Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Katie Burke (1953–) Biography - Personal to Galeazzo Ciano (1903–1944) Biography » Fidel Castro: 1927—: President Biography - Born Into Privilege, Rejected Batista's Dictatorship, Instigated Revolution, Clashed With United States

Fidel Castro: 1927—: President - Clashed With United States

cuba kennedy political invasion

When John Kennedy became president in 1961, the United States attempted to remove Castro from power with an inland invasion of Cuba. Emily Hatchwell and Simon Calder wrote in Cuba In Focus: a Guide to the People, Politics and Culture, "Political considerations aside, the Bay of Pigs attack was a shambles from its very inception. The idea that the people of Cuba would rise up against Castro following an invasion showed a complete lack of understanding of the situation on the island." Within 48 hours, the United States operation had been defeated. Castro's success at repelling the invasion made him very popular.

In 1962 Castro requested military aid from Russia because he believed the United States was planning another assault. More than 40 nuclear missiles arrived in Cuba before the Kennedy administration realized what had happened. On October 22, Kennedy ordered a blockade of Russian ships carrying arms to Cuba and issued an ultimatum: remove the missiles from Cuba or face the possibility of nuclear war. Russian leader Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the weapons, but only if the United States pledged not to invade Cuba. Kennedy agreed. Cuba became further isolated in 1962 when the Organization of American States (OAS) suspended Cuba's membership and two years later, suspended all diplomatic and trade ties. Only Mexico refused to join the boycott.

During the 1960s, 60,000 political prisoners crowded Cuban jails. Homosexuals, artists, intellectuals, and former friends of Castro's were also imprisoned. Hatchwell and Calder noted, "Anyone who was not with the Revolution was by definition against it. Trade unions were disbanded and the media came under direct government control." Castro also attempted to export the revolution by supporting communist rebels in a dozen other countries. Cubans fought in the Angolan Civil War, helped Ethiopia defend itself against Somalia, and aided guerilla movements in South and Central America, including the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

Political repression and lack of economic opportunity led many Cubans to seek asylum in the United States. During 1980 Castro opened the port of Mariel near Havana, allowing 120,000 Cubans to flee. Another 30,000 left in 1994.

Fidel Castro: 1927—: President - Enlisted New Economic Reforms [next] [back] Fidel Castro: 1927—: President - Instigated Revolution

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