Due to the recent rash of Anti-Cuban articles by Tabloids posing as newsmedia, I have felt compelled to post this humble Chronology of Facts. The following words by Jorge Benitez Sagol (Author of Dear Uncle Sam) best reflect how us, as Cuban Americans really feel. Please, read on.
The history of the Cuban people changed dramatically on Saturday, April 22, 2000. On that fateful day in Miami, the government of the United States of America, the wealthiest and most powerful country on Earth, accomplished what 41 years of Cuban dictatorship could not, it taught us, the Cuban American exile community, to stand up for ourselves. Whatever illusions we held about our relationship to this country were shattered in a few minutes; and at that moment, an entire generation, raised or even born in exile, realized the futility of assimilation and became fully Cuban and Latin American. The kidnapping of Elián González by agents of the Naturalization and Immigration Service goes beyond a simple and superficial act of collaboration between an unprincipled American president and a fascist regime. In fact, no conspiracy theory can explain the profound hatred which numerous American politicians, intellectuals and journalists have expressed toward Cuban Americans over the past weeks. It would require a book to fully analyze such anti-Cuban sentiments.-
U.S. - Cuban Relations
October 27, 1492 - Christopher Columbus discovers Cuba and claims the island for Spain.
October 10, 1868 - Cuba's First War of Independence, known as The Ten Years War, begins when plantation owner Carlos Manuel de Cespedes frees and arms his slaves and, accompanied by 37 other planters, proclaims the independence of Cuba. Two days later the group is joined by the brothers Antonio and Jose Maceo (both African Cuban), and some Dominican exiles including Maximo Gomez who help train the insugents.
April 10, 1869 - As the rebels continue their fighting against Spain, they call a Constituent Assembly in Guaimaro where they prepare the first Constitution of the Republic of Cuba and elect Carlos Manuel Cespedes as their first president. September 26, 1872 - Colombian Foreign Minister Don Gil Columje proposes a plan to achieve Cuban independence and the abolition of slavery. The plan, which would be carried out under the leadership of the United States, calls for the reimbursement to Spain for the loss of its colony with money raised from the other Latin American Republics. The Latin American governments agree but U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant does not accept the proposal.
March 22, 1873 - Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, president of the Republic in rebellion against Spain, asks the United States to support Colombia's plan. The U.S. government withholds its support and does not offer its cooperation when the plan is revitalized the following year.
November 1875 - As domestic pressure grows, U.S. Secretary of State Hamilton Fish proposes that the European countries pressure Spain to end the fighting in Cuba.
February 8, 1878 - A peace agreement is proposed by Spanish General Arsenio Martinez Campos which is accepted by the majority of the House of Representatives, the official body of the Spanish ruled Republic of Cuba in Arms.
February 10, 1878 - The Zanjon Pact formalizes the agreement and is signed against the opposition of rebel leaders, including General Antonio Maceo, because it neither provides independence nor abolishes slavery.
March 15, 1878 - General Maceo and General Martinez meet at Mangos de Baragua where Maceo explains the rebels opposition to the Treaty. This meeting becomes known as the Protest of Baragua.
March 23, 1878 - After an eight-day truce between General Maceo and General Martinez, fighting resumes.
May 1878 - The remaining rebel forces surrender marking the official end to The Ten Years War.
October 7, 1886 - Slavery is abolished in Cuba by Royal Decree because economic conditions make it more profitable to free the slaves and hire them for work by day, thus avoiding the expense of year round support.
1892 - Jose Marti, a Cuban writer, in exile for his support of Cuban independence, spends two years organizing Cubans, both inside and outside the island, to work for Cuba's independence through his newly formed Cuban Revolutionary Party.
January 1895 - By the beginning of the year U.S. Investments in Cuba have mushromed to well over $ 50 million. This fact alone will play a pivotal role in the decission making process in Washington for many years to come.
February 24, 1895 - The Cuban Revolutionary Party declares the beginning of The Second War of Cuban Independence.
March 31, 1895 - Antonio and Jose Maceo land in eastern Cuba from Santo Domingo.
April 11, 1895 - Jose Marti and Maximo Gomez land in eastern Cuba from Costa Rica.
