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What happened during the cuban missile crisis

What happened during the cuban missile crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis was an international incident of the Cold War diplomatically that faced the Soviet Union and the United States between 14 October and 20 November 1962, which represented one of the moments of greatest tension both nuclear powers due to the installation of ballistic missile launch pads Soviets in Cuban territory, which would have allowed the USSR to have weapons to attack the continental United States with nuclear weapons. What happened during the cuban missile crisis was a shock experience for both americans and cubans, and will be remembered as the moment we almost enter in a nuclear conflict which would have dramatically changed geopolitics  as we know.


From 16 to 28 October 1962
(The naval blockade of Cuba ended November 20)


Cuba (Caribbean Sea)


Agreement between the two powers:

Removal of Soviet nuclear missiles from Cuba

Withdrawal of American nuclear missiles in Turkey and Italy
The United States agreed not to invade Cuba
Creating Hotline
Fidel Castro is reinforced as Prime Minister of Cuba


United States

Soviet Union

Warsaw Pact

 Main roles and beligerant countries in the crisis

What happened during the cuban missile crisis


In 50 years, Cuba remained under the influence and control of the United States, which had intervened decisively in 1898, the Caribbean island’s independence with respect to Spain. In January 1959, however, the revolution Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista was overthrown by the guerrillas led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara The Cuban government launched soon (May 1959) land reform and expelled from Cuba the American capital companies, including the iconic United Fruit Company.

The reforms undertaken by Fidel Castro, contrary to the economic interests of the United States, causing 21 October 1959 the Americans launched an attack on Havana. Two planes strafe the city, causing two deaths and 50 injured.

Subsequently, on 15 April 1961, 1,500 men landed at Bahía Cochinos. These troops were constituted mainly by anti exiles who had been trained by the CIA in Guatemala as part of an operation financed by the Eisenhower administration. Several cities were bombed, although the Cuban military forces were able to defeat the invasion attempt.

On 24 April 1961, JF Kennedy, D. Eisenhower had happened in the office of President of the United States, assumed full responsibility for this action and began the economic embargo against Cuba that still lingers.

In November 1961, the United States deployed in Turkey fifteen Jupiter missiles capable of reaching Soviet territory and thirty more in Italy.

Outbreak of conflict

The origin of the conflict must be found in the decision of the Politburo of the Soviet Union more strongly support the revolutionary government of Cuba under Fidel Castro’s command, following the precedent that was set with the failed attempt United States invaded the island in Bahía Cochinos in April 1961. With this operation, the United States showed a pro-Soviet government would not tolerate a few kilometers from their shores. The Soviet Union, meanwhile, saw ideal logistics base in Cuba to support revolutionary new waves prosoviètiques in Latin American countries. Furthermore, in view of its proximity to Florida, Cuba became the military ideal base from which to threaten the United States without these had reaction time, equaling therefore the threat that meant for the Soviets American missiles deployed from November 1961 in Turkey, border state with the USSR and member of NATO. All in all Russian president Nikita Khrushchev and his government decided to make the island with the installation missile bases to carry nuclear warheads ready and able to supply the United States.

The installation of the missiles was discovered through aerial photographs taken from an American spy plane piloted by Richard S. Heysen. CIA analysts noted President JF Kennedy that structures photographed in Cuba seemed to correspond to facilities of missiles, not yet operational although it could be soon. At 11:45 on the 16th, Kennedy asked the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EXCOMM) to give him a recommendation. McNamara to be the turning point of the conflict: “If Kennedy had not postponed the decision, we should go to war that day.” The EXCOMM ignored that 162 nuclear warheads were already in Cuba. [1] On October 22, 1962, Kennedy addressed the nation in a televised message of 17 minutes where the decision to establish a kind of ” quarantine “or naval blockade to 500 nautical miles (926 km) off the coast of Cuba. Thus, the United States deployed several ships and warplanes to the area, in order to avoid isolated island so newbuilding Soviets arrived in Cuba. Far from being shrugged, October 24, Nikita Khrushchev addressed a message to Kennedy in which he stated that “… the USSR sees the blockade as an aggression and will not instruct ships diverted.”

New york daily cover October 1962

Cover of New York Daily October 23, 1962

However, during the early morning hours, 30 Soviet merchant ships (four of them carrying nuclear missiles aboard) were en route to Cuba. Two, the Khemov and Gagarin reached, even on the blockade line. However, strategically unnecessary Khrushchev loved the blockade is being well looked the missiles installed in Cuba is a good endangered and Soviet ships slow down, turned tail and some other altered their routes.

On October 27, an American U-2 spy plane while flying over the island, it was shot down by a Soviet missile fired from one of their bases, further increasing the tension.

End of crisis

The same October 27, Khrushchev proposed to Kennedy the dismantling of the Soviet bases of nuclear missiles in Cuba. In return the USSR demanded a guarantee that the US would not invade Cuba or support any operation that purpose. While urging Americans to dismantle its nuclear missile bases in Turkey. Kennedy agreed to remove the missiles obsolete type Jupiter. This will put an end to the crisis without any of the two contenders showed signs of weakness or defeat.

This resolution as “tables” satisfy both powers, as the “theater” of the Cold War was thus equaled again. Actually some and others wanted to avoid direct conflict, extreme both Washington and Moscow would not even imagine how much advertising war at the time said the opposite. Preferred crossed the clashes in third countries, as had happened with the Korean War (1950-1953) that would occur with the Vietnam War (1954-1975). On October 30, Fidel Castro Nikita Khrushchev communicated to the terms of the agreement between the White House and the Kremlin, and on November 20, Castro accepted the withdrawal of Soviet nuclear missiles and Kennedy announced the end of the blockade on the island .

In the article “Tactics and strategy of the Latin American revolution,” written during the crisis and not published until after his death, Ernesto Che Guevara denounced the attitude of Soviet stating that:

[blockquote author=”Ernesto Che Guevara” pull=”normal”]”It is chilling example of a people who are willing to immolate themselves atomically because the ashes serve as a basis for new companies when it does, without consulting a pact whereby they retire atomic rockets, no sighs of relief, not give thanks for the truce; jumps into the fray to give his own unique voice, his fighting position, own unique, and further, his decision to fight even if alone against all the dangers and against the atomic threat of imperialism itself Yankee. »[/blockquote]