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U.S.-Cuba relations: Fifty tense years

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1959 Led by Fidel Castro, a small guerrilla army overthrows U.S.-supported dictator Fulgencio Batista, who himself had assumed power in previous coups.
1960 62,000 Cubans flee the country for the U.S. after Castro nationalizes foreign-owned companies. U.S. bans exports to Cuba, except for food and medicine. CIA begins assassination attempts on Castro, including a poisonous pen.
1961 U.S. severs diplomatic ties with Cuba; CIA organizes failed Bay of Pigs attack.
January 1962   Kennedy implements full economic embargo; food and medicine exempted until 1964.
October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis brings the U.S. and Soviet Union to brink of nuclear war after the Soviet Union stations nuclear missiles on the island. U.S. agrees not to invade Cuba and removes missiles from Turkey; Soviet Union withdraws its missiles from Cuba.
1965 "Freedom flights" begin, bringing 260,000 Cuban exiles to U.S.
1966 Cuban Adjustment Act grants all Cubans automatic residency after one year in U.S., forms basis of migration policy.
1980 Migration restrictions are temporarily lifted. About 125,000 people leave as part of Mariel boatlift.
1985 U.S. government establishes Radio Martí to broadcast propaganda to Cuba.
1991 Soviet Union collapses; without economic support, Cuba enters Special Period of hardship, austerity.
1994 U.S.-Cuba immigration pact establishes "wet foot/dry foot" policy, and guarantees that 20,000 refugees annually can enter the U.S.
1996 Cuba shoots down two U.S. aircraft operated by Miami-based Cuban exiles who had violated Havana airspace; President Bill Clinton signs Helms-Burton law, co-sponsored by N.C. Sen. Jesse Helms, plans for "free and independent Cuba."
1999 Five-year-old Eli´n Gonz´lez rescued off the Florida coast; his mother and 10 others had died when their raft capsized. Legal fight ensues to keep Gonz´lez in the U.S. with relatives.
June 2000 Under orders from U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, Gonz´lez is seized from the home of his Florida relatives and returned to his father in Cuba. Last-minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court fails.
October 2000 U.S. House of Representatives approves the sale of food and medicines to Cuba, for cash only.
2001 U.S. exports food to Cuba for the first time in nearly 40 years after a request from the Cuban government in the aftermath of Hurricane Michelle.
2006 An ailing Fidel Castro resigns, assigning power to his brother, Raúl Castro.
2009 President Barack Obama relaxes travel and remittance restrictions for Cuban-Americans, hints at possible dialogue with Cuba.

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