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Here’s How Cuba’s Tumultuous History Forced A Cuban Diaspora That Changed The World

Cuba Getty Images | Minube

One of the most complicated histories of any Latin American country has to be that of Cuba. From its colonization to its decades-long dictator, Cuba has endured a painful and passionate battle with leadership. The people of Cuba, however, have been and remain the adoring champion of their country, regardless of who was at the helm. Here’s a look back at how the Cuba we know now came to be.

The colonization of Cuba by Christopher Columbus.

CREDIT: Instagram/#ChristopherColumbus

The Ciboney are the first people to inhabit the island of Cuba, and they are part of the indigenous group named Taíno from the Caribbean. In 1492 Christopher Columbus arrived in Cuba and claimed the island for Spain. In 2014, a DNA study conducted on the people living in Cuba showed that their genetic ancestry is made up of 72 percent European, 20 percent African and 8 percent Native American.


The Spanish conquest of Cuba follows.

CREDIT: Unsplash

Now that Spain has taken over Cuba, in 1510 the Spanish conquest begins under the leadership of Diego de Velazquez, who establishes Baracoa and other settlements.

The first African slaves arrive in Cuba in the 1520s.

CREDIT: Unsplash

Between 1526-1527, more than 600,000 Africans were forcibly taken to Cuba and thousands of them did not survive the journey over the Atlantic. According to Traces of the Trade, between the 1780s and the 1860s, the slave population increased from 39,000 to 400,000. The primary source of labor for the slaves was sugarcane and coffee crops.

British interference.

CREDIT: Unsplash

In 1763, a British force took hold of the Havana port and for a ten-month period brought in thousands of more slaves that would work the sugarcanes. The Brits eventually conceded and gave up Havana back to Spain.

The Ten Years War and end of slavery.

CREDIT: Instagram/@irector_2015

Cuban-born planters and other wealthy natives fought to gain control of Cuba from Spain between 1868–1878. The war ended when Spain promised that the natives would have more control over the land, which never honestly took shape. Those actions, however, led to the end of Slavery in 1886.

Author and activist Jose Marti started second fight for independence.

CREDIT: Instagram/@espoir_dina

Cuban activist Jose Marti led the second war of independence in 1895. Despite being killed during the battle with Spanish troops, Marti left behind volumes of writings. In one such piece titled “The Spanish Republic and the Cuban Revolution,” he wrote that Cubans had to be independent of Spain because Cuban people have a different culture than the Spanish. “Cubans do not live as Spaniards live…They are nourished by a different system of trade, have links with different countries, and express their happiness through quite contrary customs. There are no common aspirations or identical goals linking the two peoples, or beloved memories to unite them…Peoples are only united by ties of fraternity and love.”

The birth of the Communist Party quickly changed the political landscape of Cuba.

CREDIT: Wikipedia: Sergeant Fulgencio Batista

Diego Vicente Tejer founded the Socialist Party in Cuba in 1899, and would later join the Cuban National Party. This movement in Havana led to the formation of the Communist Party in 1925, which in turn led to Sergeant Fulgencio Batista leading a coup to overthrow the General and President of Cuba Gerardo Machado.

The rise of Fidel Castro marks a troubling change.

CREDIT: Wikipedia: Fidel Castro

In 1953, activist and law student Fidel Castro had one central target in mind. He teamed up with rebellion groups with the sole purpose to overthrow the Batista regime. His first attempt, however, would be unsuccessful.


Fidel and Che start plotting a bloody coup.

CREDIT: @CdVinEnglish / Twitter

After Castro’s failed attempt at overthrowing the government, he fled to Mexico. That is when he first met Argentine Marxist-Leninist Che Guevara in 1956. Castro liked Guevara’s approach and his duality as a doctor and a solider. In the book titled “Fidel: A Biography of Fidel Castro,” Castro said Guevara was more of an advanced revolutionary than he. Together they plotted to overthrow Batista, but this time with a small group and strategy.

Castro successfully overthrows the Batista regime.

