The Bay of Pigs invasion was a failed attack in April 1961 where the CIA under the administration of Kennedy were attempting to push the Cuban leader Fidel Castro from his power.
Castro was a Cuban nationalist who gained power in 1959 after his guerilla army took over Havana from General Fulgencio Batista who was the president who was backed by the American government.
After this the American government aimed to try to get Castro from power which culminated in the Bay of Pigs attack on the 17th of April 1961.
This attack was supposed to be a definitive strike being an invasion of Cuba by 1400 Cubans who fled after Castro took over and were trained by Americans.
However, this did not go as planned and the soldiers were heavily outnumbered and surrendered in less than a day’s time.
Bay Of Pigs And The Cold War
A lot of Cubans welcomed Castro taking over in 1959 as Batista had been seen as a dictator , but this was not appreciated by the Americans as Batista was seen as pro American due to him allying with US owned companies.
American companies owned almost half of Cuban sugar plantations as well as a good portion of their mines, utilities and cattle ranches.
He was also staunchly anti communist which Castro was not as he wanted Cubans to have more control of their nation.
This is why Castro’s regime had been perceived as a threat to American interests and he had many attempts made on his life by assassins.
When Castro took over he aimed to lower American influence on Cuba enforcing reforms to let Latin American governing bodies act with more autonomy from the US.
By 1960 Eisenhower had allowed the CIA to start recruiting the 1400 Cubans to start training to invade Cuba.
By 1960 Castro has established a relationship with the well established Soviet Union and in response Americans stopped importing Cuban sugar.
However, Castro responded to this by making a deal with the USSR for them to buy the sugar the US was not.
By early 1961 the American government had severed its ties to Cuba’s government and prepared to fully invade.
While some did not see Cuba and Castro as a threat, it is believed that the newly appointed Kennedy thought that invading Cuba would show the USSR and China that Americans were serious about the Cold War and being victorious.
What Was The Plan For The Bay Of Pigs?
When Kennedy took over he inherited the CIA campaign that Eisenhower left for a guerilla army of rebel Cubans.
He doubted parts of this plan not wanting something so direct to be done by the American military.
He did this as he did not want Soviets to interpret this as an obvious act of invasion which could prompt retaliation.
The CIA ensured that the American involvement in the plan would remain secret if everything went smoothly and Castro’s rule would be taken over.
Why Did The Bay Of Pigs Invasion Fail?
The primary part of the CIA plan was to get rid of Castro’s smaller air force to make it harder for them to resist any invasion.
On April 15th the Cuban exiles flew from Nicaragua using bombers that were painted to appear like stolen Cuban planes.
In spite of this plan Castro had been advised and moved his planes to avoid this attack.
This frustrated Kennedy and led him to begin doubting the CIA’s plan.
But by this point is had become too late to stop, and the main attack still got carried out on the 17th of April and the brigade of Cuban exiles started their invasion on a southern shore of Cuba known as the Bay Of Pigs which the attack was named after.
However, it became obvious almost immediately the plan was flawed.
While of course, the CIA wanted the attack to remain secret, a radio station that had not been noticed on the beach managed to pick up an American broadcast that meant that every detail of the attack was broadcast all over Cuba.
As well as this, a lot of the ships were destroyed by coral reefs and paratroopers managed to land in the wrong place.
It did not take long for the invaders to surrender leading to 114 being killed in the conflict and more than 1100 ending up as prisoners.
The Aftermath Of The Bay Of Pigs
Many now believe that the CIA as well as the Cuban exiles thought that Kennedy was going to allow the military to invade in Cuba on their behalf, but Kennedy did not want to leave Cuba to the communist force leading it, but also did not want to start another world war.
In spite of the massive failure of the Bay of Pigs it was not the last attempt at Castro by Americans with Operation Mongoose in November 1961 and the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 causing even more tension.
If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy our post on ‘Five Fun Facts About Cuba‘.