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Researching Cuba: Business, Economy, and U.S. Relations

A resources guide providing background and resources for those interested in current trade and economic relations between Cuba and the United States as well as the economy of Cuba.


Carol L. Highsmith, photographer. View of Havana, Cuba. 2010. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The resources included in this guide relate to understanding the Cuban economy and shed light on the nature of the relations between Cuba and the United States. This guide does not focus on sources for individual industries like sugar, tobacco (cigars), etc., so additional research on those specific areas can yield more information. Going forward, normalized relations will lead to expanded opportunities in industries including coffee and tourism.

This guide also includes some, but not all, of the key dates, legislation, and U.S. government actions that are important to know as they are critical to understanding relations between the two countries. Information on major historical events and past legislation that can still impact and inform current events has been included, but since this is not a guide with a strictly historical focus material of that nature is limited.

Lastly, some information about Cuba's economy and business environment is limited but that is likely to change over time so searching in news sources will likely be an important component to keeping up with developments as they happen.

A Few Key Dates

Cuban Embassy. [1922 or 1923]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
  • Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898)
  • Spanish-American War (1898)
  • Cuban–American Treaty of Relations (1930 and 1934)
  • General Fulgencio Batista president (1st term 1940–1944)
  • General Fulgencio Batista president (2nd term 1952-1959)
  • United States imposed an arms embargo on Cuba (March 14, 1958)
  • Cuban Revolution (July 26, 1953–January 1959)
  • U.S. embargos all American exports to Cuba, except for medicines and food (October 19, 1960)
  • U.S. severs diplomatic ties with Cuba (January 1961)
  • Bay of Pigs Invasion (April 1961)
  • U.S. government institutes and embargo against all U.S.-related Cuban imports and nearly all exports  (February 7, 1962)
  • Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962)
  • Fidel Castro president of Cuba (December 2, 1976 – February 24, 2008)
  • United States Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Havana, Cuba (USINT Havana) represented U.S. interests in Cuba (September 1, 1977 - July 20, 2015)
  • Cuban Democracy Act (October 23, 1992)
  • Helms-Burton Act or Libertad Act (1996)
  • President Obama announces the beginning of a normalization process between the United States and Cuba (December 17, 2014)
  • Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. are reestablished. The Embassy of the United States re-opened in Havana and the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. (re-opened July 20, 2015)
  • President Barak Obama travels to Cuba (March 2016)
  • First direct mail flight between the U.S. and Cuba (March 16, 2016)
  • First U.S. commercial flight since 1961 from the U.S. to Cuba lands (August 31, 2016)
  • Presidential Policy Directive - United States-Cuba Normalization (issued October 14, 2016)
  • National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM-5) (June 16, 2017)
  • Cuba legalized the creation of small- and medium-sized businesses - see Gaceta Oficial (Official Gazette), Decreto Ley 46 (Decree Law 46) (September 2021)

About the Business Section

Part of the Science & Business Reading Room at the Library of Congress, the Business Section is the starting point for conducting research at the Library of Congress in the subject areas of business and economics. Here, reference specialists in specific subject areas of business assist patrons in formulating search strategies and gaining access to the information and materials contained in the Library's rich collections of business and economics materials.