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Letter to Nikita Khrushchev from Fidel Castro regarding
defending Cuban air space
October 26, 1962
Dear Comrade Khrushchev:
Given the analysis of the situation and the reports which have reached us,
[I] consider an attack to be almost imminent--within the next 24 to 72 hours.
There are two possible variants: the first and most probable one is an air
attack against certain objectives with the limited aim of destroying them; the
second, and though less probable, still possible, is a full invasion. This would
require a large force and is the most repugnant form of aggression, which might
You can be sure that we will resist with determination, whatever the case.
The Cuban people's morale is extremely high and the people will confront
I would like to briefly express my own personal opinion.
If the second variant takes place and the imperialists invade Cuba with the
aim of occupying it, the dangers of their aggressive policy are so great that
after such an invasion the Soviet Union must never allow circumstances in which
the imperialists could carry out a nuclear first strike against it.
I tell you this because I believe that the imperialists' aggressiveness
makes them extremely dangerous, and that if they manage to carry out an invasion
of Cuba--a brutal act in violation of universal and moral law--then that would
be the moment to eliminate this danger forever, in an act of the most legitimate
self-defense. However harsh and terrible the solution, there would be no other.
This opinion is shaped by observing the development of their aggressive
policy. The imperialists, without regard for world opinion and against laws and
principles, have blockaded the seas, violated our air-space, and are preparing
to invade, while at the same time blocking any possibility of negotiation, even
though they understand the gravity of the problem.
You have been, and are, a tireless defender of peace, and I understand that
these moments, when the results of your superhuman efforts are so seriously
threatened, must be bitter for you. We will maintain our hopes for saving the
peace until the last moment, and we are ready to contribute to this in any way
we can. But, at the same time, we are serene and ready to confront a situation
which we see as very real and imminent.
I convey to you the infinite gratitude and recognition of the Cuban people
to the Soviet people, who have been so generous and fraternal, along with our
profound gratitude and admiration to you personally. We wish you success with
the enormous task and great responsibilities which are in your hands.
Letter to Fidel Castro from Nikita Khrushchev advising
him to remain firm against US aggression
October 28, 1962
Dear Comrade Fidel Castro:
Our message to President Kennedy of October 27, allows for a solution of the
problem in your favor, defending Cuba from an invasion, from an outbreak of such
a war. Kennedy's answer, which you obviously know, offers U.S. guarantees that
they will not only not invade Cuba with their own forces, but that they will not
allow their allies to do so. The President of the United States has thus
responded favorably to my messages of October 26 and 27.
We have just drafted our response to the President's message. I will not
write it here since it is being transmitted by radio.
Because of this we would now like to advise you, in this turning point of
the crisis, not to get carried away by your feelings: show firmness. It must be
said that we understand your profound indignation at the aggressive actions of
the U.S.A and at its violation of the fundamental norms of international law.
For the time being, however, it is not law that rules but rather the lack of
sense of the militarists in the Pentagon. Since an agreement is in sight, the
Pentagon is looking for a pretext to thwart it. This is why it organizes
provocative overflights. Yesterday, you shot down one of them, yet previously
you did not when they flew over your territory. That step will be used by
aggressors to their advantage, to further their aims.
Because of this we would like to advise you, in the spirit of friendship, to
show patience, firmness and more firmness. Naturally, if there is an invasion,
it will be necessary to fight it with everything. But one must not allow oneself
to fall for provocations. Now that a solution is being found-- one that is in
your favor and that guarantees against an invasion-- the unbridled militarists
in the Pentagon want to frustrate the agreement and provoke you into taking
actions that could be used against you. we ask you not to give them a pretext
We on our part will do everything to stabilize the situation in Cuba, to
defend Cuba. from invasion and to assure you the possibilities for the peaceful
construction of the socialist society.
We send you, and your entire collective direction, our greetings.
Letter to Nikita Khrushchev from Fidel Castro regarding
defending Cuban air space
October 28, 1962
Mr. Nikita Khrushchev
Prime Minister of the Union
Dear Comrade Khrushchev:
I have just received your letter.
The position of our Government regarding your statement can be found in the
text of the declaration announced today, with which you are surely familiar.
I must clarify a point relating to the anti-aircraft measures which we
adopted. You said: "Yesterday you shot down one of them, yet previously you
did not when they flew over your territory."
