THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS
Copyright 2016 by Jane Franklin
November 1: In a memo to President Kennedy, Richard Goodwin, the White House specialist on Latin America, advises that Attorney General Robert Kennedy would be the most effective commander of a new plan to overthrow Prime Minister Castro: Operation Mongoose. Goodwin and the Attorney General have been joined in planning Operation Mongoose by CIA operative General Edward G. Lansdale, who engineered the presidency of Ramón Magsaysay in the Philippines against the Hukbalahap rebellion and then went to Vietnam where he set up the Saigon regime of Ngo Dinh Diem.
November 15: In a memorandum to Attorney General Robert Kennedy outlining the proposal for Operation Mongoose, General Lansdale states that a "picture of the situation has emerged clearly enough to indicate what needs to be done and to support your sense of urgency concerning Cuba."
November 26: Volunteer teacher Manuel Ascunce Domenech and a peasant who was his student, Pedro Lantigua, are assassinated in the Escambray. Although not the first killings of participants in the Literacy Campaign, these two murders become symbolic.
November 29: President Kennedy replaces CIA Director Allen Dulles with John Alex McCone. Within the next three months, Kennedy also fires General Charles P. Cabell, the CIA's deputy director, and Richard Bissell, the head of the CIA's Bay of Pigs operation.
November 30: President Kennedy issues a memorandum to Secretary of State Dean Rusk and others who will be involved in his decision to launch top-secret Operation Mongoose "to help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime." This leads to the creation of a new control group, the Special Group (Augmented) (SGA), to oversee Mongoose: regular Special Group members--National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, Deputy Under Secretary of State Alexis Johnson, Under Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric, CIA Director John McCone, and General Lyman Lemnitzer, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff--augmented by Attorney General Robert Kennedy and General Maxwell Taylor. President Kennedy puts General Edward Lansdale in charge of coordinating Mongoose operations with those of the Departments of State and Defense and appoints General Taylor as SGA chair. Within the next few weeks, William K. Harvey is put in charge of the CIA's Task Force W, the unit that will take part in Mongoose. Task Force W will have about 400 people working at CIA headquarters in Washington and in the Miami CIA Station. During the coming months, Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara sometimes attend SGA meetings. Richard M. Helms, replacement for Richard Bissell as CIA chief of covert operations, becomes a major participant, along with Richard Goodwin of the State Department, and Ed Murrow and Don Wilson of the United States Information Agency (USIA).
December: President Kennedy continues the suspension of Cuba's sugar quota through the first half of 1962.
December 2: Prime Minister Castro states his ideology clearly: "I am a Marxist-Leninist and I shall be a Marxist-Leninist to the end of my life."
December 26: Two CIA agents trying to come ashore in Pinar del Río are captured.
January 3: In a diplomatic note to the U.S. Government, Cuba protests 119 violations of its territory, 76 by planes from Guantánamo Naval Base.
January 7: Secretary of State Dean Rusk says the OAS meeting later this month will deal with the danger of "Castroism" in the Western Hemisphere and will impose sanctions on Cuba.
January 7: Arms dropped from a plane in Pinar del Río and Las Villas are seized.
January 18: In a top-secret report (partially declassified 1989) addressed to President Kennedy and officials involved with Operation Mongoose, General Edward Lansdale describes plans to overthrow the Cuban Government: "The failure of the U.S.-sponsored operation in April 1961 so shook the faith of Cuban patriots in U.S. competence and intentions in supporting a revolt against Castro that a new effort to generate a revolt...must have active support from key Latin American countries....The preparation phase must result in a political action organization in being in key localities inside Cuba, with...its own voice for psychological operations, and its own action arm (small guerrilla bands, sabotage squads, etc.)....The climactic moment of revolt will come from an angry reaction of the people to a government action (sparked by an incident), or from a fracturing of the leadership cadre within the regime, or both. (A major goal of the Project must be to bring this about.) The popular movement will capitalize on this climactic moment by initiating an open revolt....The United States, if possible in concert with other Western Hemisphere nations, will then give open support....Such support will include military force, as necessary." Lansdale lists various political, military and economic policies that are subsequently implemented by the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.
