Bay of Pigs Invasion

April 19th, 2006  

Topic: Bay of Pigs Invasion

n the 17th of April, 1961, Brigade 2506, comprised of Cuban exiles, landed at the Bay of Pigs on the southern-central coast of Cuba. They were mostly young men who came from all sectors of society and regions of the island with one common goal: to overthrow the growing communism led by Fidel Castro who was imposing a rigid totalitarian system on this largest island of the Antilles. In three days of hard fighting they were defeated by highly superior forces. Almost 40 years after this event we must ask ourselves about the factors that determined the creation of the Brigade, the causes of their defeat, and its consequences for Cuba and the rest of the world.


By early 1960 it was evident that the promises made by Castro about the restoration of democracy at the beginning of his government after the flight of dictator Fulgencio Batista on January 1st, 1959, had vanished. By that time the promise of general elections was discarded along with key men in the government who were truly prodemocratic. Also almost gone was the free press (nearly wiped out by mid-1960). There was a growing trend of confiscations of private property, while unions and student associations had been controlled through trickery. To make the picture more clear, members of the old and unpopular communist party were increasingly entering positions of power, while an effective repressive apparatus was being constructed under the model of those of Eastern Europe. By 1961, Castro had also intervened militarily in four Caribbean and Central American

residing over this process was the figure of a leader who, like no other one before in Cuba, had awakened enormous faith and trust from the people. He himself denied many times that his government had communist leanings, but its actions increasingly indicated that it was heading towards a new dictatorship of a totalitarian communist nature Resulting from those realities, inside as well as outside Cuba, preparations were being made to fight the new order by those who felt betrayed by it and by those who did not desire a regime of that nature clandestine urban groups were creating a growing anti-Castro movement, potentially very threatening to the incipient dictatorship. Through lliance with the USSR Castro. Because of this, many thought that only through the help of the United States was it possible to rid themselves of the new dictatorship that was developing around the most charismatic and unscrupulous leader ever produced in Cuba. Near the end of 1960, the dissatisfaction of the powerful and unbeaten northern neighbor and important members of the Cuban democratic leadership came together in a special way in an effort to overthrow Castro via military means, the only way possible due to his closure of peaceful alternatives


The initial military strategy outlined by the United States--in which many of the Cuban leaders placed an extreme confidence--consisted of the development of guerrilla warfare, which would be promoted by exiles that would land on various strategic points throughout the island. This plan was later changed in favor of a massive landing by a conventional expeditionary force also comprised of exiles. This was later known as Brigade 2506, honoring the number of the first person who gave his life in this process. The reasons for this change were due to the enormous quantity of weapons received by Castro from the USSR, especially MiG fighter aircraft, which would become operational by mid-1961. This situation required a conventional force to defeat such development. Another reason was the alleged lack of effectiveness of those who were carrying on the fight against Castro inside Cuba, although the fact that there was a lack of security within these clandestine movements due to government infiltration was also mentioned. The strategy of a massive landing undermined the internal effort to eliminate Castro from within the revolutionary ranks. In any event, today there is evidence that there was little effective cooperation between the rural guerrillas, that noticeably sprung up throughout the country, and the American agencies.

he military operation against Castro was the product of an American plan. This was prepared without adequate participation on the part of the exiled leaders, both civilian and military. This leadership was centered in the Revolutionary Council, directed by Dr. José Miró Cardona, former prime minister of Cuba in 1959. The military plan was the object of great debate in the cabinet of president Kennedy because of his preoccupation with keeping the flagrant intervention by the United States. This was a rather naïve worry because the information already revealed by the press regarding the training of the exiles left little room for doubt.

or these reasons the White House vetoed the landing at Trinidad-Casilda, on the southern-central coast. This was an ideal location selected by the American military officials who planned the operation. But it was perceived as too "revealing" of the presence of the U.S. and was changed, to the west, in the same area, in favor of the Bay of Pigs and adjacent Girón Beach, which was tactically and strategically inferior. The plan consisted of the landing of some 1,400 heavily armed exiles from Brigade 2506. This invasion was to be preceded by three days of aerial attacks from vintage World War II B-26 aircraft flown by Cuban pilots from bases in Nicaragua which were to destroy Castro's air force on the ground. This was comprised of faster and more modern aircraft left by the Batista regime. These planes had to be destroyed in order to achieve the crucial aerial supremacy without which the operation could not succeed. This premise was repeated many times by the instructors to the exiles who were worried about their blatant numerical inferiority. They were assured that "the sky would be theirs."

