January 1, 1959
After a six-year long revolution President Fulgencio Batista flees Cuba and Fidel Castro assumes power after proclaiming victory in Santiago.
February 2, 1959
Cuba declares Fidel Castro to be the new premier and president.
October 28, 1959
Turkey and the United States agree to deploy fifteen nuclear-tipped Jupiter missiles in Turkey starting on June 1, 1961. Turkey is member of NATO and shares a border with the Soviet Union.
February 4-13, 1960
During his trip to Cuba Soviet First Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan negotiates economic and trade agreements that help Fidel Castro to deccrease Cuba’s economic dependence on the United States.
May 7, 1960
The Soviet Union and Cuba establish diplomatic relations.
May 27, 1960
The United States ends its foreign aid program to Cuba.
July 8, 1960
The United States stops the import of Cuban sugar, effectively cutting off 80 percent of Cuban exports to the United States.
July 9, 1960
The Soviet Union agrees to buy sugar previously destined for the U.S. market.
July 12, 1960
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev supports Cuba in dispute with U.S. over Guatanamo Bay military base.
August 16, 1960
The U.S. plans to assassinate Fidel Castro by poisoning a box of Castro’s favorite cigars.
August 28, 1960
The United States imposes a trade embargo against Cuba.
The first large Soviet Bloc arms shipment arrives in Cuba. Soon afterward, Czech and Soviet technicians are reportedly assisting the Cuban military in assembling equipment and installing weapons such as anti-aircraft batteries. Soviet Bloc personnel also begin to be employed as military instructors, advisers and technicians.
October 6, 1960
Cuba nationalizes U.S. private investments on the island worth approximately one billion dollars.
October 14, 1960
Cuba nationalizes all foreign banks in Cuba.
December 19, 1960
Cuba and the Soviet Union issue a joint communiqué in which Cuba openly aligns itself with the domestic and foreign policies of the Soviet Union and indicates its solidarity with the Sino-Soviet Bloc.
January 2, 1961
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev tells a gathering at the Cuban embassy in Moscow: „Alarming news is coming from Cuba at present, news that the most aggressive American monopolists are preparing a direc t attack on Cuba. What is more, they are trying to present the case as though rocket bases of the Soviet Union are being set up or are already established in Cuba. It is well known that this is a foul slander. There is no Soviet military base in Cuba.”
January 3, 1961
The United States and Cuba sever diplomatic and consular relations.
January 20, 1961
John F. Kennedy is inaugurated as the thirty-fifth president of the United States.
April 12, 1961
On the eve of the invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, President Kennedy decides that U.S. armed forces will not take part in the operation. Any conflict that takes place, Kennedy tells his aides in private, will be „between the Cubans themselves.”
April 14, 1961
Early in the morning, a group of B-26 bombers piloted by Cuban exiles attack air bases in Cuba. The raid, coordinated by the CIA, is designed to destroy as much of Castro’s air power as possible before the scheduled landing of a force of U.S.-trained Cuban exiles. However, to keep the U.S. connection from becoming public, an additional set of airstrikes on Cuban airfields is canceled.
April 17-18, 1961
With U.S. direction, training, and support, a group of about fourteen hundred Cuban emigrés attempt an invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Cuban government aircraft which survived the earlier airstrikes are able to pin the invasion force on the beachhead, and without additional supplies of ammunition, the invaders are quickly crushed by Cuban ground forces. Of the anti-Castro emigrés, 114 are killed and 1,189 are captured. In response to the invasion, Fidel Castro orders the arrest of some two hundred thousand suspected dissidents to prevent internal uprisings.
April 19, 1961
In a memo for the president, Attorney General Robert Kennedy identifies „three possible courses of action”: (1) sending American troops into Cuba; (2) placing a strict blockade around Cuba; or (3) calling on the Organization of American States (OAS) to prohibit the shipment to Cuba of arms from any outside source.
In continuing correspondence with President Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs invasion, Premier Khrushchev warns against a policy of „unreasonable actions,” that „can lead the world to a new global war.”
