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US, Cuba: 6 Events That Led to Recent Hostilities

By    |   Wednesday, 27 Jan 2016 02:52 PM

The long, complex relationship between the U.S. and Cuba dates back at least to 1898, when the U.S. declared war on Spain. The U.S. was victorious, and one result was that Spain ceded Cuba to the U.S. For the next 60-plus years, until Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, the U.S. and Cuba retained close ties.

The Cuba revolution, and the ensuing actions by the U.S. including the cessation of diplomatic ties and a total trade embargo as well as the Cuban Missile Crisis, are well-documented.

But during the past nearly 25 years, other events served to stoke tension between the governments, a tension that has now eased with President Barack Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic relationships and the decision to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

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Here are six events that flamed hostilities.

1. The U.S. tightened its embargo on Cuba in 1993 in reaction to the island nation introducing some market reforms, the BBC noted. Cuba’s economy was deteriorating after the dismantling of the Soviet Union. In response, Cuba legalized the U.S. dollar and turned many state farms into semi-autonomous co-ops. It also legalized limited private enterprise by individuals.

2. President Bill Clinton instituted the “wet-feet, dry-feet” policy in 1995, which basically said that Cuban refugees who fled on their own and were caught at sea would be returned to Cuba, while Cuban refugees who made it to the U.S. shore could stay, according to the Constitutional Rights Foundation.

3. Cuban fighter jets shot down two U.S. civilian aircraft in the international waters north of Havana in 1996, inflaming hostilities, CNN reported. The small planes were operated by “Brothers to the Rescue.”

4. Cuban minor Elian Gonzalez was rescued by a fisherman off the coast of Florida in 1999, PBS reported. Gonzalez survived after the boat he and his mother and stepfather used to flee Cuba capsized. The 5-year-old was released to an uncle in Miami and quickly became an object of a legal tug of war between the Miami relatives and Gonzalez’s father in Cuba.

Despite losing in court, the Miami relatives refused to turn the boy over, and the Clinton administration ultimately raided the house of the relatives to return Gonzalez to his father. It took another two months of court proceedings for the two to return to Cuba.

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5. Five Cubans were convicted in Miami and given long sentences for spying on exile groups for the Cuban government in 2001, The Washington Post reported. The case of the "Cuban Five" becomes rallying cry for the Havana government.

6. U.S. citizen Alan Gross was detained in Cuba and accused of attempting to destabilize the Cuban government in 2009, the International Business Times reported. Gross, who was working for a company contracted with USAID at the time, was bringing in communications equipment for Jewish communities in Cuba.

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The long, complex relationship between the U.S. and Cuba dates back at least to 1898, when the U.S. declared war on Spain. The U.S. was victorious, and one result was that Spain ceded Cuba to the U.S.
US, Cuba, events
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2016-52-27
Wednesday, 27 Jan 2016 02:52 PM
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