Thousands of minuscule ripples protrude from the vast Atlantic Ocean. The sun, old in its day and weary of shining down upon the blue green sea begins to set. Almost as if to save the best for last, a brilliant mirage of orange and red color is cast upon the busy waves. Nowhere on this planet is this image captured so brilliantly as in the Caribbean, and nowhere on the earth is such a surreal scene captured daily. This heaven on Earth is a painters paradise, a travel agents dream, and a honeymooner utopia. For as far back as man can remember, numerous competitive countries have sought after this Shangri-La. Whether for their views, climate, people, or numerous crops, the scattered islands that inhabit the Caribbean area have been widely contested for centuries. Perhaps the one individual country with the most relevant recent history in relation to the United States occupying this region is Cuba. Since Cubas revolution in the early 1900s the United States has economically controlled the country with our capitalistic ideals. From 1900 to 1955, the United States utilized Cuban imports to fuel our consumer society. The islands economy became so tightly intertwined with Americas that we would stop at nothing to disallow new leadership from coming in, and ruining our capitalist network of profiteers from owning exports of copper, silver, and sugar. In and around 1956, Fidel Castro led a revolutionary uprising against a corrupt government in place directly under American rule. When America placed a severe embargo on Cuba, and its new leadership, Castro had no choice but to call upon the USSR for financial and military aid. In September 1960, United States Eisenhower approved a plan for exiled Cuban, anti V communist revolutionaries, funded by the US to attack Cuba, and hopefully ignite a revolt that would eventually overthrow Castro. The infamous Bay of Pigs incident left thousands of soldiers captured, and the United States government extremely embarrassed. It was just before this time that the United States sent nuclear missiles to Turkey, just over the USSRs horizon. Russia responded to these and other actions by placing missiles in Cuba, 90 miles away from Americas southern tip, spawning the Cuban missile crisis. It was in fact the United States governments hostility towards Communist Cuba that led up to the Cuban missile crisis.
Presently, Cubas economy is a centrally planned state-owned economy in which the state organizes, directs, and controls the economic life of the nation. Foreign trade, according to the constitution is the exclusive function of the state. (Article 18) The ministry of foreign trade was created in 1961 to be the only state agency authorized to conduct foreign trade. All trade is conducted through the ministry which controls 40 foreign trade enterprises, each responsible for a different product.
It was not always this way in Cuba however. Cubans endured numerous revolutions to convert their economic system from mercantilism, to capitalism, and eventually to communism. Cubans, however refer them as different stages of one single revolution. Unique social aspects that needed changing marked each stage of the Cuban revolution. Cubas landowning aristocracy (Ranchers, coffee and sugar planters) initiated the wars of independence (from Spain) in 1868 and 1895. They opposed Spains political control and mercantilist economic policies. Although Jos Marti addressed questions internal to Cuba, such as racism and the need for a new national cultural culture and identity, the first and second wars of independence were primarily aimed at freeing Cuba from the grip of Spanish colonization. (Brenner 327)
Cuba won its long and bloody war against Spain, but lost its struggle for nationhood when the United States transformed the island from a Spanish colony to a U.S. protectorate. After occupying the island from 1898 to 1901, the U.S. intervened (1906-9,1912,1917) to protect economic interests and restore political stability by ensuring American friendly rulers led Cuba. When Cubas political elite shifted loyalties from Madrid to Washington, the islands landed aristocracy became tightly integrated into the U.S. economy. Between 1909 and 1929, US capital investments in Cuba increased 700 percent. The sugar slump after World War I saw the islands monoculture economy virtually taken over by foreign V based companies, a process that drove small and independent farmers into sugar cultivation, marking the island a virtual plantation for US business. (1J)
After about a half a century of American influence, Cubans decided they had had enough. On March 10, 1952, Fulgencio Batista abrogated the constitution and staged a military coup, prompting the new generation of Cubans to take up arms, led by Fidel Castro. The rebels failed attack at the Moncada barracks on July 26, 1953, inaugurated the most recent phase of the Cuban revolution. In his defense of the Moncada attack, Fidel Castro said, History will absolve me. He then cataloged the many ills that had turned Cuba into a defenseless colony, unable to feed and house its people, educate its young, or control its politics, economy and culture. By the 1950s, the complete loss of nationhood and personal dignity was readily apparent, as the island had become a brothel for North American businessmen and a casino for the Mafia. (Brenner, 79) Indeed, America had become the modern day equivalent to an oppressive Spain that Cubans had fought so hard to overthrow.
