Cuba and the United States of America have had no diplomatic relations since 1961. The U.S. continues to maintain a commercial, economic, and financial embargo, which makes it illegal for U.S. corporations to do business with Cuba. U.S. diplomatic representation in Cuba is handled by the United States Interests Section in Havana, and there is a similar Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C.; both are officially part of the respective embassies of Switzerland.
As the sway of the Spanish Empire over its possessions in the Americas was crushed in the 1820s as a result of the Spanish American wars of independence, only Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule until the Spanish–American War (1898) that resulted from the Cuban War of Independence. Under the Treaty of Paris, Cuba became a U.S. protectorate; the U.S. gained a position of economic and political dominance over the island, that persisted after it became formally independent in 1902. Following the Cuban Revolution of 1959, bilateral relations deteriorated substantially. In 1961, the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Cuba and began pursuing covert operations to topple the Communist regime. Besides, the U.S. imposed and subsequently tightened a comprehensive set of restrictions and bans vis-a-visa the Cuban regime as retaliation for the nationalization of U.S. corporations’ property by Cuba, and has stated it will continue it so long as the Cuban government continues to refuse to move toward democratization and greater respect for human rights, hoping to see democratization and a reintroduction of capitalismof the type that took place in Eastern Europe after the revolutions of 1989. Meanwhile, several organizations, including a nearly unanimous UN General Assembly, have called for “an end to the United States’ decades-long economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba.
On 17 December 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the beginning of a process of normalizing relations between Cuba and the U.S., which media sources have named “the Cuban Thaw.” Negotiated in secret in Canada and Vatican City over preceding months, and with the assistance of Pope Francis, the agreement is expected to see the lifting of some U.S. travel restrictions, fewer restrictions on remittances, U.S. banks access to the Cuban financial system, and the establishment of a U.S. embassy in Havana, which closed after Cuba became closely allied with the USSR in 1961.