‘Things Were Bound to Happen’: Cuban Exiles, the United States and the Bay of Pigs
‘Fiasco’ and ‘disaster’ are the two adjectives most commonly employed by analysts and commentators to describe the Bay of Pigs operation. It was an abortive attempt in April 1961 by a ‘Cuban Brigade’ (actually a force consisting of some 1,400 Cuban exiles), trained and armed by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to establish and hold several beachheads in and around the Bahía de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) in Cuba. The objective of the exercise was to unseat Fidel Castro’s government, though there were important differences within the political, clandestine and military branches of the US government as to how precisely this was to be achieved. In the event these differences proved academic, as the Brigade was defeated within three days by Castro’s army, air force and militia. The vast majority of its surviving members were subsequently captured. They were to spend over 18 months in captivity before being returned to the US, in exchange for food and medicines, by Castro late in 1962.
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