After the trial, jail and exile awaited the small band of survivors who attacked the Moncada barracks. However, they inspired a broad movement with supporters among the peasantry, professionals, white-collar urban workers, and the dispossessed. Returning from Mexico in 1956, Castro and the other leaders of the July 26 attack announced their intentions in a manifesto: Let it be clear we are not fighting to simply oust a gang of thieves from power, nor are we going to substitute some bosses for others . . . We are working on a program of serious political, economic, agrarian, and educational transformation. We move resolutely towards the toots of Cubas problems. (Brenner, 31) Castro pushed the concept that his countrys inadequacies were deeply rooted in the unfair relationship that existed between the US and Cuba. In the very relationship that left most Cubans impoverished, and most Americans comparatively wealthy. To counteract these deep-rooted circumstances, the revolutionaries proclaimed much as black protesters did during 1960s America, that the only solution was to arm themselves. However, unlike black rights activists in 1960s America, the Cubans saw fit a completely armed insurrection and turnover of power in Cuba.
In theory, the key problem with Cubas foreign trade policy of specialization (which has been responsible for the severe lack of development within certain key sectors of Cubas economy) is that it increases trade dependence. (Brenner, 48) In 1960, Fidel Castros room to maneuver had only two exits. Even granting that he was the one who slammed the normally used door in Uncle Sams face, it was also true that the US turned the key and bolted the lock. That left only the other door, which led Westward towards the communist world. (Brenner, 52) Scholars differ on whether Castro was pushed into the waiting arms of the Soviet Union by an embittered and belligerent hegemony (the US) or leaped on to the unsuspecting shoulders of the Soviets as the best means of centralizing his control. All agree, however, that this two-sided relationship was driven and shaped by an unconnected third corner, the United Stated. That the consequences of the replacement of U.S. hegemony with that of the USSR was the elimination of alternative sources of economic and political power within Cuba, and the systematic consolidation of a bureaucratic neutralized state. The Soviets provided Castro with a legitimate doctrine, a protective shield, and economic aid and support to withstand the US embargo and help Cuba extend its influence. (Brenner, 98) The government of the Republic of Cuba, and the USSR, guiding themselves by the principles and objectives of the United Nations organization charter. Reiterating their desire to live in peace with all states and peoples. Determined to make all possible efforts to contribute to the preservation and strengthening of world peace. Faithful to a policy of principle based on friendship and solidarity between peoples defending a common cause of which fundamental pillars are the peaceful co-existence between states and different social systems, the legitimate defense in the face of aggression, the right of every people to give itself the form of government it deems appropriate to its aspirations of well-being and progress and to live in peace without being perturbed or attacked from abroad and the recognition of the historical prerogative of every nation, when it so desires, to break the binds that exploitation. Russia and Cuba decided to take into account the urgency of taking measures to assure mutual defense in the face of possible aggression against Cuba & the USSR. (Cuba USSR, Aug 1962) In articles one, and two of this agreement, it was agreed that Russia would send Cuba armed forces to reinforce its defenses, in the face of the danger of an external aggression to contribute to the preservation of world peace, and in the event of aggression, the governments of Cuba and the USSR would take any necessary measures to repel it. (2M)Indeed from the Soviet and Cuban perspective, United States military maneuvers and covert operations combined with the implementation of a full economic embargo in February, 1962, and a US led diplomatic initiative to expel Cuba from the organization of American states and isolate Castro added up to the preparations for an invasion of Cuba.
