from the very heart of the American continent, from
the Orinoco-Amazonas region, arrived the first inhabitants of the
island. They called themselves Tainan and were more developed than
the other two aborigines settlements: Guanahatabeyes and Siboneyes.
Tainans were harvest people and hunters, their population was over
100 000 inhabitants.
On October 27,1492 Admiral Christopher Columbus commanding three
caravels; La Niña, La Pinta y La Santamaria, landed at
the eastern Bay of Bariay. By the end of 1510 the conquering expedition
led by Diego Velazquez arrived and founded, in that very year,
the villa of "Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion"
The towns of San Salvador de Bayamo, Puerto Principe y Santiago
de Cuba were founded in 1514. On the way towards the west of the
archipelago new towns were established; La Santisima Trinidad,
Sancti Spiritus and San Cristobal de La Habana, which was first
built south of the current location and moved North in 1519, next
to the Bay of Carenas (later called Bay of La Habana). Search
and extraction of gold and other valuable minerals began from
the early years of the conquest. Hard labour and diseases exhausted
the indigenous population almost to extinction. Lines like tobacco
and cattle raising boomed and due to the incorporation of sugar
(16th Century) and coffee (on 1748) the slave trade began. The
island's soil, virgin and fertile, granted a quick production
growth to the Spaniards.
In August 1762 La Habana was seized by British troops who controlled
the city for 11 months. This increased the freedom of commerce
and doubled the amount of slaves in the western region. By the
end of the 16th century Cuba became the leading producer of sugar
cane in the world. In 1868 at the "La Demajagua" sugar
mill, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes set his slaves free and summoned
them to rise in arms against colonizers. From that day on the
country suffered the "Ten Year War", which ended by
the "Pacto del Zanjon". Jose Marti founded the Cuban
Revolutionary Party in 1892. War recommenced on February 24, 1895.
The Mambi Army marched in victory from one end of the island to
the other, defeating a Spanish Army of more than 200 000 men.
As a National Hero and martyr of the struggles for independence,
Jose Marti fell in combat at Dos Rios on May 19, 1895. Lt. General
of the mambi army, Antonio Maceo then carried out the invasion
from East to West. Using the explosion of the frigate "Maine"
off the coast of Havana as a basic excuse, the United States declared
war on Spain in 1898 defeating a weakened army shortly after.
The Republic was established on May 20, 1902 but the intermeddling
Platt Amendment soon restrained it. Julio Antonio Mella, leader
of the university students, founded the Communist Party of Cuba
in 1925. "Revolution of the 30's" was the name given
by the people to the struggle against Machado's dictatorship.
The assault on the Moncada garrison was carried out on July 26th,
1953 in Santiago de Cuba by a group of young men led by Fidel
Castro. Despite its failure, this action motivated the National
liberation movement. On December 2nd, 1956, 82 expeditionary men
arrived from Mexico aboard the Granma yacht and landed at the
southeast area of the country. At the head of this expedition
was Fidel Castro, other members were Ernesto Che Guevara, Camilo
Cienfuegos and Fidel's brother, Raul Castro. They went on towards
the Sierra Maestra Mountains creating along the way the Rebel
Army. During the years of 1956, '57 and '58 innumerable revolutionary
blows in different regions and cities of the island began to weaken
On January 1st 1959, President Fulgencio Batista flew to Santo
Domingo with his family abandoning Cuba, with him were 40 million
dollars stolen from the public treasury prior to his departure.
The Rebel Army troops commanded by Fidel Castro arrived victoriously
in Havana on January 8th, 1959. The First Law of Agrarian Reform
was promulgated on May 17th, 1959 returning land to the farmers.
On October 28th, Commander Camilo Cienfuegos plane disappeared
during flight from Camaguey to La Habana. The first Soviet ship
loaded with oil arrived in April 1960 to Havana's harbour. Begging
on July 5th, the United States imposed the current economical
and commercial embargo on the island. At a public meeting on April
16th, 1961 the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro proclaimed the
Socialist nature of the Cuban revolution. National Campaigns against
Illiteracy were successfully carried out during 1961. Mercenary
troops trained by the United States landed at the Bay of Pigs
on April 17th, 1961 with the purpose of overthrowing the ruling
Revolution. Three days later the invasion was overthrown.
Cuba was expelled from the OAS in 1962. The so-called October
Crisis happened in October 1962 as a consequence of the Soviet
nuclear weapons on the island, this has been touted as the closest
that humanity has come to a nuclear war. Commander Ernesto Che
Guevara was murdered by CIA agents at Valle Grande, Bolivia in
1967. In 1972 Cuba was accepted as a member of the economic community
of the Socialist countries, known as CAME, which enabled development
and trade. In a disordered manner, thousands of Cubans seeking
political asylum entered the Embassy of Peru in Havana in 1980.
Fidel Castro's government opened the Port of Mariel, in northwest
Havana, for all those who wanted to migrate legally towards the
United States. In 1982 UNESCO declared Old Havana as a site Patrimony
Between 1975 and 1984 almost half a million Cuban combatants
took part in the war of Angola fulfilling an agreement signed
by both countries. Cuban troops retreated in 1984. The UN Human
Rights Commission presented on 1987 a resolution condemning Cuba
for violating human rights. The disaster of the Socialist countries
of Eastern Europe influenced the island's economy, creating an
economic crisis. The UN approved a resolution that condemned the
economic embargo by the United States against Cuba in 1992. Decree-law
140 issued by the State's Council in 1993 authorized the use of
the USD throughout Cuba. In August 1994 a mass exodus began by
"boat-people" on rafts: thousands of people left the
island aboard homemade rafts encouraged by the United States immigration
policy and guaranteed asylum to any Cuban Citizen arriving in
US territorial waters. In that same year, Cuba was not allowed
to attend the Caribbean Summit held in Miami.
In 1995 small private businesses were allowed in sectors such
as Private restaurants, Taxis, etc. The European Community approved
on that year a 19,5 million dollars program to finance public
health. President William Clinton undersigned in 1996 the Helms-Burton
Law, which effectively strengthened the blockade against Cuba,
essentially meddling in the country's internal and external affairs.
Months later the Cuban Parliament issued the Law 80 declaring
"illegal" the Helms-Burton Law and defending the rights
of Cuban people to choose their own destiny. In January 1998,
Pope John Paul was officially invited to visit the island for
five days he was met by the highest representatives of the government
and heads of Churches. The Elian Gonzalez kidnap case by Miami
relatives is the latest move designed to undermine the Cuban people.