January 19: The U.S. Government circulates a proposal that OAS members order "automatic sanctions" against Cuba "if it does not sever ties with Communist countries within 60 days."
January 22-31: OAS foreign ministers meet in Punta del Este, Uruguay. President Dorticós, head of the Cuban delegation, proposes peaceful coexistence and says expulsion of Cuba would be illegal. Fourteen of the 21 members, barely the necessary two-thirds majority, vote to expel Cuba from the OAS; Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Mexico abstain on the grounds that the measure violates the Principle of Nonintervention in the Internal Affairs of another member state, part of the OAS Charter. The expulsion measure says Cuba's "adherence...to Marxism-Leninism is incompatible with the inter-American system." The OAS also votes to suspend sales of weapons to Cuba.
January 23: In response to the OAS, a Peoples' Assembly convenes in Havana with representatives from the continent, including Lázaro Cárdenas, former Mexican president; Salvador Allende, future Chilean president; Francisco Julião, Brazilian peasant leader; Vivian Trías, secretary general of the Socialist Party of Uruguay; and Antonio Parra, rector of Guayaquil University in Uruguay.
January 25-February 1: Pointing out that one task outlined in his January 18 report was to "generate popular support" for the U.S. position at the OAS meeting, General Lansdale issues top-secret score cards of "PRO-COMMUNIST" and "PRO-FREEDOM" demonstrations in the Western Hemisphere (partially declassified 1988-89).
January 28: Cuban authorities arrest a group of saboteurs for plotting to paralyze urban transportation by putting motors out of commission with chemicals and magnetic mines.
February 3: The Kennedy Administration announces a total embargo of trade with Cuba to take effect February 7. Since the prohibition of exports (see October 19, 1960), the embargo has become extraterritorial with regulations barring re-export to Cuba of any commodities or technical data that originate in the United States. Congress has passed legislation prohibiting U.S. aid for any country that "furnishes assistance" to the Cuban Government.
February 3: Speaking in the Panama Canal Zone, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara says communist subversion, particularly from Cuba, endangers the security of the Western Hemisphere so the United States and its allies must be prepared militarily to meet that threat.
February 4: From the Peoples' Assembly (see January 23) comes the "Second Declaration of Havana." In response to the OAS expulsion and sanctions, the Declaration outlines the history of colonial relations in Latin America and present conditions of widespread poverty, disease, and illiteracy, calling on revolutionaries to make revolution.
February 5: At the United Nations, Cuban UN Ambassador Mario García Incháustegui denounces the OAS expulsion and proposes settlement in accordance with the UN Charter. He charges that the U.S. Government is preparing another large intervention in Cuba.
February 7: The U.S. embargo on all trade with Cuba, except for the non-subsidized sale of food and medicines, goes into effect.
February 15: The UN General Assembly rejects a resolution calling on the U.S. Government to stop interfering in Cuba's affairs with a vote of 50 to 11 with 39 abstentions.
February 19: Cuba asks for an immediate meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss U.S. aggression. Just as Cuban officials quickly learned about "secret" plans that became the Bay of Pigs invasion, they know that U.S. officials are planning another invasion.
February 20: General Lansdale presents to the SGA a 26-page, top-secret timetable for implementation of the overthrow of the Cuban Government (partially declassified 1989). CIA agents or "pathfinders" will be infiltrated to carry out sabotage and organization, including radio broadcasts. Jacqueline Kennedy "would be especially effective in visiting children refugees" in Florida with USIA coverage. The OAS, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the United Nations will be used for international support. Guerrilla operations will begin in August and September with defections of high officials "to tell the inside story" and "evoke world sympathy with the freedom fighters." Finally in the first two weeks of October: "Open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime."
February 22: State Department official Walt Rostow travels to Europe to persuade members of NATO to join the embargo on trade with Cuba.
February 26: Cuba's Ministry of Public Health, assisted by the mass organizations, carries out a nationwide campaign of vaccination against polio and eradicates the affliction by the end of the year. In April 1995 the World Health Organization formally recognizes Cuba as the pioneer in the elimination of polio in the Americas.
February 26: Answering a request from the Joint Chiefs of Staff about possible responses to a revolt in Cuba, the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command recommends supplying arms covertly until the rebels' military advances reach a level that would justify overt U.S. intervention.
