What Was the Bay of Pigs Invasion?

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The 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion was an attempt by a group of CIA-trained Cuban exiles to invade Cuba and overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. The invasion was a complete failure, resulting in the capture or death of most of the invading force and a propaganda victory for Castro.

When Fidel Castro overthrew the government of President Fulgencio Batista in Cuba in 1959, he immediately alienated the United States by nationalizing American companies and seizing American-held land. President Dwight Eisenhower approved and initiated a plan to train and use Cuban refugees to overthrown Castro in March 1960, and John F. Kennedy assumed oversight of the plan when he became president. Training of the 1400-man group of exiles began in Florida and continued in Central America. The Bay of Pigs on the south coast of Cuba was chosen for the landing site because the area was sparsely populated and had an airfield large enough to land bombers.

The invasion was disastrous from the start. Disguised American bombers did not succeed in destroying all of Cuba's aircraft, and the Cuban planes that were left attacked the ships that had brought the invasion force and drove them off before they could unload supplies. Instead of rebelling and joining the invaders as expected, the Cuban people supported Castro. The Cuban army was quickly deployed, and Castro himself arrived to oversee the defense. Although some of the invaders were successfully evacuated, more than 100 were killed and about 1,100 were captured.