Bay of Pigs Invasion: 50 Years Later

Sunday marked the 50-year anniversary of the beginning of the Bay of Pigs invasion, when American-trained Cuban expatriates invaded Cuban soil in an effort to oust Fidel Castro and free the people of Cuba from his reign. The Bay of Pigs invasion began on April 17, 1961, and lasted through April 19, 1961, by order of then-President John F. Kennedy.

The invasion failed. The United States’ stock of ammunition ran out on April 19, and the soldiers were forced to surrender. Many of the insurgents were captured and held prisoner for up to 20 months after the invasion occurred. President Kennedy was viewed as weak by Cubans and Soviets alike.

The Bay of Pigs invasion would have harsh consequences for the United States. The failure to spark a civilian revolt against Castro negatively affected American-Cuban relations for quite some time, and directly impacted several governmental crises. Read on for five ways Bay of Pigs affected the future of American-Cuban relations.

Cuba’s Counterattack

Just days after the Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuba initiated a counterattack against the U.S. Marine forces that were stranded on Cuban soil. Castro sent an estimated 20,000 Cuban troops to handle the invasion. An estimated 1,200 U.S. Marines surrendered to the Cuban troops, while another 100 were killed in the counterattack launched by Castro.

Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis is by far one of the most stressful and consequential events that spurred from Bay of Pigs. The incident began on Oct. 14, 1962, when a United States plane recorded pictures of confirmed missile sites in Cuba. The missiles were a gift from the Soviet Union. Prior to the crisis, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko declared “An American attack on Cuba could mean war with the Soviet Union.” The Soviets did not agree to remove their missiles from Cuba until 12 agonizing days later.

Castro’s Rise in Power

After the failure of Bay of Pigs, Castro’s power and popularity grew exponentially. Rather than being ousted by the U.S. government and Cuban expatriates, Castro became stronger and more powerful in his seat as the dictator of Cuba. He remained in power until 2008, when he relinquished control of the country to his brother, Raul Castro, due to health problems.

During Aftermath of Cuban Missile Crisis American-Cuban Travel and Trade Barred

In 1963, Kennedy signed an act that strictly prohibited all United States citizens from traveling to Cuba. In the same document, Americans were banned from trading with Cuba, making all financial or commercial transactions unlawful.

Anti-Castro Exile Group Gets Backing from US President Ronald Reagan

In 1985, Cuban exiles who opposed Fidel Castro’s reign received support from U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Upon hearing of the backing from Reagan, Castro canceled the standing immigration agreement with the United States.