Fidel Castro assumes power in Cuba after the Cuban Revolution
He aligns Cuba with the Soviet Union
The United States terminates relations with Cuba
President Kennedy says that the U.S. military will not overthrow Castro
Cuban Exiles invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in an attempt to trigger an anti-Castro rebellion
Castro announces that any direct attack from the U.S. would be the equivalent to a World War.
C.I.A. director John McCone sends a memo to Kennedy expressing his belief that Soviet medium-range ballistic missiles will be deployed in Cuba
The Soviet Union wanted missiles in Cuba because of how close it was to the United States specifically Florida.
From Cuba Florida is only 90 miles away.
This put Florida in a high risk situation because it was far within the range of a ballistic missile.
Why did Cuba side with the Soviets?
Cuba sided with the Soviets because Castro hated the U.S. and Russia always acted like a friend to Castro.
When Castro Came to power the U.S. stopped buying sugar cane from Cuba and also stopped supplying them with oil.
When the U.S. attempted to overthrow Castro. Castro turned to Russia for help and Russia took the opportunity to make their presence felt to the Americans.
October 15 – 16
The crisis began on October 15 when a U-2 pilot took pictures over Cuba which revealed SS-4 Nuclear Missiles.
President Kennedy was informed the next day at breakfast. He convened 12 of his most important advisors known as EX-COMM.
Most supported an air strike followed by an invasion.
America un-aware of the good communications between Cuba and Russia wasn't aware that if they invaded Cuba Russia’s field officers had been given permission to use the nuclear missiles.
Kennedy wanted to look tough but avoid military confrontation advisors recommended a blockade.
October 17 – 19
To maintain secrecy Kennedy still kept to his schedule of events which included campaign trips to Connecticut and the Mid-west.
In-between the trips the U-2 discovered an SS-5 missile which can reach most of the continental United States.
Kennedy met with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrie Gromyko. Kennedy told him the U.S. would not tolerate offensive weapons in Cuba. Gromyko denied having any weapons on the island at all.
U2 Spy Plane
Robert Kennedy called the President while in Chicago and told him that he must return to meet with his 12 advisors.
The President agreed and told the press that he had an upper-respiratory infection so he had to return to Washington.
When he got back he met with EX-COMM, his advisors.
The next day Kennedy asked if the Air Force could take out all the missiles.
The Air Force response was that they could only destroy the ones they knew about. The potential number of estimated casualties discouraged Kennedy so he ordered to set up a blockade all around Cuba.
The U-2 discovered more missile sights being built all along the Cuban coast.
When the press learned there were offensive weapons in Cuba, President Kennedy asked them not to release the information until he could tell everyone on the by appearing on television.
If the press denied him the element of surprise Kennedy stated “I don’t know what the Soviets will do.”
The public phase begun on this day. When the Senate found out there were missiles in Cuba they ordered for an air strike but Kennedy stood for his orders of a blockade.
U.S. ships prepared for a quarantine of Cuba and the Marines reinforced Guantanamo bay. Military alert was raised to where they could immediately launch missiles to Cuba. In response to Kennedy’s speech Castro mobilized all of Cuba’s army.
October 23 - 24
A low level reconnaissance mission brought back stunning photos of missiles ready for launch. They stated they knew it was serious because the could see the writing on the missiles. The US decided to quarantine Cuba and to make sure no ship crossed the blockade line. On October 24 th the Soviets ships approached the line. The Secretary of State (Dean Rusk) ordered the ship to stop. In a quote he said “were eye to eye with the other guy and they just blinked.”
On the 25 th the military alert was raised to DEFCON 2 the highest ever in U.S. history. The military at any moment could initiate an attack on Cuba or the Soviet Union. The U.S. ambassador confronted the Soviets at the U.N. and they refused to answer any questions.
On the 26 th the U.S. navy searched a Soviet ship (Marcula) and cleared it to Cuba. All they found was paper. The Soviets wrote a letter to President Kennedy saying, if they promised never to invade Cuba, they would remove their missiles. U-2’s found that the Soviets were now camouflaging their missiles.
Considered the worst day of the crisis. One U-2 flew off course into Russia and another one was shot down. A U-2 on a routine mission following the wrong target accidentally flew over Russia. The plane was soon followed with 3 Soviet planes armed with nuclear missiles. If they had shot down the plane it would’ve began a nuclear war. Another U-2 was attempting to take pictures of missiles and on soviet orders the plane was shot down over Cuba. In Kennedy’s second letter from Khrushchev he upped the price for removing the missiles. Russia wanted the US to remove the missiles from Turkey. On October 28 th the Soviet Union announced that they would be dismantling their nuclear missiles in Cuba. By backing down Khrushchev ruined his career but also prevented a nuclear war between the nations.
The reason for the Cuban Missile Crisis was because poor communication between the two nations. Most of the communication between the two countries was via radio, speeches, and TV. There was no direct contact between the two countries thus escalating the situation in 1962. Once the event had gone public on October 22, 1962 it took Kennedy and Khrushchev 7 days to reach an agreement. Realizing how close they came to Nuclear war Russia and the U.S. decided they needed to improve communication so they established what became to be known as the “hot line” which is a direct communication between the White House and Kremlin. If Russia hadn’t removed the missiles Kennedy would have invaded Cuba and Cuba would have launched their nuclear missiles throwing us ultimately into a world wide nuclear war.
Nine months later Kennedy and Khrushchev signed an agreement to ban nuclear testing in the atmosphere. This seemed to mark a new era of communication and willingness to communicate. However on November 22, 1963 President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Eleven months later, Khrushchev was removed from office by communist hard liners. We can now only wonder what would have happened if these two men had stayed in power. The two men who brought us so close to nuclear war could have also brought us far from it. After all these years all there is, is “what if’s.”
Fidel Castro comes to power in Cuba after the Cuban Revolution.
The U.S. terminates relations with Cuba.
Russia be-friends Castro
On October 15 th a pilot takes pictures of missiles over Cuba.
Meanwhile the crisis is kept a secret in the U.S.
Instead of bombing to take out all the missiles the U.S blockades Cuba to minimize the amount of casualties
Another plane flying over Cuba brought back pictures of missiles being ready to launch.
On October 25 th the military alert was raised to DEFCON 2 the highest ever in U.S. history.
On October 26 th the president received a letter saying if the U.S. promises never to invade Cuba the missiles would be removed then they later found that missiles were being camouflaged.
On the 27 th a U.S. plane entered Soviet territory and was soon being trailed by 3 planes all armed with nuclear missiles if this plane had been shot down Nuclear War would have begun.
On the 28 th of October the Soviets announced they would be dismantling their missiles in Cuba thus preventing nuclear warfare and ending the threat.