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‘Things Were Bound to Happen’: Cuban Exiles, the United States and the Bay of Pigs

  • Martin A Smith

Abstract

‘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.

Keywords

Central Intelligence Agency Bitter Fruit Cuban Missile Crisis Provisional Government Military Branch 
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Notes

  1. T. Draper, Castro’s Revolution: Myths and Realities (London: Thames and Hudson, 1962), p. 59.Google Scholar
  2. H. Matthews, Castro (Harmondsworth: Pelican, 1970), pp. 210–11. See also Draper, Castro’s Revolution: Myths and Realities, pp. 73ff.Google Scholar
  3. See the Kirkpatrick Report in P. Kornbluh (ed.), Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba (New York: The New Press, 1998), pp. 75–89.Google Scholar
  4. P. Wyden, Bay of Pigs: The Untold Story (London: Jonathan Cape, 1979), pp. 55–6.Google Scholar
  5. See S. Schlesinger and S. Kinzer, Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (London: Sinclair Browne, 1982).Google Scholar
  6. R. Bissell, ‘Reflections on the Bay of Pigs’, Strategic Review, 12(1), (1984), p. 69.Google Scholar
  7. H. Thomas, The Cuban Revolution (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986), p. 585.Google Scholar
  8. Schlesinger quoted in J. Blight and P. Kornbluh (eds), Politics of Illusion: The Bay of Pigs Invasion Reconsidered (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1998), p. 64.Google Scholar
  9. See A. Persons, Bay of Pigs (London: Mc Farland and Co., 1990), pp. 115–39; J. Ranelagh, The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986), pp. 362, 368–9; R. Nixon, RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon (London: Book Club Associates, 1978), p. 233.Google Scholar
  10. See L. Vandenbroucke, ‘The “Confessions” of Allen Dulles: New Evidence on the Bay of Pigs’, Diplomatic History, 8(4), (1984), pp. 365–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. L. Kirkpatrick, ‘Paramilitary Case Study: The Bay of Pigs’, Naval War College Review (November–December 1972), p. 37.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin A Smith

There are no affiliations available

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