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.

The Cuban Missile Crisis

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.

The Soviet Union 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.

A map shows Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, circa 1962.
Image Long Description

Analyze Maps

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?

Soviet Communism

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.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments