Marxist History: Cuba: Subject: U.S. Invasion
On January 1st, 1959, Che Guevara leads troops into Santa Clara, Havana is seized by revolutionary workers, while Fidel Castro leads soliders into Santiago De Cuba, seizing the Moncada Army Barracks without firing a shot — all 5,000 occupying soliders surrendering to the revolutionary movement. General Fulgencio Batista, a man who had murdered over 20,000 workers and peasants, flees Cuba, leading his supporters to Miami Flordia, while Cubans imprisoned and deported by Batista are welcomed back home. Construction begins on a new Cuban state without any expression of socialism but with a strong programme for establishing better workers and peasants rights, particularly agrarian reform. Cuba immediately establishes diplomatic relations with United States, the U.S. complies days later, on January 7th, 1959. U.S. Congressmen attack the newly formed Cuban government for trying and executing war criminals who ordered the murdering of 10 or more people during the war. Two U.S. Representatives (Porter and Powell) travel to Cuba and take up a defense of the public Cuban trial process and executions of war criminals.
On January 21st, speaking to a gathering of well over a million workers and peasants, Castro condemns the U.S. policy of financial support and political non interference with Batista and every other dictatorship around Latin America, while now attacking the new born Cuban revolution. Castro explains that the U.S. has started "A campaign against the people of Cuba, because they want to be free not just politically, but economically as well. A campaign against the people of Cuba, because they have become a dangerous example for all America. A campaign against the people of Cuba because they know we are going to call for cancellation of the onerous concessions that have been made to foreign monopolies, because they know electric rates are going to be lowered here, because they know that all the onerous concessions made by the dictatorship are going to be reviewed and canceled."
On February 2, 1959, a U.S. citizen, Allen Mayer, is arrested in an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro. On February 7, the Cuban Republic reinstates Cuba's Constitution of 1940 (which had been discarded by Gen. Batista after his military coup in 1952). On the 13th, Fidel Castro becomes the Prime Minister after Jose Miro Cardona resigns.
On March 3, the Cuban government nationalizes the Cuban Telephone Company, an affiliate of ITT, and drastically reduces its enormous telephone rates. Two days later, former president Ramon Grau San Martin demands the U.S. military leave it's occupation of Cuba at the massive (116 sq. km) Guantanomo naval base. The U.S. government refuses to leave it's military base in Cuba, but writes Cuba a check to forcefully "lease" the land for $2,000 a year. The Cuban government has never cashed a single one of those checks. Throughout the rest of the month, the price of medicine in Cuba is drastically reduced, while the Urban Reform Law lowers all rents by 30 to 50 percent. On March 26, another assasination plot against Fidel Castro is uncovered, planned by Ernesto De la Fe (Batista's Information Minister) and Rolando Masferre (Autentico Senator), who led his private army to fight the Cuban guerilla's in 1958; fleeing Cuba by the end of the year for Florida.
On April 15-26, 1959, Prime Minister Fidel Castro travels to the United States on behalf of the new Cuban Republic, seeking to meet with U.S. President Eisenhower, but is refused, and permitted only a meeting with the vice president, Richard M. Nixon. After the meeting, Nixon reports to Eisenhower that while Fidel Castro may deny it, he is a Communist, saying things like "democracy is more than just a word", that there can be no democracy where there is hunger, unemployment and injustice. At the United Nations, Castro explains that Cuba will take an independent position. By May 2nd, with encouragement by liberal senators and the majority of the U.S. public who views Cuba's revolution as a positive step forward, the United States signs a Point Four agreement with Cuba offering technical cooperation in the development of Cuba's agrarian reform program.
On May 17, 1959, the Cuban government enacts its Agrarian Reform Law: distributing all farmlands over 1,000 acres to landless peasants and workers, and prohibiting foreign ownership of land — which had owned 75 percent of Cuba's most fertile land. The Cuban government buys all foreign owned land with 20 year fixed-term government bonds paying an annual interest rate of 4.5 percent (higher than most U.S. government bond rates at the time). Over 200,000 Cuban families own land for the first time in their lives as a result of the reform.
