Ten Million Tons
A HALF BILLION PEOPLE AROUND the world, from Timbuktu to Tokyo, sat glued to their television sets, fascinated as the improbable "excursion module" settled onto the lunar surface. "The Eagle has landed," radioed the American astronauts. The time, in the eastern part of the United States, was 16:17:40 on Sunday, July 20, 1969. For Americans, in the midst of an unpopular war, it was a rare moment of victory. In Cuba, except for a brief announcement twelve minutes after the touchdown, radio and television stations ignored the momentous event. The Castro government had more immediate things to deal with—notably, the arrival of a Soviet fleet. It was an unprecedented visit. In Havana thousands along the Malecón gazed curiously as seven ships, including two submarines, sailed past and entered the harbor. Ostensibly the vessels had been on a training cruise in the Atlantic, but Washington was suspicious, and United States naval units shadowed the interlopers all the way down the east coast past the Florida Keys. Some of the onlookers, glad no doubt not to be out in the hot fields, dutifully waved flags and cheered the crews. In the center of the capital hammer-and-sickle decorations and red banners draped the façades of public buildings, and shore batteries boomed out the traditional twenty-one‐ gun salute. Tass portrayed the visit as a show of Soviet-Cuban solidarity, a "joyous event" for the people of Havana. The crews had come, explained the fleet commander, to participate in the July 26 celebrations and to help the Cubans harvest their sugarcane. While at sea, he said, his men—exemplary sailors all—had been industriously studying Marxist-Leninist ideology.
Six hours later the astronaut Neil Alden Armstrong descended the