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US Presidential Visits to Cuba


US Presidential Visits

What: Calvin Coolidge, the 30th U.S. president, has been the only sitting American leader to visit Cuba.

Travels: It was the only time Coolidge left the country during his presidency.

Where: Cuba lies just 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the southernmost tip of Florida.

U.S.-Cuba relations: On April 25, 1898, the United States declared war on Spain, of which Cuba was a colony, after the USS Maine battleship was sunk in the Havana harbor on February 15, 1898. The Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, was signed on December 10, 1898. It established Cuba’s independence, ceded Puerto Rico and Guam to the U.S., and allowed the U.S. to purchase the Philippines from Spain. In 1901, the Platt Amendment provided for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Cuba and gave the U.S. authority to intervene in Cuban domestic affairs.

The amendment also forms the basis for the lease of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

Reason for visit: Coolidge traveled to Havana in January 1928 to speak to the Pan American Conference to try to defuse the growing anger of Latin American leaders over U.S. policy in the region.

Other US leaders: Former President Jimmy Carter visited Cuba in 2011.

Sources: Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, U.S. Library of Congress, University of Virginia’s Miller Center, U.S. Department of State-Office of the Historian

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