Marxist History: Cuba: Subject: Missile Crisis (4)

Cuban History, Missile Crisis

Part 4: Continued U.S. Aggression & Terrorism

November 16, 1962: U.S. forces massed for a Cuban invasion have reached their peak strength at this point, the Joint Chiefs of Staff report, some 100,000 Army troops, 40,000 Marines and 14,500 paratroopers stand ready, with 550 combat aircraft and over 180 ships available to support an invasion.

November 1, 1962, President Kennedy orders low-altitude incursions into Cuban airspace to continue, but explains that if the planes are shot down there can be no reprisals. Anastas Mikoyan meets with John McCloy and Adlai Stevenson who make additional demands of the Soviet Union, but amongst their many demands, they forget to present a list of every Soviet weapon that the United States considers "offensive" and threatens must be removed from Cuba. The list is sent off on the following day.

missile launch site

U.S. air surveillance conclusively shows that all MRBM sites in Cuba have been bulldozed and that the missiles and associated launch equipment have been removed. Construction at the IRBM sites appears to have stopped, and the installations are being dismantled.

On November 2, 1962, Kennedy confirms that the military blockade will remain, but Warsaw Pact ships who defy it should not be boarded nor fired upon. President Kennedy informs the U.S. public that the U.S. government has concluded "on the basis of yesterday's aerial photographs...that the Soviet missile bases in Cuba are being dismantled, their missiles and related equipment are being crated, and the fixed installations at these sites are being destroyed."

On November 3, 1962, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence confirmed the Soviet nuclear missiles were dismantled and removed, Kennedy threatens Khrushchev that if on-site inspection of the missiles being removed is not allowed, "very serious problems" will arise.

On November 4, 1962, Vasily Kuznetsov affirms to John McCloy that all missile sites were dismantled as of November 2. Kuznetsov proposes that the United States conduct at-sea inspections: the Soviet Union would give the United States a schedule for the sea-removal of the missiles and allow the United States to bring ships alongside Soviet vessels to examine the cargo on deck. In return, the Soviet government explains that the U.S. military and economic blockade be lifted as promised, and a formal pledge be made that the United States will not invade Cuba or induce other Latin American countries to an invasion. Kuznetsov specifically clarifies that no further subversive activity be practiced by the United States and suggests U.N. observation in the United States as well as in Cuba to assure this does not happen.

On November 5, 1962, President Kennedy dispatches a brief memo to Robert McNamara with suspicions that "the Russians may try again. This time they may prepare themselves for action on the sea in the Cuban area. Does Admiral Anderson think they could build up a secret naval base which will put them on a near parity with us if we should once again blockade?" Khrushchev later writes Kennedy that he is "seriously worried" about the expanding U.S. definition of "offensive weapons" that the Soviet Union is to remove from Cuba. Khrushchev asks Kennedy to withdraw his additional demands, saying that the Soviet Union views them as clearly "a wish to bring our relations back again into a heated state in which they were but several days ago." Kennedy, not to be outdone by a forever building U.S. aggression, hands Secretary of Defense McNamara a short memorandum expressing his concern that U.S. plans for an invasion of Cuba seem "thin." Warning that using too few troops could result in the United States becoming "bogged down," Kennedy recommends calling up three Army Reserve divisions and, if necessary, recruiting additional divisions. U.N. General Secretary U Thant, again at the request of the United States, makes demands to Vasily Kuznetsov that the Soviet Union withdrawal its IL-28 aircraft. Kuznetsov responds that this is yet another new demand that is being piled on to the list of demands made to the Soviet Union, while the United States continues its aggressive military and economic blockade, subversive activities, and while it continues its invasion of Cuban airspace, all of which are direct violations of the agreement. Later that day Cuban MiGs peacefully intercept U.S. spy aircraft flying over Cuba, and escort them back to United States. The United States issues a diplomatic protest to the Soviet Union in regards to the flight intercept, while incursions into Cuban airspace are ordered to continue.

