Havana (JFK+50) It was reported 53 years ago today, February 5, 1962, that Cuban Premier Fidel Castro* reacted to the economic embargo imposed on his island nation by calling President John F. Kennedy a "shameless person."
Castro considered the embargo to be a criminal felony and pledged that his nation would not be intimidated by its neighbor to the north.
The Prime Minister's remarks, which lasted for 2 hours, were delivered to a "capacity crowd" here in the Cuban capital. Castro cited the negative impact the embargo would have on the Cuban people themselves such as in their access to medicines.
When Castro came to power in Cuba in 1959, the United States officially recognized his government but, in 1961, when he established a relationship with the Soviet Union and expropriated American oil refineries on the island, the United States broke off diplomatic relations.
JFK, inaugurated 17 days later, inherited a secret CIA plan to overthrow Castro and gave his approval for an invasion at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961, carried out by Cuban refugees trained by the United States. That invasion ended in failure.
"Castro Denounces U.S. Before Enormous Crowd," JFK Day By Day: A Chronicle of the 1,036 Days of John F. Kennedy's Presidency, by Terry Golway and Les Krantz, Running Press Book Publishers, 2010.
"Fidel Castro," www.biography.com/
*Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born in Biran, Cuba. His father had fought in the Cuban War for Independence on the side of Spain and in the Spanish-American War. Castro, who was raised in wealth, studied law at the University of Havana.
In the late 1940s, Castro moved politically to the left as he supported the views of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.
Fidel Castro, who led in the overthrow of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, served as prime minister (1959-1976), president (1976-2008), and 1st secretary of the Communist Party (1961-2011).