JFK+50: Volume 5, No. 1921CIA TRAINED FREEDOM FIGHTERS DISEMBARK FOR CASTRO'S CUBA
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago today, April 16, 1961, a force of 1400 anti-Castro Cubans, trained and equipped by the United States Central Intelligence Agency, sailed aboard five freighters toward the southern coast of Cuba. Their destination was "Baja de Cochinos" or "Bay of Pigs".
The invasion to overthrow the communist dictator Fidel Castro had been planned during the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower who had approved the clandestine operation.
President John F. Kennedy, having been in office less than three months, made some adjustments to the plan but otherwise also approved it.
When Presidential assistant Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.asked Mr. Kennedy what he thought about the operation, JFK responded...
"I think about it as little as possible."
The exiles landed at the Bay of Pigs on southern coast of Cuba the following day, April 17, 1961. Their force, known as "Brigade 2506", trained in Guatemala and was led by Jose Miro Cardona, head of the anti-Castro Cuban Revolutionary Council.
The freedom fighters came under heavy fire from Fidel Castro's army as they hit the beach and the invasion soon ended in disaster with most of these brave men captured.
President Kennedy publicly accepted full responsibility for the failure and the Bay of Pigs has been listed as one of the TOP TEN presidential mistakes of all time. In one of the best and most recent accounts of the Bay of Pigs, "Brilliant Disaster," Jim Rasenberger writes...
"Long before his death, John Kennedy's presidency was transformed by the Bay of Pigs. There were...tactical changes (such as) tightening of the inner circle, increasing reliance on (Bobby Kennedy), the skepticism regarding the advice of military and intelligence advisers...and broader policy changes that escalated the Cold War."
As far as JFK's role in the Bay of Pigs, Rasenberger writes that President Kennedy "could not easily halt the operation (but saw) the potential for serious repercussions if he went ahead."
Nobel Laureate Gunnan Myrdal describes JFK's difficult position as follows...
"If Kennedy had called (the invasion) off, he would have been ruined politically at home, but if he had engaged American forces to salvage a failing covert operation, he would have been ruined abroad."
"The Brilliant Disaster, JFK, Castro and America's Doomed Invasion of Cuba's Bay of Pigs," Jim Rasenberger, Scribner, New York, 2011.