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Fidel Castro’s ruling did not start until the late 1950s when he overthrew Fulgencio Batista with armed forces in Cuba.[3]  Cuba decided to take action under Castro’s ruling during the Cold War.  At this point there was tension between the Soviet Union and the United States.  In the 1950s was when times were heated because of the changes that were occurring.  Around 1959 Cuba was trying to reduce their dependency from the United States.[2]  Sugar was one way that the leaders of Cuba used to continue their economic development but this would eventually bring problems and concerns to the United States.  Dependency that Cuba had with the United States led to a zero percent trade with United States and an increase of 49 percent of trade with the Soviet Union.[1]  This economic growth continued until about 1961 and according to an article by William M. Leogrande and Julie M Thomas, it was “due to bottlenecks which caused sugar prices to go up reducing exports and affecting production.” [3]
Castro’s power allowed him to move around, work and make agreements with different countries.  With his decisions that he made in order to benefit himself and Cuba, he changed a lot of the relationships during the 1950s and 1960s that are still happening up to this day.  The citizens of Cuba were concerned with the different movements happening in regards to the Soviets going into Cuba as well as the poverty level at the time.[9]  He changed a lot of the policies and also changed trading partners from the United States, to then going to trade sugar with the Soviets.  This change of Cuba dealing with the Soviets grew a lot of concern in different areas to the United States and other countries that were afraid of this alliance.  Eventually different events came up.  The Bay of Pigs Operation was something that happened during the time, as well as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Castro came to power when he overthrew Fulgencio Batista from his position as a military dictator. There was a point where there was serious tension between Castro and Batista and even though Batista had Castro and could have killed him.[3]  He never finished the job and Castro ran away from the country to plan his counterattack.  When Castro was ready to attack and he had his plan to remove Batista from power, in the early stages, the United States was supporting this movement because at the time it was leading towards democracy and it would eventually benefit the United States if Castro were to be successful.
When the United States saw how much power Castro was having they did not quite agree with the direction that his agenda was going in.  The United States eventually took action and decided it was best to act than to wait for catastrophic events to happen with Cuba being allies with the wrong countries.  The US stopped the sugar trade with Cuba.  Since Cuba produced a lot of sugar they were limited on what they would do with so much supply so they had to sell it.[3]  Cuba eventually signed a deal with the Soviet Union on sugar, which is something that concerned the United States.  It was a growing concern to the United States  but it wasn’t until the United States discovered the missile base that the USSR was building in Cuba (near the US) when the United States was more concerned about the serious risks and damage that that relationship would do. [4]  The United States found out about Russia creating a missile base in Cuba it was of concern essentially because it was in the backyard of the United States which i’ll go more in depth in the next few paragraphs.
Moscow played a big role in continuing to finance money for Cuba during it’s 5 year agreement for trade.  Cuba has been dealing a lot with politics and especially with the struggle to independence from any other country.[9]  The plan that Cuba had in mind was to generate enough money on exports so that it would eventually free Cuba from its deficit that it was suffering from.  The Soviets were holding on and sustaining the Cuban economy with the continuous trade of sugar during the time. [9]  When Cuba went to sell Sugar to the USSR the production of sugar declined over time.  By 1963 this affected the citizens of Cuba.  The standard of living in Cuba was poor.  There was a lot of poverty, Fidel Castro talked about his economic plans and he acknowledge it wasn’t doing well.  They for sometime refused to receive medicine or other essentials that the united States would proved.[2]  Cuba in order to fix its economy proposed a goal to meet a targe of about 10 million tons of sugar each year.
As Cuba was gaining power and was becoming a bigger threat to the United States happened about the same time as presidential elections in the United States.  John F. Kennedy had been declared as the new president in January 20th in 1961 .Nobody was supposed to know the the United States was involved.  The reason was this wasn’t a successful operation was because of all the restrictions and the fact that there were no set agreement set in stone 100 percent confirmed of how the operation was going to go.[8]  Since the operation was already planned during the previous president of the United States.  It was left for John F. Kennedy to carry on with the operation.  The people in the operation were not Americans, they were CIA trained ex Cuban exiles.  They wanted the people and Cubans to start against him but that act united them more and made them close, completely the opposite of what the United States wanted.
The Cuban Missile Crisis started early before John F. Kennedy took office.  The alliance that was happening between Cuba and the Soviets grew concern to the United States.[7]  The U.S tried to help the Cuban exiles take back Cuba from Castro.  But at the moment the Soviet leader was placing missiles and making a base near the backyard of the US.   In 1962 Oct. 15th-28th 13 days of October, a plane took pictures and saw that missiles have been in place facing the United States.  It was at this time when a decision needed to be made on what JFK was going to with the missile threats and the fact that the Soviets had missiles just 90 miles away from the United States.  As stated in James’ article, during the thirteen days the world and even the Soviet Union saw a clear determination in the use of power that the united states had. [7] With this event even if the United States would have chosen to invade Cuba and send the Soviets back there would have been a big effect on the relationships with foreign countries. As James A. Nathan stated in his article “this indeed might become a turning point in the relations between the east and west. [7]

Conclusion: How have these changes in power affected the trade market and the way we see different countries as allies?[11]

[1] Adam M. Pilarski and Donald Snyder, “Economic Effects of Revolution: A Reevaluation of Cuban Evidence,” American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 86, No. 5(Mar., 1981) pp. 1124-1129

[2] William M. Leogrande and Julie E. Thomas, “Cuba’s Quest for Economic Independence,” Journal of Latin American Studies Volume 34, Issue 2 (2002) pp.325-363

[3] Kosmas Tsokhas, “The Political Economy of Cuban Dependence on the Soviet Union,” Theory and Society, Vol. 9, No. 2, Special Issue on Actual Socialism (mar., 1980). pp.319-362

[4] Russell H. Fitzgibbon, “The Revolution Next Door: Cuba” March, 1961.

[5] Argote-Freyre, Frank, “Fulgencio Batista: The making of a dictator,” New Brunswick : Rutgers University Press.  April 2006, Accessed Feb. 23, 2017.  pp. 22-24

[6] erepouni Daily News, “US visa-free residency for Cubans ends,” Syndigate Media Inc, Copyright 2017,
(accessed January 13, 2017).

[7] James A. Nathan, “The Missile Crisis: His Finest Hour Now,” Cambridge University: World Politics, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Jan., 1975), Accessed March 20th, 2017. Pg. 272

[8]  “Official Inside Story of the Cuban Invasion,” U.S. News & World Report.  August 13, 1979,  Accessed 3/20/17.

[9]  Jorge Mario Sanchez “Challenges of Economic Restructuring in Cuba”, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.  2012, Accessed March 20th 2017,  Pg. 143

[10] Ricardo Torres Perez, “Economic Changes in Cuba: current Situation and Perspectives”, Harvard International Review. Summer 2012.  Accessed March 20th 2017.

[11]  International New York Times, “With one Castro Gone, Questions what the other Castro will do,”  Nov 27th, 2016,  (accessed January 13, 2017).


Geographic focus: Cuba, Havana, Soviet Union, (also may include Mexico)

Search Terms: Diploma*, Batista, Socialis*, Cuba, Soviet Union, Sugar, Trade, Communis*
John F. Kennedy,  Bay of Pigs,  Cuban Missile Crisis

Primary Source: Sage Publications

Date Timer: 1940-1979

Historical Research Questions:  What role did the Soviets play when Cuba and the United States had tension, and how did they manage to make the United States take action against Cuba and Castro.