Marxist History: Cuba: Subject: Missile Crisis (2)

Cuban History, Missile Crisis

"Conclusion: Overthrow of Castro is Possible...a solution to the Cuban problem today carried top priority in U.S. Government. No time, money, effort — or manpower is to be spared."
      — George McManus (CIA), January 19, 1962

Part 2: Towards the Deployment of Nuclear Missiles in Cuba

During the 1961 May Day celebrations in Havana, Fidel Castro reiterates that the Cuban Republic is a Socialist Republic. "The people who spent 15 hours here today are the same people who formerly could not spend even one hour at a public rally, or who were paid or forced to go to a public rally. These enthusiastic people are the discouraged people of yesterday. The difference is that yesterday they worked for others, and today they work for themselves."
    > Castro: May Day Celebrations (May 1, 1961)

Also in May, the Cuban government sends several requests for peace between Cuba and United States, only weeks after the Bay of Pigs invasion. Despite Cuba's outstanding victory of self-defense, Cuba still makes efforts to bring peace between the two nations and to re-establish trade agreements. The United States refuses.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, on June 3-4, 1961, Premier Khrushchev meets with President Kennedy in Vienna, discussing the status of Berlin (a city partially occupied by the United States, deep within Eastern Germany). On the second day of the summit, Khrushchev delivers an ultimatum threatening to "normalize" the situation in Berlin (and consequently cut Allied access to West Berlin) if the United States does not withdrawal within six months. By August 12-13, 1961, Soviet engineers aid the East Germans in erecting the Berlin Wall. In the following month, Khrushchev makes off-the-record appeals to President Kennedy that a way to resolve the crisis peacefully is to make West Berlin a "Free City". No response is made to the appeals. U.S.-Soviet tensions over the Berlin situation flare up, culminating in a sixteen-hour confrontation between U.S. and Soviet tanks at the Berlin border on October 27-28, 1961. However, the construction of the Berlin Wall brings stability, and Khrushchev allows his deadlines on resolving the Berlin question to pass without further incident.

Back in the Western Hemisphere, on June 6, Prime Minister Castro proposes that Cuba will release all prisoners captured at the Bay of Pigs in exchange for an equal number of political prisoners to be released from Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, Spanish, and U.S. jails. The U.S. refuses this offer. On June 13, 1961, U.S. General Maxwell Taylor submits a report on further U.S. "limited war" programs against Cuba, which Kennedy had ordered following the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion. Explaining that there is "no long term living with Castro as a neighbor" and that international workers solidarity "constitutes a real menace" to Latin American nations, Taylor calls for the creation of a new subversive method for destroying the Cuban Republic. The options for terrorism against Cuba are among the full range of political, military, economic, and psychological tactics.

On July 26, the CIA fails in another attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, and Che Guevara during celebrations commemorating the July 26th movement. Had the assassinations been successful, Humberto Torres would later explain, the plan called for a covert U.S. attack against the Guantanamo Naval Base, in order to make it appear as though the Cuban's were attacking the U.S. in retaliation; thus giving the U.S. ample political reason for a full military invasion of Cuba.

In August, a rumor planted by the CIA spreads through Cuba, explaining that the government plans to take all Cuban children away from their Mothers and Fathers and raise them in state institutions. In what is known as "Operation Peter Pan", 15,000 Cuban families send their children abroad.

On September 21, 1961, a CIA report on Soviet nuclear capabilities (National Intelligence Estimate 11-8/1-61), is disseminated within the U.S. government. The NIE and later intelligence reports conclusively show that the Soviet ICBM program is far behind previous U.S. "estimates". Only some ten to twenty-five Soviet ICBMs are known to exist in the world, and all within the Soviet Union, with no major increase in Soviet ICBM strength expected in the near future. By this time the United States has a total of 22,229 nuclear weapons, while the Soviet Union has 2,450.

In October, the terrorist organisation Alpha 66 is founded in Miami, partly out of frustration of continual failed attempts to assassinate Castro after an October 4th attempt had just failed — headed by CIA assassins Antonio Veciana Blank and Bernardo Paradela Ibarreche, their infiltration of Cuba had been discovered, though they killed Delfin Sen Cedre, another teacher in the Literacy Campaign. Both assassins became founding members of the Alpha 66 organisation. On October 15, Rubén López Sabariego, a Cuban worker at the U.S. held Guant´namo Naval base, is killed. Two years later, a diligent U.S. journalist uncovers that the U.S. Navy secretly dismissed Marine Captain Arthur J. Jackson, who explained he was acting in self-defense.

In November 26, Manuel Ascunce Domenech, a volunteer teacher in the Literacy Campaign, and his peasant student Pedro Lantigua, are shot dead by terrorists in Escambray.

