Henderson1 Helisa HendersonMr.
Topp December 19th, 2017Leaving the Past in the Past”I wish you had written more, Iwish you had investigated more, because it might have saved the country of thecataclysm of the Bay of Pigs.” These are the startling words of President JohnF. Kennedy in a statement given to the NewYork Times after the disaster of the Bay of Pigs. The Bay of Pigs was afailed secret operation conducted by the U.S to remove communist leader FidelCastro from power in Cuba in 1961. BeforeKennedy was elected, President Eisenhower had authorized the CIA to begin aplan to overthrow Castro dating back to 1960. This plan was based on fear ofcommunists’ gains in the region which resulted in the cold war relations withthe Soviet Union, and the perceived threat of nuclear attack which made ourgovernment fearful of any communist regimes.
Due to the disastrous outcome, the Bay of Pigs caused more tensionbetween Cuba and the U.S after the failed invasion leaving a lasting impact onthe Kennedy administration. The mission from the very beginningwas supposed to be “top secret,” because our government was not supposed tomeddle in other countries’ affairs. IfU.S. citizens found out about these plans, it would cause a scandal and notjust here but also around the world. Basedon United Nations resolutions, countries were not to interfere with ourgovernments unless Henderson 2 there was a clear threat and it wasvoted and approved by the U.
N. Based on many mistakes made on the part of the U.Sgovernment, the secret mission was discovered by the Cuban government. Evidenceshows the Castro government discovered the CIA plot before it was carried out.The discovery was made when the Cubans through Cuban Nationals living in theUnited States unintentionally leaked the timeline of the plan of when it wouldhappen and where. The first big error occurred when USB 26’s arrived an hourlate because of the U.S’s confusion in time zone. The U.
S air force failed totake in account the one hour time difference between the U.S and Cuba. This gave Castro more time to be prepared andhe had forces armed and ready at the Bay of Pigs which is a famous beach. Inaddition to this oblivious error, the U.S tried to re-paint the B 26’s (whichhappen to be former WWII battle planes) to try and make them look like Cubanmilitary planes. . .unsuccessfully.
Theidea that they thought they could pull off was having the Cubans thinking itwas their own planes and not attacking. In a book based on the attack, entitledPresidents and Foreign Policy: Countdownto Ten Controversial Decisions: The authors take on the situation, “Whenthe invasion occurred, nearly everything went wrong. It turned out to be atotal fiasco, ‘a perfect failure’ of presidential conduct of U.S foreignpolicy” (Drachman and Shank, page 85.) After the first attack, photos wherereleased in the U.S showing U.S planes firing on the Cuban air force. Thiscreated an instant backlash against the Kennedy administration and seemed toturn public opinion in favor of the Cuban government.
Because of all theseunfortunate events, the Cuban government knew about the “secret” operation andthis reflected negatively on Kennedy. Henderson 3 These eventstargeting Cuba and its government, causes tensions between the two governments torise considerably. The Bay of Pigs mishap actually made Castro, ironically, lookgood in comparison to Kennedy because this makes Kennedy look like theaggressor who’s attacking without good cause. Likewise, Castro and Cuba seem tolook like the victim in this situation and are being “bullied” by a much biggernation. An example that highlights this is when the two governments decide toexchange prisoners taken during the conflict.
During these prisonernegotiations, Castro requested medicine and baby food which totaled in 53million dollars which were donated by companies all over the U.S as a conditionfor their release In exchange for prisoners rather than money. (1962: Bay ofPigs prisoners fly to freedom) Castro choosing these supplies over money trulymakes him look like a concerned leader and someone who genuinely cares abouthis citizens.
In comparison, photos emerging in the U.S. showed Kennedy’sinvolvement in the plot and made the U.S public very upset with the President. TheU.S public felt that they could not trust the U.
S government to tell the truth,and freedom of the press became a very important topic. Due to the tensionbetween Kennedy and Castro, problems continue throughout this time andculminate in the Cuban missile crisis.Tensions reach a critical point in1962 when the U.S discovers evidence of Nuclear missiles in Cuba targeting Florida.The U.
S. discovered that the Soviet Union, following the Bay of Pigs, hadinstalled nuclear missiles in Cuba targeting the U.S. (Schwarz, Benjamin).
Onceit was confirmed, this causes President Kennedy to take action immediately. Castro,with the backing of the Soviet Union and based on his current positive image,tells the President he will not remove the missiles because they cannot trustthe United States after the Bay of Pigs Henderson 4 incident. President Kennedy gives an ultimatum to remove themissiles, or he would send U.S warships to the Cuban coastline. This”quarantine” of U.
S naval ships, causes a tense 13 days in which the wholeworld seems to hold its breath, in an article entitled “The Real Cuban Missile Crisis” the author discusses the potentialthreat. . . “This gambit forced thetwo nations to the brink of nuclear Armageddon” (Schwarz, Benjamin.) At thelast minute, Castro and the Soviets back down and Kennedy is now seen as aNational hero.
After the crisis is resolved, tensions between the two countriessubside for the time being.After nearly 60 years following theBay of Pigs disaster, tensions are finally beginning to lessen even though theshadow of the Bay of Pigs continues to leave a lasting impact on not only theKennedy administration, but also its subsequent Presidential administrations.Relations between the two countries today compared to back then are verydifferent and continue to move in a positive direction with visitors fromAmerica flooding in for the first time in decades. This is a result ofPresident Obama ending the trade embargo and Cuba then lifting travelrestrictions to allow U.
S citizens into the country in 2016. “I’ve witnessedmore change in Cuba within the past two years than in my prior two decadestraveling there,” says writer and Cuba and expert Christopher P. Baker.(Salhani, Justin) the shining moment occurred when Barack Obama became thefirst American President to visit Cuba in nearly a century and shook hands withPresident Raúl Castro. (Roberts, Dan.) This significant milestone is there-connecting of families that have been separated by the travel ban.
WhenPresident Obama landed, he arrived with a delegation of about 1,200 people thatswept into Havana and “Closed a final chapter in cold war history and sealingthe diplomatic legacy of Obama’s Presidency” (Roberts, Dan.) Henderson 5Based on the positive relations that continue to develop,hopefully history will not be forgotten and Kennedy’s actions in the Bay ofPigs will be looked at by this current administration as well as future ones ofhow we can heal from the past, and move forward to a more peaceful andprosperous future.