The Cuban Missile Crisis, rooted in the Cold War, began during 1959 after Fidel Castro overthrew the government and seized control of Havana. As a result, Castro began increasing trade with Russia, hiking taxes, and nationalizing US properties. By 1961, the United States severed all ties with Cuba, while attempting a failed coup. In 1962, after learning that Castro had allowed a secret project with Russia that involved building a missile base on the island, the US launched a 14-day standoff with Cuba, known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Some 50 years later, President Barack Obama and Raul Castro would share an awkward dance that would herald a new era for both countries. Here’s a breakdown of how the US-Cuban relations developed and how both countries felt about the newly-formed alliance.
The Cuban Development
Of course all was not forgiven in a single day, instead it took almost a year and a half to come to fruition once the initial statement was released. On December 17, 2014, President Obama and President Castro simultaneously announced the pursuit of new relations between the countries.
From that point on, many changes were made to rebuild the US and Cuban relationship, including revoking Cuba’s status as a State Sponsor on Terrorism, the re-opening of the US Embassy in Havana, and the first bilateral Law Enforcement Dialogue.
The Future of Cuba and America
Under President Obama, Cubans were hopeful that they could share the prosperity that America has to offer through imports, exports, tourism, and potential jobs offered by one of the largest countries in the world. Obama was determined to rebuild the relationship with both the Cuban government and its people by re-establishing diplomacy.
He hoped to rebuild that trust through solving common problems including US national interests, migration, counter-narcotics, environmental protection, human trafficking and many more. Obama aimed to empower the Cuban people, support civil liberties, allow better access to information, and build people-to-people relations. Looking to boost the economy through tourism, Obama worked to facilitate up to 110 commercial round-trip flights per day, opening up opportunity for travelers, businesses, private trainers, and even small farmers to help Cuba.
Now that the U.S. and Cuba are on speaking terms again, what do the people of America and Cuba think of the new working relationship? An early poll done by Pew Research in December 2014, found that nearly 63% of the US population supported rebuilding ties with Cuba. Even more people were ready to see the wonders of Cuba, with 74% of supporters ready to end the travel ban.
Cubans also feel it’s time to re-establish ties with the United States and in 2015, 97% of Cubans said they are in favor of rebuilding the relationship between the United States and Cuba. As Cubans continue to grapple with the idea of a brighter future, 73% of them are optimistic that their lives will improve as relations with the US continue to grow.
The Cuban Legacy will certainly be one of Obama’s highest achievements, demonstrating that he not only was able to curb a 50 year rivalry, but was also able to win over the Cuban government and the Cuban people during the process. With Americans excited to resume relations, build a better economy, and visit a place lost in time, only time will tell how the new ties will turn out; but for now, the future is bright.