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Evolution of Cuban revolution

• 1959: In January, Fidel Castro forces out President Fulgencio Batista. In February, Castro becomes prime minister of Cuba.

• 1959: Castro signs the Agrarian Reform Act in May, banning foreigners from owning land.

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• 1960: In March, US President Dwight Eisenhower orders the CIA to train Cuban exiles for an invasion of Cuba.

• 1960: Cuba nationalizes US business assets in July.

• 1960: In October, US imposes embargo prohibiting all exports to Cuba except food and medical supplies. (Full embargo starts 1961.)

• 1961: Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exile force is botched, a failure blamed on the Kennedy administration.

• 1962: Cuban Missile Crisis and near nuclear conflict between the US and Soviet Union averted.

• 1968: Castro nationalizes private businesses, ending small-business ownership.

• 1980: The Cuban government grants a one-time exodus, and 125,000 Cubans flee to the US in the Mariel Boat Lift.

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• 1993: After dissolution of Soviet Union, Cuba announces it will permit a degree of private ownership in the "special period."

• 1996: US passes the Helms-Burton Act, extending the embargo against Cuba to foreign companies.

• 2003: In the "Black Spring" roundup, the Cuban government arrests 75 writers and dissidents, giving rise to the dissident women's group Ladies in White.

• 2006: Raúl Castro temporarily takes over as president of Cuba after his brother falls ill. He permanently takes over in 2008.

• 2008: Raúl Castro's administration relaxes restrictions on land available to private farmers. He had earlier relaxed bans on cellphones and other electronics.

• 2010: Dissident Orlando Tamayo dies in February after a hunger strike, an event that many say prompted the biggest political prisoner release in a decade in the summer of 2010.

• 2010: In September, the Cuban government announces layoffs of half a million employees, the biggest economic overhaul since 1959.