Today in History: Castro in Havana, Revolution and the links of time


On this day in 1959, Fidel Castro entered the city of Havana, symbolising the official defeat of the previous leader, Fulgencio Batista, in the Cuban Revolution.

What classifies this event as being of utmost historical significance is its links to one of the tensest periods in world history, namely the Cuban Missile Crisis.

After coming to power, Castro broke off ties with the United States and began showing favour towards the Soviet Union.

In response, the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), under the General Dwight D. Eisenhower, planned to train Cuban exiles in order to overthrow the Castro regime. It was codenamed Operation “Bumpy Road”. When Eisenhower made way for John F. Kennedy in January of 1961, the baton of invasion plans was passed on.

The Bay of Pigs invasion in April of 1961 ended in complete failure, with many criticising Kennedy afterwards for poor planning. With tensions at an all-time high, the Soviet Union sought to capitalise on the chaos with the placement of strategic warheads on the island, just 144-kilometres off the Florida coast.

Castro, fearing another invasion, welcomed the idea, and with it missiles started flowing into Cuba until a  US spyplane  noted the missiles in a series of overhead pictures.

What followed afterwards was a delicate game of nuclear-chess between the Soviet Union and United States, bringing the world as close to a nuclear holocaust as it ever has.

The results materialised in the Soviet Union withdrawing its missiles from Cuba, on the condition that the United States did not invade Cuba again.

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