Meanwhile, it was concluded on June 1961 by the United States that action should be taken to deploy International Range Ballistic missiles to Turkey, This conclusion was based primarily on the view that, in the aftermath of tensions in Vienna, cancellation of the IRBM deployment would be seen as a sign of weakness for the US. Indeed many of the moves made by America during the cold war period were governed by the fear of appearing weak to the USSR. The IRBMs in Turkey provided both an impetus and a justification for Khrushchevs decision to deploy missiles to Cuba. (Wyden, 137) The decision was driven in part, if not predominately by the desire to prevent an expected US attack on Cuba (Wyden, 155) The United States in fact, wasnt weak at all, compared to Russia. U.S. Intelligence concluded in 1961 that previous estimates of Soviet nuclear strength had been overstated. Indeed, by the time of the missile crisis, the Soviet Union had only twenty to forty intercontinental ballistic missiles, compared to over one hundred and seventy by the United States. Overall in fact, the United States had a three thousand to two hundred and fifty missile advantage. (Wyden, 136) As the disparity in power continued to widen, Soviet leaders feared that the US might gain advantage for a preemptive nuclear strike or use their nuclear superiority to compel political concessions from the Soviets on international issues. (Wyden, 136)
The United States viewed five threats that would be posed from Russian missiles in Cuba. A) Cuba might join with the USSR in setting up an offensive air or military base B) it may threaten the safety of other Latin American countries, currently friendly with America, and Democracy. C) It would set up covert operations, threatening the independence of Latin American countries from within D) Cubas ideological contours are moral and political offense to the US, and we are committed to remove that offense, including our commitment to Cuban refugees among us E) its ideological contours and success may tend to inflame disruptive forces in the rest of Latin America accentuating existing economic, social, and political tensions which we conforms. (Wyden, 432) Also, The United States was not prepared to face extra-hemispheric military forces placed in the Western Hemisphere. The United States main goal was to help the people of Cuba overthrow the Communist regime from within Cuba. (Wyden, 433) From the spring of 1959 onward, the CIA did everything that it could to bring about the overthrow of the Castro government. Beginning in January 1960 at the latest, CIA planes from Florida, some with American pilots were raiding Cuban fields with napalm type bombs to burn the sugarcane. New York Times correspondent Joe Jukes wrote in an article for a 1974 Esquire that President Kennedy spoke to him in February 1961 about being under pressure by the CIA to have Castro assassinated. (Brenner, 77) Revolutionaries were active through the spring and summer of 1960 in Cuba, supplied with money, arms, food, and transportation by the CIA. US marines landed on Cuban shores in 1891, 1906, 1912, and 1917. (Wyden 274) Throughout the spring of 1962, planning for overthrowing Castro became more refined. In February, Lansdale said out a six-phase plan for the covert war. The intelligence, political, economic, psychological, sabotage, and military operations were supposed to culminate in an internal anti-Castro revolt in October, 1962 V the same month the Cuban missile crisis took place. On November 30, 1961, Kennedy authorized a covert program known as Operation Mongoose to use available assetsK to help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime. (Wyden 257) From the spring of 1959 onward, the CIA did everything that it could to bring about the overthrow of the Castro government in March 1960. The CIA recommended to arm and train Cuban exiles for guerrilla warfare. The US mounted a sophisticated and sustained secret war against Cuba that involved weekly landings by Cuban exiles based in Florida. The exiles sabotaged Cuban factories poisoned food supplies, destroyed transportation and communication facilities and sent aid to counter revolutionary organizations. (Brenner, 134) Castro knew about the Bay of pigs invasion plans, but apparently thought that the attack was coming in December 1960, or February 1961. On December 31st foreign minister Raul Soa had called for a Security Council meeting on the subject. Castro cleared the Sierra de Escambray of most of the peasants living there. He sent in the rural militia and Rebel army forces, which he had organized. They cleared out of the region within a few weeks of the Bay of Pigs invasion. (Brenner, 211) In April 1960, the US conducted LANTPHIBEX, a mock assault on the Puerto Rican Island of Vieques. From April to May, the US Navy carried out operation Quick Kick V maneuvers involving 79 ships, and 40,000 troops off the south east-coast of the US Swift Strike II was conducted in August in the Carolinas. Also in August, the defense department announced plans for PHILBRIGLEX-62, which involved another mock assault on Vieques and the simulated overthrow of a leader named Ortsac, Castro spelled backwards.
So the Soviets sent missals to Cuba, and the United States flipped out. Realistically, however, it was the United States which prompted Russia to send missiles to Cuba, both to protect Cuba and protect themselves, since the US had placed missiles in Turkey. The media however, as they often do, warped everything around to make it seem as if the entire ordeal was the Russians fault, and that their horrible regime of communism (a form of government that was actually created to do away with the injustices embedded into democratic capitalism) forced the righteous United States to protect their citizens from untimely doom. The real truth here isnt a pretty one. The real truth is that America wanted Cuba for its raw material, and for the influence that it would provide. They wanted it for its surreal views, and so Americas gangsters could run its casinos. They wanted it so American businessmen could find as many hookers, and as much profit as they pleased as they as they stripped all of the life out of the Cuban people, and all of the fertility out of the Cuban land. The United States was planning to attack Cuba, in order to take it over, since the basically inferior Soviet military capability couldnt stop us from halfway around the world, and if they had tried we were indescribably more powerful than they, and capable of blowing them to atomic particles. Basically, the United States caused the Cuban Missile crisis through extensive military, economic, emotional, and covert aggression.
The Cuba Reader : Philip Brenner
The Bay of Pigs : Manuel Eglesias
The Cuban Missile Crisis : Jose Manuel Forrero