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With Castro officially yesterday’s man, it’s time to talk of new eras in Cuba—of capitalism and all the joys it could bring. While everyone else is doing that, however, it’s also interesting to look at the longer scale, and to consider just how Castro’s 49 years slot into the 516 that have elapsed since recorded history began for the island (not to mention the 3,500-odd years of habitation that preceded this).

Carbon dating suggests that Cuba has been inhabited since at least 2000BC, and was being visited by South America tribes hundreds of years before that. Once settled, it provided…

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