February 27: As in the General Assembly (see February 15), the United States has a majority (7 to 4) in the Security Council. The British delegate calls Cuba's charges a "propaganda exercise."
March 14: General Maxwell Taylor, SGA chair, issues detailed "Guidelines for Operation Mongoose" (partially declassified 1989). The document states: "a. In undertaking to cause the overthrow of the target government, the U.S. will make maximum use of indigenous resources, internal and external, but recognizes that final success will require decisive U.S. military intervention. b. Such indigenous resources as are developed will be used to prepare for and justify this intervention, and thereafter to facilitate and support it."
March 20: By diplomatic note, Cuba protests to the U.S. Government about repeated provocations by soldiers at the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo, Cuba.
March 22: At a luncheon meeting, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover tells President Kennedy that the FBI knows about the connection between Judith Campbell, one of the President's mistresses, and crime bosses John Roselli and Sam Giancana. He warns the President of potential damage if word got out. The affair ends at once and the President no longer uses this particular courier for messages to Giancana.
March 23: The U.S. Government extends the trade embargo to imports of all goods made from Cuban materials or containing any Cuban materials even if made in other countries.
March 29-April 7: Cuba tries and convicts the Bay of Pigs invaders. Punishment is loss of Cuban citizenship and a fine of $62 million for the whole group. In lieu of the fine, the prisoners are sentenced to 30 years in prison with physical labor.
April 9: Cuba sends another diplomatic note to protest provocations by U.S. soldiers at Guantánamo Naval Base. These incidents are in addition to continual aerial and naval bombardment, sabotage of crops and industry, occasional landings along the coast, and assassinations.
April 14: Cuba releases 60 Bay of Pigs prisoners who were wounded during the invasion. They are flown to Miami.
April 28: Armed Cuban exiles attack the New York offices of Prensa Latina, the Cuban press agency, injuring three employees.
May: General Lansdale continues to present detailed plans for Operation Mongoose to the SGA. By May 17, the CIA has managed to infiltrate only four small "teams" into Cuba, far fewer than envisioned earlier. In the coming weeks, Lansdale describes plans for the actual invasion with the cooperation of at least two other Western countries, preferably neither Guatemala nor Nicaragua, both tainted by the Bay of Pigs. In the aftermath of this successful invasion, he cautions, "Care must be exercised" to avoid "indications of possible loss of any gains (housing, land, social benefits) which might have accrued to the peasant and worker groups during the Castro regime."
May: The Treasury Department formally rescinds Cuba's "Most Favored Nation" status.
May 7: CIA officials inform Attorney General Robert Kennedy that the CIA has been involved with crime boss Sam Giancana in plots to assassinate Prime Minister Castro. But as testimony by CIA officials reveals to the Senate Intelligence Committee years later, the CIA officials tell the Attorney General that the plots have been halted when in fact they continue.
May 8-18: As part of contingency plans for Cuba, U.S. military forces stage Operation Whip Lash, one of several such exercises during the year.
May 12: A heavily armed ship attacks a Cuban patrol boat, killing three and wounding five crew members. Alpha 66, a Cuban exile group based in Miami, claims credit four days later.
May 30: After conferring with other Cuban leaders, President Castro accepts the offer of a visiting Soviet delegation to provide Cuba with nuclear missiles.
June: In daily radio broadcasts, Cuba maintains that the U.S. Government is using Guantánamo Naval Base for espionage and violation of Cuban territory.
June 7: Two infiltrators are killed in Oriente province.
July-October: Aggression against Cuba is an everyday occurrence, including the killing of peasants in the Escambray; the killing of fisherman Rodolfo Rosell Salas by U.S. soldiers from the Guantánamo Naval Base; the killing of a soldier and a militiaman by infiltrators; shots fired, sometimes for several hours, from Guantánamo Naval Base into the surrounding area; hit-and-run attacks by boats along the coast and other constant violations of Cuban territory by boats and planes that carry out espionage, sabotage, hijackings of boats, kidnappings, and infiltration of CIA operatives. Cubans capture many of the infiltrators.
July 2-17: Raúl Castro heads a delegation to Moscow for discussions about the deployment of nuclear missiles. According to later accounts by Cuba, emplacement of the missiles in Cuba begins in July.