In Pinar Del Rio province, Cuban officials arrest Miguel A. Orozco Crespo, a leader of a group of CIA operatives who infiltrated Cuba on Oct. 20. Admitting to at least 25 missions in Cuba throughout the year, Orozco tells Cuban police about CIA operations throughout Cuba, and explains that his CIA Directors in Florida are Rip Robertson and Robert Wall.

On November 6, 1962, Kennedy sends another letter to Premier Khrushchev stating that the IL-28s are not "minor things" for the United States stating that they are capable of carrying out "offensive" missions. For the first time Kennedy objects to Soviet personnel in Cuba, and threatens Khrushchev not to construct a naval base in Cuba (as United States had already established, and refuses to leave).

On November 7, 1962, U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Foy Kohler reports, "there seems to me no doubt that events of [the] past ten days have really shaken [the] Soviet leadership." U.S. President Kennedy finally tells the ExComm that the United States "wouldn't invade with the Soviet missiles out of Cuba." However, no formal/public non-invasion commitment will be main until the Soviet Union removes the IL-28 aircraft. The United States soon drops one of its revised demands — the removal of Komar coastal defense ships (small missile boats) — in order to focus on the IL-28 bombers.

On November 8, 1962, a six-man CIA sabotage team dispatched as part of Task Force W blows up a factory in Cuba. On the same day the U.S. "Defense Department" announces that all MRBM and IRBM Soviet missile bases in Cuba have been dismantled, and that a substantial number of missiles have been loaded aboard Soviet ships or are being moved to port areas. U Thant insists on a new "internationalist" on-site inspection proposal in which five ambassadors to Cuba from Asian, African, European and Latin American countries would verify the withdrawal of the missiles, despite Soviet and Cuban assurances that the missiles are being removed, which has been conclusively verified by the U.S. spy agencies. Cuba rejects the proposal.

On November 9, 1962, the last ships removing Soviet MRBM missiles from Cuba leave the island. Six vessels, the Bratsk, Dvinogorsk, I. Polzunov, Labinsk, M. Anosov and Volgoles, have left Mariel since November 5, and two ships, the F. Kurchatov and the L. Komsomol depart on this day. Five of the ships already at sea are inspected, with the Soviet ships pulling canvas covers off the missile transporters to allow U.S. ships to observe and photograph their contents. Assistant Secretary of Defense Arthur Sylvester later tells reporters that the "responsible people of this government are satisfied" that the ships are in fact carrying the missiles.

On November 12, 1962, Premier Khrushchev sends President Kennedy a message confirming the removal of the missiles. Khrushchev writes in a friendly and conciliatory tone, commenting on the outcome of the November 6, 1962 elections in the United States, "You managed to pin your political rival, Mr. Nixon, to the mat," the letter comments on the fact that Nixon lost his bid to become governor of California. "This did not draw tears from our eyes either." Kennedy later instructs his brother Robert to inform Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin that Khrushchev's "word" on the IL-28 s will suffice and the U.S. will not insist on an immediate withdrawal of the airplanes. Robert Kennedy tells the Soviet Ambassador that the U.S would hope the planes are removed "within, say, 30 days."

On November 13, 1962, ExComm members continue to discuss the IL-28 issue. The group recommends a "last chance" threat to Premier Khrushchev, warning that further actions could be taken shortly if the bombers are not removed. If the threat does not succeed, the group suggests tightening the blockade, arranging for other countries in Latin America and elsewhere to apply pressure on Cuba, and using intense low-altitude incursions into Cuban airspace as a form of psychological warfare. The ExComm also notes that one other option exists, but recommends that it only be used as a last-ditch measure: provoking an attack on U.S. aircraft and responding by striking a variety of Cuban targets, including the IL-28 bombers.

