Cuban Missile Crisis: the View from Havana

For 13 days in October 1962 the world watched Cuba with bated breath. What was the view like from the epicentre of the missile crisis?

Cuban soldiers stand by an anti-aircraft gun, Havana, 1962.
Cuban soldiers stand by an anti-aircraft gun, Havana, 1962. Bettman/Getty Images.

On the morning of 29 May 1962 Cuba’s leaders welcomed a delegation of ‘hydrotechnic specialists’ from the Soviet Union. To the Cubans’ surprise, the Soviet delegation also included top military leaders who had come to make an extraordinary offer: nuclear missiles. Nikita Khrushchev had struck upon the idea during a visit to Bulgaria earlier that month as a solution to two problems: Cuba’s vulnerability and the Soviet Union’s missile gap with the United States.

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