President and Nikita Khrushchev meeting in Vienna for an friendly discussion. But the respective positions of the United States and the Soviet Union remained irreconcilable because of the ill-fated CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images).
When Fidel Castro overthrew American-backed President General Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and started associating with Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev, the United States during the Eisenhower administration developed a plan to overthrow Castro’s regime. The plan was for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to train Cuban exiles to eventually invade their homeland and cause an uprising that will overthrow Castro’s government. Although John F. Kennedy was not involved in the planning and training of the Cuban exiles meant to defeat Castro, he inherited Eisenhower’s CIA program.
Kennedy’s unfortunate involvement
JFK was initially not keen on executing the invasion primarily because he feared that the Soviets would know the involvement of the U.S. and would immediately retaliate. However, after CIA officers and other presidential advisers advised him that the plan would work and that the role of the U.S. would not be revealed. Believing the operation would be kept hush-hush, JFK gave the plan a go.
The Invasion of the Bay of Pigs
On April 17, 1961, the Cuban exile brigade started its Cuban invasion on an isolated island known as the Bay of Pigs. The plan only had a chance of succeeding if the operation remained covert but a radio station on the beach spotted the exile’s invading ships and broadcast everything that they see for all Cubans to hear.
The guerrilla troops were truly out of luck because apart from the radio station that they failed to spot, some of their ships also sunk as they pulled to shore because of the coral reefs on the beach. Even the backup paratroopers missed their landing places.
Considering everything that had gone wrong, it was not surprising that Castro’s men immediately pinned down the invaders. The Cuban exiles readily surrendered, and more than a thousand Brigade members were imprisoned.
The disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion impacted JFK’s presidency. During his term, he tried to make up for this blunder by initiating Operation Mongoose, a destabilization campaign against Castro, in November 1961.