Fidel Castro looks up at the Jefferson Memorial on April 16, 1959. The Cuban leader visited Washington several months after seizing power. But U.S.-Cuban relations quickly frayed, and the U.S. imposed an embargo of the island in 1961. AP hide caption itoggle caption AP Parallels - World News The U.S. And Cuba: A Brief History Of A Complicated Relationship The stalemate has outlasted 10 U.S. presidents, a failed invasion, a nuclear crisis and countless boatloads of Cuban asylum seekers. All that changed on Wednesday.