“A Signal”

Russian Missiles in Cuba

On the ninth anniversary celebration of the Moncada Barracks Attack, Castro gave a speech in Santiago stating that the only thing Cuba had to fear was a direct attack by the United States. At the same time, the Russians were off-loading men and equipment from ships at the small, hardly-noticed port of Mariel. They transported their equipment, mostly at night, into a thickly wooded area in the mountains near San Cristóbal, which was 26 miles away from the port and approximately 50 miles from Havana. The CIA received a report that a twenty-six foot missile had been seen being transported on Cuban Highway A‑1.

This was twice the size of a SAM missile and the CIA deemed it highly unlikely that the Soviet Union would send offensive weapons of this size to Cuba. However, with the cold war in high gear, Khrushchev thought that he could change the balance of power between the United States and the Soviet Union by placing missiles on Cuban soil. This operation was conducted in strict secrecy, with Castro reluctantly agreeing to it. Castro still felt that Cuba’s alliance with the Soviet’s was risky and that this was a negative compromise undermining Cuban autonomy. Their secret however became confirmed by an Air Force U‑2 surveillance aircraft, sent on a reconnaissance mission, dispatched over the western part of the island.

The United States and the Soviet Union agreed on a deal. In return for pulling the Russian missiles out of Cuba the U.S. agreed to pull its missiles out of Turkey.

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