July 17: Juan Falcón, who claims to be a leader of the Movement for the Recovery of the Revolution (MRR), is arrested in Cuba. On Cuban television, he describes CIA efforts to destabilize Cuba in advance of another invasion.
Late July: In response to the U.S. invasion plans, Soviet arms shipments to Cuba greatly increase.
July 26: In his speech on the ninth anniversary of the attack on Batista's Moncada Barracks, Prime Minister Castro warns that another U.S. invasion is being planned but assures the Cuban people that Cuba has acquired new weapons for its defense.
August 8: An SGA report about Operation Mongoose says Cuban response to invasion will be determined by "the will of Cuban armed forces to resist, as well as by the weapons available to them and their proficiency in their use." The report points out that Cuba's ability to defend itself will improve if the Soviet Union continues to provide additional military equipment and training. The possibility of a lengthy U.S. occupation after seizing "military control of the island" is mentioned.
August 11: In Camagüey, a group of CIA agents is captured with weapons and explosives.
August 12: According to the Operation Mongoose timetable proposed by General Lansdale (see February 20), this date was to be a workers' strike. The CIA's Radio Voice was to "thank them the next day for their splendid response (to shame those who didn't participate by making them feel alone)." The timetable is disintegrating.
August 15: A group of CIA agents is captured in Cuba with radio equipment.
August 20: In a memo to President Kennedy, General Maxwell Taylor says that since the SGA sees no likelihood of overthrowing the Cuban Government by internal means without direct U.S. military intervention, the SGA favors a more aggressive program for Operation Mongoose. Richard Helms, CIA director in 1962, testifies to the Senate Intelligence Committee June 13, 1975: "I believe it was the policy at the time to get rid of Castro and if killing him was one of the things that was to be done in this connection, that was within what was expected."
August 22: The S.S. Streatham Hill, a British freighter under Soviet lease and bound for the Soviet Union with 80,000 bags of Cuban sugar, docks in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for repair of a damaged propeller. More than 14,000 sacks of sugar are off-loaded to facilitate repairs. CIA agents enter the customs warehouse and contaminate the sugar with a chemical supposedly harmless but unpalatable. When President Kennedy is told, he orders that the doctored sugar not leave Puerto Rico. The Soviet Union never receives this part of the cargo.
August 23: National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy issues NSAM 181 stating that, at the President's directive, Operation Mongoose's "Plan B plus should be developed with all possible speed." "Plan B plus" aims at an internal revolt in Cuba.
August 24: Two gunboats operated by the Cuban Student Directorate (DRE) based in Florida shell Havana's Sierra Maestra hotel, the Chaplin theater, and the Miramar residential section, killing about 20 Soviet and Cuban people. On the following day, Prime Minister Castro formally protests to the United Nations. Subsequently, the U.S. Coast Guard impounds the boats. The CIA has trained members of the Cuban Student Directorate in demolition and provided the boats used in the terrorist attack.
August 29: A U-2 spy plane photographs construction of a site in Cuba for a surface-to-air missile (SAM), a defensive weapon.
August 30: The SGA overseeing Operation Mongoose asks the CIA to prepare a list of possible targets in Cuba for sabotage.
August 30: At a press conference, President Kennedy says the Monroe Doctrine means today what it meant to Presidents James Monroe and John Quincy Adams, that is, that the United States opposes all foreign intervention in the Western Hemisphere, specifically what is happening in Cuba.
August 31: Senator Kenneth B. Keating (R-New York) warns on the Senate floor that the Soviet Union may be constructing a missile base in Cuba.
September 2: Cuba and the Soviet Union sign an agreement about military and industrial assistance: "In view of the threats of aggressive imperialist quarters with regard to Cuba, the USSR has agreed to Cuba's request for help by delivering armaments and sending technical specialists for training Cuban servicemen." The arms include medium-range nuclear missiles. The Soviet Union and Cuba have agreed that once the atomic weapons are in Cuba, the Soviet-Cuban agreement will be made public, along with the presence of the nuclear weapons, based on Cuba's right to defend itself. Premier Khrushchev wants to save the announcement for his visit to Cuba scheduled for the end of this year, after U.S. elections. (See January 9, 1992)
September 3: The Latin American Free Trade Association votes 7 to 4 with 2 abstentions to exclude Cuba.
