In 1959, Fidel
turned Cuba into
1950-53: Korean War
1947-48: Berlin Blockade
1965-75: The Vietnam War
1962: Cuba Missile Crisis
1949: The Birth of PRC
1959 - Castro takes power
January 1959 left-wing
forces under Fidel
Castro nationalized the
sugar industry and signs
trade agreements with
the Soviet Union.
The next year, Castro
seizes U.S. assets on the
1960 - The U-2 Affair
On May 1, an American
high-altitude U-2 spy
plane is shot down on a
mission over the Soviet
After the Soviets
announce the capture of
pilot, the United States
insisted that the plane
was on a weather research
The U-2 Affair
admitted the truth
behind the U-2
he refused to
Bay of Pigs invasion (April 1961)
About 1300 Cuban exiles, armed with U.S. weapons, landed at the
Bay of Pigs on the southern coast of Cuba. Hoping to find support from
the local population
Kennedy was humiliated....
It was badly planned and Kennedy was wrongly advised.
The expected popular uprising of Cubans to support the exiles did not
happen, as the CIA had underestimated the popularity of Castro. The exiles
were defeated and the invasion was a humiliation. Kennedy misjudged
Castro’s defences completely and appeared weak to Khrushchev.
The 1400 exiles landed in Cuba were outnumbered by 20,000 Cuban troops,
with modern arms, and were killed or captured. This made Castro more
popular in Cuba.
Even though Kennedy claimed there was no direct American government
involvement in the invasion, Castro and Khrushchev knew that it had been
planned by the CIA. Kennedy had been humiliated.
The invasion convinced Castro that the USA was an enemy and he looked
more to the USSR for protection.
It suggested to the USSR that Kennedy was weak. It also made Castro and
Khrushchev very suspicious of US policy. In the end, communist Cuba drew
closer to the USSR.
Cuban-US relations before 1961?
- took over American agricultural businesses
in Cuba, all American-owned land and
distributed to Cuba’s peasant population
- received $100 million aid from Khrushchev
- refused to buy Cuban sugar first then in
1960 all trade ended.
- 1961, broke off all diplomatic relations with
- determined to remove Castro and make
him submit. - April 1961, supported a direct
invasion – Bay of Pigs
- supported thousands of Cuban exiles in
It was hostile but there was no direct confrontation.It was hostile but there was no direct confrontation.
USA was unwilling to get directly involvedUSA was unwilling to get directly involved
(1) Describe the Bay of Pigs invasion.
(2) Why did the Bay of Pigs invasion take place in April
(3) Why did the Bay of Pigs invasion result in
humiliation for Kennedy?
The nuclear race had come to a breaking point
during an incident in Cuba, called the
2.Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)
In 1962, the Soviet
Union built missile
bases in Cuba
After the Bay of Pigs invasion, more
photographs taken by U2 spy planes
confirmed the existence of Soviet nuclear
missiles on the island of Cuba...
To remove the nuclear threat, the
American President J.F. Kennedy
imposed a blockade on Cuba.
“To halt this offensive build-up, a strict
quarantine on all offensive military equipment
under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All
ships of any kind bound for Cuba from
whatever nation or port will, if found to
contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be
turned back: This quarantine will be
extended, if needed, to other types of cargo
and carriers. We are not at this time,
however, denying the necessities of life as
the Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin
blockade of 1948.”
The Soviet Union cannot fail to reject the arbitrary demands of the
United States. When you confront us with such conditions, try to put
yourself in our place and consider how the United States would react
to these conditions. I do not doubt that if someone attempted to
dictate similar conditions to you--the United States--you would reject
such an attempt. And we also say--no.
The Soviet Government considers that the violation of the freedom to
use international waters and air space is an act of aggression which
pushes mankind toward the abyss of a world nuclear-missile war.
Therefore, the Soviet Government cannot instruct the captains of
Soviet vessels bound for Cuba to observe the orders of American
naval forces blockading that Island.
…And if the American side violates these rules, it must realize what
responsibility will rest upon it ... We will then be forced on our part to
take the measures we consider necessary in order to protect our
If assurances were given by the President and the
Government of the United States that the USA itself
would not participate in an attack on Cuba and would
restrain others from actions of this sort, if you would
recall your fleet, this would immediately change
everything. I am not speaking for Fidel Castro, but I
think that he and the Government of Cuba, evidently,
would declare demobilization and would appeal to
the people to get down to peaceful labor. Then, too,
the question of armaments would disappear, since, if
there is no threat, then armaments are a burden for
The Soviet Union finally agreed toThe Soviet Union finally agreed to
remove the missiles to avoid aremove the missiles to avoid a
nuclear war.nuclear war.
- The USA avoided a nuclear war.
- The USA had remained superior in the nuclear arms race.
- The direct threat of Soviet missiles was removed from
- Kennedy had shown his strength and that he would not
accept the direct Soviet military action near the USA.
- Kennedy increased his reputation at home and worldwide
by avoiding war and forcing Khrushchev to back down.
- The crisis damaged Khrushchev’s prestige. This was the
beginning of Khrushchev’s fall from power. Leading
Soviet politicians later forced Khrushchev off his power
The Communists’ victory?
- Khrushchev ended the crisis and became the
peacemaker who was willing to make the first
move to compromise.
- Cuba remained a Communist state despite the
removal of missiles. USAs containment policy
failed in Cuba, and later other communist
groups appeared in Central America, such as
Nicaragua and El Salvador.
- USSR maintained significant influence on Cuba.
Cuba remained a strong ally of USSR and could
depend on it for protection and aid.
- USA had to remove US missiles in Turkey and
- Both sides came to agreements to keep
peace and avoid a nuclear war.
- Both sides realised the danger of a nuclear
war and were willing to compromise to
- It was agreed to set up a hot line between
Washington and Moscow to enable direct
communication to take place. In 1963 a
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed.
13 Days Clips
5 min summary:
Cold War Documentary
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wZtwhGmQRY Start 34:16
The Kennedys – episode 6