Sun Apr 14, 2019, 04:04 PM

This day in history April 17

The Bay of Pigs Invasion (Spanish: Invasión de Playa Girón or Invasión de Bahía de Cochinos or Batalla de Girón) was a failed military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-sponsored paramilitary group Brigade 2506 on 17 April 1961. The United States sought the elimination of Castro for his insistence on communism. Castro's political apparatus within Cuba became a serious threat to the sanctimony of capitalism and was a threat so close to the United States in the Western Hemisphere the U.S. deemed necessary to remove. However, the U.S. gravely underestimated the force power in Cuba and consequently led their troops to their own destruction. A counter-revolutionary military group (made up of mostly Cuban exiles who had traveled to the United States after Castro's takeover, but also some US military personnel), trained and funded by the CIA, Brigade 2506 fronted the armed wing of the Democratic Revolutionary Front (DRF) and intended to overthrow the increasingly communist government of Fidel Castro. Launched from Guatemala and Nicaragua, the invading force was defeated within three days by the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, under the direct command of Castro.
The coup of 1952 led by General Fulgencio Batista, an ally of the United States, against President Carlos Prio, forced Prio into exile to Miami, Florida. Prio's exile was the reason for the 26th July Movement led by Castro. The movement, which did not succeed until after the Cuban Revolution of 31 December 1958, severed the country's formerly strong links with the US after nationalizing American industrial assets (banks, oil refineries, sugar and coffee plantations) along with other American owned businesses.
It was after the Cuban Revolution of 1959 that Castro forged strong economic links with the Soviet Union whom the United States primarily engaged in the Cold War. US President Dwight D. Eisenhower was very concerned at the direction Castro's government was taking, and in March 1960 he allocated $13.1 million to the CIA to plan Castro's overthrow. The CIA proceeded to organize the operation with the aid of various Cuban counter-revolutionary forces, training Brigade 2506 in Guatemala. Eisenhower's successor, John F. Kennedy, approved the final invasion plan on 4 April 1961.
Over 1,400 paramilitaries, divided into five infantry battalions and one paratrooper battalion, assembled in Guatemala before setting out for Cuba by boat on 13 April 1961. Two days later, on 15 April, eight CIA-supplied B-26 bombers attacked Cuban airfields and then returned to the US. On the night of 16 April, the main invasion landed at a beach named Playa Girón in the Bay of Pigs. It initially overwhelmed a local revolutionary militia. The Cuban Army's counter-offensive was led by José Ramón Fernández before Castro decided to take personal control of the operation. As the US involvement became apparent to the world, and with the initiative turning against the invasion, Kennedy decided against providing further air cover. As a result, the operation only had half the forces the CIA had deemed necessary. The original plan devised during Eisenhower's presidency had required both air and naval support. On 20 April, the invaders surrendered after only three days, with the majority being publicly interrogated and put into Cuban prisons.
The failed invasion helped to strengthen the position of Castro's leadership, made him a national hero, and entrenched the rocky relationship between the former allies. It also reinforced the relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union. Strengthened Soviet-Cuban relations eventually led to the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The invasion was a significant failure for Kennedy's US foreign policy.
Early plans
The idea of overthrowing Castro's dictatorship first emerged within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), an independent civilian intelligence agency of the United States government, in early 1960. Founded in 1947 by the National Security Act, the CIA was "a product of the Cold War", having been designed to counter the espionage activities of the Soviet Union's own national security agency, the KGB. As the perceived threat of international communism grew larger, the CIA expanded its activities to undertake covert economic, political, and military activities that would advance causes favorable to U.S. interests, often resulting in brutal dictatorships that favored US interests. The CIA's Director at the time, Allen Dulles, was responsible for overseeing covert operations across the world, and although widely considered an ineffectual administrator, he was immensely popular among his employees, whom he had protected from the accusations of McCarthyism. Recognizing that Castro and his government were becoming increasingly hostile and openly opposed to the United States, President Dwight D. Eisenhower directed the Central Intelligence Agency to begin preparations of invading Cuba and overthrowing the Castro regime. The man overseeing plans for the Bay of Pigs Invasion was Richard M. Bissell Jr., the CIA's Deputy Director for Plans (DDP). He assembled a number of other agents to aid him in the plot, many of whom had worked on the 1954 Guatemalan coup six years before; these included David Philips, Gerry Droller and E. Howard Hunt.
Bissell placed Droller in charge of liaising with anti-Castro segments of the Cuban-American community living in the United States, and asked Hunt to fashion a government-in-exile, which the CIA would effectively control. Hunt proceeded to travel to Havana, the capital city of Cuba, where he spoke with Cubans from various backgrounds and discovered a brothel through the Mercedes-Benz agency. Returning to the US, he informed the Cuban-Americans with whom he was liaising that they would have to move their base of operations from Florida to Mexico City, because the State Department refused to permit the training of a militia on US soil. Although unhappy with the news, they conceded to the order.

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