On November 30, 1961, after replacing the CIA Director Allen Dulles with John Alex McCone, President Kennedy authorizes another aggressive covert assault on the Cuban Republic codenamed Operation Mongoose. The operation is directed by the CIA Brigadier General Edward G. Lansdale, under the guidance of Attorney General Robert Kennedy. The CIA creates an organization under its control, the Special Group Augmented (SGA), to carry out Operation Mongoose. Further, William K. Harvey is put in charge of Task Force W, under guidance from the SGA, a task force that will subsequently involve approximately four hundred Americans agents at the CIA headquarters in Miami. Task Force W assimilates about two thousand Cuban exiles, possesses a private naval fleet of speedboats, and has an annual budget of some $50 million. The chief aim of Task Force W is to attack Cuban ships and aircraft, in addition to any non-Cuban ships engaged in trading with Cuba with tactics being the contamination of shipments of sugar and oil freighters (including setting fire to them), destroying industrial products, sinking freighters, etc.

Mig-15 During the New Year's Day parade in 1962, Cuba provides U.S. intelligence with the first reliable information on the extent of Soviet defense arms deliveries to Cuba. U.S. intelligence estimates by the planes on display that the aircraft in the possession of the Cuban Revolutionary Air Force includes around sixty Soviet jet fighters, primarily MiG-15 and MiG-17 aircraft with a small number of MiG-19 planes. The MiG-15 had been first deployed over a decade ago in the Korean War and had shown its effectiveness in combat; while the MiG-19 was relatively new, having first been deployed in early 1955. Though the most recent development in Soviet aircraft was the MiG-21, put into service in early 1958, Cuba received a modest shipment of the older, more "experienced" planes, for the role of self-defense.

On January 19, 1962, a meeting of the SGA is held in Robert Kennedy's office. Notes taken by CIA representative George McManus contain the following passages, "Conclusion Overthrow of Castro is Possible...a solution to the Cuban problem today carried top priority in U.S. Gov[ernment]. No time, money, effort--or manpower is to be spared. Yesterday...the president indicated to [ Robert Kennedy ] that the final chapter had not been written -- it's got to be done and will be done."

From January 22 to 31, 1962, a conference of the OAS (Organization of American States) is held in Punta del Este, Uruguay. At the close of the conference, after tremendous covert political and economic pressure put on the delegates by the United States, the foreign ministers from the twenty-one American republics vote to exclude Cuba "from participation in the inter-American system." The measure is approved fourteen-to-one, with six abstentions: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Mexico — all who explain the vote is illegal, and refuse to participate. Another resolution is also adopted prohibiting OAS members from selling arms to Cuba and setting measures for collective "defense" against the island of Cuba. It was directly against the charter of this organization to take such steps, which stated that no country could use economic pressure or aggression to gain its objectives or influence affairs inside another country. On January 28, a group of terrorists are arrested in Cuba in their attempt to paralyze urban transportation by destroying motors with chemicals and magnetic mines.

On February 2, 1962, U.S. Brig. Gen. William sends fellow U.S. Brig. Gen. Edward Lansdale a list of bizarre and ruthless plans to "provoke, harass, or disrupt" the Cuban government. Although these actions were not carried out, similar plans were (this set of plans were declassified by the U.S. government in 1998).
    > CIA: Operation Mongoose: Possible Actions to Provoke, Harrass, or Disrupt Cuba (February 2, 1962)

On February 7, the U.S. institutes a "total" embargo of trade with Cuba, a decision intending to be forced on all nations in the world. The U.S. Congress resolves that should any nation not hede the U.S. dictate of not trading with Cuba, all U.S. aid to that country would be cut off, while covertly actions are taken to sink ships that trade with Cuba, posion their cargo, etc. On the 15th, the U.N. General Assembly rejects a resolution demanding the U.S. cease it's operations in Cuba, by a vote of 50 vs. 11, with 39 abstentions. On the 19th, Cuba explains to the U.N. Security Council that it is certain the U.S. is planing another invasion, the U.S. again denies the charges, and the U.N. Security Council (7 vs. 4) refuses to hear out Cuba.

The very next day, on February 20, 1962, Edward Lansdale presents a six-phase terrorist schedule for Operation Mongoose: The Cuba Project, designed to culminate in October [the month of the Russian Revolution] 1962 with an "open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime." The basic plan includes political, psychological, military, sabotage, and intelligence operations as well as assassinations "on the cadre of the regime, including key leaders." Lansdale notes that a "vital decision" has not yet been made regarding a direct U.S. military invasion of the Cuban Republic, but that it must be done quickly before the Cuban government becomes too strong among its people.
    > CIA: Operation Mongoose: The Cuba Project (February 20, 1962)

On the 26th, Cuba's Ministry of Public Health, assisted by workers organisations throughout Cuba, carry out a nationwide campaign of vaccination against polio. These workers completely eradicate the disease from Cuba by the end of the year. Forty three years later, the U.N. World Health Organisation would finally recognise that Cuba was the first nation to accomplish this in the Americas.