CREDIT: Unsplash

In 1959, together with a 9,000-strong guerrilla army, Castro, Guevara and Castro’s brother Raúl, force Batista to not only give up his reign in Cuba but to flee. Castro then declares himself prime minister, his brother, Raúl, becomes his deputy and Guevara becomes third in command.

The ’60s usher in a trying time for the Cuban people.

CREDIT: Unsplashed

Cuba’s chaotic climate within its government led the U.S. to stop providing military aid, which certainly didn’t help Batista during Castro’s coup. These occurrences gave way to an unsettled relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. In 1961, the U.S. ended all diplomatic relations with Havana. The Bay of Pigs only made matters worse. Castro then proclaimed Cuba a communist state and began an allied relationship with Russia.

Cuba’s new leader cracks down on the country.

CREDIT: Unsplash

With Castro as the new leader, the lives of the Cuban people changed drastically and with devastating results.

The mass exodus.

CREDIT: Unsplash

On April 20, 1980, Castro directed anyone that wishes to leave the island, free to do so and can aboard the Mariel Boatlift. More than 125,000 Cubans left to the U.S., however, many of those on board were also prisoners who were released. According to History.com, of those 125,000 “more than 1,700 were jailed, and another 587 were detained until they could find sponsors.” Decades before, shortly after Castro took power, thousands of Cubans fled across the globe to escape a regime responsible for countless deaths and disappearances.

The capture, and international crisis, of Elian Gonzalez.

CREDIT: Wikipedia: Elian Gonzalez

In 1999, Elizabeth Brotons Rodríguez, her child Elian, and a few others fled Cuba on a boat to the U.S. The boat capsized, and she drowned. Elián and two others survived after fishers had rescued them. They arrived on U.S. soil where U.S. officials handed Elián over to his relatives in Miami. Elián’s father in Cuba, who was divorced from his mother, wanted his son back. U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno ordered Elián to return to his father, but the relatives in Miami did not give him up. Federal agents had to enter their home and forcefully get Elián away from his relatives. Elián became a symbol of Cubans wishing to leave Cuba and Castro’s dictatorship to force his people to live under his rule. Years later, as an adult, Elián said in an interview that he never regretted leaving the U.S. for Cuba, but that one day he would like to return “to give my love to the American people”.

Cuban exiles and immigrants take their culture to free socities around the world.

CREDIT: Instagram/@gloriaestefan

Aside from Cuba’s infamous leaders such as Marti and Castro, Cuba has many other famous Cubans including artist Gloria Estefan, her husband Emilio Estefan. Also, singer Celia Cruz, actor Andy García, baseball player Jose Canseco, and artist Pitbull. There are many Cubans responsible for taking their culture and introducing the sounds of salsa and the taste of sofrito far and wide in the world.

Cuban cuisine makes a splash internationally.

CREDIT: Instagram/@cuballama

Cuban sandwiches are probably the most instantly recognized of Cuban foods, but have you ever tried ropa vieja? Shredded beef, white rice, green olives, avocados, and tostones, it’s the best.

Fidel hands the country over to his brother Raúl continuing the Castro dynasty on the island.

CREDIT: Unsplash

In 2006, Fidel’s brother Raúl Castro takes over presidential duties of Cuba after Fidel recovers from his medical issues. It wasn’t for another two years that Fidel officially resigned and that his brother took over as appointed President by the National Assembly.

Obama visits Cuba opening relations after decades of strained relations.

CREDIT: Unsplash

In 2014, the U.S. and Cuba began diplomatic talks and re-established their new relationship. Two years later, for the first time in 88 years, a U.S. president visited Cuba. President Barack Obama visited the country for three days.

Cuba re-opens its door to the U.S.

CREDIT: Unsplash

While some travel restrictions initially applied between the U.S. and Cuba, the country opened its door to American tourists for the first time in decades.

The death of Fidel Castro was celebrated by Cuban exiles around the world.

CREDIT: Instagram/@federico.miceli.9

On No. 25, 2016, Fidel Castro succumbed to his death at the age of 90. In 2018, a new era began in Cuba with the announcement of new president Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, who was hand-picked by Raúl Castro, furthering the Castro regime. Fidel’s death was welcomed news in Cuabn exile communities aroud the world hoping for a return to democracy and freedom in Cuba.


