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That Infernal Little Cuban Republic

The United States and the Cuban Revolution

Lars G. Schoultz

Publication Year: 2009

Lars Schoultz offers a comprehensive chronicle of U.S. policy toward the Cuban Revolution. Using a rich array of documents and firsthand interviews with U.S. and Cuban officials, he tells the story of the attempts and failures of ten U.S. administrations to end the Cuban Revolution. He argues that despite the overwhelming advantage in size and power that the United States enjoys over its neighbor, the Cubans’ historical insistence on their right to self-determination has inevitably irritated American administrations, influenced both U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy, and led to a freeze in diplomatic relations of unprecedented longevity.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Introduction: Neighbors

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pp. 1-11

Imagine living in a neighborhood where the family across the street irritates you. It’s a wide street, fortunately, so most of the time you can simply ignore them, but every so often they do something annoying— your kids go over to play with theirs and wobble back home with the marijuana giggles, or these neighbors welcome some out-of-town houseguests ...

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1 Heritage

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pp. 13-33

Exactly when Cubans began to irritate the United States remains an unsettled question, but it was in the nineteenth century and perhaps as early as the 1820s, when the village of Regla in Havana’s harbor became a resale shop for pirates who had plundered U.S. shipping. That forced Secretary of State John Quincy Adams to stop more important work (he was just getting started on the Monroe Doctrine) ...

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2 Prelude: The Truman Years

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pp. 34-51

Cuba’s revolutionary generation reached adulthood in the late 1940s, when the island was enjoying a prosperity unseen since the Dance of the Millions decades earlier. U.S. embassy officials reported that the economy was being driven not only by sugar but also by the return of visits from the neighbors—tourists were pouring into Havana “via 28 Pan-American flights per day and the Hotel Nacional, full ...

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3 Arousal: The Eisenhower Years, 1953–1958

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pp. 52-81

Perhaps the easiest way to start an argument with Cuban- Americans who left the island around 1960 is to say that Cuba was “underdeveloped” in the years immediately before the revolution. Nonsense, they will reply, Cubans had made impressive progress in the half century since independence, and they have data to back them up. In the 1950s, Cuba’s income per capita was among the highest ...

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4 Watching and Waiting: The Eisenhower Administration, 1959

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pp. 82-108

At dawn on 1 January, Radio Rebelde warned “Santiago de Cuba: You are still not free.” Batista had fled a few hours earlier, the announcer continued, but he had left the government in the hands of military officers who “want to prohibit the entry into Santiago of those who have freed the country. The history of 1895 will not be repeated. This time our rebels will ...

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5 1960: The Year of Pushing and Shoving

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pp. 109-141

“We will bury you.” So Nikita Khrushchev had boasted in late 1956, and a year later the Soviet Union had won the race into space. When the United States placed a satellite in orbit two months later, a relieved Fulgencio Batista cabled President Eisenhower that the Cuban leader, for one, had never doubted “the security which is found in American resources and its scientific capacity to surpass the achievements being made by the ...

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6 The Bay of Pigs

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pp. 142-169

“Before dawn Cuban patriots in the cities and in the hills began the battle to liberate our homeland”—so read the press bulletin issued by the Cuban Revolutionary Council but written by CIA officer David Atlee Phillips.¹ The landing had begun in the predawn hours of 17 April 1961, two days after eight Cuban-piloted B-26 bombers had set out from Nicaragua to destroy Cuba’s air force. ...

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7 State-Sponsored Terrorism

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pp. 170-212

It was not the best time to reside in Camelot. “Everyone appeared to be jumping on everyone else,” reported Undersecretary of State Chester Bowles following a cabinet meeting the day after the Bay of Pigs surrender. “It was about as grim as any meeting I can remember in all my experience in government, which is saying a good deal. The President was really quite shattered.”¹ ...

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8 He’s Going to Be There until He Dies: The Johnson Administration

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pp. 213-240

Lyndon Johnson’s first recorded presidential comment about Cuba came six days after John Kennedy’s assassination, when the new president asked CIA director John McCone “how we planned to dispose of Castro.” According to McCone’s memorandum of the conversation, LBJ “said he did not wish any repetition of any fiasco of 1961, but he felt that ...

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9 Mutual Hostility as a Fact of Life: The Nixon-Ford Years

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pp. 241-290

The war in Vietnam dominated the 1968 election. With half a million U.S. troops already in Indochina, the year began with LBJ’s call for three hundred thousand more soldiers and, to suggest how close the Pentagon had come to scraping the bottom of the barrel, with the suspension of draft deferments for graduate students. When the deeply divided Democrats convened their disastrous convention ...

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10 Reconciliation and Estrangement: The Carter Years

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pp. 291-361

Cuba was not an issue in the 1976 campaign. There was nothing to argue about: both party platforms took similar swings at the Castro government, both candidates opposed normalizing relations, and both ignored Cuba in the three presidential debates.¹ And as with Cuba, so with most other policy issues. Pollsters reported that the contest involved “character”— that the always crucial moderates ...

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11 Back to Square One: The Reagan Years

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pp. 362-418

“My opinion of the Russians has changed most drastically,” President Jimmy Carter told reporters on the final day of 1979. “It’s only now dawning upon the world the magnitude of the action that the Soviets undertook in invading Afghanistan.” Any clear thinker should have expected Moscow to do something like that, replied Carter’s principal rival, Ronald Reagan, who believed ...

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12 Unwavering Hostility: The George H. W. Bush Administration

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pp. 419-452

“Fidel Castro’s recent attempts to rejoin the mainstream of the Latin American community should be viewed with skepticism.” So began the tutorial prepared for the new Bush administration’s assistant secretary of state for Latin America, Bernard Aronson. Characterized by Secretary of State James Baker as “a rare breed—a bona fide Democrat who supported aid to the contras,” Aronson was an obscure neoconservative with ...

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13 Blessings of Liberty: The Clinton Administration

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pp. 453-514

The 1992 election was about the faltering U.S. economy, not Cuba. Both party platforms took pro forma swipes at the Castro government, as did both candidates in their nomination acceptance speeches, with President George H. W. Bush reiterating his desire to become the first president to visit a democratic Cuba and Bill Clinton specifying Cuba as ...

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14 More Blessings of Liberty: The George W. Bush Administration

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pp. 515-552

Sending Elián González back to Cuba with his father had been the right thing to do, Bill Clinton wrote in his memoir, but “I was still concerned that it could cost Al Gore Florida in November.” It probably did. Anyone who had followed Elián’s prolonged ordeal could reasonably conclude that his return had aroused an intense sense of betrayal in Little Havana, ...

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Conclusion: Benevolent Domination

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pp. 553-567

Had the United States been allowed to select its neighbors, it never would have chosen Cuba. No doubt Cubans would reply that living alongside the United States has been no picnic, either, even if it is true, as the United States has invariably insisted, that it has only had Cuba’s best interests at heart. As William Howard Taft declared at the start of the twentieth century, ...

Notes

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pp. 569-727

Index

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pp. 729-745


E-ISBN-13: 9781469603445
E-ISBN-10: 1469603446
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807832608
Print-ISBN-10: 080783260X

Page Count: 760
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Cuba.
  • Cuba -- Foreign relations -- United States.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- 1945-1989.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- 1989-.
  • Presidents -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Cuba -- History -- Revolution, 1959.
  • Cuba -- Politics and government -- 1959-1990.
  • Cuba -- Politics and government -- 1990-.
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