May 19, 1895 - Jose Marti is killed in battle at Dos Rios in eastern Cuba.
July 5, 1896 - Jose Maceo is killed at the battle of Loma del Gato.
December 7, 1896 - Antonio Maceo (The Bronze Titan) is killed at the battle of Punta Brava in western Cuba.
November 1897 - Spain's queen regent offers autonomy to Cuba, but the offer is rejected by both the insurgents and the Cuban loyalists. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt urges President William McKinley to intervene.
December 1897 - As the insurgents are close to achieving success, President McKinley refuses to recognize Cuban independence.
January 1898 - After several violent pro-Spanish demonstrations have occurred in Havana, the United States citing increased "danger" to U.S. citizens living in Cuba, sends the battleship Maine on a "friendly" visit to Cuba.
February 15, 1898 - The battleship Maine blows up in Havana Harbor under mysterious circumstances, killing 260 officers and crew. The United States media led by "yellow journalist" William Randolph Hearst "blame" Spain and establish the cry "Remember the Maine."
April 10, 1898 - Spain, not wanting a conflict with the United States, orders a unilateral suspension of hostilities and sends a message to Washington stating that Cuba will be granted autonomy, the U.S. can indicate the terms of an armistice and the matter of the Maine will be submitted to arbitration.
April 11, 1898 - President McKinley sends a message to Congress asking for authority to intervene militarily in Cuba. The message states that , "The only hope of relief and repose from a condition that can no longer be endured is the enforced "pacification" of Cuba."
April 20, 1898 - Congress passes the "Teller Amendment" affirming that the United States has no "intentions to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over said Island except for the pacification thereof." Five days later the U.S. declares war on Spain and the Spanish American War begins.
August 12, 1898 - Spain and the United States sign an armistice agreement marking the end of the four month war.
December 10, 1898 - the United States and Spain sign the "Treaty of Paris" ending Spain's four centuries of domination over the Cuban people. Although not a single representative from the Cuban Insurgent side is present at the treaty signing, the treaty officially grants Cuba its "independence" and declares the country to be a "free" and "independent" nation.
January 1, 1899 - The United States installs a military government in Cuba under General John R. Brooke who becomes the first U.S. "military governor".
December 23, 1899 - General Leonard Wood, a veteran of the U.S. repressive campaigns against Native Americans, replaces General Brooke as "military governor".
November, 1900 - A Cuban constitutional convention is called and a constitution is drawn up modeled after the U.S. Constitution
March 2, 1901 - The U.S. Congress passes the Platt Amendment limiting the rights of Cuba to conduct its own foreign policy and granting the United States the right to intervene in Cuba for "the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberties." The Amendment also grants the United States the right to establish coaling and naval bases on Cuban territory which leads to a treaty signed on July 2, 1903 between the United States and Cuba permitting the establishment of a U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay.
March 1901 - The Platt Amendment is presented to the delegates of Cuba's constitutional convention who are angered by the terms of the Amendment stating that Cuba's long sought independence would be threatened by U.S. demands that would withhold Cuba's sovereignty. The protests and objections ultimately succumbed to Cuba's desire to end the U.S. military presence on the island and the delegates "conceded" to include the Platt Amendment as an appendix to Cuba's 1901 Constitution.
1901 Elections - General Leonard Wood "oversees" the democratic election for national offices in Cuba, however some classes of Cubans are excluded from voting. These are Cubans of African ancestry, women and those having a net worth of less than $250. Tomas Estrada Palma becomes Cuba's first "elected" president.
May 20, 1902 - President-elect Tomas Estrada Palma is sworn in as Cuba's first president and the three year U.S. military presence "ends".
May 23, 1902 - The Platt Amendment is incorporated into the "Permanent Treaty" signed by the United States and Cuba. (The Platt Amendment is abrogated in 1934 when Colonel Fulgencio Batista emerges as the strongman in control of Cuba's government)
From its earliest days of independence Cuba has been plagued with corrupt government leaders. Using the strength of military power and U.S. Interests backing, these men manipulate the democratic process to install themselves as presidents or to become the strongman behind a president.
