. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – CBS Radio: Is Cuba Going Red? – May 7 and 13, 1959 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
With the momentous news today of the resumption of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and the island nation of Cuba, most Americans, and roughly 60% of Cubans, have no idea what the sanctions and embargo have been all about. But everyone knows it has gone on for decades.
Fifty-five years ago, it was a different story. In the early months of 1959 a revolution overthrew the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, sending the country into an upheaval socially and economically. It was disputed, even in the beginnings of the movement that Castro and his allies were communist inspired and that it was inevitable Cuba would fall under the influence of Moscow. Other views were held that revolution leader Fidel Castro wasn’t a Communist but that the Batista regime was supported economically and militarily by the U.S., and so any support from the U.S. in successfully overthrowing the Batista regime was out of the question and that Castro was forced to seek support someplace else, and the Kremlin was only too happy to comply. But with strings.
The end result was a takeover of Cuba by Fidel Castro and the 26th of July Movement and the nationalization of all foreign companies with holdings in Cuba. Ostensibly kicking the U.S. out.
And so started the series of embargoes, sanctions, CIA-backed invasions, threats of World War 3 over the presence of Soviet Missiles on the island and an endless run of dramas, escapes and denunciations which went pretty much unabated until today.
So, to give you some idea of just what was going on during the early days of the deterioration of U.S./Cuban relations, CBS Radio ran a 2-part series in May of 1959 in which the question was asked, “Is Cuba Going Red?”. The first part is an observation by CBS Newsman Stewart Novins who traveled to Havana to get an eyewitness account of the goings on. The second part is a discussion/free-for-all between Novins and several figures pro and con over the situation in Cuba as it stood in 1959.
Here is that one-hour presentation, as it ran on the evenings of May 7th and 13th 1959.