Bay of Pigs, Brigade 2506


On the 17th of April, 1961, Brigade 2506, comprised of Cuban exiles, landed at the Bay of Pigs on the southern-central coast of Cuba. They were mostly young men who came from all sectors of society and regions of the island with one common goal: to overthrow the growing communism led by Fidel Castro who was imposing a rigid totalitarian system on this largest island of the Antilles. In three days of hard fighting highly superior forces defeated them. Almost 40 years after this event we must ask ourselves about the factors that determined the creation of the Brigade, the causes of their defeat, and its consequences for Cuba and the rest of the world.


HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
By early 1960 it was evident that the promises made by Castro about the restoration of democracy at the beginning of his government after the flight of dictator Fulgencio Batista on January 1st, 1959, had vanished. By that time the promise of general elections was discarded along with key men in the government who were truly prodemocratic. Also almost gone was the free press (nearly wiped out by mid-1960). There was a growing trend of confiscations of private property, while unions and student associations had been controlled through trickery. To make the picture more clear, increasingly entering positions of power, while an effective repressive apparatus was being constructed under the model of those of Eastern Europe. By 1961, Castro had also intervened militarily in four Caribbean and Central American


Presiding over this process was the figure of a leader who, like no other one before in Cuba, had awakened enormous faith and trust from the people. He himself denied many times that his government had communist leanings, but its actions increasingly indicated that it was heading towards a new dictatorship of a totalitarian communist nature Resulting from those realities, inside as well as outside Cuba, preparations were being made to fight the new order by those who felt betrayed by it and by those who did not desire a government of that nature clandestine urban groups were creating a growing anti-Castro movement, potentially very threatening to the incipient dictatorship. Through alliance with the USSR Castro. Because of this, many thought that only through the help of the United States was it possible to rid themselves of the new dictatorship that was developing around the most charismatic and unscrupulous leader ever produced in Cuba. Near the end of 1960, the dissatisfaction of the powerful and unbeaten northern neighbor and important members of the Cuban democratic leadership came together in a special way in an effort to overthrow Castro via military means,


the only way possible due to his closure of peaceful alternatives


DEVELOPMENT OF THE MILITARY OPERATION
The initial military strategy outlined by the United States--in which many of the Cuban leaders placed an extreme confidence--consisted of the development of guerrilla warfare, which would be promoted by exiles that would land on various strategic points throughout the island. This plan was later changed in favor of a massive landing by a conventional expeditionary force also comprised of exiles. This was later known as Brigade 2506, honoring the number of the first person who gave his life in this process. The reasons for this change were due to the enormous quantity of weapons received by Castro from the USSR, especially MiG fighter aircraft, which would become operational by mid-1961. This situation required a conventional force to defeat such development. Another reason was the alleged lack of effectiveness of those who were carrying on the fight against Castro inside Cuba, although the fact that there was a lack of security within these clandestine movements due to government infiltration was also mentioned. The strategy of a massive landing undermined the internal effort to eliminate Castro from within the revolutionary ranks. In any event, today there is evidence that there was little effective cooperation between the rural guerrillas, that noticeably sprung up throughout the country, and the American agencies.


The military operation against Castro was the product of an American plan. This was prepared without adequate participation on the part of the exiled leaders, both civilian and military. This leadership was centered in the Revolutionary Council, directed by Dr. José Miró Cardona, former