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Bay of Pigs - The Basics

In January 1959 the Cuban revolution triumphed over the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. President Eisenhower was surprised to learn that Cuba's revolution was a social revolution and not just the exchange of one regime for another. Relations with the U.S. soon began to deteriorate.

The attack was on April 17 1961, beginning with aerial bombings...

On March 17 1960 Eisenhower approved a covert plan of action against Cuba that included the use of a "powerful propaganda campaign," and the organization of a paramilitary force of Cuban exiles to invade the island.

The attack was carried out on April 17 1961, beginning with aerial bombings of key airports two days before in an attempt to disable the Cuban air force.

The night landing was immediately discovered and reported, and within three days the invasion was defeated. 1,189 invaders were taken prisoner, and 4 American pilots were killed in battle.

The CIA-generated plan was a total failure in practice and an embarrassment for U.S. President John F. Kennedy at the United Nations and in the media.

The prisoners were tried in mass televised trials, and most were released to the U.S. in exchange for $53 million in food and medicine within a year.

Invading Cuban soldiers captured at Bay of Pigs

As a result of the U.S. failure at Bay of Pigs and the diplomatic embarrassment that ensued, President Kennedy fired long-time CIA Director Allen W. Dulles, Deputy Director Charles P. Cabell, and the one principally responsible for the operation, Deputy Director Richard Bissell.

Covert operations against Cuba continued, however, and a crop of documents declassified in March 2002 shed light on a plan (approved by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara) in which it would be made to appear that Cuba had attacked U.S. vessels and the military base at Guantánamo Bay. This would open the door for a full U.S. invasion.

Facts About the Invasion

- Richard M. Nixon proposed it
- Dwight D. Eisenhower planned it
- Robert F. Kennedy championed it
- John F. Kennedy approved it
- The CIA carried it out
- 1,189 invaders were captured
- 200 of them had been soldiers in Batista's army (14 of those were wanted for murder in Cuba)
- One CIA soldier fired the first shot
- A volunteer teacher was the first Cuban casualty
- 4 American pilots and over 100 Cuban invaders were killed in battle
- One U.S. ambassador lied to the United Nations
- One U.S. president was embarrassed in front of the whole world

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