Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bay of Pigs, 50 Years Ago

It was fifty years ago today that 1,400 CIA trained, USA backed and financed Cuban exiles tried to sneak onto the beach at an obscure bay in the South of the Island of Cuba. Their goal was to establish a fortified post in Cuba and ask the USA to recognize the occupying force as a legitimate government. The attack relied on the Cuban people and factions of the Cuban army defecting and welcoming the invaders. This did not happen.

Three days before the “invasion” several surplus USA B-26 bombers, painted with the markings of the FAR (Cuban Air Force) to create confusion, set off from Nicaragua with the goal of bombing several Cuban air bases, disabling most or all of Cuba’s fighter aircraft. It was a disaster. Only a few Cuban aircraft were destroyed while a couple of the attackers were shot down and one ran out of fuel. The rest came under heavy anti-aircraft fire and headed back to friendlier territory.

By the 16th Castro was expecting an invasion, he just did not know where it would be. In the early hours of the 17th, CIA trained frogmen came ashore at Playa GirĂ³n and set off flares to show the invading boats where to land. A fisherman who lived nearby saw the flares and knew immediately that the invasion had started. He and eleven neighbors ran to the beach with rifles and held the first of the invaders at bay while notifying the army which immediately headed for the bay.

Surprised at not being greeted with open arms by the Cuban people and defecting army, the invaders were sitting ducks. President Kennedy, angry at being deceived by the CIA, withdrew support leaving the invaders who, without sufficient arms and air support, were quickly captured. Many of them were former army personnel from the Batista days and were tried for war crimes committed during the Revolution. Many of these were executed along with a few Cuban collaborators for the invasion. The rest were jailed.

1,100 of them were eventually sent back to the USA in exchange for $53 million worth of food and medicine from the USA. From that day on, Castro, fearing another USA invasion, severed all ties and communications with the USA and looked to the Soviet Bloc for support, which they were pleased to give him. The Bay of Pigs invasion was the biggest failure in the history of the CIA. President Kennedy was angered with the CIA's failure and claimed he wanted "to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds." Kennedy also said, "The first advice I'm going to give my successor is to watch the generals and to avoid feeling that because they were military men their opinions on military matters were worth a damn."



  1. I just read something (maybe your blog) that Kennedy, the night before the invasion ordered a huge supply of his favorite Cuban cigars.

    IMO enough is enough, end the embargo, learn to get along...just like the US does with China!

    In the meantime, I'm happy to spend my annual "flying" vacation enjoying the Cuban people, music, hospitality, beaches, history etc. just wish I could legally go with my US friends. Kelly

  2. Worse mistake of the Kennedy admin. - for sure!

    Did you know it is against U.S. law for a citizen to buy or possess Cuban cigars anywhere on the planet? So we expats down here in Mexico are forbidden by law to purchase Cuban cigars here in Mexico - you can imagine how short the arm of the law is on that matter ;-)