Kennedy and Cuba
Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who has ruled Cuba since 1959 and outlasted all of his enemies.
On January 1, 1959, guerrilla leader Fidel Castro succeeded in overthrowing the dictator Fulgencia Batista. While initially the U.S. had offered support and encouragement to Castro, that quickly soured as Castro began expropriating lands owned by such companies as United Fruit. Castro struck a deal in February 1960 to purchase oil from the USSR, and when U.S. refineries in Cuba refused to process that oil, he expropriated their facilities. This led the US to break off diplomatic relations.
Soon, U.S. leaders were contemplating the overthrow of Castro by force. Kennedy inherited the plan begun under Eisenhower for a CIA-run invasion using Cuban exiles. In April 1961, the Bay of Pigs operation was launched, and it quickly ended in disaster. U.S. hostilities to Cuba didn’t end, however. Operation Mongoose, run out of the White House by the Special Group, managed sabotage and other covert operations. In 1962, the Soviet Union secretly installed nuclear missiles in Cuba; when these were discovered the two superpowers went "eyeball to eyeball," and all-out nuclear war was narrowly averted.
During all this time, various plots to assassinate Castro were undertaken by CIA-led operatives. And even while these plots were still in the works, the Kennedy administration initiated secret contacts with Castro to try to reach an accommodation. These contacts ended with Kennedy’s death.
Is there a connection between Kennedy's death and the covert war against Cuba? Some experts point to Fidel Castro and his reasons for wanting to do away with Kennedy. But the war on Cuba, and perceived laxity on JFK's part in fighting it, also inflamed those in the Cuban exile community, the CIA, and in organized crime who were vehement opponents of Castro. And these groups had already been brought together in plots to eliminate Castro. So did these men, exasperated with Kennedy's failure at the Bay of Pigs, and his perceived weakness in the later Cuban Missile Crisis, turn their guns on JFK?
Bay of Pigs – Discusses the failed Bay of Pigs operation, an invasion plan inherited from the Eisenhower era but implemented by Kennedy, with disastrous results.
Operation Mongoose – Discusses the sabotage and subversion campaign directed against Cuba out of the White House following the failure at the Bay of Pigs.
Operation Northwoods - Presents the plans developed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to conduct faked and real terrorist incidents, to be blamed on Castro as a pretext for a military invasion of Cuba.
Cuban Missile Crisis - Presents new information about the time the U.S. and the Soviet Union went "eyeball to eyeball" over Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.
Two Tracks on Cuba - Contrasts the ongoing anti-Castro operations with the late 1963 Kennedy backdoor channel of negotiation.
Cuba Timeline – Displays a chronological listing of major events in Kennedy-era U.S.-Cuba relations.
Cuba and the Kennedy Assassination - Is there a connection between Cuba and the assassination of President Kennedy?
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