Crisis over Cuba

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Тії г Си ban Missile Crisis—the American blockade.

Cuba is an island nation only ninety miles from the coast of the United States. In 1959 a revolution­ary reformer named Fidel Castro took over its government. Cuba’s banks, railroads and many other businesses were owned by Americans at this time. So, too, were many of its big sugar plantations.

Castro needed money to make changes it! Cuba. To obtain it he began to take over American – owned businesses. In the opinion of the United States government this was stealing American property. Not only this, but Castro seemed to be organizing a communist state right on the door­step of the United States.

In 1960 President Eisenhower agreed to give weapons and ships to refugees from Cuba who wanted to overthrow Castro. When Eisenhower retired in January, 1961, the plan was supported also by the new President, John F. Kennedy.

On April 17, 1961, a force of 1,400 anti-Castro Cubans landed at the Bay of Pigs on Cuba’s south coast. Castro had tanks and 20,000 men waiting. Within days the invaders were all captured or killed. But Castro believed that Kennedy would attack again, so he asked the Soviet Union for help. Khrushchev sent him shiploads of rifles, tanks, and aircraft. Kennedy grew worried and ordered a close watch to be kept on Cuba.

On Sunday, October 14, 1962, an American U-2 spy plane flew high over the island taking photo­graphs. They showed Russian missile launching sites being built. What had happened was this: Ever since the U-2 incident of 1960 Khrushchev had been making threats against the United States. These had alarmed Kennedy. Although the Americans already had more long-range missiles than the Russians, Kennedy ordered nearly a thousand more. The new missiles tipped the “balance of terror” strongly in favor of the United States. When Castro asked for help, Khrushchev saw a chance to level up the balance of terror. He ’would threaten the United States from missile bases on its own doorstep-Cuba.

Kennedy was shocked by the U-2 photographs. “This is the week 1 better earn my salary," he said grimly. Some advisers wanted him to send bom­bers to destroy the missile bases. He also thought about sending American soldiers to capture them. But instead he ordered American ships and aircraft to set up a blockade. They were to stop any Soviet ships carrying more missile equipment to Cuba.

Kennedy then told Khrushchev to take away the Soviet missiles and destroy the bases. He warned that any missile fired from Cuba would be treated as a direct Soviet attack on the United States and ordered 156 long-range missiles aimed at the Soviet Union to be made ready to fire.

For ten terrifying days in October 1962, the world trembled on the edge of nuclear war. People waited in fear for the next news flash on their radios and televisions. Finally Khrushchev ordered his technicians in Cuba to destroy the launching sites and return the missiles to the Soviet Union. In return, Kennedy called off the blockade and promised to leave Cuba alone. Privately, he also agreed to remove American missiles sited on the border of the Soviet Union in Turkey. The most dangerous crisis of the Cold War was over.

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Updated: 18th July 2015 — 3:17 pm