Press advisory: On the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, history does not absolve Fidel Castro.

Press advisory

On the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, history does not absolve Fidel Castro.

Contact: John Suarez, (612)367-6845 October 27, 2022

Center for a Free Cuba. Washington DC. October 27, 2022 -Fidel Castro claimed history would absolve him, but the historical record of the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis offers a different verdict. On October 26, 1962, Fidel Castro sent a letter to Nikita Khrushchev asking the Soviet leader to launch a nuclear first strike on the United States and carried out a number of actions to increase the possibility of war, including the shooting down of an American U2 plane sixty years ago today, in contravention of orders given by Soviet leader Khrushchev. Castro also claimed Cubans were ready to sacrifice themselves in a nuclear holocaust to destroy the United States.

Fyodor Burlatsky, who was a speechwriter for Nikita Khrushchev, on October 23, 1992 wrote an OpEd published in The New York Times titled “Castro Wanted a Nuclear Strike in which he referenced what came to be known Fidel Castro’s Armageddon letter and how it was received in Moscow.

For me, the culmination of the Cuban missile crisis was not Oct. 27, 1962, when John F. Kennedy awaited a reply to his ultimatum to pull the missiles off the island, but the telegram Fidel Castro sent to Nikita Khrushchev earlier: “I propose the immediate launching of a nuclear strike on the United States. The Cuban people are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the cause of the destruction of imperialism and the victory of world revolution.”

On the same day that the Cuban dictator sent the letter advocating a nuclear first strike, he “ordered all of his artillery to begin firing on American reconnaissance aircraft at dawn, at sunrise that morning of “Black Saturday [October 27, 1962],” revealed Cuba expert Brian Latell in 2012.

Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs in his 2008 book “One Minute To Midnight Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War” reported “that Fidel Castro had visited the Soviet headquarters at El Chico the previous evening [ October 26, 1962] and persuaded Soviet generals to switch on their air defense radars, arguing that they could not ‘remain blind’ in the face of an expected U.S. attack.”

On October 27, 2022, when tensions reached their highest point during the Cuban Missile Crisis, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down and the pilot, Major Rudolf Anderson Jr., was killed.

Brian Latell observed on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis that “Nikita Khrushchev believed, I think until his death, that Fidel Castro had personally ordered the shoot-down by a Soviet ground-to-air missile site, Khrushchev believed that Castro had actually somehow been responsible for it himself.”

“Millions would have died in a nuclear war in 1962 if Fidel Castro had succeeded in his efforts to “wag the dog,” but thankfully, both President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev exercised restraint, avoided war, and the crisis ended”, explained John Suarez, executive director, Center for a Free Cuba.

Fidel Castro was unhappy with his Soviet allies leaving him out of the negotiations. Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s essay “Tactics and strategy of the Latin American Revolution (October – November 1962)” posthumously published by the official publication Verde Olivo on October 9, 1968 demonstrated the “revolutionary” enthusiasm for nuclear war: 

“Here is the electrifying example of a people prepared to suffer nuclear immolation so that its ashes may serve as a foundation for new societies. When an agreement was reached by which the atomic missiles were removed, without asking our people, we were not relieved or thankful for the truce; instead we denounced the move with our own voice.”

In the same essay, Guevara who in 1962 was the Minister of Industries of Cuba gave the official pro-war view: “We do assert, however, that we must follow the road of liberation even though it may cost millions of nuclear war victims.”

“Fidel Castro and his comrades in Havana did all they could to start a nuclear war, and history does not absolve the late Cuban dictator, or the others who carried out his orders to have the Cuban people suffer nuclear immolation,” concludes John Suarez.