1906 to 1917 - Cuba elects three presidents and during this same period on three separate occasions the United States, under the "provisions" of the Platt amendment, sent troops and ships to Cuba to "quell" internal uprisings led by groups attempting to overthrow the government accusing their leaders of corruption and ruthless practices.
1921 to 1932 - Cuba elects two new presidents. During these thirteen years insurrections continue led by various Cuban groups opposed to the ongoing corruption practices of government officials.
August 12, 1933 - With the country on the verge of revolution, Cuban president Machado, facing the threat of a general strike and defection of his military, resigns from office. With the approval of the United States a new president, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, is "appointed".
September 4 & 5, 1933 - The "Sergeant's Revolt," led by Sergeant Fulgencio Batista, overthrows the new Cuban president and a five man junta takes over power. The United States fearing the group has "communistic" ideas threatens military intervention and a new president is appointed on September 10. The U. S. does not officially recognize the new government.
January 15, 1934 - Batista, now a colonel, overthrows the president and within three days systematically appoints and replaces three presidents with the last one receiving U.S. approval.
May 29, 1934 - With Colonel Batista firmly in charge of the government, Cuba and the United States sign the "Treaty on Relations", which abrogates the "Permanent Treaty" of 1903 and the Platt Amendment. The new treaty continues to permit the United States to lease the site of their naval base at Guantanamo.
In 1936 Colonel Batista becomes General Batista and continues to function as the strongman behind the appointment or "election" of the next three Cuban presidents.
In 1940 General Batista is elected as Cuba's fourteenth president.
In 1943 President Batista legalizes the communist party which was formed in Cuba in 1925.
In 1944 President Batista's choice for succeeding him as president is defeated and Batista goes into self-imposed exile. During the next four years U.S. organized crime bosses gain a foothold in Cuba through gambling, drug trafficking, and prostitution. These businesses operate with impunity for over twelve years until their properties are nationalized by the Castro government in 1959.
In 1948 A new president is elected and Batista is elected to the Cuban Senate in a campaign that he runs from Florida.
March 1952 - Fidel Castro, a law school graduate in 1950, runs for Congress as a candidate of the Orthodox Party.
March 10, 1952 - Batista again runs for president however realizing that he will not win he stages a successful coup. Upon ascending to power he cancels the election, suspends the constitution and becomes Cuba's first dictator. Within days the Truman Administration officially recognizes his government and begins sending military and economic aid. Batista rules the government using force to suppress his opposition and is repeatedly accused of torturing and killing suspected rebels and their sympathizers. As Batista increases the use of force to maintain order and control, organized insurrections are becoming more frequent and revolutionary groups are popping up all over the country. In response Batista reportedly initiates bombing campaigns on suspected rebel strongholds killing men, women, and children.
July 26, 1953 - Fidel Castro, his brother Raul, and a group of revolutionaries attack the Moncada Army Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Seventy revolutionaries are killed and Fidel and Raul Castro are captured and imprisoned. The Catholic Church Hierarchy is advised of a plot by the Cuban government to poison Castro while he is in prison. Their intervention thwarts their plans.
October 16, 1953 - Fidel Castro, his brother Raul, and the other revolutionaries are brought to a secret trial where Castro states his defense as "History Will Absolve Me." During the trial the revolutionaries describe the type of society they would like to create, keep and capitalize. Known as the Moncada Program, acheiving this model society becomes the basic program and goal of the July 26 Movement and the Cuban Revolution.
May 15, 1955 - As public sentiment builds for the revolutionary movement, General Batista releases Fidel Castro and the revolutionaries who are exiled to Mexico where they begin to organize a return to Cuba to launch their revolution.
December 2, 1956 - Fidel Castro, his brother Raul, Ernesto Che Guevara and seventy-nine revolutionaries arrive in Oriente Province in eastern Cuba aboard the cabin cruiser "Granma." All but twelve of the guerrillas are killed in early fighting. Castro and the survivors join with other revolutionaries and establish a base in the Sierra Maestra Mountains.
March 13, 1957 - Cuban students attack the Presidential Palace in an attempt to assassinate General Batista.
July 15, 1957 - Earl T. Smith arrives in Cuba as the new U.S. Ambassador.
July 30, 1957 - U.S. Ambassador Smith, who has been supportive of the Batista regime, now calls the violence excessive after he observes Batista's police beat up women at the funeral of a slain revolutionary.