Opposition in the U.S. grows as a result, and on June 5, Sen. George Smathers (Democrat of Florida) proposes an amendment to reduce the Cuban sugar quota. Six days later, the U.S. government officially protests the terms of compensation given to U.S. companies for the Cuban land they had occupied. U.S. landowners object that compensation is being granted in accordance to tax assessment rates, explaining that those tax rates had not been adjusted for 30 or 40 years, and thus did not depict the current value of the land. For decades this had been of tremendous advantage to the foreign landowners — not having tax rates updated meant paying taxes in terms of values 30 or 40 years old; i.e. increasingly lower tax rates with each passing year. Despite this, the Cuban government negotiates with foreign landowners and reaches agreements with landowners in Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Mexico, Spain and Sweden. U.S. landowners refuse to sitdown for any negotiations.
By July, 1959, the CIA puts out a contract on Fidel Castro's life, with the order that he be killed within a year. While Castro is aware of the assassination being orchestrated from the United States, he does not plan nor attempt reprisals, but continues to attempt to find peace between Cuba and the United States. On July, 16, President Urrutia resigns and Osvaldo Dorticos Torrado becomes president.
In August 10, at the behest of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo and General Batista, Dominican Republic radio broadcasts counter-revolutionary demands to the Cuban people that they overthrow their government through the use of mass arson and murder. The counter-revolutionary attempt miserably fails on the ears of every Cuban who hears of it, with a last ditch effort on the 13th ending when a Dominican C-47 lands in Cuba with arms and ammunition is seized, bringing the weak attempt to a complete halt. On August 20, in order to help give electricity to more homes throughout Cuba (many Cuban people had never seen even a lightbulb), sales rates of the "Cuban Electric Company" monopoly (owned by the American Foreign Power Company) are reduced by 30 percent to make electricity more affordable.
Through October 11 to 21, three covert raids by U.S. military aircraft bomb Cuban sugar mills in Pinar del Rio and Camaguey provinces. Cuba begins efforts to purchase airplanes for its defense, looking first to Britain, who agrees to enter negotiations for sales. Britain quickly withdraws from the negotiations after the U.S. learns of them and advises Britain otherwise. On Oct. 21, an aircraft raid on Havana kills two people and wounds 45 civilians in the streets. The next day, in Las Villas province, a U.S. military aircraft strafes a train full of passengers. In response, Cubans form a popular militia. On October 25, Camilo Cienfuego, leader of the Cuban revolutionary army, is tragically lost in a mysterious plane crash.
In January, 1960, Cuba expropriates 70,000 acres of land held by U.S. sugar companies, who refused to sell the land at any price, in an attempt to make up for the lowered quota that is damaging the nation's economy. This land includes 35,000 acres held by the powerful United Fruit Co., which had attained over 270,000 acres of Cuban land at the time.
On January 12, U.S. government protests arrive in the form of U.S. military bombers camouflaged as counterrevolutionary Cuban aircraft. The bombers drop napalm bombs on oil refineries and the sugar cane fields of Cuba, burning 10 tons of sugar cane in Havana Province. On the 21st, four 100 pound bonds are dropped on Havana, causing extensive damage. On the 28th through the 29th, U.S. military aircraft bomb and severely wreck five sugar cane fields in Camaguey Province and three in Oriente Province.
Meanwhile, the majority of the U.S. population is still in love with the Cuban revolutionaries, and their heroic struggle. Both Castro and Guevara are seen as romantic freedom fighters who beat unthinkable odds to establish freedom. The U.S. people are completely unaware of the secret war their government is waging against the Cubans, and the U.S. government quietly begins a propaganda campaign to turn U.S. workers' opinions on their head.
