The U.S.-Cuba relationship has been plagued by distrust and antagonism since 1959, when Fidel Castro and a group of revolutionaries seized power in Havana. During the half century that followed, successive U.S. administrations pursued policies intended to isolate the island country economically and diplomatically.
During the 2008 U.S. election, presidential candidate Barack Obama said that it was time for the United States to “pursue direct diplomacy” with Cuba. Meanwhile, Raul Castro began in 2009 to liberalize parts of Cuba’s largely state-controlled economy. Obama and Castro surprised the world by taking some extraordinary steps to normalize bilateral relations, meeting with each other, restoring full diplomatic ties, and easing travel restrictions.
President Donald J. Trump has reversed some actions taken by the Obama administration, including reinstating some restriction on travel and trade, pulling more than half of its embassy staff from Havana. He raised the prospect that the United States might move to further roll back ties.
There is widespread support for normalization in both the United States and Cuba.
Recent polling has found that the majority of Americans also favor ending the trade embargo with Cuba. Meanwhile, global support for normalization has been overwhelming, particularly in Latin America. In 2016, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution condemning the U.S. embargo for the twenty-fifth consecutive year, with 191 member countries backing the resolution.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations, Claire Felter, Danielle Renwick, September 29, 2017. Photo: Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters