The Other Side(s) of the Wall... Cuba
Sean M. Maloney, May, 2009
Any Cold War aficionado traveling to Cuba will be struck with how inverted the place is from our experience. Instead of “Jan Masaryk Street” you have “Salvador Allende Boulevard.” A monument to the dead Provisional IRA hunger strikers sits where a First World War Centopath might. The pillars of some monuments remain with the feet still attached, but with the statue pulled down. 1940s and 50s Art Deco are intermixed with East German Brutalism. The Riveria hotel has the Rat Pack’s pictures from the 1950s on the wall-next to some unidentifiable Angolan music group from the 1970s. There is of course the constant surveillance of the Committee de la Defensia de Revolucion: the symbol for its block wardens is a peasant with an upraised machete.
The Museo de Revolucion has an intriguing annex out back-it houses the tail section from a CIA A-26/B-26 shot down at some point in time during the Bay of Pigs operations. Next to it is an SA-2 GUIDELINE anti-aircraft missile on its launcher-overwatching an engine from Major Rudolph Anderson’s U-2, shot down on 27 October 1962 at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Then there is the Hotel Nacional. The bunkers and defensive positions established to repel the Yanqui invaders are still there, with plaques using pictures from the movie “Thirteen Days” to explain what was going on.
The Morrow Cabana Military Park, which is essentially Havana’s version of Fort Henry, complete with marching guard and canon fire. The Cold War section contains another SA-2 GUIDELINE. There is a FROG-3, -4 or -5 launcher with its rocket-this tactical nuclear system was in place during the Cuban Missile Crisis but remained undetected by American surveillance and could have caused problems for any landing force. There are two types of ground-launched cruise missiles-a P-15 Termit (SS-N-2 STYX) and a KS-1 Kometa (SSC-1A Salish) the ground-launched version of the AS-1 KENNEL surface-to-air missile. The jewel in the crown of the collection. An SS-4 SANDAL medium-range ballistic missile on its trailer. Apparently the Cuban government got special permission from Russia and the United States to take delivery of this museum piece.
The cabana in the picture, incidentally, is where Che Guevera conducted executions of Batista regime security personnel.
Just to get the other side of the coin, here are some pictures of the Bay of Pigs' landing force Brigade 2506 monument in Miami...