Cuban Missile Crisis: What was Castro thinking?

By Curry
  • Blockade of Cuba

    Presdient Kennedy decided on a blockade of Cuba by the US Navy tp prevent further shipments of military supplies to the island. The president decided to use the word “quarantine” instead of the word “blockade” because international law considered a blockade to be an act of war. This option allowed the president to steer a middle course among ExComm’s varied options.
  • Kennedy Televison speech to America about Cuba and Soviet Union

    Kennedy announced in a televised speech to the American public that the Soviets were installing nuclear missiles in Cuba. He then informed the nation of his decision to enforce a quarantine of Cuba until the missiles were removed. At the time, the president expected that the quarantine would be only the first step in a long war of nerves with the Soviets. Kennedy’s October 22 address caught the Soviet government off guard. For several hours, there was no response.
  • US quarantine of Cuba

    On October 23, he blasted the U.S. quarantine of Cuba as a violation of international law. Khrushchev maintained that the missiles in Cuba, regardless of their type, were meant “exclusively for defensive purposes, in order to secure the Cuban republic from an aggressor’s attack.” He also warned the United States that military aggression toward Cuba might lead to nuclear war.
  • Feared from Nuclear War

    As the crisis intensified, many Americans feared that war, possibly nuclear war, was probable. The U.S. naval quarantine went into effect October 24. Initially, Khrushchev ordered Soviet ships to race toward the quarantine line. The Soviets threatened to sink any U.S. vessel that tried to prevent their passage to Cuba. That same day, the government put U.S. nuclear forces on DEFCON 2 alert for the first and only time in history: bombers remained airborne, and missile silo covers were opened.
  • Soviet Ships

    On October 25, at least a dozen Soviet ships en route to Cuba turned back, but preparations at the missile sites on the island accelerated. Soviets and Cubans started working around the clock to make the missiles operational.
  • Emotional Appeal

    October 26, was an emotional appeal apparently composed by Khrushchev himself, calling on Kennedy to avoid the catastrophe of nuclear war. Khrushchev indicated that the Soviet Union would take its missiles out of Cuba in return for a U.S. pledge not to invade the island.
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    Presdient offering assurances

    On the evening of October 27, the president offered to “give assurances against the invasion of Cuba” and to “remove promptly” the quarantine measures that were in effect. In return, Kennedy expected the Soviets to remove the missiles from Cuba under international observation and supervision. War seemed even more likely when Soviet forces shot down a U.S. reconnaissance flight over Cuba on October 27, killing the pilot, Major Rudolf Anderson. The day before Castro had ordered Cuban air defense.
  • Ending of Cuban Missile Crisis

    While Moscow, Washington, and the rest of the world breathed easier after October 28, Castro kept Cuba on a war footing. He had already ordered the mobilization of 270,000 Cuban soldiers on October 22 in anticipation of a U.S. invasion. Castro was convinced that the United States would not honor its pledge not to invade Cuba. He had believed all along that the Soviet missiles were needed to deter U.S. intervention and defend the Cuban revolution.