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Fall 2016 - Matthew Unangst
History 105
Cuban and U.S Foreign Policy: Embargo, Cuban Missile
Crisis, and Bay of Pigs
Before 1961, Cuba and the United States had a great relationship under the leadership of Battista,
then things turned sour under the control of Castro. Fidel Castro overthrew Battista with a military
coup against the government and then came into power. When Castro overthrew the Cuban
government the Cold War was becoming a huge issue with the U.S and the Soviet Union. Castro
became the leader of Cuba and aligned his government with the Soviet Union lead by Nikita
Khrushchev. Since the U.S did not agree with the Soviet Union communist ideas, and was, in fact,
fighting with them, President John F Kennedy decided to end diplomatic relations with Cuba. The
U.S then placed an embargo on all trade with Cuba, when Cuba hiked up the taxes on the
American imports. The policy was made because the U.S became worried that Cuba wanted to
align with the Soviet Union who was trying to expand into the Western Hemisphere, closer to the
United States.“But before long things began to sour as Cuba deepened its relationship with the
Soviet Union. In 1961 the U.S. broke diplomatic relations, and then came the failed U.S.-sponsored
Bay of Pigs invasion meant to topple Castro.”[1] The Bay of Pigs Invasion was the U.S attempt to
overthrow Castro’s government. It failed which made the Soviet Union build a missile base on
Cuban soil, which then lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis. “On Aug. 10, CIA Director John McCone
sent a memo to President John F. Kennedy warning that Soviet medium-range ballistic missiles
would be deployed in Cuba. By early October, the two superpowers were on a collision course.
When U.S. spy planes confirmed the existence of Soviet missiles on Oct. 14, the RodeheaverTittnich nuptials were off.”[2] After a standoff, the U.S agreed not to invade Cuba again and
Khrushchev moved its missiles from Cuba. All of these events lead to the U.S Foreign Policy that
kept Cuba and the U.S on bad terms for more than fifty years.
The overthrow of Batista government which the U.S favored to the new power of Soviet favored
Fidel Castro government led to the sour relationship with Cuba. The United States has a huge
influence on Cuba's economic and political development. When Castro became the Prime minister
of Cuba, America began imposing sanctions against Cuba, because he nationalized one million
dollars of American assets in Cuba. This is how the embargo against Cuba was established,
President John F. Kennedy made the embargo official in 1962. Some type of sanction action the
U.S imposed on Cuba include the signal that the U.S was ready to do anything to overthrow
Castro's regime. The U.S cut off trade with Cuba and American Business and, prevented
Americans from traveling over to Cuba and spending money as a tourist. The U.S believed Castro
could not be trusted since he allied with the Soviet Union an enemy of the United States.The U.S
had a huge influence on Cuba, Cuba was a colony of the U.S. There were American business and
the sugar trade, the loss of these assets affected Cuba many ways, it only created more problems
between Cuba and the U.S. It seems the U.S created their own problems with Cuba, with all the
fear of communist ideas reaching the Western Hemisphere. The back and forth fight between the
two countries sealed the breakdown of communications and relations, that still hold on today after
about 50 years.
