The Bay of
1961, the United States launched an attack on Cuba
meant to overthrow Castro's government. Though the aid and training given to the
attacking exiles was substantial, they suffered total defeat and created
a humiliating episode for the United States.
only was the operation a military disaster, but it
also failed its initial objective: in the end, the
attack only increased Cubans' support of their leader.
March 17, 1960, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower agreed to start
a program to overthrow the Cuban Government. Run by the CIA, this
program would train, arm, and recruit Cuban exiles to participate
in an invasion of Cuba. When John F. Kennedy became President, he
had to decide whether or not to go through with the attack. He decided
in favor of it, largely because if he had called off the attack,
there would have been more than a thousand armed, trained exiles
who would complain and bring the matter into public domain.
intent of the attack was to take a beachhead, establish a
government, and gain U.S. recognition.
thought that the people would then rise up and fight with
them, overthrowing Fidel
Castro. As Castro expected, the attack began
with an air raid. Had he not hidden and scattered his planes,
the small Cuban air force could have been completely lost.
The attacking American planes killed seven people and destroyed
several Cuban planes.
the invasion, with 1,297 troops, began. As the invaders began
to leave their boats, the Cuban air force attacked. They sunk
the Houston and the Río Escondido, cutting off supplies
for the invaders. The other ships carrying backup supplies
quickly left the area fearing the same fate and never returned.
that point, military leaders in the United States asked Kennedy
for permission to use the U.S. air force to destroy the Cuban
army's planes. He only permitted them to give cover to planes
flown by exiles, which arrived before the U.S. navy planes,
and were consequently shot down. The invading forces were surrounded,
mainly by the militia, and were running out of supplies. They
tried to escape back into the sea, but the US navy had left
the area. Most of them were taken as prisoners. Exact details
on the number of dead and captured differ. According to the
Museum of Playa Girón, 1,197 exiles were captured. Two
hundred invaders were also killed, compared with 156 Cubans
killed. A few of the Batistiano criminals were executed, some
prisoners were ransomed, and the rest freed in exchange for
medical and agricultural equipment.
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