Newsweeks Past: Cuban Crisis

People gather outside of the U.S. embassy on 16 January, 1961. AP

In 1961, Fidel Castro ordered the US embassy in Havana to reduce its staff of "spies". The US suspended diplomatic relations with Cuba – a deadlock that remained in place until 2014. Newsweek's Latin America correspondent, Harold Lavine, reported from the "gun-studded, propaganda-pounded" capital: "Outside the US embassy, a massive slab of gray overlooking Havana Harbor, the streets are swarming with militia women. Most of them are little more than kids; almost without exception they are as pretty as a girl can be when she's dressed in a gray Russian Army blouse, baggy olive fatigue pants, and black combat boots. They are there ostensibly to protect the embassy from what the government calls 'an enraged Cuban population'," he wrote.

"Actually there are no demonstrators, only the correspondents who have flocked to Havana. Wreathed in smiles, the girls joke with the visiting newsmen and even flirt a little."