US President Obama’s visit to Cuba marked a major milestone in repairing the relationship between the two countries, but it didn’t happen overnight. Amidst legendary tales of assassination plots and paramilitary operations, it turns out that the two enemy nations never really stopped talking to each other. The negotiations were mostly secret — until now.

William M. LeoGrande is a professor of Government and former Dean of the American University School of Public Affairs. He is an expert on Latin America. Most recently, he is coauthor of Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana. Previously, he served on the staffs of the Democratic Policy Committee of the United States Senate.