It looks like the final death toll in Cuba from Hurricane Sandy stands at eleven. This has come as quite a shock to the people of Cuba, who commonly withstand the worst of hurricanes with no deaths. Cuba’s second largest city, Santiago, was hammered badly, and many areas of that city are still without power three days later. This storm arrived fairly late in the Caribbean hurricane season, which peaks in August and September.
Today, October 28th, is the 50th anniversary of the apparent end of the Missile Crisis in Cuba. I say “apparent,” because much interesting information has recently come out about further negotiations following October 28th. Jonathan Yardley recently reviewed David Coleman’s new book, The Fourteenth Day: JFK and the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis.”But contrary to received wisdom, the confrontation did not end in resounding triumph for the United States when, on October 28, Premier Nikita Krushchev caved and agreed to pull his missiles out of Cuba. Instead, as Coleman demonstrates, ‘Krushchev’s capitulation had not brought the finality to the crisis that many had hoped for. A year after the crisis, just days before his assassination, Kennedy was still referring publicly to “unfinished business” from the Cuban missile crisis.’ “
During our expedition last May, our group was able to tour some of the bunkers that were dug on the grounds of the Hotel Nacionál in Havana. This beautiful icon has been the temporary Cuban home of many celebrities and world leaders since it opened in 1930. The hotel is perched atop a high hill. In front is a vast lawn, where visitors can look north over the ocean to the Straits of Florida. It is in this area where the Cuban military dug an interconnected series of bunkers that were to be used to defend this part of Havana from invasion by sea. One of the Cuban guides, Roberto, showed us through some of the tunnels and areas that were used to store supplies during the crisis. In one room newspapers from around the world depicting the crisis were mounted on the walls. We read some of the headlines on newspapers from Havana, New York, Miami, and they were chilling. Roberto told us about being a young army private, carrying supplies into the bunker, and scanning the horizon with binoculars looking for ships from the U.S. Navy. He told us he remembers those days very clearly, and he said “we were too busy to be scared. We kept working, because when we rested, all we could think about was the invasion from the Americans. They had always been nice to us when they were here before The Revolution.”