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How Fidel dealt with 11 US Presidents

November 26, 2016 19:37 IST

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who died at the age of 90 on Friday night, faced off with 11 United States Presidents since he aligned himself with the Soviet Union.

Although the US was among the first to formally recognise his government in 1959, it began working to oust him as Fidel moved into the Soviet bloc.

A quick look at Fidel’s relations with various US Presidents since 1959, when he seized power from dictator Fulgencio Batista:

Dwight Eisenhower (1953-61): He provided arms to Batista during revolution and prepared the invasion of the Bay of Pigs when 1,400 Cuban exiles stormed the beach on Cuba’s south coast. He broke off diplomatic ties with Cuba in January 1961.

John F Kennedy (1961-63): He gave the green light for the invasion of the Bay of Pigs in April 1961. Brought into effect the US embargo against Cuba in February 1962 before the Cuban missile crisis erupted. Although he was working to promote a rapprochement, Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

Lyndon Johnson (1963-69): Reinforced the embargo and tried to prevent the sale of Cuban nickel to Soviet bloc countries. Approved CIA plots to assassinate Fidel and supported anti-Fidel guerrilla groups.

Richard Nixon (1969-74): Boosted anti-Fidel activity, including the arrests of Cuban fishermen, also worked against sale of Cuban nickel to Soviet satellite states.

Gerald Ford (1974-77): Ford authorised the first trip of US businessmen to Cuba and eased the embargo.

Jimmy Carter (1977-81): Further eased the embargo. Opened a US interests section in Havana and allowed a Cuban interests section to open in Washington. He allowed Cuban exiles to travel home and signed a maritime boundary treaty.

Ronald Reagan (1981-89): During Regan’s regime, US-Cuba relations took a turn for the worse. He rolled back the ease in embargo. Creation of the Cuban-American National Foundation, the main exile organisation, and the anti-Fidel stations Radio and TV Marti. First immigration deal signed in 1984.

George H W Bush (1989-93): Reinforced the embargo with the Torricelli Act, as the Soviet bloc crumbled. US subsidiaries in third countries were also banned from dealing with Cuba.

Bill Clinton (1993-2001): He put into force the Torricelli Act and approved Helms-Burton Act, which again tightened embargo. In 1994, 36,000 Cubans fled for the US in makeshift boats and rafts. A new immigration agreement was signed and Clinton backed anti-Fidel activists.

George W Bush (2001-2009): Increased financial aid to anti-Fidel groups and strengthened embargo. Limited travel to Cuba by exiles, and the money they could remit to relatives at home. Approved food trade with restrictions. During his rule, Raul Castro took the reigns of power in Cuba.

Barack Obama (2009-present): He lifted restrictions on trips by exiles and amount of money they could send home and opened a ‘dialogue’ on immigration. In December 2014, Obama and Raul Castro announced that the nations would normalise relations. The two countries reopened embassies in each other’s capitals in July 2015. Obama made a historic visit to Cuba in March 2016, the first by a serving US president since 1928.

IMAGE: Fidel Castro with former US President Jimmy Carter in Havana in 2002. Photograph: Reuters 

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