Monday, July 8, 2013

Secret files shows Soviet Fundraising technology nearly led to war during Cuban Missile Crisis

Newly declassified CIA documents show the Cuban Missile Crisis nearly ended in war between the US and the Soviet Union over fundraising technology.

In October 1962, US reconnaissance planes discovered a build-up of offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba. This led to a blockade of Cuba. The crisis ended a month later when US President John F. Kennedy secretly agreed to remove all missiles in southern Italy and in Turkey and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles from Cuba.

The new files show that the US also found evidence of Soviet offensive fundraising technology, which would
Wanted fundraising out of Cuba
have been powerful enough to raise money anywhere across the Southern United States, Central America and most of South America. In secret backroom negotiations, the Kennedy Administration demanded that the Soviets withdraw the strategic fundraising forces in Cuba, including the more than 1,000 Soviet fundraising specialists stationed there.

“The Soviet Strategic Forces have set-up in Cuba a series of fundraising installations for the purpose of bombarding the Americas with powerful donation weapons,” one CIA file concluded.

The pictures showed the Soviets creating annual giving offices and the training major gift officers. It also chronicled the installation of a massive network of fundraising database computers at key points across the island.

While they agreed to remove the nuclear missiles, the Soviets said they would not stop building fundraising capacity in Cuba, noting similar US moves in West Germany. Fundraising historian Wendy Snidely says the issue very nearly led to war.

“Kennedy wouldn’t budge on swapping West German fundraising databases and major gift installations for those in Cuba. And Khrushchev was under enormous pressure from within the Kremlin to keep the fundraising machine in Cuba going, even if it met war,” said Snidely.

Wanted t-shirts of Che
The situation was resolved when Kennedy proposed that both sides keep their fundraising technology in place but limit their scope. The US and its allies agreed to only solicit major gifts on their side of the Iron Curtain and the Soviets agreed only to sell t-shirts of slain Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. The agreement was kept secret until the CIA opened its files last year.

“It shows that fundraising is a powerful tool for either good or evil. In the right hands, it can help charities make a better world. But in the wrong hands, it could end humankind,” said