Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Death Of Fidel Castro

Just in case you missed it, Fidel Castro passed away last evening at the age of 90.

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Fidel Castro
As a kid growing up in South Florida, I was probably the closest to the "action" as one could be. In 1959 Castro over through General Fulgencio Batista.

In April 1961, the CIA launched what its leaders believed would be the definitive strike: a full-scale invasion of Cuba to remove Castro by 1,400 American-trained Cubans who had fled their homes when Castro took over. I would assume you know how that turned out.

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Bay of Pigs
There is a point to this story, not just his death. We were living in South Florida in 1959 and I remember one of the neighbors (across the street and down a couple doors) had a house in Cuba. He was relieved of the house and property and never got it back before he died. I don't recall his name, only that he had a dog with a French name so I would assume he was French also.

What I wanted to get at is the "Cuban Missile Crisis" in 1962. In July 1962 Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev reached a secret agreement with Cuban premier Fidel Castro to place Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba to deter any future invasion attempt. Didn't sit well with President Kennedy. On October 22, he ordered a naval “quarantine” of Cuba. The use of “quarantine” legally distinguished this action from a blockade, which assumed a state of war existed.

In South Florida and in Cuba, the missile crisis put millions of people on what seemed like the front lines. At bases in the Everglades, Carol City and west of Kendall, missiles were raised to the go position and tilted in the direction of Fidel Castro's island. There, the Kennedy Administration had learned from spy plane reconnaissance, the Soviet Union was building what looked like an offensive missile base near San Cristobal.

In south Miami-Dade County, thousands of Army troops moved to and from encampments that sprang up in tomato fields and cow pastures. Portable Hawk anti-aircraft missiles were set up along beaches from Miami Beach to Key West.

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How would you like this on your beach?
In schools, students became accustomed to air raid sirens and were drilled on "duck and cover" techniques.

We would stand by Federal Highway (Highway 1) and watch truck after truck of soldiers heading South. There were machine guns, barbed wire, and soldiers on the beach. It was two months after my 16th birthday. The country was facing Nuclear Armageddon and we were smack in the middle of it.

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Looked like this all over the place.
I was there, I saw it, and it was really scary for a 16 year old. It lasted 14 long days. 


  1. There were a lot of scary moments during the 60s for kids on the brink of adulthood. The Cuban missile crisis staring President Kennedy, Fidel and Nikita, the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam war, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. But there is a special place in hell for Castro.

  2. Regardless of your opinion of Castro, there's no denying his influence on the world.

  3. Oh, how I remember those days for sure. As a youngster in Eastern Idaho at the time, I don't think I entirely grasp the "Hell" we all were so close too...... A few years later, I am a VietNam Veteran. Growing up came real quick for me........
    Mark, thanks for recalling some history on this day and period of time..........