The Bay of Pigs

On April 17, 1961, 1,400 Cuban exiles launched what became a botched invasion at the Bay of Pigs on the s coast of Cuba.

In 1959, Fidel Castro came to power in an armed defection that overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. The Us government distrusted Castro and was wary of his human relationship with Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union.

Before his inauguration, John F. Kennedy was briefed on a programme by the Central Intelligence Bureau (CIA) developed during the Eisenhower administration to train Cuban exiles for an invasion of their homeland. The plan anticipated that the Cuban people and elements of the Cuban military machine would support the invasion. The ultimate goal was the overthrow of Castro and the establishment of a non-communist regime friendly to the The states.


President Eisenhower canonical the program in March 1960. The CIA ready upward training camps in Guatemala, and past November the operation had trained a small ground forces for an assault landing and guerilla warfare.

José Miró Cardona led the anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the United States. A one-time member of Castro’s authorities, he was the head of the Cuban Revolutionary Council, an exile committee. Cardona was poised to accept over the conditional presidency of Cuba if the invasion succeeded.

JFKWHP-ST-19-4-62. President and Mrs. Kennedy Greet Members of the 2506 Cuban Invasion Brigade at the Orange Bowl, 29 December 1962

Despite efforts of the authorities to go along the invasion plans covert, it became mutual cognition among Cuban exiles in Miami. Through Cuban intelligence, Castro learned of the guerilla training camps in Republic of guatemala as early every bit October 1960, and the press reported widely on events as they unfolded.

Shortly later on his inauguration, in Feb 1961, President Kennedy authorized the invasion plan. But he was adamant to disguise U.Southward. support. The landing point at the Bay of Pigs was part of the deception. The site was a remote swampy area on the southern declension of Cuba, where a night landing might bring a strength ashore against little resistance and assistance to hide any U.Due south. involvement. Unfortunately, the landing site likewise left the invading force more than 80 miles from refuge in Republic of cuba’s Escambray Mountains, if anything went incorrect.

The Programme

The original invasion plan called for two air strikes confronting Cuban air bases. A i,400-man invasion force would disembark under embrace of darkness and launch a surprise attack. Paratroopers dropped in advance of the invasion would disrupt transportation and repel Cuban forces. Simultaneously, a smaller force would land on the eastward declension of Cuba to create confusion.

The main force would advance across the isle to Matanzas and ready a defensive position. The United Revolutionary Front end would send leaders from South Florida and establish a provisional government. The success of the plan depended on the Cuban population joining the invaders.

The Invasion

The first mishap occurred on April fifteen, 1961, when eight bombers left Nicaragua to bomb Cuban airfields.

JFKWHP-ST-19-6-62. President Kennedy Addresses the 2506 Cuban Invasion Brigade, 29 December 1962

The CIA had used obsolete World War Ii B-26 bombers, and painted them to look like Cuban air forcefulness planes. The bombers missed many of their targets and left most of Castro’south air force intact. Every bit news broke of the attack, photos of the repainted U.S. planes became public and revealed American support for the invasion. President Kennedy cancelled a second air strike.

On April 17, the Cuban-exile invasion force, known as Brigade 2506, landed at beaches along the Bay of Pigs and immediately came nether heavy burn down. Cuban planes strafed the invaders, sank two escort ships, and destroyed one-half of the exile’s air support. Bad atmospheric condition hampered the ground force, which had to work with soggy equipment and insufficient ammunition.

The Counterattack

Over the adjacent 24 hours, Castro ordered roughly 20,000 troops to accelerate toward the beach, and the Cuban air force continued to control the skies. As the situation grew increasingly grim, President Kennedy authorized an “air-umbrella” at dawn on Apr nineteen—six unmarked American fighter planes took off to assist defend the brigade’southward B-26 aircraft flying. But the planes arrived an hr late, almost likely confused by the change in time zones between Nicaragua and Cuba. They were shot down by the Cubans, and the invasion was crushed later that day.

Some exiles escaped to the sea, while the rest were killed or rounded up and imprisoned by Castro’s forces. Most 1,200 members of Brigade 2506 surrendered, and more than 100 were killed.

The Aftermath

The brigade prisoners remained in captivity for 20 months, as the United states negotiated a deal with Fidel Castro. Chaser General Robert F. Kennedy made personal pleas for contributions from pharmaceutical companies and infant nutrient manufacturers, and Castro eventually settled on $53 meg worth of baby food and medicine in exchange for the prisoners.

On Dec 23, 1962, just two months after the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a plane containing the commencement grouping of freed prisoners landed in the United States. A week later, on Sat, Dec 29, surviving brigade members gathered for a ceremony in Miami’south Orangish Bowl, where the brigade’due south flag was handed over to President Kennedy. “I can assure you,” the president promised, “that this flag will exist returned to this brigade in a gratuitous Havana.”

The disaster at the Bay of Pigs had a lasting impact on the Kennedy administration. Determined to make up for the failed invasion, the assistants initiated Operation Mongoose—a plan to sabotage and destabilize the Cuban regime and economy, which included the possibility of assassinating Castro.