talks with EU

March 16

Cuba accepts European invitation to begin talks on improving relations and boosting economic ties.

US Reestablishes Diplomatic Relations

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) Public Domain

July 1
US President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro re-establish diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Cuba Sends Medical Relief to West Africa

October 11
Cuba sends more medical professionals than any other country to assist with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

US Eases Travel and Business Restrictions

January 15
United States eases trade and travel restrictions with Cuba allowing airlines to fly scheduled routes to Cuba, travelers to return with Cuban goods, etal.

Cuba Establishes Banking Ties in US

May 19
Cuba diplomats gain access to banking services in the US.

US and Cuban Reopen Embassies

July 1
US and Cuba reopen embassies and exchange charges d’affaires for first time in 54 years.

US President Visits Cuba

March 27
President Barack Obama makes a historic three-day visit to Cuba, the first US president to visit Cuba in 88 years.

Castro Dies

November 25
Cuban revolutionary and politician, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz. dies.

Additional Detainees Transferred

Additional detainees at GTMO are transferred abroad. As of January 2017, about 40 detainees remain at GTMO.

SC Senator Introduces Free Travel Act

January 6
South Carolina Senator Mark Sanford introduces The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017 (H.R. 351).10

End of “Wet foot, Dry foot” policy

January 12
President Barack Obama ends the Cuba “Wet foot, Dry foot” policy that allowed any Cuban who makes it to US soil to stay and become a legal resident. The policy dates from 1995 under US President Bill Clinton. 8

Not Closing GITMO

January 17
US President Donald Trump says he will not close Guantanamo Detention Center. 9


  1. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/dip_cuba001.asp
  2. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-12159943
  3. http://www.historyofcuba.com/history/funfacts/guantan.htm
  4. http://gtmoproject.umn.edu/slide15.php
  5. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/12/world/ex-guantanamo-detainee-charges-beating.html?mcubz=0
  6. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/15/AR2006051500905_pf.html
  7. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/29/washington/29cnd-scotus.html?mcubz=0
  8. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/12/statement-president-cuban-immigration-policy
  9. http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/01/17/white-house-concedes-it-wont-close-guantanamo-after-all/
  10. https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/351
  11. https://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ho/pubs/fs/33354.htm
  12. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/09/world/guantanamo-bay-naval-station-fast-facts/index.html