Imagine how the last fifty years of Miami history would have played out if Fidel Castro had been sitting on an arsenal of 100 tactical nuclear missiles just 90 miles away from Florida.
That's exactly what nearly happened after the Cuban Missile Crisis, according to new documents made public this morning. Even after JFK stared down the Soviets to get them to remove medium-range nukes from the island, another 100 tactical nuclear weapons secretly remained in Cuba for more than a month. And they only were removed at all because Fidel's bizarre behavior freaked out the Soviet envoy.
The skin-crawling revelations come courtesy a new book, The Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis, which reveals for the first time the verbatim transcripts of Fidel's meetings with Anastas Mikoyan, the Soviet's deputy prime minister.
Mikoyan traveled to Havana in November, landing four days after the USSR had agreed on Oct. 28 to withdraw its missiles from Cuba. JFK had averted a nuclear showdown by forcing the move, but unbeknownst to anyone but Fidel and the Soviets, they'd already shipped in a hundred other nukes.
According Mikoyan's accounts, Fidel was sitting on 80 nuclear-tipped front cruise missiles, 12 warheads meant for short-range rockets and another six bombs that could fit on Soviet-made bombers.
And the Soviets planned to leave them their and train the Castro regime to use them. At least until Mikoyan came to visit.
He found Fidel "livid" over the Soviet's backing down to the U.S., Foreign Policy writes. And his behavior over the next two weeks was erratic at best, veering from blustering and demanding strikes against America to snubbing Mikoyan altogether.
Finally, on November 20, Fidel pushed one button too many by telling the Russians he planned to announce at the U.N. that he still had a hundred nukes on his island. Mikoyan immediately got his parliament to pass a new rule that forbid Soviet nukes in foreign nations.
Two days later, Mikoyan broke the news. Fidel, of course, flipped out.
"What do you think we are?," he screamed at Mikoyan. "A zero on the left, a dirty rag. We tried to help the Soviet Union to get out of a difficult situation."
As bad as the previous five decades of U.S.-Cuban relations have been, it's almost impossible to imagine how Florida would react to nukes right over the horizon with Castro's finger on the button.
Would every new condo tower have a bunker? Would Miami still be an underpopulated backwater? Would the U.S. have even been able to avoid a nuclear showdown with Fidel?
Here's the full transcript of Mikoyan's confrontation with Fidel, via Foreign Policy: