American politician and thirty fifth President of the United States of America (1961-1963). He was born on May 29, 1917, in Brookline (Massachusetts), and died on November 22, 1963, in Dallas (Texas), as a result of several gunshots he received in the head and neck when he toured the Texas city discovered drive for electoral campaigning. He was the President of his country's youngest (43 years when he served as had) and the first of the Catholic religion. His youthful idealism printed his administration a new character under the name of new frontier.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, also known by the initials J.F.K., was the second son of a large family and high economic position composed by Joseph Kennedy, his wife Rose and their nine children. The father had inherited from his grandfather, Patrick Kennedy (the real founder of the dynasty), a modest heritage and decided to climb at all costs in the aristocratic society of Boston, was married to the daughter of the Mayor of Boston and thus established the basis of his later economic empire. Joseph Kennedy had always harboured political concerns. Cold, calculating and intelligent, knew how to put on the side of the politician with more projection of the time, the Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose political campaign contributed economically. In this way, it became one of the most powerful and influential in the period of the New Deal.
At the outset of the financial crisis that ended with the crash of 1929 (see 1929 crash) and that led to ruin thousands of U.S. investors, Joseph Kennedy was one of the few businessmen who managed to avoid the collapse of their businesses. Its political completion came after the election as President of his friend Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, which earned him the appointment of Ambassador in London (1938-1941). Since his political slat had reached as high as possible, Joseph Kennedy prepared to his sons thoroughly with the sole purpose that any of them were, in the not-too-distant future, to occupy the Chair of the White House, the couple who instilled in them a high degree of self-discipline and an aggressive spirit of struggle and competition, and prove the following words to their children: "I don't care what you do in life, but you do what you do, be the best in the world".
Young John spent his early years under the constant shadow of its more protective brother, Joseph Kennedy, in which his father had put all its hopes to carry out his political ambition and fulfill her dream. John was born with a slight deformation in the spine and grew up as a shy and rather weak, child with constant health problems compared to the followers of the Patriarch, the robust and healthy Joseph Kennedy, paradigm of the brilliant and promising young American.
After completing his studies in the Wallinford Croate College (Connecticut), he entered in 1936 from Harvard University to study law, although it was not a too bright student. During the summers of 1937 and 1938, taking advantage of the stay of his father in London as Ambassador, he made a trip to several countries in Europe and Middle East during which, encouraged by his own father, sought all possible data about the social and political situation of the countries he visited. Following that tour and direct observation of the Spanish Civil War, J.F.K. young began to be interested in politics. Back to his country, took seriously studies and graduated brilliantly in 1940, not in law, but in political science, with an excellent thesis entitled Why England Slept? (Why slept England?), in which tried to analyze the reasons for the policy of appeasement by the British Prime Minister Chamberlain to the continuous threats warmongers of Adolf Hitler.
When the United States became involved in World War II, J.F.K. tried to enlist as a volunteer in the Navy several times, but all of them was rejected by his spinal injury. Finally, thanks to the influence of his father, he managed to be admitted as Commander of a torpedo boat Mission in the Pacific, which carried out several missions of risk until, on August 2, 1943, the Japanese destroyer Amagiri broke his boat in two. J.F.K., who behaved heroically by dragging to the coast to one of his men wounded, left seriously injured that mishap, with its rather aggravated back injury, but was awarded the medals the Navy and Marine Corps, which was filled of happiness to her ambitious father.
Back to his country for a long period of convalescence, J.F.K. thought seriously to engage in journalistic work, every time that his future as a politician seemed to have ended. But when just he was working a few months in the International News Service as political correspondent, the sudden death of his brother major Joseph, on August 12, 1944, in a plane crash while trying to destroy a German flying bombs V-1 and V-2 bases, it changed all of its future plans. The Patriarch of the family decided to shy and sickly John Fitzgerald Kennedy to occupy the vacancy left by his brother in the fight to conquer the Presidency of the United States of America.
For the sake of the will of his father, John F. Kennedy was forced to overcome his shyness to become a political professional, dominating all the strategic springs to get the necessary votes which led him, in 1946, when he was just 29 years of age, to the Congress, where he represented a district of Massachusetts for the Democratic Party. Once elected Congressman, he adhered to the progressive wing of their party, with whose support it got renewed the charge on the two following elections (1948 and 1950). Thanks to its growing popularity in the Democratic Party and among the rest of the political class of the country in general, due to his youthful appearance and the image of honest University that nobody could sell as magnificently as he, J.F.K. set a new political goal: achieve a position as Senator, achievement that got the win to his Republican opponent, Henry Cabot Lodge, by more than 70,000 votes. Once again, perfect propaganda machinery of the Kennedy, along with the money of the dynasty and the own charm of John Fitzgerald, managed to impose themselves. The new senator was then 35 years old. That same year he met, in one of the election meetings prepared by his mother, a beautiful and promising journalist of the Washington Times-Herald, Jacqueline Lee Bouver, which ended up marrying by the Catholic rite in September 1953.
Undergo a surgical procedure related to his back problems, which had suffered as a result of the tremendous political campaign, the future President took advantage of this period of relative calm to write his book profiles in courage, the spirit of sacrifice that the leading notables of her country had made gala to contribute to the well-being of the nationwith which he managed to win the prestigious Pulitzer Prize, in 1957, in the biographies section. His fortune, fame and laudable purpose did foresee the possibility of submitting to the Democratic Party their candidacy for the Vice-Presidency, accompanying the candidate designated by the Convention, Adlai E. Stevenson, John F. Kennedy, but his party rejected it by a narrow margin of votes. Demonstrating a great political sense, J.F.K. didn't give up and, encouraged by his ambitious father, took his defeat party and was proposed to try again, this time as candidate for the Presidency.
The time of J.F.K. arrived after winning his second election to the Senate in 1958. Kennedy took over the leadership of the liberal wing of his party and gathered at turning his candidacy to a group of young and brilliant politicians that embarked on the conquest of the White House, among which highlighted his brother and campaign manager, Robert Kennedy. The Democratic Convention candidate on a first ballot, against his opponent, Lyndon B. Johnson, which ended up appointing Vice President in his team to face the Republican nominee, the then Vice-President Richard Nixonwas elected. Kennedy was able to refute the shrewd and experienced Republican politician arguing against the reply to the three major defects that he had blamed him: their youth, Kennedy argued that Nixon was three years older than him. the fact of being Senator, Kennedy claimed his honesty and the populism that had enjoyed during all its sessions; and, finally, to its status as a practicing Catholic in a predominantly Protestant country, the young candidate said that, as a political and public man who was, did not feel bound to the dictates of the Roman Church.
The core of his campaign crystallized around the idea of a new era that would take United States, called new frontier, that pioneer of the conquest of the West evoked the spirit and which came to mean a renovation of the country, beginning with a tired and administration stuck since the days of the New Deal of Roosevelt and manifestly inmovilista under President Eisenhower.
After a narrow margin of votes (113.000 on an electorate of 68.800.000 voters), J.F.K defeated Richard Nixon. The famous debate televised by NBC proved decisive to decant the undecided vote: against a tired Nixon, beard closed and with enough fear to lose, won the young, cheerful and mentally more agile Democratic candidate. On November 8, 1960, at 43 years of age, J.F.K was elected thirty-fifth President of the United States, something that had never happened until then. The ambitions of the Patriarch of the dynasty had been met by far.
Just take office, J.F.K. formed a competent team and your maximum confidence, composed his brother Robert Kennedy, as Dean Rusk and Secretary of Justice (Attorney General), Robert McNamara as Secretary of defense in the Secretary of State. His political program was based on the economic recovery, the overall improvement of the U.S. Administration, the diversification of the means of Defense, and the establishment of a partnership for the development of the American continent, the latter which he called Alliance for progress program. In addition, it carried out a wide range of social reforms, entrusted to his brother Robert, while he was engaged, almost completely, on multiple Foreign Affairs where the United States had very specific interests.
His first important government action affected the American continent. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, in order to come before any political initiative of the Cuban Communist leader Fidel Castro, modeled a new American policy with respect to its continental neighbors: the Alliance for progress. This program, which included an aid of more than 46,000 million dollars, was built on the basis of the following points: support to the democracies against dictatorships, awards long-term, stabilization of export credits, agrarian reform, arms control programs, AIDS research and the strengthening of the OAS (Organization of American States) as agency decision-making and full of political content. All but the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in power since January 1960, accepted the program of young US President with open arms.
The first serious international event that put to the test the ability of the new President was the maintenance of relations with the Soviet Union's Nikita Kruschov, what at first seemed to plunge towards détente with the release, in January 1961, by the Soviets, of the crew of a US aircraft spy knocked down as it flew over Soviet airspace. Kennedy tried to consolidate this situation and show their desire for peace, creating a peace corps, organization founded for the global fraternity. But the purposes of the President came down after the great fiasco perpetrated by a large number of Cuban exiles in Miami, trained to consciousness by the CIA, when they attempted to invade Cuba at the Bay of pigs on April 14, 1961. The truth is that though a plan designed by the previous administration of President Eisenhower, it was learned that Kennedy, after initially resisted the plan, ended up giving the go-ahead. Kennedy and his administration suffered a hard blow. Fidel Castro responded by declaring the Democratic Republic of Cuba and further strengthening its position on the island.