September 4: White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger releases a statement of policy about Cuba from President Kennedy. It includes an expression of concern about recent Soviet arms shipments to Cuba, a report that information received within the previous four days shows that the Soviet Union has provided Cuba with "a number of antiaircraft defense missiles," and an assurance that there is no evidence of offensive ground-to-ground missiles or other significant offensive weapons.
September 8: After U.S. pressure to break relations with Cuba or at least stop financial credit, NATO members stop financial credit.
September 10: In one of many of its hit-and-run attacks by boat, Alpha 66 shells the San Pascual, a Cuban steamer, and the Newlane, a British freighter, at a Cuban port.
September 11: The Soviet Union warns that a U.S. attack on Cuba or on Soviet ships carrying supplies to Cuba would mean war.
September 13: Knowing that Operation Mongoose calls for an October invasion of Cuba, President Kennedy nonetheless tells a press conference that Prime Minister Castro's "charges of an imminent American invasion" are a "frantic effort to bolster his regime."
September 18: Cuban Armed Forces denounce the increase of U.S. violations of Cuban air space.
September 19: NBC television shows film of Cuban exiles training under U.S. supervision in Florida and Guatemala.
September 26: The U.S. Congress passes a joint resolution giving the president the right to intervene militarily in Cuba if the United States is threatened.
September 27: Another group of CIA agents is captured. With his operatives not making any headway in Cuba, General Lansdale, as he complains years later, has not been able to establish a network inside Cuba to try to complete Operation Mongoose.
September 27: Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay receives a proposed plan for aerial bombardment of Cuba that would precede landing U.S. troops by air and water. The proposal is approved with a plan to complete preparations for such an attack by October 20.
October 2: Again tightening the embargo, the U.S. Government announces new regulations, including: U.S. ports are closed to any country that allows any of its ships to transport arms to Cuba; a ship that docks in any country belonging to the socialist bloc will not be allowed to dock at any U.S. port during that voyage; U.S. aid will be unavailable to any country that allows planes or ships under its registry to transport certain materials to Cuba; shipowners involved in trade with Cuba will not be allowed to transport U.S. shipments of foreign aid supplies. No U.S. ships are allowed to be used in any trade with Cuba.
October 2: In a memo to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara describes situations that might require U.S. military force against Cuba, including placement of offensive weapons from the Soviet bloc in Cuba, a Cuban attack against Guantánamo Naval Base or U.S. planes or vessels outside Cuban territory, assistance by Cuba to "subversion" in other countries of the Western Hemisphere, a request for assistance by leaders of a "substantial popular uprising" in Cuba or a "decision by the President that the affairs in Cuba have reached a point inconsistent with continuing U.S. national security." The memo requests that contingency plans emphasize removal from power of Prime Minister Castro.
October 2-3: At a Hemispheric Conference, U.S. officials pressure Latin American officials to isolate Cuba in order to combat "Sino-Soviet intervention in Cuba."
October 4: At an SGA meeting, Attorney General Robert Kennedy reports that the President feels more priority should be given to sabotage and urges "massive activity" within the framework of Operation Mongoose.
October 6: Admiral Robert L. Dennison, chief of Atlantic Forces, receives a memo from Defense Secretary McNamara telling the Joint Chiefs of Staff to start putting into effect OPLAN 314 and OPLAN 316, two contingency plans for invasion of Cuba.
October 8: Speaking to the UN General Assembly, Cuban President Dorticós denounces the October 2 decision about ships trading with Cuba as an "act of war" violating the UN Charter. Anti-Castro demonstrators interrupt his speech several times.
October 8: Britain secretly agrees to a U.S. request to position supplies and equipment for an attack on Cuba at Mayaguana in the Bahamas.
October 14: A U-2 flies over western Cuba, the first Strategic Air Command (SAC) mission since authority for U-2 surveillance flights was transferred from the CIA to the Air Force on October 12.
October 15: The Cuban Ministry of Public Health with the cooperation of the mass organizations begins a national campaign to vaccinate against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough.
