the events of the Cuba crisis, 1962
Cuba crisis was when humankind almost destroyed itself.
A film, Thirteen Days, has been made about the crisis.
The crisis had its roots in 1959, when the Communist Fidel Castro came to
power in Cuba. It certainly
went back to April 1961 when the CIA supported an attempt by anti-Castro Cuban
exiles to invade Cuba. The
Bay of Pigs invasion failed miserably, but its result was that, in September
1961, Castro asked for – and Russia publicly promised – weapons to defend
Cuba against America.
On 14 October 1962, an American U2 spy-plane took pictures of a nuclear
missile base being built on Cuba. On
16 October, Kennedy set up a Committee of the National Security Council to
advise him. Kennedy’s
advisers told him he had 10 days before Cuba could fire the missiles at targets
in America. If established, they
would be able to hit new York and Chicago.
What was the US government to do?
Tapes exist of their discussions – it considered doing nothing,
appealing to the UN, a conventional attack, and even a nuclear strike.
In the end, on 22 October, Kennedy
announced that he was mounting a naval blockade of Cuba.
The Soviets reacted violently.
In a letter dated 23 October, Khrushchev accused America of piracy, and
of trying to provoke a war which would annihilate humankind.
He warned that Russia would get ready ‘a fitting reply to the
aggressor’. 20 Russian
ships were heading for Cuba. The
world held its breath.
On 24 October, the first Russian ship reached the naval blockade. It was an oil ship and was allowed through. The other Russian ships (thought to be carrying missiles) turned back.
the crisis was not over. Russia
was still building the missile bases.
On 26 October, Khrushchev sent a telegram to Kennedy, offering to
dismantle the sites if Kennedy would lift the blockade and agree not to invade
Cuba. Then, on 27
October, before Kennedy could reply, Khrushchev sent another letter, demanding
that Kennedy also dismantle American missile bases in Turkey. On the same day, a U2 plane was shot down over Cuba.
27 October, therefore, was the crisis point; it looked as if war was
about to happen.
Kennedy ignored the plane incident.
He also ignored Khrushchev’s second letter – he wrote simply that
would lift the blockade and agree not to invade Cuba if Khrushchev would
dismantle the missile bases. What
the world did not know at the time was that, secretly, he had told Khrushchev
that he intended to dismantle the American missile bases in Turkey.
On 28 October, Khrushchev agreed the deal.
The crisis finished. On
20 November, the Russian bombers left Cuba, and Kennedy lifted the naval blockade.