Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Cuba Fast Facts

    Cuba Fast Facts
    Posted: Nov 11, 2014 10:32 PM RST

    (CNN) — Here’s a look at what you need need to know about Cuba, a
    communist country located in the Caribbean Sea, approximately 90 miles
    south of Florida.

    About Cuba:
    (from the CIA World Factbook)

    Area: 110,860 sq km (slightly smaller than Pennsylvania)

    Population: 11,047,251 (July 2014 est.)

    Median age: 39.9 years

    Capital: Havana

    Ethnic Groups: white 64.1%, mulatto and mestizo 26.6%, black 9.3% (2012

    GDP: $121 billion (2012 est.)

    GDP per capita: $10,200 (2010 est.)

    Unemployment: 4.3% (2013 est.)

    Other Facts:
    Before the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Cuba was
    receiving subsidies worth $4-$6 billion a year.

    The United States pays Cuba approximately $4,085 a year to lease the 45
    square miles that the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station occupies. Cuba has
    not accepted the payment since 1959.

    In 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard stopped approximately 1,357 Cuban migrants
    attempting to reach the U.S.

    1492 – Explorer Christopher Columbus lands on the island of Cuba and
    claims it for Spain. Spain controls the island until 1898, making it a
    hub for the slave trade and the export of sugar and coffee.

    1898 – The U.S. assists Cubans in winning independence from Spain during
    the Spanish-American War. The Treaty of Paris gives the U.S. temporary
    control of Cuba.

    1902 – Cuba gains independence from the U.S.

    1903 – The new Republic of Cuba leases 45 square miles of land in
    Guantánamo Bay to the U.S. for construction of a naval station. Building
    on the naval station begins that same year.

    1952 – Former President Fulgencio Batista stages a coup with the support
    of the army, and assumes power.

    July 26, 1953 – Fidel Castro and approximately 150 others attack the
    Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba in an unsuccessful attempt
    to overthrow the Batista regime.

    October 16, 1953 – Castro is sentenced to 15 years in prison.

    May 15, 1955 – Castro and his brother, Raul, are released as part of a
    general amnesty for political prisoners.

    December 2, 1956 – Eighty-two exiles land in Cuba, on a yacht named
    Granma. Most are killed immediately. The survivors, including the
    Castros, flee to the Sierra Maestra Mountains. During 1957-1958, they
    wage a guerrilla campaign from this base, which includes skirmishes with
    government troops and burning sugar crops.

    January 1, 1959 – Batista is overthrown by Castro’s forces.

    1960 – Cuba nationalizes approximately $1 billion of U.S. owned property
    on the island. In response, the U.S. places a trade embargo on Cuba.

    January 1961 – The U.S. and Cuba end diplomatic relations.

    April 1961 – The U.S. backs Cuban exiles in an unsuccessful attempt to
    invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.

    October 1962 – The U.S. discovers that the Soviet Union is building
    missile installations in Cuba. The standoff ends with the Soviet Union
    withdrawing the missiles and the U.S. promising not to invade Cuba.

    1977 – The U.S. Interests Section in Havana is opened.

    April-September 1980 – Fidel Castro allows anyone who wants to leave
    Cuba to freely depart from the port of Mariel, Cuba. Approximately
    124,000 Cuban migrants enter the United States.

    October 1983 – U.S. troops invade the Caribbean island of Grenada, after
    a group of military officers aligned with Cuba stage a coup.

    1994 – The U.S. and Cuba sign an agreement designed to halt the flow of
    illegal aliens from Cuba to the U.S.

    1996 – U.S. President Bill Clinton signs the Helms-Burton Act into law,
    tightening sanctions against Cuba.

    January 1998 – Pope John Paul II visits Cuba.

    September 1998 – Ten people are arrested in Florida and charged with
    spying for the Cuban government. The criminal complaint alleges that the
    eight men and two women tried to infiltrate Cuban exile groups and U.S.
    military installations. Five of the defendants are later identified as
    Cuban intelligence officers Ruben Campa (aka Fernando Gonzalez), Rene
    Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Luis Medina (aka Ramon Labanino) and
    Antonio Guerrero.

    1999 – U.S. President Bill Clinton eases travel restrictions to Cuba.

    November 1999 – Five-year-old Elian Gonzalez is found in the water
    between Cuba and Florida, the only survivor of a group attempting to
    reach the U.S. by boat. A long custody battle between Gonzalez’ father
    in Cuba and relatives in Florida strains relations between Cuba and the
    U.S. The standoff ends with U.S. federal agents forcibly removing the
    boy from his great-uncle’s home. Gonzalez and his father return to Cuba
    in June 2000.

    June 9, 2001- The five Cuban agents are convicted of spying against the
    United States. Additionally, Gerardo Hernandez is convicted of
    contributing to the deaths of four members of the anti-Castro group
    Brothers to the Rescue, shot down by Cuban fighter jets in 1996.

    2002 – Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visits Cuba, the first former
    or sitting president to visit the island since 1928.

    August 2005 – The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturns the
    spying convictions of the Cuban Five. The ruling is reversed in August 2006.

    July 31, 2006 – A statement read on Cuban TV announces that Fidel Castro
    is undergoing intestinal surgery and has provisionally handed over power
    to his younger brother,Raul.

    February 19, 2008 – Due to ailing health, Fidel Castro announces his
    resignation as president in a letter published in the middle of the
    night in the online version of Cuba’s state-run newspaper, Granma.

    February 24, 2008 – Raul Castro is chosen by Cuba’s National Assembly to
    be the country’s new president.

    December 2009 – American Alan Gross is jailed while working as a
    subcontractor on a U.S. Agency for International Development project
    aimed at spreading democracy. His actions are deemed illegal by Cuban
    authorities. He is accused of trying set up illegal Internet connections
    on the island. Gross says he was trying to help connect the Jewish
    community to the Internet and was not a threat to the government.

    October 2011 – One of the Cuban Five, Rene Gonzalez, is released on
    probation after serving 13 years in prison.

    February 24, 2013 – Raul Castro is re-elected to a second five-year
    term. Later during a nationally televised speech, Castro announces that
    he will step down from power in 2018 when his term is over.

    February 2014 – Cuban Five member Ruben Campa (aka Fernando Gonzalez) is
    released from prison after serving more than 15 years.

    Source: Cuba Fast Facts – WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather,
    Events –