October 15: Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ben Bella arrives in Cuba after meeting with President Kennedy in Washington the day before. Prime Minister Castro calls this state visit an "act of courage." Eight days later, the State Department tells the Agency for International Development (AID) to suspend all economic aid to Algeria.
October 15: Analyzing U-2 photographs taken a day earlier, the CIA informs National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy that the Soviet Union is constructing sites for intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Cuba.
October 15: A group of Cuban exiles led by Eugenio Rolando Martínez receives instructions in Florida from CIA agents for planting explosives at the Matahambre copper mines in Pinar del Río. Cuban authorities discover and thwart the plan on October 25.
October 16-22: President Kennedy and his closest advisers deliberate on what to do about Cuban sites for nuclear weapons that could be used against the United States. On October 16, Attorney General Robert Kennedy discusses the idea of using the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo in some way that would justify an invasion: "We should also think of, uh, whether there is some other way we can get involved in this through, uh, Guantánamo Bay, or something, or whether there's some ship that, you know, sink the Maine again or something." Tapes of at least part of these discussions are made public at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston in 1983.
October 22: Dependents and non-essential personnel are evacuated from Guantánamo Naval Base. President Kennedy masses U.S. forces in Florida and puts them on alert around the world. At 7 p.m. Washington time, President Kennedy speaks on national television and the world learns that it is on the brink of nuclear war. The President announces that there are nuclear missile sites in Cuba and that he has ordered a naval blockade of the island to prevent deliveries of offensive weapons. He demands immediate dismantling of missile sites and withdrawal of any and all missiles. Eighty minutes before Kennedy's speech, Cuba declares a combat alarm (a higher stage in Cuba than a combat alert) and concentrates antiaircraft batteries and artillery along the Havana waterfront.
In a speech on January 1, 1984, Fidel Castro says that in 1962 "42 medium-range missiles were deployed in Cuba." In 1989 at a conference about the Missile Crisis in Moscow, Soviet officials reveal that at the time of the blockade there were 20 nuclear warheads in Cuba with 20 others on a ship that turned back because of the blockade. No missile to launch the warheads was yet operable. In addition, as a Russian general states at the 1992 conference in Havana, there were 43,000 Soviet soldiers on the island.
October 23: The Soviet Union rejects U.S. demands on the grounds that acceptance would violate Cuba's right to self-determination. The OAS meets and most members agree to prepare an invasion if U.S. demands are not met. In a speech to the Cuban people, Prime Minister Castro reaffirms Cuba's right to strengthen defenses with any weapons it chooses. He does not acknowledge the presence of nuclear missiles. He says all of Cuba's weapons are defensive and Cuba will not allow any type of inspection.
October 23: The U.S. Government begins low-altitude surveillance flights over Cuba in addition to U-2 high-altitude flights.
October 24: The U.S. naval blockade around the island of Cuba takes effect.
October 26: The Soviet Union sends a message to UN Secretary General U Thant that it has ordered its merchant ships not to enter the zone of the U.S. naval blockade.
October 26: Reasoning that any U.S. attack on Cuba would involve an attack on the Soviet troops and therefore lead to thermonuclear war, Prime Minister Castro writes to Premier Khrushchev (these letters are published by Granma in 1990) that if the United States invades Cuba, the Soviet Union "should not allow the circumstances" in which the United States would be the first to use nuclear weapons. Khrushchev receives this letter October 27.
October 26-27: The White House receives two letters from Premier Khrushchev, offering to withdraw Soviet missiles from Cuba and to pledge that the Soviet Union will not interfere in the internal affairs of Turkey if the United States ends the naval blockade, pledges not to invade Cuba, and removes its nuclear missiles from Turkey.
October 27: Because U.S. overflights pose the threat of a surprise attack, the Cuban military command has ordered antiaircraft batteries to fire on planes that violate Cuban airspace, and this information is passed on to the Soviet military. Around noon, a U-2 spy plane is shot down over Cuba, killing the pilot. Although at first there are differing accounts of precisely who downed the U-2, in the 1980s officials from both Cuba and the Soviet Union report that a Soviet officer gave the command. Cuban leaders later point out that "had we had the proper weaponry," Cuba would have shot down the plane "without hesitation." (Cuba later identifies the Soviet commander as Lieutenant General G.A. Voronkov, to whom Cuba awarded the Ernesto Che Guevara Order, first degree, after the Missile Crisis ended.)