On February 7, 1960, another air attack by covert U.S. military aircraft burns 30 tons of sugar cane and several sugar mills in Camaguey, as sabotage operations of sugar production and terrorism in urban areas continue. On February 13th the Cuban government, finds a nation not intimidated by U.S. economic threats and blockading, a nation that would would help Cuba recover from the extensive loss of life, and economic damage caused by U.S. bombings and terrorism. Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan and Prime Minister Fidel Castro sign a trade agreement in which the Soviet Union agrees to purchase 5 million tons of sugar over a five-year period. The Soviet Union agrees to export to Cuba crude oil and petroleum products, as well as wheat, iron, fertilizers, and machinery. They also provide Cuba with a $100 million loan at 2.5 percent interest. Meanwhile, on February 18, U.S. pilot Robert Ellis Frost is killed when his aircraft is shot down while attacking a sugar mill in Matanzas province. On the 23rd, several more air attacks are launched against sugar mills in Las Villas and Matanzas provinces. The Cuban government reaches out to the United States for peaceful negotiations on the 29th, with the condition that the United States cease the bombing campaigns which the U.S. continues to publicly and privately deny during negotiations. U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (a stockholder and longtime legal adviser for the United Fruit Company, whose land had been purchased as a result of the Agrarian Reform Law), refuses all attempts to negotiate peace.
In March, a $100 million loan, planned to be granted to Cuba by Western European banks, is canceled in response to U.S. threats. On March 4, the Coubre , a French freighter loaded with Belgian arms and ammunition, is blown up by a terrorist attack in Havana Harbor, killing over a hundred workers. On March 8, an air attack burns more sugar cane in Pinar del Rio. On March 17, 1960, President Eisenhower approves a covert action plan to actively overthrow the Cuban Republic, guided by the CIA (the director of the CIA, Allen Dulles, is the brother of the Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles. Allen also has ties to the United Fruit Company — he was once the president of the company). The plan begins with the creation of a military force, with the aim to invade and overthrow the Cuban government. In the meantime the plan calls for complete economic warfare: a termination of all sugar trade with Cuba, the end of all oil deliveries to Cuba, instructing all U.S. companies in Cuba to refuse to cooperate with the Cuban Government. Meanwhile, a continuation of the arms embargo through all means necessary and the campaign of terrorism will continue.
Although the U.S. invasion plan is top-secret, by April Foreign Minister Raul Roa Garcia learns that troops are being trained by the United States in Guatemala to invade Cuba. The Guatemalan government (which had been put into power by the CIA in June 1954, after the CIA overthrew the elected government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, who was a Socialist with a plan to nationalise much of the nation's land, including vast tracks owned by the United Fruit Company) lies about their involvement and severs all diplomatic relations with Cuba. On April 4, Cuba readies a plan to exporpriate all Cuban land held by the United Fruit company, while on the same day a U.S. military aircraft flying from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo drops napalm bombs in the Oriente province.
On May 7, 1960, Cuba establishes normal diplomatic relations with Soviet Union, which had been severed after General Batista's coup in 1952. On May 17, the CIA creates Radio Swan in Florida with the help of those loyal to Batista, a radio station broadcasting U.S. propaganda to the Cuban people to rise up and overthrow their own government.
In June 7, when the first shipment of Soviet sold oil arrives, it finds not only that every oil refinery in Cuba is owned by the U.S. companies Esso, Texaco and the British Shell, but that the companies are unilaterally ordered by the U.S. government to refuse to process Soviet oil; while at the same time all U.S. oil sold to Cuba is terminated. This act completely paralyzes the Cuban economy, unable to generate energy. On June 27, the U.S. Congress begins to push through an amended Sugar Act, which calls to eliminate Cuba's sugar quota in whole. Taking the only open option to avert catastrophy, Cuba nationalizes the Texaco oil refinery on June 29, and the Esso and Shell oil refineries on July 1.