Previously, there were isolated violations with no particular military
purpose, and they did not result in real danger.
This is no longer the case. There was the danger of a surprise attack on
certain military sites. We decided that we could not remain idle because of the
danger of a surprise attack. With our warning radars turned off, the potential
attackers could fly with impunity over the sites and totally destroy them. We
did not believe that we should allow this, given the cost and effort which we
have expended, and because an attack would have gravely weakened our morals and
military capability. Because of this, Cuban forces mobilized fifty anti-aircraft
batteries, our entire reserves, on October 24 in order to support the positions
of the Soviet forces. If we wanted to prevent the risk of a surprise attack, the
crews had to have orders to shoot. The Soviet Forces Command can give you
further details on what happened with the plane that was shot down.
In the past, violations of our airspace were de facto and were conducted
furtively. Yesterday the American Government tried to make official the
privilege of violating our air space at any time, day and night. This we could
not accept because it would mean renouncing our sovereign prerogative.
Nevertheless, we agree to avoid an incident at this moment that could gravely
harm the negotiations. We will instruct the Cuban batteries to hold their fire
while the negotiations last, without reversing the decision we announced
yesterday to defend our air space. We must consider the dangers of possible
incidents in the present conditions of high tension.
I also wish to inform you that we are opposed, by principle, to inspections
on our territory.
I appreciate the enormous efforts which you have made to maintain the peace,
and we totally agree with the necessity to fight for this aim. If we achieve it
in a just, solid, and permanent way it will be an enormous service to humanity.
Letter to Fidel Castro from Nikita Khrushchev stating
he will help to defend Cuba
October 30, 1962
Dear Comrade Fidel Castro:
We have received your letter of October 28, along with the reports of the
conversations that you and President Dorticos had with our ambassador.
We understand your situation and are taking into account your difficulties
in this first stage following the elimination of the maximum tension that
resulted from the threat of an attack by American imperialists which you
expected at any moment.
We understand that for you certain difficulties may have emerged as a
consequence of the promises we made to the United States to withdraw the missile
bases from Cuba in exchange for their promise to abandon their plans to invade
Cuba and to prevent their allies in the Western hemisphere from doing so, to end
their so-called "quarantine''-- their blockade of Cuba. This commitment has
led to an end to the conflict in the Caribbean, a conflict which implied, as you
can well understand, a superpower confrontation and its transformation into a
world war where the missiles and thermonuclear weapons would have been used.
According to our ambassador, certain Cubans feel that the Cuban people would
prefer a different kind of statement, one that would not deal with the
withdrawal of the missiles. It. is possible that such feelings exist among the
people. But we, politicians and heads of state, are the people's leaders and the
people do not know everything. This is why we must march at the head of the
people. Then they will follow and respect us.
If, by giving in to popular sentiment, we had allowed ourselves to be swept
up by the more inflamed sectors of the populace, and if we had refused to reach
a reasonable agreement with the government of the USA, war would have probably
broken out, resulting in millions of deaths. Those who survived would have
blamed the leaders for not having taken the measures that would have avoided
this war of extermination.
The prevention of war and of an attack on Cuba did not depend only on the
measures taken by our governments, but also on the analysis and examination of
the enemy's actions near your territory. In short, the situation had to be
considered as a whole.
Some people say that we did not consult sufficiently with each other before
taking the decision of which you know.
In fact, we consider that consultations did take place, dear Comrade Fidel
Castro, since we received your cables, one more alarming than the other, and
finally your cable of October 27 where you said that you were almost certain
that an attack against Cuba was imminent. According to you it was only a matter
of time: 24 or 72 hours.
Having received this very alarming cable from you, and knowing of your
courage, we believed the alert to be totally justified.
Wasn't that consultation on your part? We interpreted that cable as a sign
of maximum alert. But if we had carried on with our consultations in such
conditions, knowing that the bellicose and unbridled militarists of the United
States wanted to seize the occasion to attack Cuba, we would have been wasting
our time and the strike could have taken place.
We think that the presence of our strategic missiles in Cuba has polarized
the attention of the imperialists. They were afraid that they would be used,
which is why they risked wanting to eliminate them, either by bombing them or by
invading Cuba. And we must recognize that they had the capability to put them
out of action. This is why, I repeat, your sense of alarm was totally justified.