March 14, 1958 - General Batista continues his reign of torture and killing of suspected rebels and their sympathizers and his bombing raids on villages. The Eisenhower Administration under increasing pressure to withdraw their support from Batista, declares a Cuban arms embargo against the protest of Ambassador Smith.
November 1958 - In an effort to maintain government stability, Ambassador Smith suggests that a free election be held in Cuba in the hope that it would produce an alternative to both Castro and Batista. However Batista's candidate wins an election which Ambassador Smith "believes" to have been rigged.
December 9, 1958 - William D. Pawley, an emissary from the Eisenhower Administration, meets secretly with General Batista to try and persuade him to leave office and accept exile in Florida. The "emissary" proposes that the government be left in charge of a U.S. "approved" junta. Batista refuses the offer and three weeks later flees Cuba as revolutionary forces led by Fidel Castro take over the government.
January 1, 1959 - General Batista and some of his cohorts, board a plane and flee to the Dominican Republic.
January 2, 1959 - The rebels install Manuel Urrutia as President and Jose Miro Cardona as Prime Minister. The United States "recognizes" the new government, but soon begins planning its overthrow.
January 8, 1959 - Fidel Castro marches from the eastern provinces across Cuba into Havana and with this event begins the descent of Cuba and its people in to the darkest period of their History. Please, take notice that it "took" Castro eight days to arrive in Havana. He was suspicious of the fact that Batista had "unexpectedly" left the country when his forces were nowhere near defeat. Castro was not aware of the behind the scenes U.S. manipulation of the situation.
February 7, 1959 - The new Cuban government passes the new Fundamental Law of the Republic which modifies and reinstates the 1940 Constitution, suspended by General Batista after his coup in 1952.
February 13, 1959 - Prime Minister Miro Cardona "resigns" and Fidel Castro "ascends" to the office.
March 3, 1959 - The Cuban government nationalizes the Cuban Telephone Company, an affiliate of ITT. This is the first one of many more to come.
April 15, 1959 - Fidel Castro unofficially visits the United States and meets with Vice President Richard Nixon and UN officials. Upon his return Cuba adopts the first Agrarian Reform Law, putting a limit on private land holdings with the state expropriating the remainder. The government offers compensation to the former owners based on the property's current tax assessment rate which has not been adjusted in over 30 years.
July 16, 1959 - President Urrutia resigns and Osvaldo Dorticos Torrado becomes the country's 19th president since Cuba received its "independence" in 1898.
January 1960 - Cuba expropriates 70,000 acres of property owned by U.S. sugar companies which includes 35,000 acres of pasture and forest land owned by United Fruit, (now United Brands and Chiquita Brands). United Brands owns an additional 235,000 acres of land in Cuba and several hundred thousand acres in Guatemala. In 1954 the government of Guatemala threatened to expropriate all of United Fruit's land holdings in that country and in an effort to protect U.S. property interests, the United States orchestrated a successful effort to overthrow the Arbenz government.
January 29, 1960 - President Eisenhower seeks Congressional authority to cut off Cuba's sugar quota.
June 6, 1960 - Cuba requests the two US oil refineries, Texaco and Esso, and one British refinery, Shell, to process a shipment of Russian crude oil. The companies refuse and on June 28 Cuba orders the refineries nationalized.
July 5, 1960 - Cuba orders the nationalization of all US businesses and commercial properties in Cuba. July 6, 1960 - President Eisenhower, with the authorization of Congress, cancels Cuba's sugar quota.
August 6, 1960 - Cuba nationalizes all U.S. owned industrial and agrarian enterprises.
September 17, 1960 - Cuba nationalizes all US banks including First National City Bank of New York, First National Bank of Boston, and Chase Manhattan Bank.
September 18, 1960 - Fidel Castro flies to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly.
October 14, 1960 - Cuba's Urban Reform Law goes into effect nationalizing all commercially owned real estate and ending landlord ownership of housing for profit. The Castro government becomes the de-facto Landlord of all of Cuba since now tennants make payments to the government instead of the owners of the property where they reside.
