A nationalized cement factory in Mariel, Cuba, once owned by Lone Star Industries of Connecticut. In July 1960, Castro seized Esso Standard and Shell oil installations in Cuba after they had refused to refine Soviet oil, putting a $150 million industry in Castro’s hands. The seizures followed the passage of a U.S. bill to slash Cuba’s sugar quotas, at a time when the country was buying 3.5 million tons of sugar from Cuba. Soon, all U.S. private companies in Cuba were nationalized.
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Cuban soldiers check a plane shot down during the Bay of Pigs invasion, in Cuba, April 18, 1961. The event was an unsuccessful CIA-sponsored effort by Cuban exiles determined to overthrow Castro's government. The botched mission, originally approved by President Dwight Eisenhower and involving CIA training camps in Guatemala, was launched by 1,400 Cuban exiles on April 17, 1961.
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After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, and in an effort to overthrow Fidel Castro, President John F. Kennedy authorized the covert Operation Mongoose on Nov. 3, 1961. The CIA was tasked with the operation. According to the then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s notes, “My idea is to stir things up on island with espionage, sabotage, general disorder, run & operated by Cubans themselves.”
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Cubans aboard a boat talk with reporters while waiting to embark for U.S. shores, at the port in Mariel Harbor, 20 miles west of Havana, Cuba, May 1980. The refugee exodus began after Fidel Castro agreed to let Cubans leave the island to start a new life in the U.S. The influx in Miami became known as the Mariel boat lift, which brought more than 125,000 Cubans to the U.S.
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José Basulto, president of the Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue, during a stop at Key Marathon Airport, Fla., July 13, 1998. On February 24, 1996, two planes operated by the Cuban-American nonprofit were shot down by Cuba over the waters north of Havana, killing all four people on board. After the incident, the United States adopted the Helms-Burton Act, turning the embargo from an Executive Order into an Act of Congress.
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Six-year-old Elián González was at the center of an international custody battle after a boat he was traveling in from Cuba to the United States capsized, killing his mother and 10 others. In this file photo taken April 22, 2000, in Miami, González is held in a closet by Donato Dalrymple, one of the two men who rescued the boy from the ocean, as government officials search the home of Lázaro González, Elián’s uncle. The boy was eventually reunited with his father in Cuba.
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Raúl Castro was elected president in February 2008 after an ailing Fidel Castro announced he would not stand for president. In the picture, Fidel, left, listens to his brother Raúl during the final session of the 6th Cuban Communist Party Congress, on April 19, 2011 at the Convention Palace in Havana.
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U.S. President Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro during the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The impromptu handshake took place in the backdrop of secret negotiations between the two countries to free Alan Gross, a U.S. citizen and government subcontractor who was arrested in Cuba in 2009.
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