The political history of Cuba, just like any previously colonised nation, has experienced its fair share of ups and downs, all of which have been well documented right up to the 21st Century. Cuba was originally spotted by Christopher Columbus in 1492, but it was Spain who was to declare control of this Caribbean island in 1514.
The native Cuban’s and their colonisers lived fairly co-operatively for the next couple of hundred years, with the next significant turning point in Cuba’s political history occurring during the African Slave Trade when Britain conquered the capital of Havana as part of the Seven Years’ War, and within a year had introduced thousands of slaves onto the island.
Spain’s restrictive trade laws meant that for many years, Cuba was unable to compete with international trade. But in the 19th Century, these laws were removed making it possible for Cuba to trade their best commodity, sugar, outside of the Caribbean. However, having relied on slaves to work on their sugar plantations, when the slave trade was abolished in Cuba in the 1820, Cuba’s economy suffered significantly due to the new expense of labour.
The 1800s was also the century of more positive movements such as independence and reform. Cuba focused on abolishing the slave trade which they found repugnant, as well as becoming annexed with the United States of America. Towards the end of the 19th Century, after experiencing 3 small liberation wars, Cuba finally became free from Spanish control in 1898 as a result of the Spanish-American war. Immediately after their freedom, Cuba was governed by America until 1902 when control was given back to a Cuban government.
With the help of capitalist leader, Fulgencio Batista, Cuba experienced significant economic growth throughout the early to mid-20th Century. However, when Batista had to flee Cuba due to political pressure in 1959, his political adversary Fidel Castro took over. Castro implemented his revolutionary communist authority straight away by making labour unions and moderates illegal, and Cuba remains a communist power to this day. Cuba’s political relationship with America ended in the early 1960s due to the Cuban missile crisis, where Cuba agreed to secretly hide 2 Soviet Union missiles. This resulted in America making any trade, travel or financial arrangements between Cuba and America illegal, a situation which remains the same despite President Obama’s recent talk of slackening these laws.
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