Earlier this month, the U.S. was accused of trying to undermine the Cuban government by secretly funding social media projects aimed at politicizing young Cubans. As Michael Voss reports, on Saturday, the island marked the anniversary of one of the first attempts to overthrow Fidel Castro, the U.S. sponsored military invasion by Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs.
Every year on April 19th, hundreds of Cubans gather in front of the museum dedicated to the battle at the Bay of Pigs. It’s located at the mouth of the Bay in the small town of Playa Giron, the name Cuban’s gave to the failed invasion since this is where the CIA trained and financed invading force first landed.
The Bay of Pigs is an isolated inlet on Cuba’s Southern Coast some 200 kilometers from the capital Havana. It was here in April 1961 that some fourteen hundred American backed anti-Castro Cuban exiles came ashore.
The CIA had predicted that once the invading force landed on the beaches there would be a popular uprising here against Fidel Castro. In the end the exact opposite happened.
The vast majority of Cubans rallied in support of the government. Fidel Castro took personal charge of the counter attack and after two days of heavy fighting it was over.
On April 19th, more than a thousand invaders surrendered and were taken prisoner, later exchanged for some 50 million dollars’ worth of U.S. baby food medicine and food. It was a humiliating defeat for the new U.S. president John F. Kennedy. It strengthened Fidel Castro’s position at home and pushed him closer to the Soviet Union.
Today, there’s a giant billboard at entrance to Playa Giron proclaiming: “the first defeat of Yanqui or U.S. imperialism in Latin America”. It’s a battle that more than half a century later continues to cast a shadow across the troubled relations between the United States and Cuba.