Reflecting Upon the Bay of Pigs 

By Paula Green 

            April 17 will mark the 60th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion. This attempted military coup d’état was not successful, but rather a disastrous operation. The stage was set in January 1959 when Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba with a revolution. Castro was no friend to the United States since he attacked U.S. companies and interests. To further complicate matters, Cuba was allying itself with the Soviet Union. This led U.S. officials to believe that Cuba was a threat to our interests in the Western Hemisphere. 

         In 1961, two years after Castro’s regime began, the United States, under the CIA’s (Central Intelligence Agency) guidance and President John Kennedy’s orders, decided to invade Cuba. As part of the Cold War plan and in an attempt to topple Castro, the CIA trained Cuban exiles in guerilla warfare. Unfortunately, word got out and Castro was enlightened on the planned invasion.  

         The original plan was to have planes fly over and destroy the Cuban Air Force, but the U.S. refrained from providing necessary air support Many U.S. paratroopers landed in the wrong places and some even ended up in the swamps. Some of the Cuban planes were damaged due to the early airstrike, but a few remained and attacked the invaders. 

        The ground attack crumbled as well. The landing force that landed at the Bay of Pigs was met with unexpected counterattacks from Castro’s military. Over 100 of the attackers were killed, and more than 1,100 were captured. The failed invasion heightened Cold War tensions between Cuba’s political ally, Soviet Russia, and the Kennedy administration. The following year, the Russians brazenly installed nuclear missiles in Cuba resulting in the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy tried to redeem himself by publicly accepting blame for the attack and its subsequent failure, but the botched mission left the young president looking vulnerable and indecisive.