JFK Informs Americans of the Blockade of Cuba – 10/22/1962

World History |


On October 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy told the American people about his decision to issue a blockade of Cuba following the discovery that the Soviets were secretly keeping missiles in the said location. The president openly criticized Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in his televised speech, accusing him of threatening world peace. JFK also issued a warning against the soviets saying that US is not afraid to conduct necessary actions, and if needed, will be forced to retaliate, should the missiles be launched for any reason.

Four days before the blockade announcement, photographic proof of the 40 ballistic missile site which were being built by the Soviets were presented to Kennedy. The president was alarmed after learning that these were strategically located within a striking distance from the United States. JFK and his closest advisors discussed the matter in their secret meetings. They concluded that they can only deal with the situation in three ways. The first option was to persuade the Russians to remove the missiles through negotiation. The second was to obliterate the missile sites with bombs. And the last was to issue a blockage order, which was what JFK decided to do. He will choose to push through with the second choice however if it became necessary for them to do so.

On October 21st, the blockade was made official. JKF informed the American people about it the next day. The president was honest about the situation and admitted to the American people that if the Soviets chose to do so, the missiles in Cuba could go as far as the Washington, D.C, the southeastern portion of the country, Panama Canal, Mexico City, Hudson Bay, Canada, or even as far as the south in Lima, Peru. In short, the missiles were very dangerous. The audience were already expecting that there will be a military confrontation soon after the president informed them that the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba will be evacuated and that military units will be put on standby. He went on to encourage the people that they will in no way choose surrender or submission from their nemesis.

Likewise, Khrushchev was not about to back out. Instead of retreating, he sent more ships that were thought to carry military cargo toward Cuba. He also instructed his men to continue building the missile sites. The following six days (later named as the Cuban Missile Crisis) made the world really tense since it almost pushed the two clashing nations to the brink of starting a global nuclear war. During this period, negotiations were being made by its leaders where messages were sent via telegram and letter.

The world was only able to let out a sigh of relief on October 28th when both Kennedy and Khrushchev came to an agreement. Khrushchev agreed to dismantle the Cuban missile sites provided that the US will likewise abandon the U.S. missile sites in Turkey.

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