The Cuban Missile Crisis @ 60 Getting to Know the Cubans: Part 2

Thursday, 3 November 2022 — The National Security Archive


Che Guevara asked Soviet bloc to buy 4 million tons of Cuban sugar

Cubans described exact scenario of future Bay of Pigs invasion; asked for military training; wanted USSR to think of Cuba as its own territory

Please do not tell Fidel: Raúl Castro and Che Guevara hid communist party affiliations from Cuban leader

Washington, D.C., November 3, 2022 – As Cuban-Soviet ties grew stronger from late 1960 through early 1961, the Cubans repeatedly asked for military assistance and security guarantees from the Soviets and expressed growing concern about the threat of a U.S. intervention, according to Russian archival documents published today by the National Security Archive. The Cubans described to the Soviet leadership detailed scenarios for a Bay-of-Pigs style invasion only months before the Kennedy administration mounted its failed covert operation in April 1961.

The newly published records of conversations between Cuban communist leaders and Soviet Presidium members during the visits of Cuban trade delegations in October 1960 and March 1961 provide indications that the Cuban revolution was gradually tilting in a more radical Marxist-Leninist direction, with the imposition of press controls and a crackdown on the Catholic church. Communist party leader Aníbal Escalante told the Soviets that both Raúl Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara were among the party’s leaders—information not shared with Fidel Castro, who was not yet a committed Marxist.

The documents also depict a Soaviet leadership caught unawares by the Bay of Pigs invasion, after having advised their Cuban allies to exercise restraint and caution, and shed light on Khrushchev’s motivations, later in 1962, when he decided to deploy nuclear weapons to Cuba, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis. After the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Soviets felt they had let their allies down, having repeatedly assured the Cubans that the U.S. would not invade, and became increasingly worried about the defense of Cuba.

Visit the National Security Archive website to read the documents featured in today’s posting and other publications from our Cuban Missile Crisis @ 60 series.

THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.

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