In your cable of October 27 you proposed that we be the first to carry out a
nuclear strike against the enemy's territory. Naturally you understand where
that would lead us. It would not be a simple strike, but the start of a
thermonuclear world war.
Dear Comrade Fidel Castro, I find your proposal to be wrong, even though I
understand your reasons.
We have lived through a very grave moment, a global thermonuclear war could
have broken out. Of course the United States would have suffered enormous
losses, but the Soviet Union and the whole socialist bloc would have also
suffered greatly. It is even difficult to say how things would have ended for
the Cuban people. First of all, Cuba would have burned in the fires of war.
Without a doubt the Cuban people would have fought courageously but, also
without a doubt, the Cuban people would have perished heroically. We struggle
against imperialism, not in order to die, but to draw on all of our potential,
to lose as little as possible, and later to win more, so as to be a victor and
make communism triumph.
The measures which we have adopted have allowed us to reach the goal which
we had sat when we decided to send the missiles to Cuba. We have extracted from
the United States the commitment riot to invade Cuba and not to allow their
Latin-American allies to do so. We have accomplished all of this without a
We believe that we must take advantage of all the possibilities to defend
Cuba, to strengthen its independence and sovereignty, to thwart military
aggression, and to prevent a global thermonuclear war in the present stage.
And we have succeeded.
Of course we have made concessions, we have made certain commitments. We
have acted on the principle of reciprocal concessions. The United States has
also made concessions, it has committed itself publicly, before the whole world,
not to attack Cuba.
Therefore, if we compare a U.S. attack and thermonuclear war on the one
hand, and on the other hand the commitments made, the reciprocal concessions,
the guarantee of the inviolability of the Republic of Cuba, and the prevention
of a world war, then I think that the conclusion is clear.
Naturally, in the defense of Cuba and of other socialist countries we cannot
trust the promise of the U.S. (not to invade Cuba). We have taken, and will
continue to take, every measure to strengthen our defenses and to accumulate the
forces necessary to carry out a counter-strike. At this time, with the weapons
we have given Cuba, it is able to defend itself more than ever. Even after the
dismantling of the missile sites you will have weaponry sufficiently powerful to
push back the enemy on land, sea, and air near your territory.
Furthermore, as you will recall, we stated in our message to the president
of the United States on October 28 that: "we wish at the same time to
assure the Cuban people that we are at its side and that we will not abandon our
responsibility to help the Cuban people." It is clear to everyone that this
is a very serious warning which we are addressing to the enemy.
You stated in the meetings that one cannot trust the U.S. Of course you are
right. Your statements on the conditions for negotiations with the United States
are equally correct. Having shot down a U.S. aircraft over Cuban territory was
in the end a useful act because it ended without complications. It is a lesson
for the imperialists. Of course our enemies will interpret the events in their
own way. The Cuban counter-revolution will also attempt to rear its head. But
we-believe that you have total control over the internal enemy without our help.
The most important thing which we have achieved is to stop, for the time being,
an attack by external enemies.
We consider that the aggressor has suffered a defeat. He was preparing to
attack Cuba, but we stopped him and have forced him to pledge to the world that
he will not do so at this time. We believe that this is a great victory. Of
course, the imperialists will not stop fighting against communism. But we also
have our plans and we will make our decisions. This process of struggle will
last for as long as there exists on this earth two sociopolitical systems, until
one of the systems, and we know that it will be our communist system, triumphs
Comrade Fidel Castro, we have decided to send you this answer as quickly as
possible. We will conduct a more detailed analysis of what took place in a
letter which we will soon send you. In that letter we will make a more in depth
analysis of the situation and will give you our opinion on the results of the
settlement of the crisis.
At this time, the negotiations on a settlement are beginning and we ask you
to communicate your position to us. We, for our part, will keep you informed on
the progress of the negotiations and make the necessary consultations.
Comrade Fidel Castro, we wish you all possible success, and I am sure that
you will achieve it. There are still machinations against you. But with you, we
intend to take all the steps to thwart them and to contribute to the
strengthening and development of the Cuban Revolution.
Taken from PBS web site: The American Experience / The Presidents - ©