Cuba and the United States of America have had an interest in one another since well before either of their independence movements. Plans for the purchase of Cuba from the Spanish Empire were put forward at various times by the United States. As the Spanish influence waned in the Caribbean, the United States gradually gained a position of economic and political dominance over the island, with the vast majority of foreign investment holdings and the bulk of imports and exports in its hands, as well as a strong influence on Cuban political affairs.
Following the Cuban Revolution of 1959, relations deteriorated substantially and have been marked by tension and confrontation since. The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Cuba and has maintained an 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. The United States imposed the embargo because of the nationalization of U.S. corporations' property during the revolution, 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 capitalism of 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 December 17, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the beginning of a process of normalizing relations between Cuba and the United States, 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 would 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.