Friday, May 23, 2014

Latin America contd - Cuba (annex-2)

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba , is an island country in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba comprises the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos.Havana is the capital of Cuba and its largest city. The second largest city is Santiago de Cuba. To the north of Cuba lies the United States (150 km or 93 mi away) and the Bahamas are to the northeast, Mexico is to the west (210 km or 130 mi away), the Cayman Islands and Jamaica are to the south, and Haiti and the Dominican Republic are to the southeast.
The island of Cuba was inhabited by numerous Mesoamerican tribes prior to the landing of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus in 1492, who claimed it for the Kingdom of Spain. Cuba remained a colony of Spain until the Spanish–American War of 1898, after which it was briefly administered by the United States until gaining nominal independence in 1902. The fragile republic endured increasingly radical politics and social strife, and despite efforts to strengthen its democratic system, Cuba came under the dictatorship of former president Fulgencio Batista in 1952. Growing unrest and instability led to Batista's ousting in January 1959 by the July 26 movement, which afterwards established a new socialist administration under the leadership of Fidel Castro. Since 1965, the country has been governed as a single-party state by the Communist Party.
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and with over 11 million inhabitants, is the second-most populous after Hispaniola, albeit with a much lower population density than most nations in the region. A multiethnic country, its peopleculture, and customs derive from diverse origins, including the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the long period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves, a close relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and proximity to the United States.
Cuba ranks high in metrics of health and education, with a high Human Development Index of 0.780 as of 2013. According to data it presents to the United Nations, Cuba was the only nation in the world in 2006 that met the World Wide Fund for Nature's definition of sustainable development, with an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita, 1.5 hectares, and a Human Development Index of over 0.855
After first landing on an island then called GuanahaniBahamas on October 12, 1492, La Pinta, La Niña and the Santa María, the first three European ships under the command of Christopher Columbus, landed on Cuba's northeastern coast near what is now Bariay, Holguin province on October 28, 1492. He claimed the island for the new Kingdom of Spain and named Isla Juana after Juan, Prince of Asturias.
A series of slave rebellions and revolts took place during the 'sugar boom' under Spanish colonizing with the 1812 Aponte Slave Rebellion in Cuba against the Atlantic Slave Trade. Independence from Spain was the motive for a rebellion in 1868 led by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes. De Céspedes, a sugar planter, freed his slaves to fight with him for a free Cuba. On 27 December 1868, he issued a decree condemning slavery in theory but accepting it in practice and declaring free any slaves whose masters present them for military service. The 1868 rebellion resulted in a prolonged conflict known as the Ten Years' War. Two thousand Cuban Chinese joined the rebels. There is a monument in Havana that honours the Cuban Chinese who fell in the war.
The United States declined to recognize the new Cuban government, although many European and Latin American nations did so. In 1878, the Pact of Zanjón ended the conflict, with Spain promising greater autonomy to Cuba. In 1879–1880, Cuban patriot Calixto García attempted to start another war known as the Little War but received little support.] Abolition of slavery in Cuba began the final third of the 19th century, and was completed in the 1880s
An exiled dissident named José Martí founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party in New York in 1892. The aim of the party was to achieve Cuban independence from Spain. In January 1895 Martí traveled to Montecristi and Santo Domingo to join the efforts of Máximo Gómez. Martí recorded his political views in the Manifesto of Montecristi. Fighting against the Spanish army began in Cuba on 24 February 1895, but Martí was unable to reach Cuba until 11 April 1895. Martí was killed in the battle of Dos Rios on 19 May 1895. His death immortalized him as Cuba's national hero
Around 200,000 Spanish troops outnumbered the much smaller rebel army which relied mostly on guerrilla and sabotage tactics. The Spaniards began a campaign of suppression. General Valeriano Weyler, military governor of Cuba, herded the rural population into what he called reconcentrados, described by international observers as "fortified towns". These are often considered the prototype for 20th-century concentration camps. Between 200,000 and 400,000 Cuban civilians died from starvation and disease in the camps, numbers verified by the Red Cross and United States Senator and formerSecretary of War Redfield Proctor. American and European protests against Spanish conduct on the island followed.
The U.S. battleship Maine was sent to protect U.S. interests, but she exploded suddenly and sank quickly, killing nearly three quarters of her crew. The cause and responsibility for her sinking remained unclear after a board of inquiry, but popular opinion in the U.S., fueled by an active press, concluded that the Spanish were to blame and demanded action. Spain and the United States declared war on each other in late April.
Over the decades, four US presidents—PolkBuchananGrant, and McKinley—tried to buy the island from Spain.
After the Spanish-American War, Spain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris (1898), by which Spain ceded Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam to the United States for the sum of $20 million. Cuba gained formal independence from the U.S. on May 20, 1902, as the Republic of Cuba..
The U.S. battleship Maine was sent to protect U.S. interests, but she exploded suddenly and sank quickly, killing nearly three quarters of her crew. The cause and responsibility for her sinking remained unclear after a board of inquiry, but popular opinion in the U.S., fueled by an active press, concluded that the Spanish were to blame and demanded action. Spain and the United States declared war on each other in late April.
Over the decades, four US presidents—PolkBuchananGrant, and McKinley—tried to buy the island from Spain
 Between 1933 and 1958, Cuba extended economic regulations enormously, causing economic problems. Unemployment became a problem as graduates entering the workforce could not find jobs. The middle class, which was comparable to that of the United States, became increasingly dissatisfied with unemployment and political persecution. The labor unions supported Batista until the very end. Batista stayed in power until he was forced into exile in December 1958.
Main article: Cuban Revolution

Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, photographed by Alberto Korda in 1961.
In the 1950s, various organizations, including some advocating armed uprising, competed for the public's support in bringing about political change. In 1956, Fidel Castro and about 80 other rebels aboard the Granma yacht launched a failed attempt to start a rebellion against the government. It was not until 1958 that the July 26th Movement emerged as the leading revolutionary group.
By late 1958, the rebels broke out of the Sierra Maestra and launched a general popular insurrection. After the fighters captured Santa Clara, Batista fled from Havana on 1 January 1959 to exile in Portugal. Fidel Castro's forces entered the capital on 8 January 1959. The liberal Manuel Urrutia Lleó became the provisional president.
From 1959 to 1966 Cuban insurgents fought a six-year rebellion in the Escambray Mountains against the Castro government. The insurgency was eventually crushed by the government's use of vastly superior numbers. The rebellion lasted longer and involved more soldiers than the Cuban Revolution. The U.S. State Department has estimated that 3,200 people were executed from 1959 to 1962. Other estimates for the total number of political executions range from 4,000 to 33,000.
The revolution was initially received positively in the United States, where it was seen as part of a movement to bring democracy to Latin America.Castro's legalization of the Communist party and the public trials and executions of hundreds of Batista's supporters caused a deterioration in the relationship between the two countries. The promulgation of the Agrarian Reform Law, expropriating farmlands of over 1,000 acres, further worsened relations. In February 1960, Castro signed a commercial agreement with Soviet Vice-Premier Anastas Mikoyan. In March 1960, Eisenhower gave his approval to a CIA plan to arm and train a group of Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro regime.
The invasion (known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion) took place on April 14, 1961. About 1,400 Cuban exiles disembarked at the Bay of Pigs, but failed in their attempt to overthrow Castro. In January 1962, Cuba was suspended from the Organization of American States (OAS), and later the same year the OAS started to impose sanctions against Cuba of similar nature to the US sanctions. The tense confrontation known as the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in October, 1962. By 1963, Cuba was moving towards a full-fledged Communist system modeled on the USSR.

