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When negotiating without listening to Cuba was the best decision

Humanity can thank John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev for ignoring Fidel Castro.

La Habana
Cartoon of an agreement between Khrushchev and Kennedy in 1962.
Cartoon of an agreement between Khrushchev and Kennedy in 1962. Russia Beyond

Several generations of Cubans have grown up with a kind of thorn in their sides because an issue as important as the inclusion of Cuba in the community of independent nations was negotiated without involving those born on this island.

On December 10, 1898, the Treaty of Paris was signed between Spain and the United States, officially establishing the unconditional defeat of the Spanish colonialists in their war against Cuban and American troops, after which Washington took over administration of the island. And, although any dispassionate analysis positively evaluates the US military's intervention in the war,  the fact that Madrid surrendered to the US, not to the Cuban people, is a blow to Cubans' pride.

More than six decades later other negotiations were to take place key to Cuba's fate, again taking place without Cubans' participation in them. Of course, we are referring to the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the USSR deployed nuclear weapons in Cuba and stationed more than 40,000 soldiers on our island.

Once the presence of these weapons was discovered by US intelligence services, President John F. Kennedy demanded their immediate removal from Cuba. Fidel Castro, acting recklessly, defied Kennedy and opposed the White House's request. Moreover, in an act of extreme irresponsibility, he advised Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev to strike the first nuclear blow against the United States.

Castroism has always claimed that those Soviet nuclear weapons were in Cuba to defend the island from the threat of direct military intervention by the US government. United States officials, however, including Robert McNamara (who at the time was acting as Secretary of Defense), at subsequent meetings to analyze the lessons of that event, concluded that there were no documents indicating that in that year, 1962, before the missile episode, Washington was planning any direct military action against Cuba.

The decision by Moscow to deploy nuclear weapons very close to the borders of the United States should be seen as just the tip of the iceberg of a strategy of geopolitical domination embraced by the Kremlin, echoes of which are clear today in the imperial actions of Vladimir Putin.

There are several factors justifying an extremely negative assessment of Fidel Castro as a figure in the history of Cuba. These include the massive exodus of Cubans from the island, the violation of individual freedoms, the thousands killed in African misadventures, and  the destruction of the economy. It seems that none of them, however, can match his depraved willingness to sacrifice all his people in a nuclear conflict rather than cede and reign in his stubbornness. Of course, History can never absolve him.

Humanity, however, can thank John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev for deciding the question themselves, ignoring Fidel Castro and his predilections. And for, when many already believed the pressing of the nuclear buttons was imminent, putting an end to the danger by negotiating the  missiles' withdrawal from Cuban soil.

Today, as the 60th anniversary of those events that endangered world peace, and even the survival of mankind, approaches, we Cubans must applaud, unlike in 1898, the fact that Cuba's position was ignored in the negotiations, despite the fact that they were of profound concern to us.

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