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U.S.-Cuba relations through the years

The United States and Cuba have had a tumultuous history since Fidel Castro took charge of the country in 1959 and the U.S. subsequently broke off diplomatic relations.

1959: Castro takes power

Fidel Castro poses in front of the Capitol
Photo Credit: AP

Fidel Castro poses in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on April 17, 1959. The 32-year-old Cuban prime minister, who used guerrilla warfare to successfully overthrow Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista, paid an unheralded visit to the Capitol and chatted with members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

1961: Bay of Pigs Invasion

Cuban leader Fidel Castro, lower right, sits inside
Photo Credit: AP

Cuban leader Fidel Castro, lower right, sits inside a tank during the Bay of Pigs Invasion, in this April 17, 1961, photo provided by Granma, the Cuban government newspaper. The Bay of Pigs invasion was an unsuccessful attempt by Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro.

1961: U.S. severs ties with Cuba

Norma Bauer, a secretary at the U.S. Embassy
Photo Credit: AP

Norma Bauer, a secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, clutches her coconut doll named "Fidel" after Cuba's leader as she steps ashore on American soil from the SS City of New Orleans on Jan. 5, 1961. The United States evacuated employees from the embassy after severing diplomatic relations with Cuba two days earlier.

1962: Cuban missile crisis

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, left, and President John
Photo Credit: AP Photo

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, left, and President John F. Kennedy talk at the residence of the U.S. ambassador in Vienna, Austria, on June 3, 1961. The meeting was part of a series of talks during summit meetings in Vienna. The following year, the leaders would be the key players in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On Nov. 8, 1962, the U.S. Defense Department
Photo Credit: AP

On Nov. 8, 1962, the U.S. Defense Department released aerial photos of Mariel naval port in Cuba showing missile equipment. The government said the pictures were taken four days earlier.

1967: Che Guevara executed

In this photo provided by Felix Rodriguez, Rodriguez,
Photo Credit: AP

In this photo provided by Felix Rodriguez, Rodriguez, left, stands next to socialist revolutionary and guerilla leader Che Guevara before Guevara was executed by Bolivia's army on Oct. 9, 1967. Guevara was trying to lead a revolution similar to the one he aided Fidel Castro with in Cuba.

1995: Embargo continues

The Rev. Calvin O. Butts, pastor of the
Photo Credit: AP

The Rev. Calvin O. Butts, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, addresses his congregation, which gathered to hear a speech by Cuban President Fidel Castro on Oct. 22, 1995. Castro urged world leaders to drop an embargo against his nation and assailed U.S. officials for excluding him from diplomatic gatherings. Castro's interpreter, Juanita Vera, is seated at right; Elombe Brath, the master of ceremonies, is left; and U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel is second from left.

1996: Tragedy prompts stronger measures

President Bill Clinton signs the Helms-Burton bill in
Photo Credit: AP / Denis Paquin

President Bill Clinton signs the Helms-Burton bill in the Old Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on March 12, 1996, surrounded by members of Congress and the family members of those killed by Cuban jet fighter pilots. From left: Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), co-author of the bill; Sen. Frank Lautenberg, (D-N.J.); Rep. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.); and Rep. Leana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). The law, among other things, strengthened sanctions against Cuba after Cuban fighter jets shot down two private planes operated by an anti-Cuban refugee group.

1999: Elián Gonzalez

Cuban workers install a billboard of 6-year-old Elián
Photo Credit: AP

Cuban workers install a billboard of 6-year-old Elián Gonzalez in front of the U.S. Interests Section building in Havana, Cuba, on Dec. 7, 1999. The Cuban boy, who survived clinging to an inner tube after his mother was lost in the waters off Florida, quickly became a folk hero in Cuba as President Fidel Castro demanded his return from Miami to his father on the communist island.

Elián Gonzalez, held by Donato Dalrymple, is discovered
Photo Credit: AP / Alan Diaz

Elián Gonzalez, held by Donato Dalrymple, is discovered hiding in a closet during a pre-dawn raid by U.S. federal agents at the Miami home of Elián's uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, on April 22, 2000.

2001: Concern for Castro's health

Cuban President Fidel Castro is helped by aides
Photo Credit: AP

Cuban President Fidel Castro is helped by aides after he appeared to faint two hours into a speech under the hot Caribbean sun in Cotorro, Cuba, located outside the capital, on June 23, 2001. Castro returned to the podium less than 10 minutes later to assure the audience he was fine and that he just needed to get some sleep.

2001: Hurricane Michelle

Cuban President Fidel Castro holds an umbrella during
Photo Credit: AP

Cuban President Fidel Castro holds an umbrella during a speech about Hurricane Michelle in Jaguey Grande on Oct. 27, 2002. The U.S. sent aid to Cuba following the 2001 storm.

2002: President Carter visits Cuba

Cuban President Fidel Castro points upward upon former
Photo Credit: AP

Cuban President Fidel Castro points upward upon former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's arrival in Havana, Cuba, on May 12, 2002. Carter is the first U.S. president to visit Cuba since the 1959 revolution that put Castro in power.

2002: Cuba accused of bioweapons

In 2002, John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to
Photo Credit: Newsday / Ed Betz

In 2002, John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, accused Cuba of developing bioweapons.

2008: Castro bows out

In this picture provided by Cuban newspaper Juventud
Photo Credit: AP

In this picture provided by Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde, Chinese President Hu Jintao visits former Cuban President Fidel Castro in Havana on Nov. 18, 2008. Earlier that year, Castro said he would refuse to be re-elected president of the island country.

Raul Castro, Fidel's brother, took over as Cuba's
Photo Credit: AP

Raul Castro, Fidel's brother, took over as Cuba's president.

2009: Travel restrictions lifted

In 2009, the Obama administration lifted restrictions on
Photo Credit: AP

In 2009, the Obama administration lifted restrictions on Cuban-Americans who want to travel and send money to their homeland.

2014: Release helps spur breakthrough

American contractor Alan Gross, seen in a 2012
Photo Credit: AP

American contractor Alan Gross, seen in a 2012 photo, was released from a Cuban prison on Dec. 17, 2014, after serving 5 years of a 15-year sentence for alleged spying. Gross' prison release was one of President Barack Obama's conditions for renewed diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.

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