Indigenous peoples of several tribes occupied Cuba by the time Columbus first made his way there in 1492. And while much of Spain's American empire dissolved in the early part of the 19th century, Cuba remained a colonial outpost of Spain until the 1890s. With the end of the Spanish American War, Cuba was made a US protectorate and the United States was given the right to intercede in Cuba as it saw fit. In the first half of the 20th century, Cuba experienced many political problems, starting with corruption and going on to include repression. When Fidel Castro and his revolutionary followers overthrew the long-time dictator Batista in 1959, there was hope and expectation that he would usher in democratic reform to the island. Instead, Castro has ruled Cuba since then with an iron hand. It has angered the US with its support for left-leaning regimes and its stubborn adherence to Communism even after the fall of its chief patron, the USSR.