The Bay of Pigs

This Day in History

In 1959, a young Cuban lawyer named Fidel Castro led his army into Havanna to overthrow the president, Fulgenic Batista. 

Following the rebellious government take-over by the communist extremist, the United States became involved to protect their own interests.  Although Batisa had been an oppressive and corrupt dictator, he was pro-American and remained on friendly terms with his northern neighbors. Castro, however, threatened the fragile financial interests of America’s corporate sugar plantations headquartered in Cuba. To make matters more tense, Castro had established relationships with the Soviet Union. 

Fidel Castro

After two years of unsuccessfully trying to assassinate Castro, the CIA launched a full-scale invasion of Cuba. The native Cubans who had escaped to Miami after Castro’s rise to power were trained by the US military to revolt against their tyrannous leader. 

On this day in 1961, the Cuban exiles invaded an isolated spot on the island’s southern shore known as the Bay of Pigs. The mission was an utter fiasco. Not only were there unexpected disasters such as the coral reefs sinking some of the boats, but there were also unorganized malfunctions such as the backup paratroopers landed in the wrong area. The invasion was a complete failure for the United States. 

Prisoners of War

Within 24 hours, the exiles surrendered to Castro’s troops. Over 1,100 Cubans were taken prisoner for a year and a half.  Not wishing to start World War III, President Kennedy did not intervene further. A year later, however, the Cuban missile crisis provoked the threat of a Cuban-Soviet-American war, which later evolved into the Cold War. Although this tumultuous event was sparked over 50 years ago, today the effects of the Cold War lingers. Recently, Russia has been providing new military equipment to their former Cold War ally, in addition to building a new embassy complex in Nicaragua.

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