Superpower relations and the Cold War - the Cuban Missile Crisis

  • Created by: MC
  • Created on: 22-11-18 21:34

The Cuban missile Crisis

As tension was increasing over Berlin, USA also began to have problems closer to home. Cuba had long been USA's economic ally, but revolution brought the communist threat teh USA's doorstep. 

The Cuban Revolution in 1959 worried USA

Since 1952, Cuba had been ruled by Batista, a ruthless military dictator, who allowed American businessmen and the Mafia to make huge profits in a country where most people lived in poverty. 

In 1956, a rebel called Fidel Castro began a guerilla war. By 1959, he had enough support to take Cuba's capital, Havana and successfully overthrew the government. 

This revolution worried USA. USA had a long economic history with Cuba. It owned half of Cuba's land and held most of the shares in all Cuban industries.

USA felt it had a right to be involved in Cuba's affairs. But Cubans had grown to resent American influence in their country - they didnt feel like an independant state.

In a 'guerrilla war' small military units use tactics like raids to fight a larger opponent.

USA had occupied Cuba from 1898 to 1902. When Cuba became independant, the two countries maintained close economic ties.

USA accidentally pushed Castro close to USSR

When Castro seized power in 1959, he nationalised US companies and increased taxes on goods imported from America. This angereed USA.

'Nationalisation' means taking a privately owned industry and placing it under public ownership.

Eisenhower was concerned that Castro's drive towards public ownership showed that he was moving towards communism. 

He threatened to stop importing Cuban sugar. Sugar was Cuba's main source of wealth and USA was sure that Castro would back down.

Instead, Castro signed a trade agreement with USSR - USSR promised to buy all sugar exports. All remaining American property in Cuba was confiscated.

In January 1961, USA severed all diplomatic relations with Cuba - the new US president John Kennedy no longer recognised Castro's government.

Khrushchev wanted to help Castro who was sympathetic towards communism. He also saw an opportunity to gain influence near US soil. 

By 1961, Cuba had consolidated its ties with USSR. As Cuba was only 100 miles from USA, the communist threat had come dangerously close.

Rebels backed by USA invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs

Kennedy couldnt let a communist state emergy next


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