Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, by Piero Gleijeses

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He did not consult Castro. ‘‘We realized that we had become some type of game token,’’ Castro later said. He had expressed his feelings equally bluntly at the time: ‘‘I do not see how you can say that we were consulted in the decision you took,’’ he wrote Khrushchev. ’’≥∞ While the point is true, it must be qualified. Kennedy had hedged his pledge with conditions that the Cubans rejected. Castro had refused to allow on-site UN supervision of the missiles’ removal or any future on-ground verification that no missiles had been installed, and Kennedy had consequently rebuffed Khrushchev’s repeated requests to sign a document formalizing the noninvasion pledge.

In June we had reached the decision that it was not possible to achieve our objectives with Castro in power and had agreed to undertake the program referred to by Mr. Merchant. In July and August we had been busy drawing up a program to replace Castro. S. companies reported to us during this time that they were making some progress in negotiations, a factor that caused us to slow the implementation of our program. The hope expressed by these companies did not materialize. October was a period of clarification.

He meant that the Cubans who went to Angola were following in the footsteps of those who had gone to Algeria, Zaire, the Congo, and Guinea-Bissau. But if there was continuity, there were also dramatic differences. Fewer than 2,000 Cubans had gone to Africa between 1961 and 1974, while 30,000 streamed into Angola between October 1975 and April 1976. In the 1960s, the United States had been refusing to consider a modus vivendi with Cuba, and it had been trying to cripple Cuba’s economy; Castro had had little to lose by intervening in Africa.

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