Most people connect John F. Kennedy with the Bay of Pigs invasion since it occurred in 1961 while Kennedy was President of the United States. This is accurate in a historic sense, but there is much more to the planning of the invasion and the effects after the fact. It is generally considered accurate that Kennedy gave military forces the green light to conduct the invasion, but history shows that Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower were also involved well before the actual event.

Their involvement was based on the United States official policy against Communism that grew after World War II and continued through Eisenhower’s administration during the 1950s. The fight against Communism, long known as the Cold War, was a bit more heated in 1961; two years after the revolution in Cuba brought Fidel Castro to power. This revolution was responsible for the reshaping of Cuba, as Castro transformed the country from a capitalist to a socialist society. History shows that aircraft flown by U.S. pilots, under the supervision of the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. government, dropped bombs that burned sugar fields in Cuba. But this all happened before the Bay of Pigs invasion. Eisenhower cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba and when Kennedy took office the stage was set for a more aggressive policy toward Cuba. Military forces that were trained to counter the Castro revolution staged their attack in Guatemala and from Nicaragua, where Luis Somoza was in power (a friend of the United States). U.S. bombers attacked Cuban airfields first, though the damage to newer, usable planes was minimal, according to Castro. Some men entered Cuba under false pretenses to help the invasion by sabotaging bridges and other locations. On April 16, men began landing on Cuban shores. Coral reefs and rough seas not only slowed the invasion but sank two ships. Planes dropped bombs on various sites in Cuba, prompting a warning from Nikita Kruschev, the Soviet leader who strongly supported Castro’s government. Apparently, international attention drawn to the U.S. involvement in the invasion was so strong that some in the Kennedy administration began to urge the President and military leaders to call off the attack. Three days after the first, failed attempt to land hundreds of men on Cuban shores, planes tried another air attack which resulted in the loss of four pilots. History records that the men who were used as ground troops for the invasion had little previous military experience. They were not regular U.S. army troops, though they were trained by U.S. military leaders. The invaders were men exiled from Cuba and did not have enough arms and supplies to carry out the successful invasion aimed at toppling Castro. U.S. representatives were forced to also admit that Castro and his followers were quite capable of repelling the invasion and did so. Castro was able to announce that the people of the island were victorious, destroying a plan that was months in the making. His announcement came on April 20, just four days after the initial landing took place.


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Lucas Beaumont
Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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