On July 3, 1960, the United States suspends trading sugar with Cuba through the Sugar Act, cutting off over 80 percent of Cuban exports to the United States, again crippling the Cuban economy. On July 5, Cuba attempts to recover from yet another staggering economic blow by nationalizing all U.S. businesses and commercial property. On the following day President Eisenhower cancels the 700,000 tons of sugar remaining in Cuba's quota for 1960, and threatens that military action against Cuba is imminent. On July 8, the Soviet Union announces that it will purchase the 700,000 tons of sugar cutoff by the U.S.; while Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev explains that the Soviet Union will protect Cuba from a U.S. invasion force. At the U.N. General Assembly, Cuba replies that in the event of a U.S. invasion, Cuba "could have no other course than to accept this assistance with gratitude." On July 23, China agrees to buy 500,000 tons of sugar from Cuba annually for five years, at the world market price.
In August 8, 1960, Cuba nationalises all remaining U.S. industrial and agrarian held land in Cuba. A week later, on August 16, the CIA unsuccessfully launches another effort to assassinate Fidel Castro. In this attempt, members of the U.S. mafia are recruited to kill Castro for the CIA. In September, John Roselli is recruited by the CIA, who in turn recruits Chicago Mafia boss Momo Salvatore Giancana and Santo Trafficante Jr.. Santo introduces the new group to "very active" Cubans in Florida who are eager to return to the days of their lucrative gambling, drugs, and prostitution businesses in Cuba.
In September, Cuban civilian militia mobilize for cleanup operations in the Escambray region of Las Villas Providence, against CIA funded counterrevolutionary groups operating there. The CIA groups are crushed by the civilian militia. On September 17, Cuba nationalizes all U.S. banks in Cuba (The First National Bank of Boston, First National City Bank of New York and Chase Manhattan). On September 19, Fidel Castro, attending the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly, stays in Harlem, where he meets Malcolm X. On September 26, Premier Castro addresses the U.N. General Assembly. Returning to Cuba on the 28th, Castro addresses a mass rally at Revolution Plaza — when terrorists detonate four bombs intended for Castro. The attempt is unsuccessful, and Castro continues speaking, now proposing the creation of Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. Czechoslovakia sends military arms to Cuba for protection, primarily antiaircraft batteries, with technicians accompanying them.
On October 7, 1960, the United Nations is again informed by Foreign Minister Raul Roa Garcia that the CIA is training counterrevolutionaries in Guatemala for an invasion of Cuba. The United States agressively denies the allegations and the United Nations again dismisses the claim. On October 8-10, weapons caches dropped from a U.S. military aircraft are seized in Escambray and over 100 counter-revolutionaries are arrested. On the 13th, the delegate of the Cuban Republic's council in Miami, Abelardo Leon Blanco, is severely beaten and terrorized in broad daylight. On October 19, the United States imposes a full trade and economic embargo on Cuba excepting food and medicine.
By this time, the Cuban government has converted former army barracks into over 10,000 new schools in both the cities and rural areas, a 200% increase in the number of Cuban schools for the past 20 years, achieved in a single year. On October 15, 1960, Cuba enacts a program of urban reform, guaranteeing every worker home ownership.
On October 31, Cuban Foreign Minister Raúl Roa, in an interview at the U.N. General Assembly, again reveals new information about a planned U.S. attack on Cuba, citing the training of Cuban exiles once loyal to Battista, now being indoctrinated and supplied by the U.S. military. U.S. President Eisenhower denies all. Four days previous, Eisenhower ordered the beginning of U-2 flights over Cuba to map out invasion plans. By this time Cuba has universally armed all of its workers, including women, for the defense of their country.
On November 13, nearly half of the entire Guatemalan army, led by over 120 officers, rebels against the government of Miguel Fuentes. The soldiers, partly in solidarity with Cuba's revolution, object to the U.S. government using their country for an invasion of Cuba. The Guatemalan government is not able to crush the soldiers rebellion, and appeals to the United States government for assistance. The U.S. government complies, thoroughly bombing the soldiers with B-26 bombers — piloted by Cuban exiles, whom the CIA is training for use against Cuba. To cover this action up, five days later President Eisenhower orders the U.S. Navy to Nicaragua and Guatemala to protect these countries from "Cuban aggression". On the 18th, the soon-to-be President Kennedy is briefed on plans for the invasion of Cuba.