Fall 2016 - Matthew Unangst
History 105
The foreign policy between the United States and Cuba was an establishment to end all contact
with Cuba. The U.S could not trade with Cuba or travel to Cuba. Also, the U.S and Cuban foreign
policy cut all ties of diplomatic relations. Here are some examples of laws and rules made up to
end relations with Cuba. No tourist could travel to Cuba, citizens in Cuba can not receive family
assistance from the U.S. Also U.S companies could not export their technologies to Cuba, nor
Domestic companies. The U.S put Cuba on the U.S list for countries supporting international
terrorism. [3]
Figure 1: Fidel Castro; The Libertarian Republic November 2016
The U.S relationship with Cuba started in 1898 with the American Spanish War. The war was
fought by Spain and the United States after Spain blew up the U.S.S Maine ship on the Havana
Harbor. The U.S has always interest in purchasing Cuba, for their sugar. After the U.S defeated
Spain Cuba gained their independence from Spain but only was offered it from the U.S if Cuba
allowed the U.S use their island. The new Cuba was now under a dictatorship of U.S favored
Batista. "The result was a stratified society in which a population that had achieved no more on
average than a third-grade level of education and of which almost a third was wholly or functionally
illiterate also included wealthy landowners and investors, prosperous merchants, educated
professionals, and imported mafiosos. The uneven distribution of wealth, the brutality and
corruption of the Batista dictatorship, and the loss of national dignity led, not surprisingly, to a
popular revolution.In 1959, the neocolonial republic was replaced by a socialist revolutionary
government" [4] Under the rule of U.S favored Batista turned out not to be good, as it sounded but
the United states benefited from Batista greediness. Batista in fact only won the presidency of
Cuba because he forced it with a military coup. The United States was the "neocolonial republic,"
Fall 2016 - Matthew Unangst
History 105
while Fidel Castro government was a "socialist revolutionary government."
Figure 2: Militants celebrate their victory Bay of Pigs. Cienfuegos 1961
On April 17, 1961, the CIA invaded Cuba with an attempt to overthrow Castro government. Before
the John F. Kennedy was president, President Eisenhower approved of the Bay of Pigs invasion in
March 1960. The CIA set up training camps in Guatemala to prepare for the invasion, hoping to
keep it a secret Castro found out about the training in October 1960, as news outlets reported. With
the training camps, they were able to gather a little army. Kennedy authorized the plan of invasion
on February of 1961. The plan called for two air strikes to strike Cuban airbases. Also, the plan
consists of a 1400 man army to launch a surprise attack. To make the plan an actually success the
U.S wanted the Cuban population to join in. The attack consisted of two different days, April 15,
1961, eight bombers bombed Cuban airforce planes. It was really a failed mission because the
bombers missed most of their targets, and left most of the Cuban air force intact. April 17 is when
the Cuban-exile invasion forced landed on the beaches. The group was called the Brigade 2506,
when they landed on the beaches they were under heavy fire from Cuban planes. Cuba planes
destroyed half of the brigades air support. In total 1,200 members surrendered while more than 100
were killed. "Later, as the Bay of Pigs operation unfolded, and Kennedy became more uncertain of
its consequences, Rasenberger writes, ‘‘Kennedy had himself mainly to blame for his
predicament. He had backed himself into a corner with his anti-Castro statements during the
campaign, tenaciously and profitably exploiting the issue of Cuba and the previous
administration’s missteps.’’ [5] Rasenberger states that Kennedy was so obsessed with killing not
due to the fact of looking out for the United States but instead to protect his name.‘‘Everyone
involved in Mongoose [the code name for the operation to kill Castro] knew it was a Kennedy
operation,’’ said CIA veteran, [the late] Sam Halpern. ‘‘This did not have anything to do with the
United States of America; it had to do with the Kennedy name, the Kennedy escutcheon. That
reputation was blemished in the Bay of Pigs, and, goddamn it, they were going to get ‘even.’
’’ [6] Most believe that the Bay of pigs invasion led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Fall 2016 - Matthew Unangst
History 105
Figure 3: Aerial view of missile launch site at San Cristobal, Cuba 1968. Office of the Historian
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a response to the U.S for invading the Bay of Pigs."At 9 a.m. on
October 16, 1962, President John F. Kennedy was informed that the Soviet Union was installing
nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba." [7] Fidel Castro government obtained Nuclear Missiles
from the Soviet Union, and it was pointed the U.S. With this news President John F. Kennedy then
ordered a "naval blockade." The nuclear missiles and missile bases in Cuba were spotted by U.S
spy planes. The crisis only lasted for about two weeks, when Khrushchev agreed to remove the
Missiles. On October 28, Khrushchev the Soviet Union leader only agreed to remove the missiles if
the U.S agrees to never invade Cuba again. The meeting where this crisis was discussed and
resolved was called ExComm. The Excomm consisted with members of Kennedy's cabinet, they
discussed many topics regarding the U.S including the Bay of Pigs and relations with Cuba.
