The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Cuba:
40 years since the attempted landing at the Bay of Pigs

Apr 23, 2001

On April 17, 1961, some 2000 heavily-armed anti-Castro mercenaries, supported by the American CIA, landed at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba with the goal of bringing down Castro's regime. In 48 hours, they had been repelled by the Cuban militia.

Those attacking had been trained and armed by U.S. military officers and transported by the U.S. navy. The entire operation had been orchestrated by the CIA with the agreement of President Kennedy. An "Anti-Castro Council" was formed by some rich Cuban exiles in Miami, Florida, exiles with ties to the former Cuban dictator, Batista. Batista's corrupt regime had been brought down by the Cuban Revolution which had chased him from power on January 2, 1959.

On April 15, 1961, U.S. planes had bombed Cuba, a little matter arranged by the CIA and the Mafia. Both organizations had been chased off the island at the same time as Batista.

The Mafia had, before they were tossed out, run Cuba as a vacation spot for rich Americans, complete with casinos and prostitution, including even the selling of children. So the Mafia was a useful tool for the CIA in its attempt to bring down Castro.

While the bombing and the invasion were not officially carried out by the U.S. government, they were done with its backing. The U.S. refused to accept what had happened to their henchman, Batista.

Castro wanted U.S. aid and recognition, but he certainly would not give up the revolution he had made in order to gain it. He began bit by bit to nationalize American investments in Cuba, at first the big landlords, then the industrial and commercial interests. The U.S. suspended all technical and economic ties, and finally ceased to buy any sugar from Cuba. Next, the U.S. got Cuba excluded from the Organization of American States, then enacted an embargo of all exports from the U.S. to Cuba, and finally ended diplomatic relations on January 3, 1961.

It was the attitude of the United States government which pushed the Castro regime to turn to the USSR to obtain aid and to set up commercial trading relations. But the fact that Castro did so was given as justification for a more overt attack on Cuba. The green light was given for the attempted landing at the Bay of Pigs. It was a disaster.

Since that time, the U.S. has maintained an embargo and even a blockade around Cuba. Still the U.S. government was not prepared to launch direct military intervention against Cuba –in part because the Cuban population remained mobilized, at least supportive of the Castro regime.

Without a crushing military defeat, the U.S. government was going to be unable to get rid of the Castro regime. The vast majority of the Cuban population benefitted from health and social improvements, and therefore supported Castro's regime.

Despite the U.S. government's desire to overthrow Castro, they were not about to send a Cuban exile with a U.S. soldier standing behind each one in order to reestablish the former dictatorship. And that's what they would have had to do. And that could have created problems at home –at a time when Viet Nam was occupying more attention.