October 27: President Kennedy sends a letter to Premier Khrushchev with a proposal that the Soviet Union immediately withdraw its missiles from Cuba while the United States ends the naval blockade and pledges not to invade Cuba. This agreement will be made public. Meanwhile, Attorney General Robert Kennedy meets with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin and agrees privately that once the crisis is resolved, the United States will withdraw its Jupiter missiles from Turkey.
October 28: After days at the nuclear brink, the worst of the Missile Crisis ends when Moscow Radio broadcasts Premier Khrushchev's letter to President Kennedy accepting the October 27 proposal. Concerning U.S. aggression against Cuba, Khrushchev's letter says, "I regard with respect and trust the statement you made in your message of 27 October 1962 that there would be no attack, no invasion of Cuba, and not only on the part of the United States, but also on the part of other nations of the Western Hemisphere, as you said in your same message. Then the motives which induced us to render assistance of such a kind to Cuba disappear." Without consultation with Cuba, the Soviet Union begins dismantling the missile sites and withdrawing its missiles. At this point Prime Minister Castro asserts Cuba's position with a demand that the U.S. Government end five practices: the embargo, subversive activities inside Cuba, armed attacks against Cuba, violation of Cuban air and naval space, and occupation of Cuban territory at Guantánamo.
October 29: The U.S. Government rejects all of Cuba's demands, stressing that removal of the missiles and verification have to precede any negotiations. The U.S. Government continues to press for removal of IL-28 bombers from Cuba.
October 30: The SGA orders a halt to all the sabotage activities of Operation Mongoose. However, during the Missile Crisis, William Harvey (see November 30, 1961) has continued to dispatch sabotage teams into Cuba so that three six-man teams are presently deployed on the island (see November 5 and 8).
October 30: UN Secretary General U Thant arrives in Cuba. U.S. naval and aerial surveillance is suspended during two days of discussion between him and Cuban officials.
November 1: Cuba rejects a Soviet proposal for international inspection and turns down U.S. aerial inspection as proposed by Secretary General U Thant, stating: "...the Soviet Union has the right to remove the weapons that are theirs from Cuban soil, and we Cubans respect that decision. Nonetheless, we have certain disagreements with that decision, but we will discuss those differences with the Soviet leaders in private. It is important to remember that the Soviet Union has given us much help." Cuban leaders regard this refusal to allow inspection plus Cuba's five demands (see October 28) as the "20th-century Baraguá."
November 2: President Kennedy announces that the missile sites are being dismantled. However, Kennedy insists that the U.S. Government does not plan to end its anti-Cuban political and economic policies even if all offensive weapons are removed.
November 2: Maintaining that the U.S. Government demands inspection in order to "humiliate" Cuba, Prime Minister Castro declares: "We do not accept inspection demands; the Soviet promise to withdraw is serious enough. What right has the United States to ask us to submit to inspection? Cuba is opposed to the United States' pledge of `no invasion' in exchange for the establishment of a means for inspection because the United States has no right to invade Cuba and we cannot negotiate on the basis of a promise that a crime will not be committed."
November 2-26: After talking with U.S. officials in the United States, Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan visits Cuba and then returns to New York for more discussion with UN Secretary General U Thant and U.S. officials, including President Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Later, Cuban officials state that one outcome of this visit is an agreement with the Soviet Union that a Soviet military contingent will remain on the island.
November 5: In Pinar del Río province, Cuban officials arrest Miguel A. Orozco Crespo, leader of a group of CIA operatives infiltrated into Cuba October 20. Admitting to at least 25 missions in Cuba during 1962, Orozco tells Cuban security officers that his CIA overseers in Florida are Rip Robertson and Robert Wall. He provides information to Cuba about CIA operations on the island.
November 8: One of the CIA teams in Cuba (see October 30) blows up its industrial target.
November 15: UN Secretary General U Thant receives a letter from Prime Minister Castro declaring that planes which violate Cuban air space will do so at the risk of being destroyed. The order is to take effect November 17. President Kennedy responds on November 16 by suspending low-level flights while continuing the U-2 flights out of range of Cuban weapons.
