Spain also agreed to give up all claims whatsoever over Cuba, and on May 20, 1902, Cuba gained its formal independence from the United States; it would consequently be known as the Republic of Cuba.
From then until 1940, Cuba experienced armed revolt, political and social corruption, country-wide strikes, the rise of the Communist Party, military sieges, assorted coups; and the rich got richer and the poor got poorer.
Then in the democratic elections of 1940, Fulgencio Batista was elected President of Cuba, and under his administration major social reforms were implemented.
A few more presidents followed, and then during the contentious elections of 1952, Batista staged a coup, and he held on to power with the support of the army as a provisional president.
In 1954, although the elections were open, it was widely believed that Batista rigged the results in his favor. Under his leadership, because of economic regulations, the number of unemployed grew and jobs were now hard to find.
Near the end of the century the U.S. still owned nearly half of the Cuban sugar lands – almost all the cattle ranches – 90 percent of the mines and mineral concessions – 80 percent of the utilities, and practically all the oil industry.
And then came the 1959 revolution, where Fidel Castro led a rebel army to victory. Batista quickly fled from Havana into exile in Portugal, and Fidel and his band of rebels took control. In short, the U.S. now owned nothing in Cuba. Nothing!
Because of terrible living conditions, countless thousands of Cubans left of the United States in 1961, and during that year the "Bay of Pigs" invasion, an attempt by the U.S. government to overthrow Castro failed miserably.
The Soviets (Russians) as it turned out had secretly shipped missiles into Cuba, and once discovered by the Americans during the administration of JFK, the Cuban Missile Crisis was on the front burner of the Kennedy administration and nuclear war seemed possible.
Fortunately for all of us, the Soviets and American's reached an agreement; Russia removed its missiles from Cuba and the Americans removed theirs from positions in the Middle East.
Regardless, Cuba's Communist revolution, with continuing Soviet support, was exported throughout Latin America and Africa during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s
In the early 1960s the U.S. imposed a complete diplomatic and commercial embargo on Cuba, and by the beginning of the 1970s, the standard of living in Cuba was horrendous and country-wide discontent was rising. Fidel Castro soon began some short-lived economic reforms.
The country is now slowly recovering from a severe economic downturn that began in 1990, following the withdrawal of former Russian subsidies, worth an estimated $4 billion to $6 billion annually.
On Monday, February 18, 2008, Castro announced he was finally stepping down as President, and the future of Cuba now remains uncertain. On the positive side, international tourism is increasing, and Cuba's future could be very bright indeed. We, at least, hope so.
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