Granma International
October 14, 2002

Assessment of causes and context essential

                   BY MARELYS VALENCIA (Granma International staff writer)

                   EVENTS leading up to the October crisis was the basic theme
                   of the first session during “The October Crisis: a political
                   vision 40 years on” international conference. The long chain of
                   covert and subversive actions against the Cuban Revolution
                   have been revealed in declassified documents coming from
                   the U.S. Defense Department and the Cuban State Security
                   Department, also in testimonies from the main protagonists
                   during the era.

                   With the active participation of Fidel Castro, the Cuban
                   perspective on the need for in-depth analysis of the causes
                   and scenario that saw the unfolding of the Cold War’s most
                   dramatic crisis was revealed.

                   U.S. intentions to attack Cuba after the frustrated 1961 Bay
                   of Pigs invasion and the series of plans such as Operations
                   Mangosta and Patty Candela - considered the most dangerous
                   ever carried out by the CIA and aided by counterrevolutionary
                   groups both inside and outside the island - signifies for Cuba
                   the greatest evidence of a prelude to an invasion.

                   Three of Kennedy advisors were at the conference that took
                   place behind closed doors. They insisted that their president
                   never thought about authorizing an invasion; however
                   declassified documents disclose the idea of creating an
                   uprising from within the island. If that had taken place then
                   military attack would have followed, U.S. National Security
                   Archive director Thomas Blanton told press.


                   Certainly if I were Cuban, then just like McNamara said, I’d
                   have thought they were preparing to invade, affirmed Blanton,
                   whose institution is associated to the George Washington

                   A U.S. Defense Department document marked “Top Secret”
                   and dated February 19, 1962 contains instructions of a covert
                   plan to provoke a hostile reaction from the Revolutionary
                   government against the United States. That situation would
                   have given the green light for a “justified operation” included
                   in the second phase of the plan: military intervention.

                   From Cuba’s point of view, the special group headed by
                   Robert Kennedy that was to realize Operation Mangosta had
                   as its clear goal the work of weakening the Revolution until
                   the invasion arrived.

                   In this scenario, the Cubans and the Soviets strongly
                   understood that an attack was imminent in the face of actions
                   developed over a long time and then intensified after the Bay
                   of Pigs failure, said U.S. National Security Archive senior
                   analyst Peter Kornbluh.

                   Blanton consider that there are a series of interesting
                   documents explaining how Cuba intercepted the invaders,
                   undercover operations and U.S. intelligence that will help to
                   understand the island’s role in the crisis.

                   One of the arguments used as to why the knowledge that
                   there were nuclear Missiles in Cuba caused such
                   well-documented alarm in the U.S. administration is the fact
                   that despite the Cuban government’s advice to the Soviets to
                   make the operation public, it was carried out in secret.

                   The Cubans clarified that they accepted the installation of
                   missiles for solidarity reasons with the former USSR in order
                   to help improve the Socialist bloc’s strategic balance.

                   The session was regarded as a comprehensive debate carried
                   out in a positive atmosphere, allowing the scenario in which
                   the events took place to be placed in a general context.