On November 14, 1962, Premier Khrushchev tells Kennedy that he will agree to remove the IL-28 aircraft within three months. Khrushchev again points out that the United States is not carrying out any of its agreements, including ending all incursions over Cuban airspace and ending the economic and military blockade. Nor has United States registered a non invasion pledge of Cuba, despite the fact that all Soviet nuclear missiles have been removed from Cuba. Not only was this not done, but the United States continues to make new demands while not meeting any of its agreements. Kennedy later tells Harold MacMillan over the telephone: "We do not want to crank up the quarantine again over the bombers. The only question is whether we should do that or take some other action. For example, we might say the whole deal is off and withdraw our no invasion pledge and harass them generally."

On November 15, 1962, in a descriptive five-page letter to U Thant, Fidel Castro explains that Cuba will fire on U.S. planes invading Cuban airspace. Explaining that the United States has already inspected Soviet ships at sea, he explains that Cuba will continue to reject "unilateral inspection by anybody, national or international, on Cuban territory." He explains there cannot be possibly any basis for such redundant inspections, save to harass Cuba.

Kennedy writes to Khrushchev stating that the "three major parts of the undertakings on your side--the removal of the IL-28 's, the arrangements for verification, and safeguards against introduction--have not yet been carried out." Unless these new demands are carried out, Kennedy threatens, we will "soon find ourselves back in a position of increasing tension."

On November 16, 1962, The largest amphibious landing since World War II begins as part of an exercise at Onslow Beach, North Carolina. The two-day exercise, a full-scale rehearsal for an invasion of Cuba, includes six Marine battalion landing teams, four by assault boats and two by helicopter assault carriers. U.S. forces massed for a Cuban invasion have reached their peak strength at this point, the JCS reports, some 100,000 Army troops, 40,000 Marines and 14,500 paratroopers stand ready, with 550 combat aircraft and over 180 ships available to support an invasion.

On November 18, 1962, John McCloy and Adlai Stevenson have a long meeting with Vasily Kuznetsov and Valerian Zorin to try to force the dispute over the IL-28s to a head. McCloy repeatedly threatens Kuznetsov that within a few hours the Soviet Union must pledge to remove the bombers. The Soviet officials refuse, and the ultimatum passes.

On November 19, 1962, high-altitude incursions over Cuban airspaces begin again, while low altitude incursions are suspended. Robert Kennedy scrawls notes on the back of an envelope during the meeting, "President reluctant to send in low-level flights...How far can we push K[hrushchev?]." During the day, Robert Kennedy meets with Georgi Bolshakov and threatens him that low-altitude warplanes will begin flying over Cuba again unless the Soviet Union promises to remove the bombers. Kennedy later warns NATO leaders and the OAS that United States will attack Cuba if the 42 Soviet aircraft are not removed (while 550 U.S. stand ready to immediately invade Cuba).

Seeking for a peaceful solution in the chaotic and increasingly threatening atmosphere, Fidel Castro explains to the U.N. General Secretary U Thant that the Cuban government will remove the IL-28 s from Cuba, thereby ending the crisis over the Soviet bombers.

On November 20, 1962, Kennedy directs an oral message through the Soviet ambassador stating that he will announce a lower state of alert for U.S. forces at his press conference. Premier Khrushchev formally agrees to remove the IL-28 s from Cuba in a fourteen-page letter to President Kennedy. In his letter, Khrushchev explains that during their exchange of correspondence in October, Kennedy had not made "a single mention of bomber planes...I informed you that the IL-28 planes are twelve years old and by their combat characteristics they at present cannot be classified as offensive types of weapons." Nonetheless, he added that "we intend to remove them within a month." In a separate transmission, Khrushchev urges that Kennedy refrain from "hurting the national feelings of the Cubans" during his upcoming press conference.

For the first time the United States agrees to lift only the military blockade of Cuba (as of the year 2000, the iron curtain of the U.S. economic blockade remains in fact). In addition, the SAC alert is canceled, and the U.S. military returns to DEFCON 4. U-2 incursions over Cuban air space, however, continue.

On November 25, 1962, President Kennedy renews the demand for an international inspection of Cuba to "verify" that nuclear missiles have been removed. Two days later, Cuba agrees to allow international inspection of its territory, so long as United States will allow the same for all bases where Cuban exiles are being indoctrinated and trained by the United States government. Not surprisingly, the United States lets the matter quietly drop.