November 16: Responding in the UN General Assembly to a Brazilian initiative, supported by the U.S. Government, for the denuclearization of Latin America, Carlos Lechuga, who became Cuba's UN ambassador on October 31, says the nuclear powers should guarantee no use of nuclear weapons in Latin America and close their military bases there. He points out the illogic of allowing the U.S. Government to have a base at Guantánamo on Cuban territory while Cuba is not allowed to have a base belonging to a friendly country for its defense.
November 16: At Onslow Beach in North Carolina, U.S. military forces stage a practice invasion of Cuba.
November 19: Prime Minister Castro informs UN Secretary General U Thant that Cuba does not object to removal of the Soviet-owned IL-28 bombers from its territory.
November 20: President Kennedy lifts the naval blockade after being assured by the Soviet Union that the IL-28s will be withdrawn from Cuba in 30 days. Kennedy does not insist on removal of MiG fighters and accepts the fact that some Soviet trainers will remain in Cuba. The order to lift the blockade takes effect at 6:45 p.m. but the official end to the naval "quarantine" takes place on the following day.
November 25: President Kennedy demands that there be international inspection of Cuba to see whether the threat to U.S. security has been removed.
November 27: Cuba agrees to allow international inspection if the United States will allow the same for all the bases where Cuban exiles are being trained on U.S. territory.
December 4: As hit-and-run attacks continue unabated, an exile organization called the Second Front of the Escambray fires from two gunboats at the port of Caibarién on the northern coast of Cuba in Villa Clara province.
December 12: Premier Khrushchev sends a letter to President Kennedy in which he asks the United States to honor its agreement not to invade Cuba as the Soviet Union has honored its promise to withdraw missiles. During December, a Soviet military brigade arrives in Cuba to train Cuban forces and help defend the island against invasion (see September 9, 1992).
December 23-24: In the first stage of an agreement with the United States, Cuba releases 1,113 Bay of Pigs invaders in exchange for $53 million in medicine and baby food. The former prisoners are flown to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. Cuba keeps nine of the invaders in prison, releasing the final one in 1986. An additional part of the agreement is that Cuba will allow other Cubans to leave for the United States.
December 29: President and Mrs. Kennedy meet the Bay of Pigs invaders at the Orange Bowl in Miami. The former prisoners shout "Guerra! Guerra!" and Jacqueline Kennedy, speaking in Spanish, praises their courage. The President receives their Brigade 2506 flag and promises it will fly over "a free Havana." But in 1976 Bay of Pigs veterans have to hire a lawyer to get their flag back from storage in a museum basement.
January: Although Operation Mongoose itself is being dismantled (see October 30, 1962), the CIA unit involved in the operation, Task Force W, continues to carry out covert activities against Cuba. When Desmond Fitzgerald replaces William Harvey as head of the task force, he asks his assistant to investigate whether a seashell could be rigged to explode in an area where Castro goes skin diving. Another assassination plot envisions sending Prime Minister Castro a gift of a diving suit with a fungus to cause chronic skin disease and a bacillus in the breathing apparatus to cause tuberculosis. These are described in the 1975 interim report of the Senate Select Committee on Assassinations.
February: In addition to the ongoing activities of Task Force W, the Defense Department's various branches continue to prepare contingency plans for overthrowing the Cuban Government.
April 25: Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara informs President Kennedy that the last Jupiter missile in Turkey will be removed within a few days (see October 27, 1962).
April 27-May 23: Prime Minister Castro visits the Soviet Union. A joint communiqué states that if there were an attack against Cuba "in violation of the commitment entered into by the President of the United States," the Soviet Union would offer Cuba "all the means at her disposal."
May 30: In a telephone interview with the Associated Press, retired Major General Edward G. Lansdale says that in 1962, on orders from President John F. Kennedy delivered through an intermediary, he began developing plans to remove Fidel Castro by any means, including assassination. Lansdale's interviews and testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reveal Operation Mongoose (see November 30, 1961) to the U.S. public for the first time.
Historian Jane Franklin is the author of Cuba and the U.S. Empire: A Chronological History.
E-mail Jane Franklin: email@example.com