Abstaining from discussing the US response other than superficially,
the Press announced that the nation was girding up its loins. Radio
Havana condemned US aggressors and flatly denied the presence of
On 24 October, the French
Ambassador reported that, but for a few "sporadic
rallies" staged by the authorities in popular districts,
the population was "calm and almost lethargic."
The population taking to the streets
For two days people braced themselves in silent fear of whatever might happen.
Torrential rain made the atmosphere all the heavier. All roads to the beaches
were blocked, and on the central highway there were military check-points
and convoys. At night the Havana streets were empty and drab. Civil Defence
searchlights crisscrossed the bay. Hoy, the
daily paper, mentioned that the army was gearing up all over the island:
older schoolboys and students joined the army while women flocked to register
as nurses. In factories, mothers and wives substituted for their mobilized
sons or husbands.
The nation girds up its loins
In the following days,
the Cuban authorities extended the mobilization to reservists working
in the building, printing and power supply industries. In some districts
of Havana, militiamen enforced rationing so as to curb a purchasing
panic which had emptied the shops of coffee, sugar, matches and
As the tension began to ease, the Cuban Press highlighted
with great relief that, on 27 October, Moscow had accepted U Thant's
proposals, whereas the US response was deemed "evasive".
Manned antiaircraft battery with
Hotel Riviera as backdrop
welcomed the "first plan aiming at truce
negotiations"; Hoy praised
the UN Secretary General for his "peace
proposal". When the Soviet Tanker Vinnitza
docked in Havana there were scenes of jubilation in the harbour.
Two days after Fidel Castro had told Jeune
Afrique that he, too, was in favour of negotiations, the
líder, who had been excluded
from the negotiations, issued a statement on 29 October listing
his own terms for a settlement of the crisis.
The communiqué was hyped up
by the Press, in order to restore his image. Yet, in the evening,
it was a weary and tense Castro who addressed disillusioned Defence
Committees. When the crisis was defused, a rather despondent Cuban
population showed no sign either of joy or relief.
Revolución Headlines: "Our
Country or Death! We Shall Overcome!"