On December 4, 1962, ExComm members discuss future policy toward Cuba at a working meeting held without President Kennedy. The group reviews U.S. intentions for future overflights of Cuba, and state that if a U-2 is shot down, the Cuban air defense sites will be destroyed. U.S. terrorism against Cuba continues, an organization called the Second Front of the Escambray fire from two gunboats at sea on the port of Caibarien.

On the following day, Ambassadors Stevenson and McCloy send an eyes-only cable to Secretary Rusk and the President, protesting their instructions to harass the Soviets and Cubans for on onsite verification, even though all missiles and planes have already been removed from Cuba, explaining that dragged out demands do not look well for public opinion.

In December 19, 1962, Premier Khrushchev sends a letter to President Kennedy suggesting that the "time has come now to put an end once and for all to nuclear tests." He writes, "with the elimination of the Cuban crisis we relieved mankind of the direct menace of combat use of lethal nuclear weapons that impended over the world. Can't we solve a far simpler question--that of cessation of experimental explosions of nuclear weapons in the peaceful conditions?" Kennedy responds to Khrushchev's letter nine days later. Continued negotiations subsequently lead to the eventual signing of a limited test-ban treaty on August 5, 1963.

In December 23-24, 1962, the Cuban government agrees to release 1,113 Bay of Pigs invaders back to the United States in exchange for $53 million in medical supplies and baby food. The Cuban government keeps nine of the invaders in prison, releasing the last in 1986. Several days later, on the 29th, President Kennedy meets with the former prisoners at a widely televised college football game in Miami (the Orange Bowl), where he praises the carriage of the terrorists, he receives the flag of Brigade to 506 and promises it will fly over "a free Havana." Receiving loud applause from the counterrevolutionaries, 14 years would pass before they would hire a U.S. lawyer, to get their flag back from decaying in a museum basement.

In January 1963, Italy and Turkey announce that [some] U.S. IRBM nuclear missiles stationed in their countries will be phased out, in accordance to the secret deal made with the Soviet Union. U.S. nuclear missiles remain secretly hidden in places like Taiwan, Puerto Rico, and throughout Japan. Before the nuclear missiles are removed from Italy in Turkey, the United States sends submarines with nuclear warheads into the Mediterranean, to ensure they maintain all angles of nuclear striking distance at the Soviet Union.

On January 2, 1963, Fidel Castro addresses the workers and peasants of Cuba on the Fourth Anniversary of the Cuban Revolution: "And now, who goes to harvest the peasant's coffee? The scholarship students. That means that the revolution has not just made those peasants owners of their lands and built them hospitals, roads, schools, sent them teachers, made them literate; but now, as the result of the economic development of the country, there are no more of those hungry pariahs who used to collect coffee because there was nothing else to do. The revolution sends them the youth, the students to harvest the coffee. There is no more off-season in our rural areas. There is no more unemployment in our rural areas. There is no more illiteracy. Children no longer die without medical attention. (Applause) And cultural life is developing with giant strides."
    > Castro: Fourth Anniversary of the Cuban Revolution (January 2, 1963)

On January 4, 1963, U.S. policy toward Cuba vacillates considerably; even as secret amicable approaches to Castro are being weighed, the Kennedy administration also contemplates Pentagon proposals for military action against Cuba, as well as a wide range of economic and terrorist programs to weaken the Cuban government. A week later, testifying at a closed hearing before the Senate foreign relations committee, Dean Rusk clarifies the U.S. non-invasion assurance: "[we] never made an unadorned commitment not to invade Cuba in the first place."

On January 7, 1963, while the Soviet Union and United States agree that the crisis is over, the Cuban government objects, explaining that United States never met the "five points" Castro had articulated on October 28, 1962.

On January 11 and 24, counterrevolutionaries kill an eleven-year-old in one attack and two children in another.

