COLD WAR: CUBA, 1959-1962 {PT. 10 OF 24} (TV)


The tenth in this twenty-four-part documentary series examining the events of the Cold War, from 1917 to the early 1990s. This series consists of interviews and archival footage, accompanied by historical narration by Kenneth Branagh.

This episode focuses on the Cuban Missile Crisis. It begins with information about the history of American business in Cuba; President Fidel Castro's rise to power in 1959; and Castro's policies, including the nationalization of land and of both Cuban and American companies. Captain Jorge Risquet of the Revolutionary Army explains that when Cuba went into partnership in socialism with the Soviet Union and began buying Soviet oil, the Cuban military soon had to take over American oil refineries in Cuba, which refused to process Soviet oil. President Dwight D. Eisenhower retaliated with a trade embargo against Cuba, and the CIA began recruiting and training Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro's administration. A U.S. plan against Cuba was set into motion, beginning with the bombing of sugar plantations. Newly elected President John F. Kennedy altered the plans, trying to mask U.S. involvement in the Bay of Pigs invasion and withdrawing American air power. As a result, the underequipped invasion was crushed, and Cuba prepared itself for further American aggression. Fidel Castro speaks about his agreement with Nikita Khrushchev to establish Soviet nuclear missile bases in Cuba, accompanied by Soviet troops and advisors. Athough the U.S. did not expect the Soviet nuclear presence in Cuba, an American spy plane soon confirmed the existence of nuclear sites. General Anatoly Gribkov, commander of the Soviet forces in Cuba, argues that the Soviet-Cuban sites equalized the nuclear power of the Soviet Union and the United States, while Roger Hilsman, U.S. State Department head of intelligence, explains that the Cuban sites rendered the Soviet Union capable of destroying both American nuclear power and the majority of the U.S. population with the first strike. Theodore Sorensen, special counsel President Kennedy, outlines the possible responses to the Cuban situation that were discussed in the White House. The U.S. government instituted a blockade against all ships going to Cuba but kept the situation from the press, as Kennedy's press secretary, Pierre Salinger, explains. A clip follows of the announcement that Kennedy finally made to the American people alerting them to the missile crisis. Tensions heightened as Soviet and U.S. Navy ships faced off near Cuba, and both the American military and forces throughout the Soviet bloc and Cuba prepared for war. Anatoly Dobrynin, Soviet ambassador to the U.S., recalls his negotiations with Robert Kennedy, through which Khrushchev refused to recognize the United States' illegal blockade of ships going to Cuba. Journalist Walter Cronkite and U.S. Secretary of State Robert McNamara describe the atmosphere at the height of the crisis as people braced themselves for nuclear annihilation. Next, Khrushchev adviser Oleg Troyanovski outlines the Soviet demand that the U.S. dismantle American nuclear bases in Turkey. The program concludes with the following: a blow-by-blow account of the events of October 25th and 26th, 1962; a discussion of the crisis that erupted when Soviet forces shot down an American spy plane flying over Cuba; a description of the last-minute diplomacy that prevented nuclear war; and comments by Castro and Dobrynin on international reactions to the agreement made by Kennedy and Krushchev. Commercials deleted.

Cataloging of this program was made possible by The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, 1999.

This selection from the Alan Gerry Cable Collection has been made available by the Gerry Foundation, Inc.


  • DATE: November 29, 1998 Sunday 8:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:46:31
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:58629
  • GENRE: Public affairs/Documentaries
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuba, 1961
  • SERIES RUN: CNN - TV series, 1998-1999


    • Pat Mitchell … Executive Producer, For Turner Original Productions
    • Jeremy Isaacs … Executive Producer, For Turner Original Productions
    • Vivian Schiller … Senior Producer, For Turner Original Productions
    • Michael Thomas … Production Manager, For Turner Original Productions
    • Martin Smith … Series Producer
    • Richard Melman … Producer
    • Isobel Hinshelwood … Series Associate Producer
    • Alison McAllan … Series Associate Producer
    • Lawrence Freedman … Writer
    • Gillian Widdicombe … Production Executive
    • Ted Turner … Series Concept by
    • Karin Steininger … Editor
    • Martina Balazova … Research
    • Tessa Coombs … Research
    • Svetlana Palmer … Research
    • Steve Bergson … Film Research
    • Aileen McAllister … Film Research
    • Carl Davis … Music by
    • Kenneth Branagh … Narrator
    • Fidel Castro
    • Walter Cronkite
    • Anatoly Dobrynin
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower
    • Anatoly Gribkov
    • Roger Hilsman
    • John F. Kennedy
    • Robert F. Kennedy
    • Nikita S. Khrushchev
    • Robert McNamara
    • Jorge Risquet
    • Pierre Salinger
    • Theodore Sorensen
    • Oleg Troyanovski