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President Orders Retaliation on Cuban Attacks

Feb. 21, 1963 - President Kennedy ordered military retaliation today against any Cuban ship or plane attacking U.S. sea and aircraft. He issued the decree after two MIG jet fighters fired at an unarmed American shrimp boat in the Florida Straits. Mr. Kennedy made clear at his press conference that he holds Communist Cuba and not Russia responsible for the assault on the two-man shrimp boat, which sailed out from Ft. Myers. The Pentagon said two rockets were fired in the direction of the boat yesterday, but neither occupant was injured. U.S. interceptor planes, which rushed to the area after picking up the MIGs on their radar, reported the incident. Congressional critics of Mr. Kennedy’s Cuban policy immediately contended the incident proves that Soviet weapons remaining in Cuba are offensive as well as defensive. Mr. Kennedy declined to accept this argument, however. He told his press conference that a MIG, with its limited flight range, is not regarded as an offensive weapon.


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