April 27-28, 1961
While at a Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Secretary of State Dean Rusk privately raises the possibility of withdrawing the U.S. Jupiter mi ssiles from Turkey with Turkish Foreign Minister Salim Sarper. Sarper objects to Rusk’s suggestion, pointing out that the Turkish Parliament has just approved appropriations for the missiles and that it would be embarrassing for the Turkish government to inform Parliament that the Jupiters now are to be withdrawn. Upon returning to Washington, D.C., Rusk briefs President Kennedy on his discussion with Sarper, and Kennedy accepts the idea of some delay in removing the Jupiters. (Recollection by Dean Rusk of Negotiating Channel through Andrew Cordier and Details of Negotiations to Remove Jupiters Prior to Crisis, 2/ 25/87)
June 3-4, 1961
President Kennedy meets with Premier Khrushchev in Vienna. On the second day of the summit, Khrushchev delivers an ultimatum on the status of Berlin, a continuing source of tension between the two superpowers. Khrushchev threatens to „normalize” the situation in Berlin (and consequently cut Allied access to West Berlin) if the city’s status is not resolved within six months. Kennedy tells reporters after the meeting that Khrushchev’s demands had made the prospects for war „very real.” (Sorensen, p. 549)
June 13, 1961
General Maxwell Taylor submits a report on U.S. limited war programs that President Kennedy had ordered following the Bay of Pigs invasion. Concluding that there is „no long term living with Castro as a neighbor” and that Cuban subversion „constitutes a real menace” to Latin American nations, Taylor calls for the creation of a new program of action against Cuba, possibly employing the full range of political, military, economic, and psychological tactics. (The Taylor Report on Limited War Programs, 6/13/61)
August 12-13, 1961
Soviet forces aid the East Germans in erecting the Berlin Wall. U.S.-Soviet tensions over the Berlin situation flare up throughout this period, culminating in a sixteen-hour confrontation between U.S. and Soviet tanks at the Berlin b order on October 27-28. However, the construction of the Berlin Wall staunches the destabilizing flow of East Germans to the West, and Nikita Khrushchev allows his „deadlines” on resolving the Berlin question to pass wi thout further incident. (Betts, pp. 255-57)
September 21, 1961
An inter-agency report on Soviet nuclear capabilities, National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) 11-8/1-61, is disseminated within the government. The NIE and later intelligence reports show for the first time that the Soviet ICBM program is far behind previous U.S. estimates. Only some ten to twenty-five Soviet ICBMs on launchers are believed to exist, with no major increase in Soviet ICBM strength expected in the near future. (But Where Did the Missile Gap Go?, 5/31/63, p. 15)
October 21, 1961
In a major speech cleared by Rusk, Bundy and President Kennedy, Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric publicly deflates the „missile gap” hypothesis–the theory that the United States is dangerously behind the Soviet Union in its nuclear capabilities. Gilpatric tells his audience in Hot Springs, Virginia, that the United States actually possessed a substantially larger nuclear arsenal than the Soviet Union. (Address by Roswell Gilpatric, Deputy Secretary of Defense before the Business Council at the Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia, 10/21/61; Hilsman, p. 163)
November 30, 1961
President Kennedy authorizes a major new covert action program aimed at overthrowing the Cuban government. The new program, codenamed OPERATION MONGOOSE, will be directed by counterinsurgency specialist Edward G. Lansdale under the guidance of Attorney General Robert Kennedy. A high-level inter-agency group, the Special Group Augmented (SGA) , is created with the sole purpose of overseeing MONGOOSE. (The Cuba Project, 3/2/62; Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 11/20/75, pp. 139, 144)
Late 1961 or Early 1962
William K. Harvey is put in charge of Task Force W, the CIA unit for OPERATION MONGOOSE. Task Force W operates under guidance from the SGA and subsequently will involve approximately four hundred Americans at CIA headquarters and its Miami station, in addition to about two thousand Cubans, a private navy of speedboats, and an annual budget of some $50 million. Task Force W carr ies out a wide range of activities, mostly against Cuban ships and aircraft outside Cuba (and non-Cuban ships engaged in Cuban trade), such as contaminating shipments of sugar from Cuba and tampering with industrial products imported into the country. (A lleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 11/20/75, p. 140; Branch)
January 1, 1962
The New Year’s Day parade in Cuba provides U.S. intelligence sources with the first reliable intelligence on the extent of Soviet Bloc arms deliveries to Cuba. Aircraft in the possession of the Cuban Revolutionary Air Force are estimated to include around sixty Soviet-built jet fighters, primarily MiG-15 and MiG-17 aircraft with a limited number of somewhat more advanced MiG-19 planes. Small numbers of helicopters and light transport aircraft are also believed to have been provided to Cuba. ( CINCLANT Historical Account of Cuban Crisis, 4/29/63, pp. 6-8)
Picture1 : Soviet-made tanks on parade in Plaza Jose Marti in Havana (January 1, 1962).
Picture2 : Soviet-supplied truck-mounted multiple-rocket launchers on display in Havana (January 1, 1962).
