April 17, 1961–Bay of Pigs Invasion

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April 17, 1961–Bay of Pigs Invasion

Written by Matthew Mendez, Journalist

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April 17, 1961 C.E.

Bullets zoom past the heads of hundreds of Cuban-exiles as they trek across  sun-bleached Caribbean sand. Despite years of careful planning and harsh training, most of the brave men participating in the invasion will perish at the hands of their own countrymen…

Since the overthrow of the tyrannical Batista government in 1959 C.E., Cuba had remained under the control of communist forces led by Fidel Castro. While a majority of the impoverished Cuban population supported the new regime, a minor anti-revolutionary movement formed of the years, eventually garnering much attention from the Eisenhower administration. President Eisenhower, in an attempt to stamp out the perceived communist threat at the time, ordered the C.I.A. to prepare an invasion of Cuba which, with the help of a Cuban refugee militia, would overthrow the Castro government. Despite initial concerns that the next administration would not support the invasion plans, John F. Kennedy, upon assuming the presidency in 1961 C.E., reassured Eisenhower that the Bay of Pigs Invasion would go on as planned. However, despite the best efforts of the U.S. government to keep the invasion plans from being leaked, Castro caught wind of the Kennedy administration’s plans through spy networks in the Cuban exile community in Miami.

Thus, in February 1961 C.E., Kennedy ordered the invasion plans to be carried out in two parts: a bombing and subsequent neutralization of the Cuban air force and a final amphibious assault at the Bay of Pigs southwest of Havana. The first portion of the invasion ended as a disastrous failure, as most Cuban forces emerged unscathed from the carefully planned bombing. On April 17, Cuban-exile forces finally landed on the beaches of the Bay of Pigs but, were met with relentless gunfire from the Cuban ground and air forces. The next day, Castro reinforced his forces at the Bay of Pigs with 20,000 ground troops – more than enough military power to obliterate the already hopeless invasion. Thus, with the invasion having crashed and burned, Kennedy inadvertently pushed Cuba into the hands of the Soviet Union.