On January 1, 1961, Cuba launches a National Literacy Campaign, which within the span of the year reduces the rate of illiteracy in Cuba from 25 percent to 3.9 percent — setting an unprecedented standard throughout the underdeveloped world. On January 2, 1961, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev lucidly tells a gathering at the Cuban embassy in Moscow: "Alarming news is coming from Cuba at present, news that the most aggressive American monopolists are preparing a direct attack on Cuba." A day later the United States severs diplomatic and consular relations with Cuba. On January 7-9, weapon caches dropped by U.S. planes in Pinar del Rio and Ecambray are again ceased. Days later, on the 14th, terrorists start a fire in the tobacco warehouses of Havana, causing severe damage.
On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy is inaugurated as the president of the United States, defeating Richard Nixon with claims that he had not been tough enough on the world-wide spread of communism. Nixon had been the vice president of Eisenhower (the Supreme Allied Commander in Western Europe, during World War II), their administration lasting from 1953-1960. Together they encouraged the Red Scare, purging hundreds of people from the government and imprisoning thousands of people who were suspected of being affiliated with the Communist Party. Eisenhower had used the CIA to attack and overthrow the Iranian government in 1953 and in 1954 to overthrow the socialist government in Guatemala. In September of 1954, Eisenhower created the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) to ensure the stability of capitalism in Southeast Asia. The administration had however signed a treaty agreeing not to attack China, and it's "only" involvement in the war in Indochina was to send weapons, supplies, and military strategists to the South Vietnamese (thereto supported militarily by the French). Kennedy had much more militaristic plans for communism, which was tearing asunder U.S. economic power throughout the world.
In February, for the first time Castro explains Socialism is being built in Cuba. Shortly thereafter, the CIA makes yet another attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Castro, this time poisoning Castro's favorite Cuban cigars with botulism, a toxin so potent that its fumes are strong enough to kill. Furthermore, Col. Sheffield Edwards of the CIA delivers capsules containing the same toxin to his Mafia contact Roselli, to have sent to Castro. Both attempts fail.
On March 11, terrorists destroy electrical plants in Havana, leaving a large part of Havana without electricity. Two days later, an oil refinery at the Santiago de Cuba port is attacked by terrorists.
On April 3rd, the U.S. State Department issues a White Paper on Cuba, explaining that Cuba is a Soviet satellite — dictating that if Cuba breaks off all ties with the Soviet Union the United States will aid such a "free" government; if Cuba chooses otherwise, the United States threatens that Cuba is "a clear and present danger to the authentic and autonomous revolution of the Americas." On April 7, the New York Times reports that "experts" have been training paramilitary groups for an invasion of Cuba in Guatemala, Florida and Louisiana.
On April 12, 1961, the Soviet Union ushers the world into a new era when Yury Gagarin becomes the first human being in space. On the same day, U.S. President Kennedy directly responds to the allegations leaked into the New York Times, saying: First, I want to say that there will not be, under any conditions, an intervention in Cuba by the United States Armed Forces.
U.S. Invasion of Cuba
In the early morning of April 14, 1961, a squadron of U.S. B-26 bombers camouflaged with Cuban insignias begin bombarding airports in Cuba in raids that would last for two days, destroying a large portion of the cuban airforce. Additional airstrikes to completely wipe out the air capabilities of Cuba are denied by Kennedy, to ensure the U.S. connection to the attacks remain secret, while world support already is begining to swing strongly in favor of Cuban defense. On April 16, shortly before midnight, U.S. frogmen land on Cuba's beaches in the Bay of Pigs and set up landing lights to guide the coming invasion.
The invasion is sprearheaded by Brigade 2506, a group of 1200 Cubans, trained under U.S. military direction, supplied with U.S. armament and support. The Brigade is commanded by CIA agent Grayston Lynch and CIA operative William Robertson. In addition to having destroyed most of the Cuban Air Force days earlier, the invasion plan is for aerial attacks to destroy roads and bridges, ensuring the Cubans could not reach the Bay of Pigs before the counterrevolutionary soldiers got a foothold. These air raids would be extended by CIA operatives who had already penetrated Cuba, ready to blow up several key bridges and roadways throughout Cuba. The overall victory condition was to be the creation of a new Cuban government under U.S. direction.
