|CLASS SET: Cuba and the USA-
Directions: Choose a section for each group member to concentrate on. Read the beginning together. As you read the beginning and your section, identify evidence of the US Cold War foreign policy known as "Containment". Add what you find to your Map under Containment. Be ready to defend your choices.
I EARLY US/CUBAN RELATIONS
The United States and Cuba have a long history of close economic and political ties. Though Cuba had been a Spanish colony for nearly 400 years, the island had developed increasing trade links with the United States during the 19th century. In December of 1898, Spain ceded control of Cuba to the U.S. following its defeat in the Spanish-American War.
The U.S. subsequently granted Cuba its independence in 1902, yet frequently intervened in Cuban political affairs. There was substantial U.S. investment in Cuban production of sugar and tobacco for export, and in tourism, as well as preferential access for Cuban exports to the United States. By 1926 U.S companies owned 60% of the Cuban sugar industry and imported 95% of the total Cuban crop.
II. CUBAN REVOLUTION
The Cuban Revolution of 1959 saw the overthrow of the corrupt General Fulgencio Batista and the rise to power of Fidel Castro. The U.S. government formally recognized the new Cuban administration, but relations soon went sour as Castro's new government nationalized millions of acres of Cuban land previously held by American companies and distributed it to the people. During 1960, tensions between Cuba and the US escalated into economic warfare. Each time the Cuban government took control of American properties, the American government countered, with the end result being the end of all exports to Cuba on October 19, 1960. Castro flew to New York to speak at the United Nations over this decision. U.S. President Eisenhower would not meet with him. But Soviet leader Khrushchev was delighted to embrace a new revolutionary and offered Cuba economic assistance.
In July 1960, in response to the nationalization of American owned properties in Cuba, the United States reduced the Cuban import quota of sugar by 700,000 tons; the Soviet Union responded by agreeing to purchase the sugar instead, and Cuba took further actions to take over American businesses. A partial economic embargo was imposed by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower on October 19, 1960, and diplomatic relations were broken on January 3, 1961—two years after Castro's rise to power. The Soviet Union promptly stepped in, offering Cuba "preferential" trade prices, mainly for the sugar that Cuba exported and the crude oil the USSR sold them.
Person A II. THE EMBARGO
When Cuba decided to purchase oil from the U.S.S.R., U.S. companies retaliated by refusing to refine it. Castro then nationalized the U.S.-owned refineries and other industries in Cuba. The US responded with a complete trade embargo against Cuba. The US makes no purchases from Cuba and the Cuban people are not allowed to buy anything from the US. This was meant to deprive Castro and his government of the money that could be made through trade and to destroy the economy of Cuba so that the people would revolt and overthrow Castro. President Kennedy further isolated Cuba by forbidding US citizens to travel to Cuba or to spend US money in Cuba. Under additional restrictions, Cuban assets (money held by Cuban citizens in US banks) in the U.S. were frozen.
The US also launched the first of several CIA campaigns to topple Castro's regime
Person B IV. BAY OF PIGS
A plan to overthrow Castro was presented to the U.S. president, John F. Kennedy, soon after his inauguration in 1961. CIA agents had been secretly training Cuban exiles to invade their homeland. They thought the Cuban people would welcome such an invasion and rise up to overthrow Castro. Kennedy agreed to the invasion plan -- but demanded crucial changes to hide U.S. involvement.
On April 15, 1961, six U.S. bombers disguised as Cuban aircraft took off from Nicaragua and attacked Cuban airfields -- but caused only minimal damage. The next day, a CIA-trained force of 1,500 guerrillas arrived at the Bay of Pigs, 125 miles south of Havana. But their plans soon turned into disaster.
Kennedy, now faced with international condemnation for the bombing, canceled additional air support for the invasion. Castro's remaining air force quickly destroyed ships carrying vital ammunition supplies for the invaders. Without American air support or supply, the invasion force was quickly outnumbered and outmaneuvered. All of the invaders were captured or dead within 72 hours.
Person C V. MISSILE CRISIS
The failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion did not keep the United States from plotting new plans to get rid of Castro -- even assassination was carefully weighed. Cuba, meanwhile, looked to Moscow for military support. Nikita Khrushchev offered to deploy Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. After initial resistance, Castro accepted. By July 1962, the CIA had noticed an increase in Soviet ships heading for Cuba. By mid-October, U-2 spy planes flying over Cuba brought back pictures of ballistic missile sites.
With nuclear warheads less than 100 miles from the United States, the Soviets had the ability to strike without warning. Kennedy formed a special inner cabinet of advisers -- the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, or ExCom -- to weigh the options. Under consideration: a military invasion to topple Castro and "surgical air strikes" against the missiles bases. But taking either step without warning risked turning world opinion against the United States. Finally, another solution was devised: The U.S. Navy would stop and search all ships heading for Cuba. Washington called it a "quarantine."
VI. AT THE BRINK
On October 22, President Kennedy told the world about the discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba and announced that a blockade was in force against all ships bound for Cuba. Kennedy demanded the removal of the missiles from Cuba.
For several days the world held its breath as the United States and Soviet Union appeared to be moving toward nuclear war. Washington took its case to the United Nations and prepared for air strikes and a massive invasion of Cuba.
Havana announced a "combat alarm" -- more than a quarter-million Cubans stood ready to repel a U.S. invasion. Soviet forces on the island were equipped with nuclear-tipped tactical missiles, ready to answer any invader.
On October 26, with tensions increasing, Kennedy received an offer from Khrushchev. The Soviet leader offered to withdraw his missiles from Cuba -- if the United States promised never to invade the island. The next morning, Khrushchev added another condition: the United States was to remove all its missiles from Turkey.
As Kennedy considered the options, the crisis escalated again -- when a Soviet-led Cuban missile battery shot down a U-2 spy plane. The Pentagon was prepared to bomb the missile site, as contingency plans required -- but Kennedy ordered that no action be taken. He wanted time to deal with Khrushchev.
The president sent his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to meet with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. They struck a deal: Soviet missiles would be removed from Cuba in return for the unpublicized removal of missiles from Turkey. On Sunday October 28, Khrushchev announced the withdrawal of the Soviet missiles from Cuba. Under close American surveillance, Soviet ships took the missiles back home.
The crisis was over, but both sides were well aware how close they had come to nuclear annihilation.