Fidel Castro and members of theEast German Politburo in 1972.
During the 1970s, Fidel Castro dispatched tens of thousands of troops in support of Soviet-supported wars in Africa, particularly the MPLA inAngola and Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia.
The standard of living in 1970s was "extremely spartan" and discontent was rife. Fidel Castro admitted the failures of economic policies in a 1970 speech.
In 1975 the OAS lifted its sanctions against Cuba, with the approval of 16 member states, including the U.S. The U.S., however, maintained its own sanctions.
Castro's rule was severely tested in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse in 1991 (known in Cuba as the Special Period), when the country faced a severe economic downturn following the withdrawal of former Soviet subsidies worth $4 billion to $6 billion annually, resulting in effects such as food and fuel shortages. The government did not accept American donations of food, medicines, and cash until 1993. On 5 August 1994, state security dispersed protesters in a spontaneous protest in Havana.
Cuba has found a new source of aid and support in the People's Republic of China, and new allies in Hugo Chávez, former President of Venezuela and Evo MoralesPresident of Bolivia, both major oil and gas exporters. In 2003, the government arrested and imprisoned a large number of civil activists, a period known as the "Black Spring".
In February 2008, Fidel Castro announced his resignation as President of Cuba, and on 24 February his brother, Raúl Castro, was elected as the new President. In his acceptance speech, Raúl promised that some of the restrictions that limit Cubans' daily lives would be removed. In March 2009, Raúl Castro removed some of Fidel Castro's officials.
On 3 June 2009, the Organization of American States adopted a resolution to end the 47-year ban on Cuban membership of the group. The resolution stated, however, that full membership would be delayed until Cuba was "in conformity with the practices, purposes, and principles of the OAS."[86] Cuban leaders have repeatedly announced they are not interested in rejoining the OAS, and Fidel Castro restated this after the OAS resolution had been announced.
Effective January 14, 2013, Cuba ended the requirement established in 1961 that any citizens who wish to travel abroad were required to obtain an expensive government permit and a letter of invitation. The now-replaced travel ban dates to 1961, when the Cuban government imposed broad restrictions on travel starting to prevent the mass migration of people after the 1959 revolution and only approved exit visas on rare occasions. Henceforth, Cubans will only need a passport and a national ID card to leave; they will also be allowed for the first time to take their young children with them. Despite the new policy, a passport will still cost on average five months' salary and it is expected that it will be mostly Cubans with paying relatives abroad that will be able to take advantage of the new policy  In the first year of the program, over 180,000 left Cuba and returned.
The Republic of Cuba is one of the world's remaining socialist states with Communist governments. The Constitution of 1976, which defined Cuba as a socialist republic, was replaced by the Constitution of 1992, which is "guided by the ideas of José Martí and the political and social ideas ofMarxEngels and Lenin." The constitution describes the Communist Party of Cuba as the "leading force of society and of the state".
The First Secretary of the Communist Party is concurrently President of the Council of State (President of Cuba) and President of the Council of Ministers (sometimes referred to as Premier of Cuba). Members of both councils are elected by the National Assembly of People's Power. The President of Cuba, who is also elected by the Assembly, serves for five years and there is no limit to the number of terms of office.
The Cuban state adheres to socialist principles in organizing its largely state-controlled planned economy. Most of the means of production are owned and run by the government and most of the labor force is employed by the state. Recent years have seen a trend toward more private sector employment. By 2006, public sector employment was 78% and private sector, mainly composed by personal property, 22%, compared to 91.8% to 8.2% in 1981. Any firm wishing to hire a Cuban must pay the Cuban government, which in turn will pay the employee in Cuban pesos. The average monthly wage as of July 2013 is 466 Cuban pesos, which are worth about US$19.
Cuba has a dual currency system, whereby most wages and prices are set in Cuban pesos (CUP), while the tourist economy operates withConvertible pesos (CUC), set at par with the US dollar. Every Cuban household has a ration book (known as libreta) entitling it to a monthly supply of food and other staples, which are provided at nominal cost.

Cigar production in Santiago de Cuba.
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba depended on Moscow for substantial aid and sheltered markets for its exports. The removal of these subsidies (for example the oil sent the Cuban economy into a rapid depression known in Cuba as the Special Period. Cuba took limited free market-oriented measures to alleviate severe shortages of food, consumer goods, and services. These steps included allowing some self-employment in certain retail and light manufacturing sectors, the legalization of the use of the US dollar in business, and the encouragement of tourism. Cuba has developed a unique urban farm system (the organopónicos) to compensate for the end of food imports from the Soviet Union.
The leadership of Cuba has called for reforms in the country's agricultural system. In 2008, Raúl Castro began enacting agrarian reforms to boost food production, as at that time 80% of food was imported. The reforms enacted are aimed at expanding land usage and increasing efficiency. Venezuela supplies Cuba with an estimated 110,000 barrels (17,000 m3) a day of oil in exchange for money and the services of some 44,000 Cubans, most of them medical personnel, in Venezuela. Estimates place Venezuelan assistance at over 20% of the Cuban GDP for 2008–2010, similar to the aid flows from the Soviet Union in 1985–1988.
In 2005 Cuba had exports of $2.4 billion, ranking 114 of 226 world countries, and imports of $6.9 billion, ranking 87 of 226 countries. Its major export partners are Canada 17.7%, China 16.9%, Venezuela 12.5%, Netherlands 9%, and Spain 5.9% (2012). Cuba's major exports are sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medical products, citrus, and coffee; imports include food, fuel, clothing, and machinery. Cuba presently holds debt in an amount estimated to be $13 billion, approximately 38% of GDP. According to the Heritage Foundation, Cuba is dependent on credit accounts that rotate from country to country. Cuba's prior 35% supply of the world's export market for sugar has declined to 10% due to a variety of factors, including a global sugar commodity price drop that made Cuba less competitive on world markets.
In 2010, Cubans were allowed to build their own houses. According to Raul Castro, they will be able to improve their houses with this new permission, but the government will not endorse these new houses or improvements.
On August 2, 2011, The New York Times reported Cuba as reaffirming their intent to legalize "buying and selling" of private property before the year ends. According to experts, the private sale of property could "transform Cuba more than any of the economic reforms announced by President Raúl Castro's government". It will cut more than one million state jobs, including party bureaucrats who resist the changes. The new economic reforms effectively created a new economic system, referred by some as the "New Cuban Economy".
In August 2012, a specialist of the "Cuba energia Company" announced the opening of Cuba's first Solar Power Plant. As a member of the Cuba solar Group, there was also a mention of 10 additional plants in 2013.
In October 2013, as part of Raúl Castro's latest reforms, Cuba announced an end to the dual currency system.