The Bay of Pigs Invasion

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The Bay of Pigs Invasion

HIST102 – American History since 1877

Today, April 17, 2013, marks the 52nd anniversary of the invasion at the Bay of Pigs. The Bay of Pigs invasion was an event that took place on the south shores of Cuba in April 1961. America’s involvement consisted of assisting Cuban exiles in trying to overtake Fidel Castro’s newly seized Communist Cuban government. This involvement has been viewed by many as an utter failure. Set in motion late in the Eisenhower administration, it was put in action under a newly elected President Kennedy who along with the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) would take the bulk of the blame for the failed insurrection. This essay will revolve around the events that led up to the Bay of Pigs invasion, what happened during the invasion, and the aftermath of one of the most frightening periods of time in American history. In 1959 Fidel Castro led a revolution in Cuba to overthrow Dictator Fulgencio Batista. Batista himself was a dictator, but he posed no immediate threat to America. In fact he was pro-America and an ally that allowed U.S. companies to own nearly half of Cuban sugar plantations, the majority of its cattle ranches, mines and utilities. Castro was largely everything opposite of Batista. Castro was a communist who, upon seizing control of Cuba, immediately did what he could to eliminate the American influence in Cuba. He had developed strong ties with the Soviet Union and at this time America was in the midst of a Cold War with the Soviet Union and China. Following World War II, the U.S. and Soviets were competing for which powerhouse would impose their global influence and mistrust between the two was at a high. When the Soviets took an interest in spreading the communist influence into Latin America, the U.S. took that as a direct violation of the Monroe Doctrine which prohibited European colonization of the Western Hemisphere. America became fearful of the ties being developed between Castro and the Soviet’s and would begin to put in place a plan to overthrow him. Following Castro’s coming to power in Cuba and the awareness of the pending ties with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the U.S. government would begin to devise a plan that would remove Castro from power and establish a non-communist Cuban government that would be friendly to the U.S. Late in President Eisenhower’s final term in March 1960, he approved the C.I.A. training of anti-Castro Cuban exiles in an attempt to develop a small army that could be used to reclaim Cuba. Nearly 1,500 exiles would be trained in Guatemala and Florida and be trained in guerilla warfare in order to prepare them for the daunting battle they would soon face. In November 1960, President Kennedy would be elected President and inherit this plan that had already been underway. Unsure about its effectiveness, he was assured the plan was a sure thing. CIA Director Allen Dulles convinced President Kennedy that this invasion would be even more successful than the 1954 U.S. involvement in overthrowing Communist Guatemala. Kennedy, reluctant to seem soft on Communism, had little choice but to heed the advice of his advisors and continue on with the plan. In order to go through with it, U.S. involvement had to seem non-existent. The last thing Kennedy wanted was for “direct, overt” intervention by the American military in Cuba. U.S involvement could be seen as an act of war from the Soviets and they could retaliate. Making this all but impossible was the fact that there was a leak of all the important details - the invasion in general, the date it was to take place, and the CIA’s role in the whole thing. By the time this information was revealed in the newspaper, it was rumored that Castro’s own intelligence already had known about it and was taking military precautions in preparation for an invasion. The plan was for, following two airstrikes, an attack from the South and landing at the Bay of Pigs -...
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