Tom Marabello
U.S. History, World History, Political Science
Material Type:
Assessment, Primary Source
High School
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Bay of Pigs Invasion
  • Cold War
  • Cold War History
  • Cuba Foreign Relations
  • Diplomatic
  • U.S. Diplomatic History
    Creative Commons Attribution

    DBQ: U.S.-Cuba Relations

    DBQ: U.S.-Cuba Relations


    This set of primary source documents is compiled as a DBQ (document based question) assignment. DBQs are used in all AP history courses to get students to group and analyze documents and authors' points of view into an essay. Students should be able to use the provided documents and prompt to group similar documents together and then write a 5 paragraph essay.


    The documents provided could be used in a U.S. History, World History, Government or International Relations class. Students could write a full 5 paragraph DBQ essay or analyze some or all of the documents with a partner or in small groups. Based on the provided documents, it would be best if students had some background knowledge of The Cold War and American foreign policy. The documents to be analyzed should allow students to see both Cuban and American perspectives of their relations and struggles that intensified when Fidel Castro came into power with the Cuban Revolution in 1959.




    Analyze relations between the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba, 1959-2015.

    Student Directions:

    This question is designed to test your ability to work with and understand historical documents;

    Write an essay that:

    • Provides an appropriate, explicitly stated thesis that directly addresses all parts of the questions and does NOT simply restate the question.
    • Demonstrates understanding of the basic meaning of a majority of the documents.
    • Supports the thesis with appropriate interpretations of a majority of the documents.
    • Takes into account both the sources of the documents and the various authors’ points of view.


    Historical Background:

    The United States was heavily involved in Cuba since the end of the Spanish American War through controlling 90 percent of Cuban mines, 40 percent of its sugar production, leasing the Guantanamo Bay naval base and financial support of the regime of Fulgencio Batista, a brutal dictator. In 1959, Batista was overthrown in a revolution led by Fidel Castro. After the U.S. government tried to unsuccessfully overthrow Castro in the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961, he declared that Cuba was a socialist country, alarming the United States that a country so close to its borders was communist and allied with the Soviet Union. Starting in 1961, the United States ended relations with Cuba and imposed a trade embargo. In 1962, the U.S. discovered that the Soviet Union was shipping and storing nuclear missiles on Cuba, leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis, which ended with a blockade and removal of the missiles. In December 2014, President Barack Obama announced plans for the United States government to restore diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba.