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Cuba-US Relations

The United States and Cuba had severed diplomatic ties in 1961 during the Cold War era. Relations were restored on 20th July 2015. US embassy in Cuba is in the Cuban capital of Havana and the Cuban embassy is in Washington, D.C. 

The US still maintains its economic, financial and commercial embargo making it unlawful for American firms to engage in trade with Cuba. Even though the then US President Barack Obama had stated his intentions of ending the embargo, US law makes it mandatory to have the approval of Congress to terminate the embargo.

Latest Context on Cuba-US Relations –

Recently, the USA State Department has designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism for repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists.

This is an important topic for candidates preparing for the upcoming IAS Exam. Questions based on the same may be asked in the Mains examination. 

Test your IAS Exam preparation now with the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers!

Also, refer to the following links to excel in the upcoming examination:

US-Cuba Relations – A Brief Background

  • Cuba–United States relations are bilateral relations between the Republic of Cuba and the United States of America
  • As per the Treaty of Paris, Cuba had become a U.S. protectorate from 1898–1902, which persisted even after independence
  • After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the US-Cuba relations had further deteriorated
  • Fidel Castro had established a revolutionary socialist state in Cuba after his successful revolt against President Fulgencio Batista. Castro had nationalized all foreign assets in Cuba, taxes on US imported were hiked and trade deals with the Soviet Union were established
  • The 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and American efforts to stand up to Fidel Castro’s attempts to spread communism throughout Latin America and Africa are the main highlights of U.S. antagonism towards Cuba during the Cold War
  • Since then, the US-Cuba relations has faced many ups and downs
  • It was in 2008, that the US-Cuba relations had started to get better after many relaxations were provided by the Obama Government
  • In 2016, during the US diplomats’ visit to Havana, Cuba, a peculiar syndrome had affected the US people, which had soured the relationship between the two countries all over again. To know more about the Havana Syndrome, visit the linked article

Cuba designated as Safe Sponsor to Terrorism

The Castro regime has been accused by the government of the USA for:

  • Oppressing the people of Cuba.
  • Illegitimate interference in internal politics Venezuela.
  • Subversion of the USA justice.
  • Supporting international terrorism.

Provision for Sanction on Countries –

  • There are four categories in which the USA State Department can place any country as sanctioned:
    • A ban on defense exports and sales.
    • Restrictions on foreign assistance by the USA.
    • Sanctions can also be placed on countries and persons that engage in certain trade with designated countries.
    • Certain controls over exports of dual use items.
  • Four countries including Cuba are Syria, Iran, and North Korea that remain on the blacklist.
    • Cuba was delisted in 2015 and has been blacklisted again.

UPSC aspirants can also refer to the following International relations to prepare for the upcoming Civil Services examination:

India – Pakistan Relations India – Afghanistan Relations
India-Thailand Relations India-Bhutan Relations
India-China Relations India-Maldives Relations 

How did the US-Cuba Relations Normalise?

  • After the former US President, Barck Obama took over the post, he had eased the restrictions on people to travel to Cuba for religious purposes, tranfer of money had been made easy, and people could travel to Cuba for educational purpose as well
  • In 2014, Obama and Raul Castro (the then President of Cuba), announced the restoration of full diplomatic ties between US and Cuba
  • The exchange of prisoners, intelligence officers and diplomats was also done as a part of these US-Cuba ties
  • More relaxations on trade, travel, communication, and finances were given by the Obama Government to the Cuban citizens
  • However, the Cuba-US relations took a downfall again after the Trump Government took over the responsibility and the ties had intensified

To know in detail about India-United States Relations, visit the linked article. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Cuba-US Relations


What was the Cuban Thaw?

Ans. The Cuban thaw was the warming of Cuba–United States relations that began in December 2014 ending a 54-year stretch of hostility between the nations.

Q 2. What is the present state of US-Cuba relations?

Ans. The US-Cuba relations during the Obama Government had reduced manifolds and multiple relaxations were provided to the Cuban and US citizens. However, after Donald Trump took over the position of the US President, complications had started back again.

Q 3. What role does ‎Guantánamo Bay play in the US-Cuba relations?

Ans. Guantánamo Bay is located in Cuba and the US had assumed territorial control over its southern portion under the 1903 Lease agreement. The US practises territorial control over the region, however, Cuba considers it illegal. This has been a cause of tension between the two for a long time.
Other Related Links
UPSC International Relations MCQs Important topics in International Relations GS 2
Booklist for International Relations UPSC Mains GS Paper II Important International Organisations
India Sri Lanka Relations India France Relations


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