In 1962, the secret installation of nuclear Soviet missiles in Cuba led to a tense political and military standoff between the US and the Soviet Union, with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro playing a major role.
President John F. Kennedy addressed the nation in October of that same year, making public the presence of the nuclear missiles. Kennedy announced a naval blockade around the Cuban island, assuring that the US would resort to military action if necessary. The announcement led to fears all over the world of a nuclear confrontation between the US and the USSR.
The missiles appeared in Cuba as a direct result of Castro’s alignment and dependency on the Soviet Union. The Soviets intended to change the balance of power in the world and to obtain concessions in Europe from the United States. Since Castro announced that he was a Marxist-Leninist in the early 1960’s, the Soviets began flexing their political muscles in Cuba, considering just how close the island was to the United States.
The USSR exercised a tight control over the Cuban economy, accounting for more than half of the island’s total trade and financing over 40% of Cuba’s imports.
In the end, a nuclear disaster was averted when the US reached an agreement with Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev when the latter offered to remove the missiles in Cuba in exchange for the US assurance that they would not invade the island.