In the early morning of April 17, the 2506 Brigade split up into six battalions of about 200 soldiers each, and began deploying. Two battalions landed at Playa Girón and one at Playa Larga, but even deployment would deny them. Coral reefs were their first enemy, delaying the landing several hours until the boats could navigate around the coral, lest it breach their ships' hulls. Two war vessels sank 80 yards from the Cuban shore as a result of poor navigational ability, the crews were rescued but some heavy equipment (artillery, heavy war munitions, etc.) were lost.
Shortly before 3 a.m. on Monday morning, a civilian member of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution spots the U.S. warships, just yards off the Cuban shores. Less than 20 minutes later, the entire Cuban government is informed about the invasion, and their response is immediate. Castro tirelessly coordinates defense of the island; first the civilian population is immediately alerted about the invasion: for the past months the Cuban government had begun an aggressive program of giving weapons to the entire Cuban population and training their people in basic military tactics to defend the island in case of invasion. Next, the remainder of the Cuban Air Force launches — within hours the outnumbered but daring Cubans achieve air superiority over the U.S. aircraft. The Cuban Air Force then flies over the U.S. invasion fleet, bombarding and sinking the fleet command vessel Maropa and the supply ship Houston. Cuban police hunt down and arrest CIA operatives before they can blow up any of their intended targets, and Cuban civilian and later military forces ferociously engage Brigade 2506.
Diplomatic matters for the United States began going very poorly, very quickly. U.S. involvement in the invasion of Cuba was a direct violation of Article 2 and Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, as well as Articles 18 and 25 of the Charter of the Organization of American States, and Article 1 of the Rio Treaty.
On the day of the invasion, U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk gives a press conference. The American people are entitled to know whether we are intervening in Cuba or intend to do so in the future, he said. The answer to that question is no. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Stevenson, now made aware of the U.S. involvement in the invasion that he had been instructed to deny days earlier, breaks ranks and publicly urges the United States to stop the attack. Soviet ambassador to the United Nations Zorin respondes by making it clear that Cuba is not alone today. Among her most sincere friends the Soviet Union is to be found.
At 12:15, April 18, Kennedy receives a letter from Khrushchev: It is a secret to no one that the armed bands invading this country were trained, equipped and armed in the United States of America. The planes which are bombing Cuban cities belong to the United States of America, the bombs they are dropping are being supplied by the American Government.... It is still not late to avoid the irreparable. The government of the USA still has the possibility of not allowing the flame of war ignited by interventions in Cuba to grow into an incomparable conflagration.... As far as the Soviet Union is concerned, there should be no mistake about our position: We will render the Cuban people and their government all necessary help to repel an armed attack on Cuba.
All planned support by the U.S. Air Force is called off, and the 2506 Brigade is left stranded to fend for itself in Cuba. The battle was going poorly for the U.S. invaders, not able to gain an inch on the beach they had been deserted. In the face of utter defeat, Kennedy continues to maintain that the U.S. is not involved in the invasion. After two days of intense fighting, Kennedy momentarily reverses his previous decision with his stomach full of regret, and orders the U.S. Air Force to assist the invasion force in what way they can. Four American pilots are killed, shot down by people who months ago had known little more about the world than harvesting sugar.
On the same day, April 19, 2:30 p.m., 2506 Brigade commander Perez San Roman transmites a final radio message from Brigade 2506: We have nothing left to fight with, San Roman said, his voice breaking, how can you people [the U.S.] do this to us, our people, our country? Around 200 soldiers are killed in the fighting, while 1000 others are captured as prisoners of war. Among the prisoners are men who had previously owned in Cuba 914,859 acres of land, seventy factories, five mines, two banks and 10 sugar mills.
In 72 hours, Cuba had won.