On January 15, 1963, The Soviet Union makes a final attempt to obtain a firm U.S. non-invasion pledge during a meeting between Vasily Kuznetsov and President Kennedy just prior to Kuznetsov's departure for Moscow. The U.S. president refuses. Fidel Castro later explains, "for us, the Caribbean crisis has not been resolved. A war was avoided but the peace was not won."
    > Castro: At the Closing of the Congress of Women of the Americans (January 16, 1963)

In late January 1963, the bureaucratic parts of Operation Mongoose slowly begin to be phased out, while the covert actions of terrorism continue. The Special Group Augmented is replaced by a different oversight organization, the Special Group, chaired by McGeorge Bundy. The CIA arm of the operation, Task Force W, continues to exist as the Special Affairs Staff, located at the CIA's Miami station. William Harvey, the head of Task Force W, is replaced by Desmond FitzGerald as head of the Special Affairs Staff. Covert attacks against Fidel Castro (including assassination attempts) and Cuban government officials continue throughout 1963 under FitzGerald. Other operations include industrial, and economic sabotage as well as terrorism.

In February 18, 1963, Premier Khrushchev informs President Kennedy that "several thousand" Soviet troops in Cuba would be withdrawn by March 15, however one Soviet division (2,600 soldiers) remains in Cuba in case of U.S. invasion. Meanwhile, three days later, the Joint Chiefs of Staff undertake a comprehensive study of how to overthrow Cuba through an internal revolt.

On March 21, 1963, President Kennedy publicly criticizes recent attacks on Cuba by "Cuban exiles," saying that the raids only "strengthened the Russian position in Cuba." Five days later the CIA attacks and sinks the Soviet ship Baku, as it loads Cuban sugar at the harbor of Caibarien, Cuba. The assault on the Baku, as well as the one on the L'Gov a week earlier, are strenuously protested by the Soviet Union and Cuba through the deaf ears of the United Nations. The United States denies all involvement.

On May 13, 1963, Lt. Col. James Patchell drafts a proposal for the Pentagon calling for the creation of an "imaginary Cuban leader" to "serve as a focal point" for the anti-Castro movement. The details of this particular plan were declassified in 1998 in Operation Mongoose: Pentagon Plan for an "Imaginary Cuban Leader" ; because this particular plan was not carried out. Similar plans however, hitherto still classified, were put into action, trying to fool the Cuban people.

On June 19, 1963, Following a Special Group meeting, President Kennedy approves a new terrorist program against Cuba. Whereas Operation Mongoose was aimed at eventually sparking an internal revolt, the new program aims "to nourish a spirit of resistance and disaffection which could lead to significant defections and other by-products of unrest." Numerous sabotage efforts against critical industrial and economic targets (i.e. factories and sugar fields) are authorized by the Special Group during the autumn of 1963 (also including assassination plots) continue until 1965.

June 20, 1963, A memorandum between the United States and the Soviet Union establishing a "hot line" between Washington and Moscow is signed. The agreement establishes a direct teletype communication link to be used "in time of emergency" in order to clarify intentions and prevent accident, miscalculation, or misunderstanding leading to unintentional war.

In September 5, 1963, Fidel Castro struggles anew to come to peace with United States, trying to arrange talks through Lisa Howard, an American broadcasting correspondent who had been in Cuba. On the 20th, President Kennedy informs ambassador Stevenson to establish only informal contact with the Cuban government through the United Nations with the aim to get Cuba outside of Soviet protection/alliance, while suggesting that if this happens the United States may guarantee not to attack Cuba. Meanwhile, the U.S. covert war against Cuba raged on.

On November 22, 1963, John Kennedy is shot dead. The United States government declares the "Communist" Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy (Oswald was a U.S. Marine who attempted to emigrate to the Soviet Union, but the Soviet government refused to allow him; he was however allowed back into the United States). Oswald was shot dead in jail two days later. Who killed Kennedy is unknown to this day — the United States government has kept the documents relating to his death secret.

October 13, 1964: Nikita Khrushchev is replaced as the premiere of the USSR, primarily as a result of his poor domestic policies (most of the Soviet government agreed with Khrushchev's handling of the Cuban missile crisis).