April 19th, 2006
| | Part 2
Cuban Communist Government poster warning before invasion showing a soldier armed with an RPD machine gun.
The exiles did not have contingency plans other than victory because of their lack of alternate strategies should the initial plan fail. One alternate plan could have been to join with the rural guerrillas—who all over the island were giving the Castro regime so much trouble. The Cuban exiles had crucial factors weighing against them. They were not able to count on the vital aerial supremacy; they were very inferior numerically; the landing was not carried out in Trinidad, where the exiles were more likely to receive help from the population which was considered to be opposed to the regime and known to have a better coastline and with the Escambray mountains nearby where the Brigade could retreat to. There were other disadvantages at the start of the operation: a swampy area with a coralline coast and a nocturnal landing -unprecedented for conventional amphibious operations planned by the American military.
To finally destroy what little opportunity there was for victory, the potent and widespread anti-Castro underground was not alerted. Neither were the exiles from Brigade 2506 who had infiltrated the island earlier and not only did not know the location or date of the attack. They also did not receive instructions to carry out sabotage or mobilize their ranks to contribute in some form to the attack. To this must be added the fact of that, on the 15th, Castro launched the most massive preemptive roundup of actual or potential enemies in Cuban history, when five hundred thousand people (500,000) were detained in all conceivable places. Following a correct strategy, Castro's surviving planes, which in fact held the aerial supremacy with faster and more modern aircraft (T-33 jets and British Sea Fury fighter aircraft), concentrated their fire on two vital supply ships (the Houston and the Rio Escondido), sinking them without at the same time --by almost a miracle—causing a great number of casualties among the exiles who were on board along with explosives and gasoline. This was the coup de grace to the expeditionary effort. In the Houston, alone, there were weapons for 20,000 additional soldiers. By the same token, many of the slow and semi-armed B-26 bombers of Brigade 2506 were shot down easily by the aircraft and anti-aircraft batteries of the Castro forces, with the pilots proportionally paying the highest price in terms of lives lost by exile forces. Despite the insistence of the American military sector to give adequate air cover to the expeditionary force by way of the planned attacks, this was not carried out because of the prohibition by president Kennedy. Because of this, the scarcely 1,000 exiles that were able to disembark with combat capacity were left in a precarious position. In spite of this, they fought valiantly and effectively. So too did the soldiers on Castro's side, who suffered a greater number of casualties.
It must be noted that many residents from the area, despite this being a most favored one by the regime, spontaneously cooperated with the expeditionaries, joining with them, along with a number of captured militiamen. These initial human reinforcements were not able to fight due to the lack of weapons because of the sinking of the vital supply ships. This behavior pattern could have been that occurring throughout the island had the air superiority premise taken place. A similar situation occurred on various parts of the island that 17th of April when many proCastro military and civilian personnel showed a predisposition to join the "invaders supported by the Americans." Some believe that a single jet on the side of the Brigade could have determined victory for the Brigade.
According to witnesses from various parts of the island, it was not strange to see members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (the block-by-block spy organization) removing the signs that identified said organizations from the houses where these people resided. Members of these CDR's and military personnel also discretely fraternized with persons recognized as opposed to the regime. This was observed particularly in the prisons. It is well known that many military personnel were prepared to join the invasion. This attitude changed radically, in many cases, as the balance of victory swung definitely in favor of Castro's forces. On the third day of fighting, the 19th of April, the expeditionaries, abandoned by their allies who had a naval task force including a carrier in the area, beat a hasty retreat in an organized fashion. There were no mass surrenders, only gradual captures through the adjacent Zapata Swamp. A few were able to evade the military encirclement or escape on fragile boats. At the end of that fateful day, the strongest violent confrontation faced by the Castro regime was eliminated. Its resonant victory aggrandized Castro's figure nationally and internationally. This process dismantled the widespread internal resistance. Some believe that had that resistance continued, it may have been possible to defeat that totalitarianism from within. But since then it has consolidated itself, much to the misfortune of the Cuban people.
Last edited by 5.56X45mm; April 19th, 2006 at 06:04..