Communism And Democracy

     The United States of America is a country that believes in democracy and has
unfavorable ties with communist countries. The United States has tried for
decades to improve relations with the countries that donít practice democracy.

History shows disagreements between the United States and dictators of these
irreverent countries, disagreements that brought the world to the brink of
nuclear war. The most recent of these confrontations involved three countries.

United States of America, Cuba and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic
(USSR). Fidel Castro is a Cuban revolutionary, who took control of Cuba in 1959
and established a Communist dictatorship. Castro, who was born in Mayari, became
the leader of an underground, anti-government faction. In 1956, he led a
rebellion that won increasing popular support. Eventually Castro forced Batista
y Zaldivar, who was the premier of Cuba to flee the country. Once in power

Castro executed and imprisoned thousands of political opponents, nationalized
industry, collectivized agriculture, and established a one-party socialist
state. In the early 1960ís Castro openly embraced Communism and formed close
ties with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR), relying on Soviet
economic and military aid approving limited economic reforms that legalized some
free enterprise. In Cuba, an estimated $1 billion in U.S.-owned properties were
seized in 1960. The Castro government seized oil refineries, sugar mills, and
electric utilities owned by the United States. When the Castro government
expropriated in 1960, the U.S. government responded by imposing a trade embargo.

A complete break in diplomatic relations occurred in 1961. On April 17 of that
year, anti-Castro exiles supported and trained by the United States government,
landed an invasion force in the Bay of Pigs in southern Cuba. Ninety of the
invaders were killed, and some 1200 were captured. President Castro announced

May 17 that Cuba would exchange prisoners taken at the Bay of Pigs for 500 U.S.
bulldozers. Negotiations broke down June 30, and Castro declared himself a

Marxist-Leninist on December 2. He announced formation of a united party to
bring communism to Cuba. Relations between the United States and Cuba grew still
more perilous in the fall of 1962, when the United States discovered

Soviet-supplied missile installations in Cuba. United States President, John F.

Kennedy announced a naval blockade of the island. Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev,

Soviet Communist leader, who was first secretary of the Soviet Communist Party
from 1953 to 1964 and president of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
(USSR) from 1958 to 1964. After the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, Khrushchev
became the head of the Communist Party of the USSR. In 1961, relations between
the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) grew
increasingly hostile. President Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had
a strained meeting in Vienna, Austria. Later that year, the Communists in East

Germany ordered a wall be built on the border between East and West Berlin. This
would prevent East Germans from fleeing their country via West Berlin, which was
under the control of the United States, France, and Great Britain. When East

German soldiers began blocking the allied route through East Germany into

Berlin, Kennedy sent in a force of 1500 soldiers, ending Communist interference.

Relations with the United States were tense because Khrushchev favored nuclear
weapons over conventional armies. These tensions culminated during the Cuban

Missile Crisis of 1962. The Cuban missile crisis in October produced a tense
nuclear confrontation between Washington and Moscow. U.S. aerial surveillance
discovered Soviet offensive missile and bomber bases in Cuba. President Kennedy
ordered an air and sea "quarantine" of Cuba to prevent shipment of arms to

Fidel Castro. President Kennedy met with Soviet ambassador Dobrynin at his
embassy and learned Moscow would agree to withdraw the missiles with their
atomic warheads from Cuba if U.S. nuclear missiles are withdrawn from Turkey.

President Kennedy rejected the deal when President Khrushchev offered it
publicly, but U.S. General Lauris J. Norstad (who opposed quick removal of the

15 obsolescent Jupiter rockets from Turkey) was unexpectedly retired from his
post as NATO commander. After several strained days, Khrushchev lost support
from the KGB and the conservative members of the Communist Party when he
denounced Stalin. He alienated the military by advocating defense based on
nuclear weapons. Finally, Khrushchev agreed to dismantle the Cuban missile sites
and remove them. Soon after the Cuban blockade ended, and the U.S. missiles in

Turkey were quietly removed. The United States also supported an unsuccessful
attempt by Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro in 1961. Their plan was to move
inland and join with anti-Castro forces to stage a revolt, but Castro's forces
defeated the exiles and took the survivors as prisoners. Castro demanded money
for their release. Kennedy refused to negotiate directly with Castro, but at

Kennedy's urging businesses and private citizens reached an agreement with

Castro. In 1962, 1113 prisoners were released in exchange for food and medical
supplies valued at approximately $53 million. Throughout the yearís there have
been many conflicts between democratic policy makers and totalitarian communist
ran countries. Conflicts that might have brought the world to an end. By far the

Cuban Missile Crisis was the world's closest approach to nuclear war.