Cuba was a Spanish possession for four hundred years until sovereignty was relinquished in 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War. Cuba became an independent republic in 1901. In 1933 Fulgencio Batista Zladivar led a successful military revolution. He ruled the country for most of the period up to 1959. A revolutionary movement, led by Dr Fidel Castro from 26 July 1953, was eventually successful and Batista fled the country on 1 Jan. 1959. Under Castro, Cuba’s relationship with the USA deteriorated while relations with the USSR became closer. In Jan. 1961 the USA severed diplomatic relations after US business interests in Cuba had been expropriated without compensation. On 17 April an invasion force of émigrés and adventurers, encouraged by the USA, landed in Cuba but was defeated at the Bay of Pigs. At the end of 1961 Castro declared Cuba to be a Communist state. The US Navy imposed a blockade on Cuba from 22 Oct. until 22 Nov. 1962 to force the USSR to withdraw Soviet missile bases. Cuba continued to receive financial aid and technical advice from the USSR until the early 1990s when subsidies were suspended. This led to a 40% drop in GDP between 1989 and 1993. The USA has maintained an economic embargo against the island and relations between Cuba and the USA have remained embittered.
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