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Pierre Mendès-France was of the same opinion.

Four days before the referendum, on 24 October, the Gaullist organ, La Nation, saw the crisis as an argument pleading for a strong executive.

At the same time, in the Socialist daily Le Populaire de Paris, Gaston Defferre pointed out that the crisis showed clearly the danger of conferring full powers to one man. Le Populaire de Paris 24/10/62
Le Populaire de Paris
24 October 1962
Canard enchaîné 24/10/62
Cartoon in Le Canard enchaîné
24 October 1962

René Andrieu, the Communist journalist, shared his views: in the 25 October issue of L"Humanité, he wrote that the crisis was "another argument in favour of the NO vote", because it would be "sheer madness" to give one man "the power of life and death over the planet', especially if that man was General De Gaulle "who was falling in behind his American master, like a good dog".

Maurice Thorez, the Secretary-General of the Communist Party said exactly the same thing the next day when addressing pary members in his Ivry constituency: "You will say NO to De Gaulle and to Kennedy. You will cast a NO vote out of solidarity with the courageous people of Cuba and its legendary leader, Fidel Castro."

The crisis was on the front page of all dailies on October 23, but their analyses remained rather cursory. Roger Massip, the Figaro editorialist, merely mentioned the "stern warning" given by Kennedy, and drew a parallel with Berlin.

Le Figaro 23/10/62
Le Figaro
23 October 1962
Le Monde 24/10/62
Le Monde
24 October 1962

However, the Le Monde editorial, dated 24 October, doubted the authenticity of the photographic evidence given by the CIA, all the more so as the Agency was known to have made "errors". That is why a high-ranking agent met with the editorialist and showed him several photos. In its 26 October issue, Le Monde acknowledged their authenticity.


The left-wing weekly, France Observateur, too, was sceptical and critical. In its 25 October issue, Claude Bourdet's headlined: "Hands off Cuba!' He explained that the USA was "sole responsible for the development of the crisis" because its "powerful capitalist machine" might well be "taking us to the brink of world war".

France Observateur
"Hands Off Cuba" in France Observateur
25 October 1962

Claude Bourdet was "sceptical" about Kennedy's accusations, all the more so as the CIA was used to producing "forged evidence". Claude Bourdet advocated "neutralism", and demanded that public opinion worldwide should rally in a "vast campaign in the defence of Cuba, bringing pressure to bear on the US, and including a boycott of American exports."

L'Aurore 24/10/62
L'Aurore 24 October 1962

On the contrary, in the 29 October issue of Le Figaro, Raymond Aron vindicated the American response to the Soviet "provocation" which, he wrote, was the result of Khrushchev's wish to gain advantages in relation with the Berlin issue.

On October 24, the Socialist daily, Le Populaire de Paris, declared that entire responsibility lay with the Soviets, and approved Kennedy's "firm stand". The next day, the same paper asked people to "keep cool" but show "total solidarity with the Allies".

Ambassador André François-Poncet, in the 26 October issue of Le Figaro, wrote that it was "necessary to bring Soviet expansionism to a halt for good" and that transatlantic solidarity was "the best deterrent".

To the left, French Communists soon campaigned in favour of Cuba. By October 23, "all the friends of peace" were called up to "Stop the aggression against Cuba!". They denounced the "sheer lies" of the US who was the only country operating bases "encircling the Socialist countries".

L"Humanité, in its 24 October issue, showed that thermonuclear war was a bogey put forward by Capitalist trusts: "Are we prepared to die for United Fruit?".

On 25 October in the morning, Communist students marched in the Quartier Latin shouting "Cuba si, Yankee no!". In the evening, a thousand demonstrators chanted "Peace for Cuba" or "Kennedy assassin" outside the US Embassy. The next day, the France-Cuba Association staged a "hot meeting" at the Mutualité Hall, wrote L'Humanité.

L'Humanité 26/10/62
26 October 1962
From L'Humanité
From L'Humanité
26 October 1962

For L"Humanité, the peaceful settlement was made possible because the Soviet Union had spoken with the voice of reason, and because of Khrushchev's composure. Like Pravda, the organ of the French Communist Party endeavoured to lend weight to the theory that, yielding to international pressure, the US had to give up its imperialist policy, lift the blockade and recognize the inviolability of Cuba.

But Le Figaro, like the majority of the Paris Press, wrote on October 29 that the way the crisis ended materialized "Kennedy's diplomatic victory" because the President "had shown great skill and judgement" in handling the crisis.

Le Figaro 29/10/62
Le Figaro
29 October 1962

In the 29 October issue of Le Figaro, Raymond Aron wrote that the world was in for "a period of relative détente" after Khrushchev's "tactical withdrawal", because Cuba was too far away, because "the stakes were low", and because of Soviet strategic inferiority.

While admitting that "the two K's had handled the crisis with absolute mastery", the left-wing, intellectual weekly France Observateur, in its 1 November issue, came to the bitter conclusion that "the world belongs to whoever is in a position to destroy it".


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