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A Very Brief History of Cuba

Columbus landed here in 1492 and it was a Spanish colony for the next 400 years until 1898 when it fully gained independence from Spain thanks in part to America's help - Remember the Maine! But from that point Cuba became an ersatz US colony.

In the 1920s through 50s there were a series of dictators running Cuba with US support - culminating with Batista. Thanks to prohibition, the Mafia had a big presence here: rum-running, gambling, prostitution, drugs. It was pleasure island for rich and famous Americans. But under these corrupt regimes the rich became richer and the poor became destitute.

This sets the stage for Fidel's revolution. He finally succeeded in overthrowing Batista's regime in 1959. The US was not happy with this. In 1961 the CIA invaded - The Bay of Pigs. A big flop. Then came Kennedy's embargo. This threw Castro even further into the arms of the Soviets which then led to the Cuban Missile Crisis when, as a schoolchild in NY, I was advised in case of nuclear attack to get under my desk, bend over, and kiss my ass goodbye.

But war was averted. Cuban-American relations have remained sour until quite recently when Obama said - Enough! Cubans today are awaiting with bated breath what will come of this.