Vaccines, crisis, exports: 5 things to know about Cuba

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Largest island in the Antilles, Cuba had this Sunday, 11, unprecedented protests against the government, which question the economic crisis amidst the coronavirus.

The island is one of the last communist countries in the world, and it still faces a US embargo inherited from the Cold War, even more than three decades after the end of the conflict with the Soviets.

See below some of the main facts and discussions about the country.

1. The largest of the Antilles

Cuba’s official contact with Europeans began after the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. The island then became a Spanish colony and only gained independence in 1902.

Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, a very poor and unequal region in Central America, with an area of ​​110,860 km² and 11.2 million inhabitants.

As in other countries in the region, the first centuries of colonization in Cuba had indigenous communities decimated and African labor brought in to work in the planting of sugar cane. Slavery was abolished in 1886, just before independence.

2. 60 years of the Castros

On January 1, 1959, the dictator Fulgencio Batista, who had been in power since 1952 after a coup d’état, was overthrown by rebels led by Fidel Castro. Castro established a Socialist Republic two years later.

Before that, Cuba had had presidents aligned with the US and who accepted disadvantageous conditions in negotiations with North Americans, a stance criticized by the population and by Fidel Castro’s group.

The United States broke diplomatic ties with Havana in 1961 and supported a failed invasion attempt to overthrow Castro at the Bay of Pigs. The following year, the discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba — which is located about 150 km south of the United States — triggered what is considered the worst nuclear crisis of the Cold War.

In the same year of 1962, Washington imposed a strict economic embargo on the island, which is still in force.