June 11, 2013
Fidel Castro has been at the head of Cuban politics since 1961, and during that time has been of the most divisive and well known figureheads in the world. He is known for his Marxist tendencies, and the spread of socialism thru Cuba. On the bright side to his administration, he improved and centralized healthcare and economic policies, but at the costs of free speech and ruthless opposition to dissent. If anyone didn’t like what Castro said or did, you either agreed anyway, or else subjected yourself to being tortured or killed. Because of his socialist leanings, the United States decided he needed to be gotten rid of. Failed assassination attempts from the Bay of Pigs incident in 1961 and an embargo on the country then prompted Cuba into an alliance with the Soviet Union, which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
The Bay of Pigs was planned to be an assassination by a group called Brigade 2506, (Bohning, 2005) which was a group formed by the CIA with connections to anti Cuban groups and even the Mafia. It was a tremendous failure all around, and led to internal investigations, embarrassment for President Kennedy who approved the action by the CIA, and led to Cuba reaching out to ally themselves with the Soviet Union, which directly led to the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962. It also gave Latin American countries the idea that the imperialism of the US was not infallible. This is potentially the most important result, because it led to Castro gaining followers and legitimate power thru influence. People in Latin America looked at him as the man who beat the Americans. That made people look up to him, and he used that influence to take the entire country by storm, and make it his own country within a matter of months.
After the Bay of Pigs debacle, Castro reached out to form an economic and social alliance with the biggest rival the United States had: The Soviet Union. This was right in the middle of the Cold War, and as such, tensions were at an all-time high for the United States. Every day felt like it could be your last, and the stress of knowing how much damage could be done on a whim, it was like walking on eggshells all day every day to avoid getting the Soviets angry. I’m sure the Soviets felt the same way. The nuclear missiles being fired would have been cataclysmic to the world, and everyone knew that. I feel that’s probably why the Cold War remained cold. No one wanted to be responsible for the end of the world, but we still wanted, as did the Soviet Union, that we had the option should we be so inclined to take it. By allowing missiles to be placed in Cuba, Fidel Castro put the United States on notice, saying I am here, and you won’t get rid of me. (Bourne, 1986) The Cold War was a big boasting match, and could have erupted into the worst war the world has ever seen. It would have been like a video game, a post-apocalyptic