January 18, 1962
Edward Lansdale outlines „The Cuba Project,” a program under OPERATION MONGOOSE aimed at the overthrow of the Castro government. Thirty-two planning tasks, ranging from sabotage actions to intelligence activities, are assigned to the agencies involved in MONGOOSE. The program is designed to develop a „strongly motivated political action movement” within Cuba capable of generating a revolt eventually leading to the downfall of the Castro government. Lansdale envisioned that the United States would provide overt support in the final stages of an uprising, including, if necessary, using military force. (The Cuba Project, 1/18/62; Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 11/20/75, p. 142)
January 19, 1962
A meeting of the SGA is held in Robert Kennedy ‚s office. Notes taken by CIA representative George McManus contain the following passages: „Conclusion Overthrow of Castro is Possible…a solution to the Cuban problem today carried top priority in U.S. Gov[ernment]. No time, money, effort–or manpower is to be spared. Yesterday…the president indicated to [ Robert Kennedy ] that the final chapter had not been written–it’s got to be done and will be done.” McManus attributes the phrase „top priority in the U.S. government–no time, money…to be spared” to Attorney General Kennedy. (Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 11/20/75, p. 141)
January 22-30, 1962
A conference of the OAS is held in Punta del Este, Uruguay. At the close of the conference on October 30, the foreign ministers from the twenty-one American republics vote to exclude Cuba „from participation in the inter-American system.” The measure is approved fourteen-to-one, with six abstentions. Another resolution is also adopted prohibiting OAS members from selling arms to Cuba and setting measures for collective defense against Cuban activities in the hemisphere. (U.S. Policy toward Cuba and Related Events 1 November 1961 – 15 March 1963, 3/16/63, pp. 9-10; Sorensen, p. 669-670)
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) establishes a „first priority basis” for the completion of all contingency plans for military action against Cuba. (USCONARC Participation in the Cuban Crisis, 10/63, p. 17)
February 20, 1962
Edward Lansdale presents a six-phase schedule for OPERATION MONGOOSE designed to culminate in October 1962 with an „open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime.” The basic plan includes political, psychological, military, sabotage, and intelligence operations as well as proposed „attacks on the cadre of the regime, including key leaders.” Lansdale notes that a „vital decision” has not yet been made regarding possible U.S. military actions in support of plans to overthrow Fidel Castro . (Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 11/20/75, pp. 143-44)
February 26, 1962
At a meeting of the SGA , the scale of Lansdale ‚s „Cuba Project” is sharply reduced, and Lansdale is directed to develop a detailed plan for an intelligence-gathering program only. On March 1, the SGA confirms that the immediate objective of the program would be intelligence collection and that all other actions would be inconspicuous and consistent with the U.S. overt policy of isolating Castro and neutralizing Cuban influence in the hemisphere. (Document 6, Guidelines for Operation Mongoose, 3/14/62; Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 11/20/75, p. 145)
March 14, 1962
Guidelines for OPERATION MONGOOSE are approved by the SGA . Drafted by Maxwell Taylor , they note that the United States would attempt to „make maximum use of indigenous resources” in trying to overthrow Fidel Castro but recognize that „final success will require decisive U.S. military intervention.” Indigenous resources would act to „prepare and justify this intervention, and thereafter to facilitate and support it.” Kennedy is briefed on the guidelines on Mar ch 16. (Document 6, Guidelines for OPERATION MONGOOSE, 3/14/62; Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 11/20/75, pp. 145-47, 159)
U.S. Jupiter missiles in Turkey become operational. All positions are reported „ready and manned” by U.S. personnel. (History of the Jupiter Missile System, 7/27/62)
Late April 1962
While vacationing in the Crimea, across the Black sea from Turkey, Khrushchev reflects on the Turkish missiles and reportedly conceives the idea of deploying similar weapons in Cuba. Soviet sources have identified three reasons that might have led Khrushchev to pursue the idea seriously. The deployment of missiles in Cuba would: (1) perhaps most important, increase Soviet nuclear striking power, which lagged far behind that of the United States; (2) deter the United States from invading Cuba; and (3) psychologically end the double standard by which the United States stationed missiles on the Soviet perimeter but denied the Soviets a reciprocal right.
Upon returning to Moscow, Khrushchev discusses the idea with First Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan . Although Mikoyan is opposed, Khrushchev asks a group of his closest advisers, including Frol Kozlov, Commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) Sergei Biryuzov, Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko , and Marshal Malinovsky to evaluate the idea. The group proposes that a mission be sent to Cuba to see if Fidel Castro would agree to the proposed deployment and to determine whether the deployment could be undertaken without being detected by the United States. (Garthoff 1, p. 13)