October 19, 1960 - The Eisenhower Administration begins employing unilateral sanctions against Cuba by first imposing a partial embargo, which becomes a total embargo 16 months later under President John F. Kennedy.
October 24, 1960 - In response to the U.S. declaration on October 19 that it will impose an embargo, Cuba announces that it will nationalizes all remaining U.S. property on the island.
January 20, 1961 - John Fitzgerald Kennedy is inaugurated as the 35th President of The United States.
April 9, 1961 - A federal grand jury in Miami indicts Rolando Masferrer for an abortive invasion of Cuba on October 4, 1960. This alleged attack on Cuba is in violation of the Neutrality Act which forbids the launching of any military expedition from U.S. territory against any nation with which the United States is at peace. The Kennedy Administration is on record of opposing pro-Batista exiles like Masferrer while encouraging other anti-Castro groups. The New York Times reports that this indictment raises the question of whether the Neutrality Act may be selectively enforced.
April 16, 1961 - Prime Minister Castro, for the first time, defines the 1959 Cuban Revolution as socialist by saying that "...we have made a revolution, a socialist revolution, right here under the very nose of the United States."
April 17, 1961 - The CIA backed Bay of Pigs invasion commences with over 1200 Cuban exiles landing on the southwest shore of the island. After 72 hours of fighting the Cuban forces defeat the exiles, which had been promised by the Kennedy administration a supportive "massive" air campaign. The air campaign never materialized and the invading contingent was ovewhelmed by the sheer numbers of Castro's Army. This one sided battle results in 80 exiles being killed and 1122 being captured. Several of the captured exiles are accused of crimes of brutality while working for the Batista government, and were soon executed. The remaining exiles are imprisoned until most are released in December 1962. According to Castro's propaganda machinery, many of the exiles engaged in the fighting had owned property in Cuba prior to the 1959 Revolution. Based on Castro's own press releases, their "holdings" included 914,859 acres of land, 9,666 houses, 70 factories, 5 mines, 2 banks, and 10 sugar mills. It is easy to realize the way Castro manipulated the truth in order to justify what was yet to come. If these "counterrevolutionaries" were as wealthy as Castro portayed them to be, why didn't they "hire" a private army to do their dirty work for them?
December 2, 1961 - Prime Minister Castro states that "I am a Marxist-Leninist and I shall be a Marxist-Leninist to the end of my life."
February 7, 1962 - President Kennedy expands the Cuban embargo to a total embargo except for the non-subsidized sale of food and medicines.
March 23, 1962 - The US extends the trade embargo to include all imports of all goods made from Cuban materials or containing any Cuban materials, even if made in other countries.
October 22, 1962 - President Kennedy announces to the world that the Soviet Union has deployed nuclear missiles in Cuba. This incident brings the world to the brink of nuclear war. Five days later the Cuban Missile Crisis is resolved with the Soviet Union agreeing to remove it missiles from Cuba and the US agreeing not to invade Cuba and to remove US missiles from Turkey. However the incident results in cementing a relationship between the Soviet Union and Cuba that lasts nearly 30 years and injects over $100 billion of Soviet aid and loans into Cuba.
December 24, 1962 - The U.S. exchanges $53 million of medicines and baby food for 1113 exiles captured in the "Bay of Pigs" invasion. Several exiles remain imprisoned in Cuba until the last prisoner is released in 1986.
November 17, 1963 - Five days before he is assassinated President Kennedy has a meeting with the French journalist, Jean Daniel, who he asks to tell Fidel Castro that he is now ready to negotiate normal relations and drop the embargo. According to former Press Secretary Pierre Salinger, "If Kennedy had lived I am confident that he would have negotiated that agreement and dropped the embargo because he was upset with the way the Soviet Union was playing a strong role in Cuba and Latin America. Cuba would be a different country now and Castro would not be in power any more."
November 22, 1963 - President John F. Kennedy is assassinated and Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as the 36th President of The United States.
September 28, 1965 - Cuba announces that all Cubans who wish to leave the island for the United States can depart from the port of Camarioca. During the 8 year exodus over 200,000 Cubans come to the United States.
May 5, 1966 - The U.S. expands the embargo as Congress passes the Food For Peace Act which outlaws food shipments to any country that sells or ships strategic or non-strategic goods to Cuba except for certain circumstances in which the President may allow shipments of medical supplies and non-strategic goods.
