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The Bay of Pigs Invasion

The United States was not about to let a socialist state and Soviet ally establish itself only a few miles from the Florida coast. With the approval of the Eisenhower administration the CIA began to train an army of Cuban exiles in Guatemala with the goal of invading Cuba, beginning a revolt against Castro, and overthrowing the communist government. On April 17, 1961, a force of 1500 Cuban exiles, armed by the US, landed in Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) on Cuba's south coast. The attack began with an air raid but Castro had hidden his planes. As a result, the Cuban air force was not grounded, which would have serious implications when the invaders left their boats to establish a beachhead. The invaders came under fire from the Cuban air force almost as soon as they landed and two of the support boats were sunk as well, cutting off critical supply lines. Some ships, seeing the fire that they were coming under, left the area and never returned. Seeing the situation that the invaders were in, the US military asked President John F. Kennedy for permission to use the US Air Force to shoot down Cuban planes and provide cover for the invaders. Kennedy refused, but allowed the Air Force to fly in support of planes flown by the invading army. Since these planes arrived before American planes, they were quickly shot down. The invaders were now in a near impossible situation. Deprived of supplies and air support, they tried to escape back to their boats, but found that the boats had left. They were quickly surrounded and taken prisoner by Cuban forces. Much of the blame for the failure of the invasion was placed on the CIA and President Kennedy for failing to give the invaders proper air support. The invasion also prompted a string of anti-American demonstrations in Latin America and Europe, hurt Kennedy's popularity at home, and further worsened US-Cuban relations. Castro later released 1113 captured invaders in exchange for $53 million in food and medicine.



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