Remembering Fidel Castro Bay of Pigs: America's Waterloo in anti-Castro fight

In the midst of the Cold War, six B-26 bombers painted with Cuban colors took off from Nicaragua on the morning of Saturday, April 15, 1961 to attack Cuban air bases. The CIA believed they had wiped out Castro's air force.

  • Published:
Picture dated April 1961 of Cuban troops using soviet-made anti-aircraft guns during the unsuccessful US-planned and funded Bay of Pigs Invasion play

Picture dated April 1961 of Cuban troops using soviet-made anti-aircraft guns during the unsuccessful US-planned and funded Bay of Pigs Invasion

(PRENSA LATINA/AFP/File)
24/7 Live - Subscribe to the Pulse Newsletter!

America's failure to overthrow Fidel Castro during the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion lionized the Cuban leader in his country as a leftist David battling an imperialist Goliath.

One of the world's longest-serving rulers and among modern history's most striking personalities, Castro survived 11 US administrations and hundreds of assassination attempts play

One of the world's longest-serving rulers and among modern history's most striking personalities, Castro survived 11 US administrations and hundreds of assassination attempts

(AFP/File)

In the midst of the Cold War, six B-26 bombers painted with Cuban colors took off from Nicaragua on the morning of Saturday, April 15, 1961 to attack Cuban air bases. The CIA believed they had wiped out Castro's air force.

On April 16, at the funeral of seven victims of the bombing, Fidel Castro announces: "What the imperialists cannot forgive is the triumph of a socialist revolution right under the nose of the United States."

It was the first time he publicly characterized his revolution as "socialist," a fact that would become more obvious in the future.

The next day, Monday, April 17 at 1:15 am, some 1,400 anti-Castro Cubans from "Brigade 2506," who had been trained in secret camps by the CIA, landed at the Bay of Pigs, less than 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Havana.

Then Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin to Jose Marti Airport in Havana on December 13, 2000 play

Then Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin to Jose Marti Airport in Havana on December 13, 2000

(AFP/File)

 

Offshore, eight ships headed to establish a beachhead. However, nine aircraft from the remains of Castro's air force took off, attacking one ship and sinking another. The other freighters headed back to sea.

In the sky, Castro's T-33 aircraft shot down two B-26 bombers, killing four American pilots. The Cuban air force lost four aircraft.

On the ground, the element of surprise had evaporated. The invasion was "an open secret," said Cuba's then interior minister Ramiro Valdes as 200,000 militia members prepared for battle.

Castro arrived to direct the operations. Fierce fighting lasted for two days.

Famed for his rumpled olive fatigues, straggly beard and the cigars he reluctantly gave up for health reasons, Fidel Castro kept a tight clamp on dissent at home play

Famed for his rumpled olive fatigues, straggly beard and the cigars he reluctantly gave up for health reasons, Fidel Castro kept a tight clamp on dissent at home

(AFP/File)

Lacking support, the "mercenaries" surrendered on April 19. There were 1,189 prisoners. Among the invaders, 107 were killed. Castro's forces suffered 161 losses.

Afterward, a nationwide police sweep led to the arrest of some 100,000 Cubans, including 35,000 in Havana.

Captured combatants were exhibited on television. Five would be executed, nine sentenced to 30 years in prison, the others released in December 1962 in exchange for $53 million worth of medicine and food.

In Havana, Castro savored his triumph. In Washington, it was a catastrophe.

Historians say President John F. Kennedy condemned the operation to failure in advance by refusing to give it military support. He was assassinated just two years later in 1963.

Recommended Articles

Recommended Videos





Top Articles

1 In US Thousands of anti-Trump protesters say 'not my president'bullet
2 Trump 'Demonising' policies of the US President and other leaders pose...bullet
3 Trump's Immigration Policy 'No mass roundups' of migrants in US...bullet
4 Donald Trump Mexican govt rejects 'unilateral' US President's...bullet
5 Tillerson, Kelly, Pena Top US envoys to meet Mexico president to...bullet
6 Brexit Britain will not bribe its way to departure, says David...bullet
7 Francois Hollande France insists on two-state Mideast peace dealbullet
8 Kelly Slater Surf king calls for Reunion shark cull after...bullet
9 In France Russian couple latest victims on robbery motorwaybullet
10 Trump More than ever, Russia at heart of US politicsbullet

Top Videos

1 Donald Trump US President’s immigration policy sparks protests in JFK...bullet
2 Watch: Malik speaks about his relationship with half brother Obamabullet
3 Japan Earthquake Drone footage show the extent of damagebullet
4 Mirrors - Hillary Clintonbullet
5 Record cocaine seizure in diamante-encrusted horse's headbullet
6 In Kenya Man captured on camera with AU official's stolen bagbullet
7 'Hyena': The man hired to have sex with childrenbullet
8 Black Lives Matter THE KILLING OF PHILANDO CASTILEbullet
9 AU Summit Rwanda to start Sunday 10 Julybullet
10 Humand Rights Watch Deaths and Disappearancesbullet

International