Bay of Pigs Invasion Worksheets
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- The Cuban Revolution
- The Bay of Pigs Plan and Invasion
- The Failure of the Invasion
- The Aftermath of the Invasion
Key Facts And Information
Let’s find out more about the Bay of Pigs Invasion!
The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an approved action by then-US President John F Kennedy to invade Cuba and overthrow Fidel Castro in 1961. The invasion force was badly outnumbered and overpowered by Castro’s troops, causing the plan to fail. The failed invasion saw Castro seek greater support from the USSR and strengthened his position and intention to adopt communist in Cuba.
The Cuban Revolution
- In October 1962, the US and the USSR were on the brink of a nuclear war. For 13 days, the world was on standby for the possibility of a direct confrontation between the two superpowers.
- In 1959, the Cuban dictator and the nation’s American-backed president, Fulgencio Batista, was overthrown by Fidel Castro, a left-wing revolutionary. Castro established a totalitarian government supported by the Soviets. Tensions increased as the US had several investments in Cuba and was the major consumer of the country’s sugar and tobacco.
- Castro tried to seek support from then-US President Dwight Eisenhower. However, the latter refused to meet with him. He then proceeded to the United Nations office in New York and talked with the Soviet representatives.
- The USSR offered their full support to Castro’s regime. Castro adopted communism in Cuba by nationalising all the private-owned companies, mostly American ones. As the country is located 90 miles south of Florida, the US felt threatened due to the USSR’s sphere of influence.
- The US imposed a trade embargo on Cuba, meaning Cuba lost its major consumer of sugar and tobacco. Furthermore, it stopped economic aid and banned Cuba from trading with them. In 1961, the US cut ties with Cuba. Castro then sought support from the USSR, which they obliged by supplying oil, weapons and other goods to Cuba.
The Bay of Pigs Plan and Invasion
In 1961, when John F Kennedy became the president of the United States, he approved the plan to invade Cuba and overthrow Castro.
- JFK had his doubts about the plan despite inheriting Dwight Eisenhower’s 1960 US Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, campaign to train a guerilla army of Cuban exiles. In fact, he did not want a direct and overt intervention by the American military in Cuba because the Soviets might see it as an act of war and retaliate. Despite his doubts, CIA officers told him that they could keep US involvement a secret and if the plan went well, it would spark an anti-Castro uprising on the island.
- Destroying Cuban air bases was the original invasion plan in order to make it impossible for Castro’s military to resist the invaders. A force of 1,400 men would disembark under cover and launch a guerilla attack. Paratroopers would disrupt transportation and repel Cuban forces, whilst a smaller force would land on the east coast of Cuba to create confusion. The success of this plan, however, depended on the Cuban population joining the invaders and rising up against communist power.
- The invasion plan can be summarised into three phases:
- Destroy as many of Castro’s combat aircraft as possible so that his air force would encounter problems in retaliating.
- Dismantle remaining combat planes in Castro’s fleet.
- Invade Cuba by sea and air.
- On 15 April 1961, Cuban exiles took off from Nicaragua and conducted a strike against Cuban airfields.
- Despite JFK’s suspicion of the CIA’s plan after its initial failure, it was too late to stop the invasion because, on 17 April 1961, a CIA paramilitary group landed in the Bay of Pigs in Cuba to remove Castro from power.
- The CIA group was met with an overwhelming strength of Castro’s troops in the Bay of Pigs. They thought that the invasion would trigger Cubans to rise up against communism. However, Castro’s growing popularity at that time overpowered the invasion force.
- The Bay of Pigs Invasion failed as 20,000 soldiers of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces defeated them in three days. The CIA wanted to keep its failure a secret. However, a radio station on the beach broadcasted every detail of the failed invasion all over Cuba.
- The fallout from the failed invasion left the US feeling humiliated while the increased threat felt by Cuba saw it seek greater support from the USSR. Furthermore, it strengthened the position of Castro’s administration and its intention to adopt communism in Cuba.
- Although JFK did not want to abandon Cuba to communist hands, he also did not want to start a fight that might result in a third world war. Hence, his efforts to overthrow Castro never stopped but he never went as far as provoking an outright war.
- Thus, in November 1961, Operation Mongoose was authorised to do what the Bay of Pigs Invasion failed to do, which was to remove the communist Castro regime from power in Cuba. In 1962, the Cuban missile crisis increased further tensions in American-Cuban-Soviet relations.