pon establishing a beachhead, and with the continued support of the exile air force who would be based in that zone, the troops would advance, counting on internal support by way of uprisings and desertions and further support from abroad. The total power which the U.S. held over the military operation, based on its absolute logistical contribution, turned out to be fatal to the goal of overthrowing Castro. The Revolutionary Council, in practice, had no other alternative but to subordinate itself to the direction of the U.S., at the same time thinking about the invincibility and reliability of this powerful ally. However, the refusal on the part of president Kennedy to guarantee victory once the operation was launched, condemned to failure the actions of the exiles before their landing on the 17th of April, 1961. As a result of the naive fear of making too evident the American support (already well known) and of the public promise made by president Kennedy that he would not intervene in Cuba--a point that has been debated--the first aerial attack is partially conducted on April 15th on several air bases. This was carried out with half of the planes originally designated due to a presidential decision, since the attacks were to be presented as uprisings of Castro's air force. Those bombings don't destroy the enemy planes. Furthermore, due to the scandal generated, the two remaining planned air raids were canceled. After that moment, the operation was doomed due to the lack of fulfillment of its main premise.

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.

o 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.

t 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.

ccording 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.
April 19th, 2006  
Part 3


Three decades after the episode of the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban people find themselves in the worst of their crises. This is due to the rigid totalitarian control, both politically and economically. With almost 40 years of absolute power exercised through a single party, Castro refuses to make any political concession that may erode his control. He has mercilessly executed thousands that opposed his regime and has had the largest and longest running political prison system in this hemisphere. His refined repressive apparatus violates most of the human rights of all the people. Although he may be able to walk the streets freely, the average Cuban feels like he is living in a large prison. With the disappearance of the USSR and its huge subsidies to the Cuban economy, it can be said that the country has regressed to standards of living lower than that of the last century. The regime tries to blame the socalled American economic blockade (actually an economic embargo), but the truly responsible one is the internal "blockade" placed by Castro which has impeded the creativity and productivity of Cuba's people and its fertile land. He treats the country like a great feudal manor, thinking he is the lord of lives and lands.

esperate for hard currency, Castro now tries to preserve his regime by selling the island to foreign enterprises, renting its manpower like indentured labor. He takes the dollars that these foreign companies pay for labor and in turn pays the workers in worthless Cuban pesos. The lack of items of first necessity, of which the island was self-sufficient in before 1959, has reached incredible levels. Cuba is the only country with a strict rationing of basic products, already lasting 36 years. To make things worse, the dollar has almost become the official currency, without which it is difficult to buy most of these goods that are plentiful in the dollar stores. The cities are falling to pieces because of disrepair due to governmental control of construction
materials, which the government exports.

hile medication made in Cuba is exported, the average Cuban lacks a simple aspirin. At the same time, foreigners have the right to exclusive medical care not available to the average citizen. The same occurs with the new privileged class, called "pinchos", who don't have to endure the same penuries they have imposed upon the Cuban people. It is for the foreigner and with the complicity of the regime that a singular brand of prostitution has emerged that has turned the island into a quasi-brothel, because it serves the interests of the great señor. These women attract the tourists that bring the once hated dollar, trying to make up for the resounding failure of other industries like sugar production. This irrational political-economic system produced by a megalomaniacal evil genius, has not been effective at building or producing goods, but has been very effective repressing its people. In view of the impossibility of changing the system, the alternative for many is to escape at any cost. From this has surged the unusual phenomenon of the "rafters", unique in the world. For them, the expression, "I prefer to die at sea than keep living in Cuba," has become a common one since the people perceive that there is no other alternative to the unbearable nonsense imposed by Castro.


Castro's consolidation of power after the Bay of Pigs episode also resulted in great negative consequences for the rest of the world. In 1962, the world was at the brink of nuclear holocaust due to the installation of those weapons in Cuba, but Castro didn't care that the island would be destroyed in a nuclear confrontation. On another note, Castro has recently confessed that he promoted subversion around the world, especially in Latin America, with its aftermath of death and suffering, as well as the open military intervention in Africa. There is solid evidence pointing to Castro's unscrupulous participation in drug trafficking since the early 1960's, particularly towards the United States, to which he swore he would wage his most important battle when he was still in the Sierra Maestra. It is also worthwhile to remember that Castro can be considered the creator of aerial terrorism while he was a guerrilla, with the hijacking of aircraft, one of which ended in tragedy.

n view of these realities one can only wonder how much blood, sweat and tears Cuba and the world would have been spared if Brigade 2506 had triumphed at the Bay of Pigs.

Brigada 2506 Memorial in Miami Florida, USA

Cross commerating one of the 114 dead
Brigada 2506 members in Miami Florida, USA.
April 19th, 2006  
Hey bruv, can you provide a link?