Fidel Castro and the Cuban Missile Crisis

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Fidel Castro and the Cuban Missile Crisis

If you have lived in Cuba in the last 50 years, then the name Fidel Castro should ring a bell. “Fidel Castro has been at the center of your heart and thoughts, for however small a second, each day of your life (Guillermoprieto).” He is a Cuban revolutionary and politician. He has held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He is the son of Angel Castro, an illiterate immigrant who made his riches through acquiring land from the district of Biran due to shady business deals. This was where 300 or so families would work for or rented off of his father’s land. Fidel explains that although his family was prosperous, his childhood suffered a lot of hardships along with an older sister and a brother. They were sent to Santiago to board with the family of a schoolteacher (Guillermoprieto). Fidel and his siblings would always be hungry due to the poor living conditions of his new home. Growing up with the lack of his father, he grew an obsession of honor and dignity. He picked fights constantly

. When he found politics as a young student at the University of Havana studying law, Fidel would involve himself in armed rebellions against right-wing governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia. From there, he concluded that the United States backed the Cuban president Fulgencio Batista and felt that he should be overthrown. This was the start of the Cuban revolution. Castro then assembled a group of revolutionaries called the, July 26 movement, to lead a successful guerrilla war against Batista's forces, overthrowing him in 1959. He was the commander in chief then became the prime minister of Cuba.

“He also learned the first rule of the pugnacious: never acknowledge when you’re beaten. Although he has been defeated, knocked down, and forced to backtrack in tests of will against a broad array of enemies (particularly against his principal one, the United States), he has said so in public only rarely. More importantly, he has in fact refused to back down or acknowledge defeat in circumstances that threatened not only his survival but—as in the Cuban missile crisis—the very survival of civilized life. (It was the Soviets who backed down then, not he.) (Guillermoprieto)

The United States was shocked by this due Castro’s involvement with overthrowing Batista and having friendly relations with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. This led to an economic blockade on Cuba and Dwight D. Eisenhower to order a hit on Fidel Castro through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA failed on multiple assassination hits and the failure of the Bay of Pig in 1961. Castro countered by forging a military alliance with the Soviet Union and allowing them to place nuclear missiles on Cuba. Ultimately this is how the Cuban missile crisis started in 1962.

Day 1: October 16, 1962 marked the brink of a nuclear war from both parties[1]. Two days earlier, aerial photographs were taken that showed that the Soviet Union had built launch sites for intermediate-range- ballistic missiles (IRBMs)[2]. Although the President kept on track of his agenda for the day, He managed to sneak in a meeting with his advisors about the upcoming threat. The two immediate options was an airstrike/invasion into Cuba or a full naval blockade on Cuba to see if the Russians would strike first. If a nuclear war had erupted, two thousand government officials were eligible to be relocated underground deep in the Virginia mountainside[3].

Day 2: October 17, 1962, American troops started to mobilize to the southeastern United States when new information risen about more Cuban bases and missiles3. This gave the Americans a better position to launch a quicker offensive or defensive if needed. Nearly 250,000 American troops mobilized into Florida to prepare for an invasion into Cuba5 .

Day 3: October 18, 1962, JFK meets with...
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