Major events in US-Cuba relations since 1959 revolution

A Feb 1, 1979, file photo of then Cuban President Fidel Castro (left) and his brother, Mr Raul Castro, at the 20th anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution at Revolution Square in Havana. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A Feb 1, 1979, file photo of then Cuban President Fidel Castro (left) and his brother, Mr Raul Castro, at the 20th anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution at Revolution Square in Havana. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A May 1975 photo showing Mr Fidel Castro smoking a cigar during interviews with the press in Havana during a visit of US Senator Charles McGovern. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A May 1975 photo showing Mr Fidel Castro smoking a cigar during interviews with the press in Havana during a visit of US Senator Charles McGovern. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Freed Cuban prisoner Gerardo Hernandez (right) visiting a cemetery on Dec 17, 2014, in Havana on his return from the United States. -- PHOTO: AFP
Freed Cuban prisoner Gerardo Hernandez (right) visiting a cemetery on Dec 17, 2014, in Havana on his return from the United States. -- PHOTO: AFP
Alan Gross taking a selfie with his wife, Mrs Judy Gross, on board a government plane headed back to the US in this Dec 17, 2014, White House handout photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Alan Gross taking a selfie with his wife, Mrs Judy Gross, on board a government plane headed back to the US in this Dec 17, 2014, White House handout photo. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
This picture released by Estudios Revolucion showing (from left) Mr Fernando Gonzalez, released Cuban prisoners Ramon Labanino and Gerardo Hernandez, Cuban President Raul Castro, released prisoner Antonio Guerrero and Mr Rene Gonzalez. Mr Castro gree
This picture released by Estudios Revolucion showing (from left) Mr Fernando Gonzalez, released Cuban prisoners Ramon Labanino and Gerardo Hernandez, Cuban President Raul Castro, released prisoner Antonio Guerrero and Mr Rene Gonzalez. Mr Castro greeted the former prisoners upon their return from the US on Dec 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A man fetching passengers on his tricycle taxi in Havana on Dec 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A man fetching passengers on his tricycle taxi in Havana on Dec 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
People walking near a photograph of late revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Havana on Dec 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
People walking near a photograph of late revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Havana on Dec 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Youth sitting on Havana's El Malecon seafront bolulevard on Dec 17, 2014. The United States and Cuba agreed on Wednesday to restore diplomatic ties that Washington severed more than 50 years ago, and President Barack Obama called for an end to the lo
Youth sitting on Havana's El Malecon seafront bolulevard on Dec 17, 2014. The United States and Cuba agreed on Wednesday to restore diplomatic ties that Washington severed more than 50 years ago, and President Barack Obama called for an end to the long economic embargo against its old Cold War enemy. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

The United States said on Wednesday (Dec 17) that it planned to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, a major policy shift after decades of hostile ties with the communist-ruled island.

Here are some key events in US-Cuba relations in the last half-century:

Jan 1, 1959 - US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista flees Cuba as Mr Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries seize control.

Jan 3, 1961 - The US breaks off diplomatic relations with Cuba after the nationalisation of US-owned properties.

April 16, 1961 - Mr Castro declares his revolution is socialist. The next day, CIA-backed Cuban exiles try to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, but are defeated.

Feb 7, 1962 - The US imposes a complete commercial embargo against Cuba.

Oct 1962 - The US discovers Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba, leading to a showdown with the Soviet Union that almost leads to war. The confrontation ends with the Russians removing the missiles and the United States agreeing never to invade Cuba and, secretly, pulling its missiles from Turkey.

April-October 1980 - Cuba allows 125,000 people to travel to the US from the port of Mariel in what becomes known as the Mariel Boatlift.

December 1991 - The Soviet Union, Cuba's biggest benefactor, collapses, touching off an economic crisis from which the island has not fully recovered.

August-September 1994 - More than 35,000 people leave Cuba in fragile boats, headed for the US.

July 31, 2006 - Mr Fidel Castro provisionally turns over power to his brother, Mr Raul Castro, after undergoing emergency intestinal surgery.

Feb 24, 2008 - The National Assembly elects Mr Raul Castro to formally replace the ailing Fidel.

December 2009 - Cuba arrests Mr Alan Gross. It later convicts the US Agency for International Development sub-contractor to 15 years in prison after accusing him of importing banned technology and trying to establish a clandestine Internet service for Cuban Jews.

January 2011 - The White House loosens travel restrictions on Cuba to allow "people-to-people" contact.

Dec 17, 2014 - Mr Gross is released and flown back to the US, and a spy held in Cuba is freed in exchange for three Cuban intelligence agents held in America. Washington says diplomatic relations will be restored and many commercial restrictions eased.

SOURCE: REUTERS