From the month of April of the same year, Kennedy turned his attention to Southeast Asia, specifically the threat of communism to take control of Laos. To avoid this, Kennedy took over, with the acquiescence of the SEATO, of anti-communist military defense in all Indo-China, and supplied with all kinds of war the pro-American Lao Government, at the same time that sent the first "military advisers" (euphemism to designate contingents of troops). Its firm commitment to implement the Geneva Accords resulted in a high effective fire in the area and a subsequent interview in Vienna, in the month of June, with the Soviet leader, in which both agreed to the neutrality with regard to Laos. However, they could not reach any agreement on the problem of Berlin. When it was the shameful wall that separated both sectors, one pro-American Western and one Eastern under the Soviet umbrella raised, Kennedy did not hesitate to send well armed contingent to secure the land route towards the western sector and reaffirm the rights of passage. In the meantime, they returned to problems in Southeast Asia, where the conflict zone ranged from Laos to Viet Nam in the South, country occupied by the pro-American regime of Diem. Kennedy tried to stop Communist forces of the Vietcong in Viet Nam in the South with new counter-insurgency measures. In a clear tactical error, Kennedy sent more material of war and "military advisers" to reach, at the end of November 1963, the number of 16,000 men, which gave beginning to the long war in Viet Nam.
In the fall of 1962, Kennedy had is to confront, without a doubt, the most important crisis throughout his presidential term, the discovery of a series of secret stations ramps of Soviet missiles of medium range on the island of Cuba. Kennedy reacted with a very risky measure by ordering the total maritime blockade of the island to prevent Soviet ships nuclear supply. The temple of Kennedy was evident when he demanded flatly to the Soviet leader the dismantling of the bases. After a few months in which was feared seriously by the outbreak of a nuclear conflict between the two maximum powers of the world, Nikita Kruschov relented to us pressure and ordered the demolition of the ramps of missiles. The happy outcome of the second Cuban crisis was an undoubted success for us President.
The year 1963 meant for Kennedy the culmination of their success in international politics. Kennedy bathed in crowds on a triumphal tour of several European countries, in the course of which was received in West Berlin as a hero. In June he gave a speech at the UN in which championed the wishes of ending the cold war, at the time established with Moscow by the famous red telephone hotline between the two leaders. A month later, the United States, the USSR and Great Britain signed the first nuclear test ban treaty. The only fact that clouded his foreign policy was the escalation of the situation in Viet Nam in the South, where it had already installed a real army of occupation that held to a totally corrupt government.
Due to the little force which had in Congress, J.F.K. had serious problems to carry out its economic stimulus programme, reform tax and help for education and well-being, always hampered by the conservative Republican majority. During the first two years of his administration, Kennedy had to give priority to the threat of inflation. To do so, it did not hesitate to use his power to persuade industry and powerful unions that it maintained prices and wages within recommended guidelines, as it did in 1962, when he forced steel companies, in a television appearance for the whole country, to withdraw their project to increase prices, as a key part to develop its policy of liberalizing trade and protect the dollar.
Kennedy was able to bring forward several laws to increase the minimum wage, to promote public works and modify urban programs and to reduce taxes. It also increased the distribution of food to the most needy and subsidized public schools in a country where surrendered, and even an almost divine worship is paid to private education. But however failed in the civil rights policy, not by its intentions, but by what it took to take a position consistent on the issue, as was responsible for remind, in March 1963, a disappointed Martin Luther King, who accused the President establish a symbolic programme on racial matters, more thinking about upcoming elections in the specific problem of minorities. Even so, Kennedy carried out serious attempts to achieve the full integration of blacks in the country's educational system, which threatened even with the dispatch of federal troops if anti-racists, did not meet the laws of integration work in which specially emphasized his brother Robert Kennedy. Most of all its bills were not even enacted until the year 1964, already with Lyndon B. Johnson as President.
In the fall of 1963, J.F.K. began to prepare the ground for the forthcoming elections. He began a long tour of twelve States, mainly in the South, where the President wanted to strengthen his candidacy. The campaign began in Florida, and from there went to the State of Texas. On November 22, 1963, while it was driven by car discovered through the streets of Dallas, he was mortally wounded by several shots that were located somewhere on the top of the large crowd that crowded on both sides of the streets where the presidential Entourage passed. According to a subsequent report issued by the President of the Supreme Court, Earn Warren (the Warren report), responsible for the assassination was the ex-marine Lee Harvey Oswald, with a history of mental instability and known trend pro-Soviet and Castro. Oswald was arrested a few hours after the crime, in a movie theater next to the site of the incident, and two days later was killed by the owner of a night bar, Jack Ruby, who also soon died in strange circumstances.
Despite the opinion of the Warren Commission, the riddles and questions around the murder gave rise to all kinds of conjectures that even at the CIA and the Government as possible involved. In a subsequent investigation of the case commissioned by Congress, was concluded more than of that in the assassination had been carried out by more than one person, which would reinforce several statements of eyewitnesses to the fact, conveniently silenced in tragic moments, who heard several shots from different places.
The assassination of J.F.K. shocked the political class worldwide. His loss was most felt in his country that the of the other great also assassinated President, Abraham Lincoln. His person turned to the Pantheon of the hero idealized in the mythology of the American people. With the death of Kennedy ended a few years rich in promises, but really sparing in practical results. The new frontier had lost a great leader.
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MANCHESTER, w.: Death of a President: November 20-November 25, 1963, Barcelona: Noguer, 1967.
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Carlos García Herraiz