The next 56 years was hard on Cuba and became more so, with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Cubans persevered and became self-reliant building a society, where education was free to all, housing was provided for all and health care was free for all, a health care system that was better than what the Americans had, a health care that aw child mortality dropped to lower then in America. The people did not eat "steak" but they ate.
The vindictiveness of the Americans, did not bring the Cubans to their knees and neither did the regime fall. They faced the sanctions and embargos ( thousands did flee, especially after the US, introduced their policy of preferential treatment, such as "wet feet; dry feet") and the various attempts to assassinate Fidel, the Bay of Pigs invasion by a CIA- sponsored group of mercenaries and Cubans living in the US, and prevailed. In the meantime, they sent thousands of teachers, engineers and doctors ( and trained thousands also), to many countries in the region, helped South Africa end apartheid and helped, militarily to win the independence of Angola and Mozambique, from Portugal ( they bested the South Africa military, which was helping Portugal).
America lost tens of thousands killed and wounded in wars against Germany, Japan and Vietnam, but quickly moved to restore relations with them, but not with Cuba ( with which it fought no war and which killed and wounded some of the "invaders at the Bay of Pigs", while defending themselves), which it took from Spain in 1898 and which it turned into a puppet state run by corrupt dictators, like Batista and preyed upon by American corporations.
Why Cuba? Why did it take so long to restore relations and lift the sanctions and embargos? Why the narrow-minded and repressive vindictiveness for 56 years? Was it the pressure from the Cuban community? There was pressure, political, from Florida and New Jersey, where they mostly live. Was it the Cold War? It ended in 1990. Was it to deny the Castros a victory? Somewhat. Was it hurt pride, that " little Cuba", dare to defy them? Yes, because they did not want it to be a symbol for other countries in the region, but most of these countries, from Argentina to Chile to, Guatemala to Nicaragua have kicked out the US- backed military dictatorships, decades ago. For years the UN had passed resolutions, overwhelmingly, in favour of lifting the sanctions, but it was always vetoed by the US and a few of its "puppets". However, any countries like Canada did end their sanctions and began trading with Cuba.
The Pope used his good offices ( after all he is Argentinian, who lived and endured the military junta and their repression) and thus had a different perspective. He helped facilitate the process an Pres. Obama acted.
The Cold Warriors and their political masters, refused to change. They did not want to acknowledge a failed policy and they most importantly did not want to "reward" Fidel.
So here we are. Pres. Obama has made the journey ( the first since 1928, when "silent" Cal Coolidge) visited. The rain fell. It was a cleansing rain, washing away years of frustration, repression and enmity. These are exciting times. Good luck, happiness to the two peoples.