During the Cuban Revolution, Castro nationalized, or took over, foreign-owned businesses. He put most land under government control and distributed the rest to peasant farmers. While Castro imposed harsh authoritarian rule, he did at first improve conditions for the poor. But Castro's revolution angered many Cubans, especially from the middle class. Critics were jailed or silenced. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled to the United States.
The United States, alarmed as Castro turned to the Soviet Union for support, attempted to bring down the communist regime next door. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy backed a plan by anti-Castro exiles to invade Cuba and lead an uprising against Castro.
The poorly planned plot was a disaster. An invasion force landed at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, but was quickly crushed. News of the plot helped Castro rally Cuban popular opinion against foreign interference, and the bungled invasion hurt the reputation of the United States.
In 1962, the United States imposed a trade embargo on Cuba. Castro, seeking closer ties with the Soviet Union, let the Soviets build nuclear missile bases in Cuba. The threat of Soviet nuclear bases in its backyard outraged the United States and touched off a dangerous crisis.
In October 1962, President Kennedy imposed a naval blockade on Cuba. Kennedy demanded that the Soviet Union remove its nuclear missiles from Cuba, and for a few tense days, the world faced the risk of nuclear war. Finally, however, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev backed down. He agreed to remove the Soviet missiles, but won a secret pledge from Kennedy to not invade Cuba.
How did the United States and the Soviet Union confront each other around the world during the Cold War?
Victory in World War II brought few rewards to the Soviet people. Stalin continued his ruthless policies. He filled labor camps with “enemies of the state” and seemed ready to launch new purges when he died in 1953.
Missiles launched from Cuba could strike many areas of the eastern United States in minutes. Where is the U.S. naval base in Cuba located?
In the Soviet Union, the government controlled most aspects of public life. Communists valued obedience, discipline, and economic security. They sought to spread their communist ideology, or value systems and beliefs, around the globe.