November 2, 1966 - President Johnson signs into law the Cuban Adjustment Act which exempts Cubans from general U.S. migration laws. The Act permits any Cuban who has reached U.S. territory since January 1, 1959 to be eligible for permanent residency after residing in the United States for two years. This enables 123,000 Cubans to immediately apply for permanent resident status.
November 12, 1966 - President Johnson signs the Food For Peace Act but says that there are provisions in the Act that cause him concern especially the preclusion of food aid to countries that trade with Cuba and North Vietnam. He states that he opposes trade with either country but believes that the President should have the "flexibility to use food aid to further the full range of our important national objectives."
It is easy to see why Cuban Americans in the U.S. are so bitterly opposed to having the U.S. government "negotiate" with Castro and his thugs. Every previous instance in which the U.S. have gotten involved in our internal affairs, the only beneficiaries have always been the governments and U.S. Big Business Interests.
The Cuban people have always come out of these "negotiations" holding the short end of the stick. It has made absolutely no difference in the past whether the U.S. Government has been in the hands of the Democrats or the Republicans, we have always been treated like "second class citizens" in our own Country by our corrupt "leaders", the U.S. Corporations that have supported and dealt with them while "profiting" from their mutual "cooperation" at our expense and also by the U.S. government actions, past and present.
I am neither a leftish bleeding heart democrat demagogue nor a rabid, reactionary right wing republican; I am and have always been an independent thinker and as such I vote accordingly. I can see fault where there has been fault in the past, I can see fault in the present and I hope I will still be able to do so in the future.
Big Business Interests in the island have exploited and helped Cuba's "rulers" oppress us in the past with the help of Uncle Sam's "foreign policy". Once again they are up to their same old tricks. Once again, Cuban History is repeating itself. Now Big Business is "brown nosing" Castro and his thugs, as they stand to reap the benefits of slave labor in Cuba, it's exactly the same thing they have been doing in China. It's about time someone stood up and told the truth. It's about time the American Nation is made aware of the shenanigans American Big Money with the aid of their government are perpetrating abroad. Big Business and its "policies" abroad are hurting rather than benefiting the American people, it is causing the oppressed peoples overseas to erroneously despise & hate Americans and everything that America stands for.
We Cubans are being portrayed as "criminals" by both Castro & the "yellow" U.S. press. We should not be surprised by this fact since both Castro and Big Business stand to profit from the suffering of the Cuban people.
As long as Big Business is making money abroad, they will stop at nothing, even if it means helping dictators to stay in power while the American "press" will report what is told to broadcast and or print. They never had nor will they ever care about the sufering their greed is causing our people. The only thing they are concerned with is the almighty dollar, period.
All that we Cubans, as well as the rest of Latin Americans and Haitians desire is to be treated with decency, dignity and honesty, nothing more. Are we asking too much? I would think not.
In closing I wish to clear the air about another erroneous assumption by many Americans; many of you have asked why is it that we Cubans "fly" Castro's Flag; in answer to that I must say that first and foremost this is the Cuban Flag, it was created back in 1849, it is not Castro's Flag, never was and it never will be "his" Flag. We fly it with pride to honor the brave Cuban patriots who fought against the Spaniards and have been ignored for so long. It was the Mambi Fighter, who by a war of attrition forced the Spaniards to leave Cuba; the Maine "shenanigan" was an excuse the U.S. used to "acquire" Cuba as their possession and exploit its natural resources as well as its people. We Fly the Cuban Flag in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle for the Freedom of Cuba. Castro and his thugs have never had any respect for the Cuban Flag and what it means to the noble Cuban people, they do not care.
In the end, Cuba and the Cuban people will achieve the dreams of Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo, Calixto Garcia, Maximo Gomez, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes and countless others who followed in their footsteps to Martyrdom: "A Free Cuba for the Cubans". FREE from the "foreign" interventionists whose only interests are to exploit Cuba's citizens and its resources.
A Cuba for the Cubans, not for repressive tyrants that will betray their fellow men in order to further their perverse goals and that of their native as well as foreign cohorts. Thank you for your time.-