On April 19, Cubans will celebrate the 57 anniversary of their decisive victory over an invading force of 1,500 men, trained and equipped by the United States. The resistance against the "Bay of Pigs" invasion represented the first U.S. great military defeat in the Americas, a sign of Cuba's will to decide on their own.
This Tuesday, on the 57th anniversary of the invasion attempt, leaders from the Cuban government, the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) and the Communist Youth Union (UJC) commemorated the Cuban victory at the intersection between streets 23 and 12, in the Vedado neighborhood, where Fidel Castro declared the socialist character of the revolution 57 years ago.
“This will never be a breakaway generation, but one of continuity and defense of our ideals, that's why the Cuban Revolution is just one,” said Mailin Alberty, First Secretary of UJC at the event.
The U.S. took a harsh stance on the island when a revolutionary insurgency took over the government on Jan. 1, 1959. Washington began pressuring Cuba politically and attacking it economically in order to isolate and suffocate the new government. But besides measures such as blocking trade and cutting its oil supply, they also organized an armed counter-revolutionary group.
In March 1960, the then President of the U.S. Dwight Eisenhower ordered the CIA to finance, recruit and train a force of exiled Cubans to invade the island.
The troops, using amphibian tactics similar to those of the U.S. Army, was dubbed Brigade 2506 and was equipped with automatic weapons, armored vehicles, and about 30 warplanes.
The CIA decided the military invasion should begin in a beach strip in the Zapata Swamp, located south of the western region of Matanzas, barely inhabited and with few access routes. Even know, Matanzas is the least populated municipality in Cuba, with about 9,000 people spread over 4,520 square kilometers.
The military operation had the aim of securing the zone and establishing a dissident government that would later call for U.S. full military support. It was named Operation Pluto by the Pentagon and the CIA.
The invasion began on the early morning of April 17, 1961, in Playa Larga and Playa Giron, in the Bay of Pigs. The troops traveled from Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, in five merchant ships, two Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) warships, three LCI boats carrying heavy equipment, and four Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP) ships.
After three days of fierce combats, the forces led by Fidel Castro defeated the invaders and freed Playa Giron on April 19. The CIA-backed invasion didn't last more than 72 hours. The invading forces lost 88 members and 1,197 others were taken as prisoners. On the Cuban side, 155 soldiers died.