The Cuban people primary source of income was gone, exportation of sugar cane. "Americans
poured themselves and their gold in a veritable torrent into the sugar plantations of Cuba. Then
Cuba became the tender object of banking and diplomatic interest. " [8] Cuba was the chief sugar
producers in the world. Between 1918 and 1936 Cuban sugar was the most export from the U.S,
and three-quarters of the output was shipped to the U.S. [9] About the time the embargo was
placed the U.S operated 75% of the land in Cuba. Fidel Castro, when he took control of Cuba, did
not like the idea of the U.S having so much control he saw it as a threat. Castro then seized sugar
plantations with the "Agrarian Reform Law in 1959."Castro also set up trade agreements with the
Soviet Union, Cuba gave the Soviet Union sugar while they gave them oil. Castro also nationalized
the U.S assets which lead to the sugar trade being demolished, and the embargo being in order.
The embargo was placed by President Eisenhower in 1961. The embargo prohibited aid to Cuba,
and only allowed canned foods, and nonsubsidized food was allowed to be shipped to Cuba.
Fall 2016 - Matthew Unangst
History 105
Even though the foreign policy created a bad relationship with Cuba, both parties today are trying
their best to undo what was done in the past to create a better relationship. There was no "good"
guy in this fight. Cuba was never really a threat to the U.S, just a fear. "Cuba has never invaded the
US (Bay of Pigs) and has never threatened the American people with nuclear destruction (1962
missile crisis)." [5] When Castro came into office it changed everything, Cuba was becoming less
of a colony and more independent. Cuba and the U.S still today are not on good terms, but
President Obama is trying to fix the relationship."Cuban scholars who had been denied permission
to travel to the United States for a decade were granted visas, and cultural exchanges flourished
once again."[10] Cuba was a great asset for the United States, it brought jobs and many
opportunities, but being greedy also result in a tainted relationship for over 50 years. This is an
important piece of history because the Cuban foreign policy affected many people, and made
[1] US, cuba patch torn relations in historic accord. 2014. Ocala Star – Banner, Dec 17, 2014. (accessed September 12,
[2] Hilton, John. 2012. Remember: Cuban missile crisis. York Daily Record, Nov 16, 2012. (accessed September 12,
OBSTACLES." International Journal Of Cuban Studies 7, no. 1: 1-8. Academic Search Complete,
EBSCOhost (accessed December 15, 2016).
[4]Rumbaut, Luis E., and Rubén G. Rumbaut. "Survivor: Cuba: The Cuban Revolution at 50." Latin
American Perspectives 36, no. 1 (2009): 84-98.
[5] Chapman, Robertd. "Revisiting the Bay of Pigs." International Journal of Intelligence and
CounterIntelligence 25, no. 1 (2012): 179
[6] Chapman, Robertd. "Revisiting the Bay of Pigs." International Journal of Intelligence and
CounterIntelligence 25, no. 1 (2012): 183
[7] Gibson, David R. "Avoiding Catastrophe: The Interactional Production of Possibility during the
Cuban Missile Crisis." American Journal of Sociology 117, no. 2 (2011): 361
[8] Shaw, Paul Vanorden. ""Good Neighbor": And Cuba." The North American Review 240, no. 2
(1935): 327
Fall 2016 - Matthew Unangst
History 105
[9] Copleand, Cassandra, Curtis Jolly, and Henry Thompson. "The History and Potential of Trade
between Cuba and the US." Journal of Economics and Business, (2011): 1-7
[10] LeoGrande, William M. "Making-Up Is Hard to Do: Obama's 'New Approach' to Cuba." NACLA
Report On The Americas44, no. 4 (July 2011): 38
Figure 1: Fidel Castro; 1959
Figure 2: Militants celebrate their victory Bay of Pigs.
Figure 3: Aerial view of missile launch site at San Cristobal, Cuba 1968.
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