Writing on the wall

September 8, 1962

These damn Russians: why can’t they read the writing on the wall; why can they see that they are making two huge mistakes with one stupid policy? First, they can’t possibly get away with deploying these missiles and getting them fully operational before the gringos find out. Doesn’t Khrushchev understand that we are much closer to Miami—much closer—than Moscow is to Leningrad? Really, it’s already a kind of joke all over the island. “Have you seen the giant cigars rolling by, amigo?” Or, my personal favorite: “did you know that just last night Goliath’s cock rolled by our house?” We Cubans understand what Khrushchev and his people don’t: we are a small green island and the Americans and their mercenary, counter-revolutionary Cuban spies may already know what’s really going on. If not, they soon will. Second, as we have tried to tell the Russians, when the lid blows and Kennedy finds out for sure that we have nuclear missiles, the imperialist forces will squeeze Kennedy into a war, no matter what Kennedy himself might think about the wisdom of going to war. The momentum toward war is already totally irresistible.

I like Carlos Franqui’s idea: number the Yankee provocations, and proclaim them on the front page of Revolucion every day. Let the world know about the exile infiltrations, the illegal overflights, the pirate attacks by exiles driving CIA speedboats, the shooting of our people by the American forces at Guantanamo. Franqui has already catalogued more than a hundred. We need to keep this up. We shouldn’t exaggerate. We don’t have to exaggerate. How can you exaggerate the gravity of a situation in which an underdeveloped country of six and a half million people is threatened by a high percentage of the military might of the greatest power in the history of the world?

Sometimes, I think, screw the Russians, we should just announce that we—I mean the Russians, of course; sometimes I forget that the nuclear weapons aren’t ours, not yet anyway—that the Russians are installing defensive means in Cuba, which happen to be nuclear, and which are being deployed because the gringos have shown that they do not respond to ordinary means of defense. A special threat by crazed imperialists demands a special kind of defense. Raul came pretty close to saying this the other night in his speech when he said, “go on with your provocations. We will be the last people ever to have suffered imperialism’s aggressions. Because you have been warned: If you try, imperialism is finished!” You’d think Kennedy would pay attention to a speech like that—that he would realize that threatening Cuba is no longer scary to us. But he would have paid attention if the Russians had authorized Raul to say: “imperialism is finished because the Soviets will nuke your cities and destroy your goddamned empire!” Soon, we won’t even have to say it, because they will know. They may already know.