Lay of the Land: Cuba is a long, slender, crescent-shaped island on the north edge of the Caribbean, 90 miles south of Key West, Florida, and about 100 miles east of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. It is the most westerly of the West Indies and by far the largest. In general, the terrain is gently rolling, but there are mountainous areas, notably the Sierra Maestra in what was formerly Oriente Province in the southeast, Castro's base of operations during the revolution. Cuba has more than 2,000 miles of coastline, with many bays, inlets, and good natural harbors. Cuba's climate tends to the tropical, but the fact that it is an island moderates the temperature significantly.
Following the Spanish-American War, the US was split over its decision of what to do with Cuba. Some favored independence while others wanted blatant annexation. In a compromise, President William McKinley put Cuba under a 20-year US treaty, much to the chagrin of the Cuban independence movement. The treaty was negated a few years later when Theodore Roosevelt assumed the presidency after McKinley. Roosevelt had fought in the Spanish-American War and was sympathetic to Cuba’s move towards independence. He abandoned the treaty and Cuba attained formal independence on May 20, 1902. However, under the new constitution, the US retained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs and oversee its finances and foreign relations. The Platt Amendment leased Guantánamo Bay to the US.
After almost 50 years of hostilities, the United States and Cuba continue to have limited relations. There is a US mission in Havana, but it has minimal communication with the Cuban government. Since 1961, the official US policy towards Cuba has consisted of economic embargo and diplomatic isolation. The Bush administration has strongly enforced the embargo and strengthened travel restrictions. Americans with immediate family may visit once every three years for a maximum of two weeks, while the total amount of family remittances an authorized traveler may carry to Cuba is $300, reduced from $3,000 in 2004.
Since Congress relaxed the US embargo to allow food exports to Cuba, American trade has gradually increased in this sector. In 2006, US companies exported roughly $336 million worth of food and agricultural products to Cuba, according to the US International Trade Commission. In 2001 that figure was virtually zero. In 2007 the largest export was corn ($109 million), followed by meat and poultry ($84.8 million) and wheat ($70.1 million).
Obama’s “Moderate” Position Alienates Cuban-American Conservatives
The US State Department characterizes Cuba as being a “totalitarian state” with elections that have been “neither free nor fair.” The government exercises control through the Communist Party (CP) and its affiliated mass organizations, the bureaucracy, and the state security apparatus. The Ministry of the Interior exercises control over police, the internal security forces, and the prison system.
Herbert Goldsmith Squiers
Appointment: May 20, 1902
Presentation of Credentials: May 27, 1902
Termination of Mission: Left post, Dec 2, 1905
Cuba does not maintain an embassy in the US. However it does have an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy in Washington, DC.