The year is 1959 and the place is Cuba. It is January 1st and Batista, thepresident of Cuba has just fled the country fearing Fidel Castro, a Cubanrevolutionary who mounted a rebel force called the 26th of July Movement againstBatista. Castro assumes power on the 16th of February and establishes adictatorship. Communist Rule In Cuba So far, the Soviet leader, Khrushchev is inquestion of what political track Castro is deciding to take.
Russia themselveshave only one connection with Fidel which is his brother Raul who is no doubt afull communist. The Communist Party of Cuba at this time has no contacts withCastro quite yet. Unfortunately, Raul never showed his true feelings forcommunism to his brother, Fidel. This causes quite a predicament for the SovietUnion to make them seen and heard by Cuba. Smartly, Russia sends AnastasIvanovich Mikoyan, who held business contacts in the US, to the states as aguest of the Russian ambassador.
Fidel hears of Mikoyan’s arrival in the USand invites him to visit Cuba. Although Mikoyan is traveling throughout theisland, looking things over, Castro still has not identified himself as aCommunist quite yet. In May of 1960, diplomatic relations between Russia andCuba are established following Mikoyan’s visit to the island. One reason whyCuba has turned to Russia is because the US had cut off their oil supplies andimposed an economic embargo on the island because of the naturalization of USowned companies and citizens by the Cuban government.
This calls for a massiveoil shipment from the Soviets but unfortunately, Russia was unable to handlesuch a demand because of their limited overseas shipping capabilities. Subsequently, Russia puts an order for extra oil tankers from Italy, acapitalist country. When Italy agrees to the business proposition, the US isinfuriated that another capitalist country was willing to help a communistcountry. Italy saw it as nothing more than an opportunity to make extra money,regardless of opposing economic systems.
Back in Cuba, Castro has begun to makeenemies for himself. The many policies he has instilled angered many who foughtbeside him in the revolution to overthrow Batista and many didn’t approve ofthe socialist reforms he made such as the naturalization of businesses and hiscollectivization of agriculture. Castro felt he needed protection against theUnited States and because Cuban forces mainly used small arms and guerillawarfare, Russia sent in tanks, artillery and attack planes as well asinstructors on how to use the new technologies. The former Russian ambassador inCuba was then replaced after Khrushchev soon realized that he worsened relationswith Cuba instead of bettering them. A journalist replaced him by the name ofAlekseyev who was friendly with Fidel and his brother, Raul. Alekseyev was seento be much better suited for his position and worked well with the Cubangovernment because he was already known and trusted by them.
By the early1960’s, Castro has openly endorsed Communism with his many appointments ofcommunist leaders in key positions of the Cuban government. As time, went on,Cuba became increasingly dependent on military and economic aid provided by theSoviet Union. Russia made up much of the Cuban trade interactions including thepurchase of sugar and nickel. The American government became aware of Cuba’sgrowing success and began to wonder if Cuba would act as an example ofsuccessful Socialism, persuade other countries in the Western Hemisphere torevert to a socialist form of government or even serve as a base foranti-American propaganda. The United States was more threatened than ever bythis socialist island nation on the rise. The Cuban Missile Crisis The date isOctober 14th, 1962.
U. S. spy planes are making a pass over Cuba, particularly,an area where much activity is spotted. A Soviet-managed construction site isvisible and photographs are taken of the site. It is soon confirmed that thefirst of many medium/intermediate range ballistic missiles have been spotted. Frantically, President Kennedy secretly meets with his advisory staff toquestion the approach.
On October 22, Kennedy announces a naval blockade aimedat preventing offensive missile weaponry into Cuba on Russian ships. Inspectionsof ships in Cuba by U. S. personnel were also made.
The Russian strategy was toinstall missiles in Cuba without the Americans knowing it. They would thendiscover them only to find that it is too late to act upon it. The Soviet Unionsaw installing missiles in Cuba as a very wise course of action seeing that USmissiles were stationed in Italy, Turkey as well as West Germany which werepointed towards mother Russia. Also, even if the US would try to neutralize themissile installations in Cuba, they would not be capable of neutralizing all ofthem. The main objectives for the Soviet Union were to prevent any type ofinvasion by the United States and to stabilize the “balance of power.
“Something that both the US and the Soviet Union shared was their fright of worldwar and even nuclear war. This is arguably the only time in history where thethreat of nuclear war is possible. Things began to become very tense for bothsides. President Kennedy became aware that the American army is pressuring theUS government to use force against Cuba.
This situation escalates so much thatthe president feels he is in danger of being overthrown by his own military. Theexchange of messages between Khrushchev and Kennedy begin to become morefrequent as tension rose. A final demand was made against the Soviet Union todismantle the missiles immediately. Both sides wanted to end the argumentpeacefully and to avoid war. Word came from the Soviets that they were willingto take down the missiles in Cuba if the US promised that they would not invadeCuba.
Kennedy agreed to the terms but wanted an inspection team to verify thedismantling of the missiles. During the evacuation of Soviet missiles, aAmerican U-2 spy plane was shot down by the orders of Castro which caused muchcommotion in the states. This caused a total outpour of negative propagandatowards the Cubans and the Soviets. Afterwards, though diplomatic relations withthe Soviets and the US began to settle, relations with Cuba and Russia began toworsen. The Cuban government saw the dismantling of the missiles to be a”moral defeat” for the Soviet Union.
Wisely, the man who jumpstarted theSoviet-Cuban relationship, Mikoyan, was once again called upon and sent back toCuba to discuss matters with Castro. Once the disputes were settled with Cuba,and Mikoyan returned to Russia, Khrushchev decided to write Castro a letterpertaining to his feelings on the recent crisis. He mentions the main objectiveof keeping Cuba a socialist country was successful in which no threat ofinvasion is posed towards the island nation. The Aftermath of the Crisis In thelate 1960’s, Castro focused on revamping the agricultural system in Cuba. Hisprimary objective was to dominate the international sugar market with modernmachinery and technology.
Because of the blockade on Cuba, the world sugarprices suffered much inflation but returned to normal after other countrieselevated their sugar production to meet the demand. Cuba established a goal toproduce ten million tons of sugar crop by the year 1970, which marked Lenin’s100th birthday. Khrushchev mentions that Kennedy was a great loss for theAmericans and identified him as a true “statesman. ” He also feels that if helived through his term, that relations between the Soviet Union and the UnitedStates would have been better because Kennedy wouldn’t have allowed the US tobe defeated in Vietnam in the later years to come. I feel that the Cuban missilecrisis served not only as another example of how nuclear war is in fact possiblebut also allowed interaction between opposing systems of government that wereboth seeking to expand their influence on third world countries. For Russia,they have succeeded in guaranteeing that Cuba would not be invaded but they havecompromised their balance of power with the United States for those missilesserved as the only nuclear threat to the states where as the US had missilespositioned in various places in Europe and the Middle East all pointed towardsthe Soviet Union.
Khrushchev has also lost face with China where they see him asa coward in retreating. The people of the United States saw this as their ownvictory with the removal of the nuclear threat. BibliographyCastro, Fidel. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, 1998 ed.
Cuban Missile Crisis. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, 1998 ed. Khrushchev, Nikita. KhrushchevRemembers. USA: Little, Brown and Company, 1970.
Rubin stein, Alvin Z. SovietForeign Policy Since World War II: Imperial and Global- Second Edition. Boston,MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1985.