Earlier US actions
With the end of World War II and the start of the Cold War, the United States had grown concerned about the expansion of communism. A Latin American country openly allying with the Soviet Union was regarded by the US as unacceptable. It would, for example, defy the Monroe Doctrine, a US policy limiting US involvement in European colonies and European affairs but holding that the Western Hemisphere was in the US sphere of influence.
The Kennedy administration had been publicly embarrassed by the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in May 1961, which had been launched under President John F. Kennedy by CIA-trained forces of Cuban exiles. Afterward, former President Dwight Eisenhower told Kennedy that "the failure of the Bay of Pigs will embolden the Soviets to do something that they would otherwise not do.":10 The half-hearted invasion left Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev and his advisers with the impression that Kennedy was indecisive and, as one Soviet adviser wrote, "too young, intellectual, not prepared well for decision making in crisis situations... too intelligent and too weak." US covert operations against Cuba continued in 1961 with the unsuccessful Operation Mongoose.
In addition, Khrushchev's impression of Kennedy's weaknesses was confirmed by the President's response during the Berlin Crisis of 1961, particularly to the building of the Berlin Wall. Speaking to Soviet officials in the aftermath of the crisis, Khrushchev asserted, "I know for certain that Kennedy doesn't have a strong background, nor, generally speaking, does he have the courage to stand up to a serious challenge." He also told his son Sergei that on Cuba, Kennedy "would make a fuss, make more of a fuss, and then agree."
In January 1962, US Army General Edward Lansdale described plans to overthrow the Cuban government in a top-secret report (partially declassified 1989), addressed to Kennedy and officials involved with Operation Mongoose. CIA agents or "pathfinders" from the Special Activities Division were to be infiltrated into Cuba to carry out sabotage and organization, including radio broadcasts. In February 1962, the US launched an embargo against Cuba, and Lansdale presented a 26-page, top-secret timetable for implementation of the overthrow of the Cuban government, mandating guerrilla operations to begin in August and September. "Open revolt and overthrow of the Communist regime" would occur in the first two weeks of October.