On March 14, 1962, Guidelines for Operation Mongoose are approved by the SGA. Drafted by Maxwell Taylor , they note that the United States would attempt to "make maximum use of indigenous resources" in trying to destroy the Cuban Republic, but explain that "final success will require decisive U.S. military intervention." Internal spies would act to "prepare and justify this intervention, and thereafter to facilitate and support it." Kennedy is briefed on the plan two days later. Kennedy is unwilling to commit to a full scale invasion, but keeps the option open, and agrees to allow the terrorist activities to continue in the meantime.

Elsewhere in the world, in April of 1962, 15 U.S. Jupiter missiles in Turkey become operational, on the border of the Soviet Union. All positions are reported "ready and manned" by U.S. personnel — ready to launch against the Soviet Union at any moment. The missiles are armed with 1.45 megaton warheads, 97 times the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Fatality projections for each missile aim at one million civilians.

On April 28, terrorists attack the New York offices of the Cuban press agency Prensa Latina, injuring three employees.

Late in April, 1962, while vacationing in the Crimea, across the Black sea from Turkey, Khrushchev realizes the nuclear tipped knife that is at the throat of the Soviet Union. To ensure a deterrent, Khrushchev considers deploying nuclear weapons to Cuba to prevent a full U.S. invasion. While the United States had nuclear missiles all around the world and on the very borders of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union had only 10 - 25 nuclear missiles capable of reaching the United States. Upon returning to Moscow, Khrushchev discusses the idea with First Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan. Although Mikoyan is skittish and opposed, Khrushchev asks a group of his closest advisers, including Frol Kozlov, Commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) Sergei Biryuzov, Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko , and Marshal Malinovsky to evaluate the idea. The group proposes that a mission be sent to Cuba to see if Fidel Castro would agree to the proposed deployment.

U.S. Jupiter nuclear missile launch On May 8-18, 1962, a full-scale U.S. military exercise designed to intimidate and practice a full military invasion of Cuba begins. The operation, codenamed Whip Lash, concludes on May 18. Another U.S. military exercise in the Caribbean known as JUPITER SPRINGS [Jupiter being the name of U.S. nuclear missiles deployed around the world, Springs meaning launching into action] is planned for sometime in the spring or summer.

On May 12, the Alpha 66 terrorists attack a Cuban patrol boat, killing three and wounding five Cubans.

Throughout the following month deliberations regarding the possible installation of missiles in Cuba continue in Moscow. In early May, Khrushchev informs the newly designated ambassador to Cuba, Aleksandr Alekseyev , of the plan. Although Alekseyev expresses concern over the idea (as did Gromyko and Mikoyan at different times), it is resolved that Alekseyev and Marshal Biryuzov should travel to Cuba to explore the question with Castro. In the event of deployment, the Soviet military proposes a force of 24 medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) launchers and 16 intermediate-range (IRBM) launchers; each of the launchers would be equipped with two missiles (one serving as a spare) and a single nuclear warhead. Soviet officials also decide to send a defensive contingent of four elite regiments, twenty-four advanced SA-2 surface-to-air missile (air-defense) batteries, forty-two MiG-21 interceptors, forty-two IL-28 bombers, twelve Komar-class missile boats, and coastal defense cruise missiles.

On May 29, 1962, Sharif Rashidov, an alternate member of the Soviet Presidium, arrives in Cuba with a delegation on a ten-day mission to study irrigation problems and to discuss the possibility of introducing nuclear missiles. The presence of the ambassador-designate in Cuba, Aleksandr Alekseyev , Marshal Biryuzov, and two or three military experts is not known to the United States military. On the evening of its arrival, the Soviet delegation meets with Fidel Castro and his brother Raul, the Cuban Minister of Defense. Expressing their concern over the possibility of a new U.S. invasion of Cuba, the Soviet officials state that the Soviet Union is prepared to assist Cuba in fortifying its defenses, even to the extent of deploying nuclear missiles on Cuban soil. Castro responds telling the group that he will need to consult with his government before providing an answer. On the following day, after conferring with the chief ministers of government (Raul Castro, Che Guevara, Osvaldo Dorticos and Blas Roca), Fidel Castro informs the visiting Soviet officials that Cuba will accept the deployment of nuclear weapons as a deterrent to U.S. invasion. Marshal Biryuzov later informs Khrushchev that the deployment of the missiles could be done secretly.

On June 7, two terrorist are killed by the police in Oriente province.

On July 2, 1962, Raul Castro and a high-level Cuban military delegation arrive in Moscow, where they are met at the airport by Marshal Rodion Malinovsky and Anastas Mikoyan. Nikita Khrushchev subsequently meets with Raúl Castro on July 3 and 8. During these discussions, detailed arrangements are made for the missile deployment. According to the formal agreement, which is renewable every five years, the missiles and maintenance of them will be entirely under the jurisdiction of the Soviet military. Raul Castro spends a total of two weeks consulting with Soviet officials before returning to Cuba on July 17.

