BAY OF PIGS INVASION
At the New Year of 1959, Havana Cuba was attacked by a guerilla army led by a young Cuban in his early 30’s with the intent of overthrowing the presidential regime of General Fulgencio Batista. That youthful leader was Fidel Castro, who would end up being the Prime Minister turned President for the 49 years that followed the revolution. Many Cubans were pleased with the revolution and the overthrowing over Batista, but he was a favorite of American leadership, and the United States was nervous of the unpredictability of the new leader of their neighbors of about 100 miles south of their Floridian coast. Although Batista was considered to be a corrupt and repressive leader for the Cuban citizens, he was very much in favor of American businesses which helped bolster the economy of both countries.
When Fidel Castro began utilizing his political autonomy, it meant bad things for American business in Cuba. Castro nationalized American-dominated industries such as mining and sugar, and even began trying to recruit other Latin countries to live autonomously from the United States. The American response to this was what led to the Bay of Pigs Invasion. President Eisenhower was upset about the action from the Cuban leadership and felt that it was necessary to remove Castro from power. His plan was to have the CIA recruit 1,400 Cuban exiles who left for the United States when the revolution occurred and begin training them for combat. In May of 1960, Castro began having diplomatic relations with the USSR and after a ban preventing Cuban sugar from being imported into the United States, Castro firmly decided to side himself with the Soviet Union’s cause. Although he was advised not to worry about the “non-threat” entity that was Cuba, President Eisenhower declared that he was serious about winning the Cold War, and action must be taken to show the world what strength America had.
After John F. Kennedy took over for Eisenhower, he inherited his predecessor’s plan for the Invasion of Cuba. The plan was to use a guerilla army of the trained Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro. Kennedy feared that American involvement was known, it would be taken as a sign of war by the Soviets, and in turn, the Cold War would become much more of a military affair. But after CIA assurance that they could keep the attack in secrecy and without public knowledge of the United States’ involvement, Kennedy agreed to proceed. The first part of the plan was to destroy the Cuban air force, which the CIA discreetly painted B-52 bombers to look like Cuban planes. The plan failed however as Cuban leadership gained knowledge that the attack was to occur, so the air force was moved. It was too late to completely pull out of the rest of the plan, but after the exiles landed on the beach known as the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy certainly wished they had. A radio station had on the beach had broadcasted the entire plan to Cuban leadership and the 1,400 exiles were quickly defeated, 114 were killed, and 1,100 more were taken prisoner. Certainly it is considered a detrimental defeat to the American cause, but for Kennedy, he considered it a much better alternative than an outright attack that would have surely started a third World War.