April 17, 1961 | The Bay of Pigs Invasion Against Castro
On April 17, 1961, about 1,500 C.I.A.-trained Cuban exiles began the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in what would become a failed attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro, the Marxist revolutionary who had seized power in January 1959.
The April 18 New York Times said that both the rebels and the Cuban government reported successes in the battle. Mr. Castro released a communiqué stating: “[O]ur armed forces are continuing to fight the enemy heroically,” while there were a “wave of rebel assertions of victories, new landings and internal uprisings,” according to The Times. The paper added “a complete blackout of direct news from Cuba made it impossible to assess the situation accurately.”
The Times also noted that Secretary of State Dean Rusk denied that the United States would become involved in the situation. However, the United States had organized the attack. The C.I.A. formulated invasion plans in 1960 during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower and presented the plans to President John F. Kennedy after he was elected in November 1960. Mr. Kennedy, who had taken a hard line on Cuba during the election, approved the plan.
The invasion ended in failure, as Cuban forces defeated the rebels in just three days. There were several reasons for the failure. First, the C.I.A. intended for a covert invasion, but Cuba had been made aware of possible attacks through intelligence and increased dissident activity. The Times wrote: “The climate for the invasion — anticipated and promised by the Cuban rebels for many weeks — was created to a large extent by events of last week. Since last Thursday a major wave of sabotage swept Cuba. Saturday, three B-26 aircraft bombed three air bases on the island. Beginning in the middle of last week informants in Cuban groups made it known confidentially that ‘important events’ were to be expected over the weekend.”
Second, the United States had failed to neutralize the Cuban Air Force, as the B-26 attacks of April 15 missed many intended targets. The Cuban Air Force, therefore, was able to bombard the rebels as they invaded. Lastly, the rebels, who were far outnumbered by Cuban forces, were not able to stir up local Cubans to join their insurgency, which was necessary for the invasion to have a chance of succeeding.
Of the 1,500 invaders, more than 100 were killed and 1,200 were captured. The Cuban government tried and executed some of the leaders and kept the rest prisoner for 20 months while negotiating with the United States for their release. In December 1962, Cuba agreed to release the more than 1,100 prisoners in exchange for $53 million in food and medical aid from the United States.
The failed invasion was a major embarrassment for the United States and the Kennedy administration. It strengthened Mr. Castro’s power in Cuba and pushed him to pursue closer relations with the Soviet Union, Cold War enemy of the United States.
Source: By THE LEARNING NETWORK - April 17, 2012
Photo: Air Force Association Miami Chapter The 317th Visits The Kendall Regional Airport Memorial To The Bay of Pigs B-26 Marauder (Photo by afa317.blogspot.com)