In mid-July, Soviet cargo ships begin moving out of the Black Sea for Cuba. U.S. Aerial reconnaissance of the ships in the following months show them "riding high in the water", which is indicative of the vessels carrying unusually light cargo, typically a sign that military equipment is being transported.

Meanwhile, U.S. terrorism against the Cuban republic continues. By July 25, Edward Lansdale provides the SGA an assessment of the accomplishments of Phase One of Operation Mongoose. Some successes are reported, aside from several victories of sabotage, propaganda and murder, is the infiltration of eleven CIA terrorist teams into Cuba.

By August 10, 1962, after examining CIA reports on the movement of cargo ships from the Black and Baltic seas to Cuba, CIA Director John McCone dictates a memorandum for the President expressing the belief that Soviet MRBMs are destined for Cuba. McCone's memorandum is sent over the objections of subordinates concerned that McCone has no hard evidence to back up his speculations.

In August 20, 1962, by now a frustrated General Maxwell Taylor (the chairman of the SGA), informs President Kennedy that the SGA sees no possibility for overthrowing the Cuban republic through internal dissent, no matter how the situation is manipulated. He bluntly explains that the only method that can defeat the Cuban Republic is through direct U.S. military intervention. In the meantime, the SGA recommends a much more aggressive Operation Mongoose. Kennedy authorizes the development of more aggressive plans, but specifies that no open U.S. military involvement could take place.

On August 22, the S.S. Streathen Hill, a British freighter heading to the Soviet Union with Cuban sugar, is forced to dock in Puerto Rico because of a damaged propeller. With repairs to the ship underway, 14,000 bags of sugar are offloaded to speed up the process. CIA agents enter the warehouse where the sugar is stored, and lace the bags in an unknown chemical. When President Kennedy learns of the action, horrified, he orders the sugar to be destroyed.

On August 26, 1962, Che Guevara, Cuba's Minister of Industries, and Emilio Aragonés Navarro, a close associate of Fidel Castro, arrive in the Soviet Union. Guevara urges Khrushchev to announce the missile deployment publicly — Khrushchev refuses. Following additional talks in Prague, Guevara and Aragonés return to Cuba on September 6.

Cuban History, Missile Crisis

In August 29, 1962, a high-altitude U-2 surveillance flight shows air defense missiles (SA-2 SAMs) at eight different locations in Cuba. Additional reconnaissance shortly thereafter identifies new coastal defense cruise missile installations. However, U-2 photographs of the area around San Crist—bal, Cuba, where the first nuclear missile sites are later deployed, reveal no evidence of construction at this time. At a news conference President Kennedy again tells reporters, "I'm not for invading Cuba at this time."

In the first week of September 1962, unknown to U.S. intelligence, Soviet troops began arriving in Cuba. On the fourth, Attorney General Robert Kennedy meets with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, who informs the United States that the Soviet Union does not have any intention of installing surface to surface missiles in Cuba. President Kennedy threatens that the United States will not tolerate offensive weapons in Cuba and that if the Soviets did so, it would be a violation of the United States' "sole right" to be the only foreign government allowed to have military forces inside Cuba (Guantanomo base). CIA terrorism against Cuba is intensified. By the end of the week the U.S. Tactical Air Command (TAC) establishes a military group to begin developing plans for a coordinated U.S. air attack against Cuba, with plans to launch it well before a ground invasion of Cuba.

Soviet IL-28

On September 15, 1962, The Poltava, a Soviet large-hatch cargo ship, docks at the port of Mariel, Cuba, carrying the first SS-4 MRBMs to be deployed. The first missile site is constructed at San Crist—bal. By the 28th, U.S. spy agencies become aware of shipments of the Soviet IL-28 light bomber aircraft. Over fourteen years old, the first Soviet jet bomber ever made had been completely phased out of the Soviet Air Force by 1960.

On September 20, 1962, the United States Senate approves the use of military force against Cuba to prevent "Cuban aggression". In the House of Representatives, a bill is approved to cut off aid to any country permitting the use of its merchant ships to transport goods of any kind to Cuba. On the following day, in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko charges the United States with creating "war hysteria" and aggressive military preparations to engage Cuba. Gromyko states that "any sober-minded" person realizes that Cuba could not possibly invade the United States, and has never done anything aggressive against the United States, nor ever will it. Gromyko explains however that should the United States attempt to invade Cuba once again, or to destroy any ships traveling to Cuba, the Soviet Union would stand solidly in defense of Cuba.
    > Khrushchev to Kennedy: Continued U.S. Aggression against Cuba (September 28, 1962)