READ: 25 Odd Facts About Cuba To Know Before You Visit

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Latina Activist, Undocumented Immigrants Will Attend President Trump's State Of The Union

things that matter

Latina Activist, Undocumented Immigrants Will Attend President Trump’s State Of The Union

AnaMariaArchil2 / AOC / Twitter

After weeks of postponement due to the government shutdown, President Donald Trump will be addressing the public in his State of the Union Feb. 5. While it has yet to be determined what the president will be discussing, speculators say immigration will be at the center of his speech. One indication that his focus will be on immigration and the border wall is by the president himself.

People are already assuming that immigration will be the focus of President Trump’s State of the Union address.

The president also hinted at the possibility of demanding billions for the border wall by declaring a state of emergency, which would bypass a Senate vote and give him direct access to the money. Whatever Trump discusses during the State of the Union, he will have to face some very important people in the audience.

Regardless of Trump’s focus, all eyes have been on who elected officials will bring as their guest.

Lawmakers are allowed to bring a guest to the event and usually use the moment to bring people who have been impacted by the recent governmental decisions. The guests usually fuel the political discourse and shed light on issues ongoing in the country.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s guest will be activist Ana Maria Archila, who confronted Republican Jeff Flake during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.

“I’m proud to announce that my #StateOfTheUnion guest will be @AnaMariaArchil2,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Ana Maria is the NY14-er who famously jumped into the elevator with Sen. Flake to elevate the stories of survivors everywhere. She‘s living proof that the courage within all of us can change the world.” She added: “She wasn’t planning on leaping into that elevator ahead of the Kavanaugh vote, but after hearing the stories of survivors across the country, she went in. A defining moment.”

About the invite, Archila told The Intercept: “I just feel particularly moved that in her first participation in the State of the Union, she is inviting me to join and inviting that moment of the elevator, my confrontation with the men who do not understand the life of women and the lives of people who are not in power, that she’s inviting that into the imagination of people again.”

California Rep. Jimmy Gomez said he will bring Trump’s former employee who disclosed her undocumented status.

“When I first met Sandra, I was inspired by her story and her courage,” Gomez said in a statement. “It’s no small feat for a migrant from Costa Rica to stand up to a bully and hypocrite in the White House. She is living proof that President Trump couldn’t be more wrong — both morally and factually — when he demonizes those who come to America seeking a better life. Apparently, the Trump Organization had no problem with hiring undocumented immigrants like Sandra to polish their golf clubs, serve them drinks, and make their beds. Treating these hardworking people with dignity, however, was clearly a bridge too far.”

California Rep. Gil Cisneros invited student and DACA recipient Miriam Tellez

“It is a privilege to host Miriam at tomorrow’s State of the Union Address,” Rep. Cisneros said in a statement. “She is a leader in her community at CSU Fullerton as an advocate for supporting our DREAMers and TPS holders who are seeking higher education degrees. DREAMers are students, service members, neighbors, and our friends. Above all, they are real people. And it is crass and inhumane for the President to try and leverage them, their families, and the DACA program he is responsible for ending to extract a senseless border wall. DREAMers are so much more than bargaining chips, they are valued community members who want nothing more than to contribute to the country they love.”

New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman will bring another undocumented former Trump employee.

“Immigrants, by and large, are hardworking, trustworthy, and skilled people who simply want to work and build better lives here,” Watson Coleman said in a statement. “For years these kinds of people were loyal and dedicated enough to be Trump Organization employees. I hope that in his State of the Union address, Donald Trump will finally acknowledge the real face of immigrants in this country — women, and children fleeing violence, law-abiding, tax-paying people who would do almost anything to be Americans. And if he can’t, I’ve invited Victoria so that he may look her in her eyes to tell his lies to a familiar face.”

Other guests for Feb. 5’s SOTU include trans servicemembers, parents who lost their children in the Parkland high school shooting, and federal workers affected by the government shutdown.

Trump’s State of the Union will air Feb. 5 at 9:00 p.m. EST/6:00 p.m. PST on all local channels.


READ: These Tweets Show The Impact Trump’s Government Shutdown Is Having On American Families

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