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The current time is: 10/18/2017 11:20:40 PM
 (1946-1999) Other 20th Century Battles
AuthorMessage
dr brian
Lafayette, CO, USA
Posts: 22
Bay of Pigs 55th Anniversary
Posted on: 4/18/2016 7:21:46 PM
We are in the middle of the 3-day battle in April 1961.

Last month I visited two museums dedicated to it -- one in Little Havana (Miami) and the other right on the Bahia dos Cochinos in Cuba. As you can well imagine -- they tell different stories with essentially the same facts. Both are quite moving.

In Little Havana I spent an hour with the current president of the veteran's organization of Brigada Asalta 2506 -- he was a young, idealistic 18 year old in 1961. In Playa Giron I walked around with my driver, who was a 17 year old militiaman in 1961 and he pointed to a picture of his best friend from his home city (Santiago) who was killed and memorialized on the wall. In Miami they have a similar wall of young men.

Today, the Playas Giron and Larga are beautiful beaches on a gorgeous bay, perfect for snorkeling and diving. Castro ensured tourism monies flowed to the incredibly poor area after the people there were raised to heroes of the Revolucion.

As with most battlefields, the memories are bittersweet.

I toast tonight with some good Cuban rum. Salud! Buenas noches. . . .
---------------
LTC (Ret), USA, PhD

"Travel with a Purpose!"

www.historyexp.com

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
Posts: 2752
Re: Bay of Pigs 55th Anniversary
Posted on: 4/24/2016 3:19:07 PM
Hi Dr. Brian,

Looks like you had a great time in Cuba, just curious on how new, any development in Cuba is? You always seem to get an interpretation from the West, that Cuba has been held back by Communism. Do you think that's true? As close as I've gotten is Sloppy Joes in Key West, & it's hard to get out of there, & I don't remember much after that!?

Buenas noches,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
Posts: 1305
Re: Bay of Pigs 55th Anniversary
Posted on: 5/28/2016 9:17:00 PM
Brian and MD, interesting balance in your comments, and equally interesting lack of response to Brian's original post or to MD's response.

IMHO, the Bay of Pigs invasion, like the Cuban Missile Crisis, will always have two stories. And even between them they won't capture the truth. As an aside, however, Cuba remained Cuban after the Bay of Pigs, and Cuba was not nuked because of the presence of Soviet missiles on its soil. Doesn't that suggest that Cuba won both times?

MD, I'm wading into partisanship here, but IMHO Cuba wasn't held back by Communism. It was held back by a badly delineated, poorly controlled and blatantly punitive system of controls imposed by the US. Without making comparisons between US and Cuban values, Cuba has an excellent health system, a solid educational system, and a civil service that should be recognize for its integrity.

I worked with friends (Canada has never had its knickers in a twist over Cuba) trying to ship goods to Cuba. They had to be shipped through US controlled waters. So items like pianos, knitting patterns and the like were seen as having strategic use and were not allowed to be carried. Hang on! Music capability is strategic? I may be naive, but I simply don't remember the Soviet Bloc ever determining that pianos might be strategically important.

Oddly, (and, yes, add a bit of irony to my tone), most of my friends who have spend wonderful times in Cuba are attempting to get one more visit in before "Americans" destroy it. My hope is that Cuba will be strong enough to reject Americanization. Like me, their most frightening concern is that Cuba will once again (as it was in 1959) become a playground. So I hope they maintain their values while improving things that the release of the US embargo make possible.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
Posts: 2752
Re: Bay of Pigs 55th Anniversary
Posted on: 1/25/2017 10:14:33 PM
But Brian,

What about the Cuban Missile Crisis!?

[Read More]

MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

James W.
Ballina, Australia
Posts: 674
Re: Bay of Pigs 55th Anniversary
Posted on: 1/26/2017 2:01:32 AM
Curiously enough, both Cuba & Burma have a 1950's British-supplied Hawker Sea Fury piston/prop fighter on proud museum display..
..as being the 'defender'/victor in air-combat over CIA operated intruder aircraft...

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5294
Re: Bay of Pigs 55th Anniversary
Posted on: 1/26/2017 7:47:00 AM

Quote:
But Brian,

What about the Cuban Missile Crisis!?

[Read More]

MD
--Michigan Dave


What about it Dave? Scared the crap out of me as a kid in junior high school. I have recounted before how the principal got on the blower on the Friday of the crisis (Oct. 26??) and just before noon, he sent us home, "to be with our parents".

And so there was little joy expressed in this early dismissal from class. It was a pretty sombre crew that made there way home that day.

That was as close as I ever want to get to using those stupid, "duck and cover" drills that they taught us in grade school and I hope we never get to that point again.

Let us remember that those missile sites were not complete when Kennedy ordered them removed.

As well with the embargo, Castro turned to the Soviets as his primary benefactor. They were subsidizing the weak Cuban economy and sold them arms.

I do think that he made an error in judgement by allowing those missile sites and possibly the missiles to be placed in Cuba.


The Saturday was even worse because a US recce pilot got shot down over Cuba and was killed.

The Soviets accused the US of violating Cuban air space. The US said that that is how they learned that Khrushchev was not telling the truth about the missile bases on Cuba.

So the US would have to continue to fly U2's over Cuba and Cuba and the Soviets would have to respond. Too close for comfort.

The USN had effectively blockaded the island and as I recall, the Soviets did not attempt to run it.

As an aside, the RCN was engaging in ASW exercises in the north and was tracking Soviet subs. This was done without the knowledge of PM John Diefenbaker who had been resisting Kennedy's requests to upgrade defence status to Defcon (whatever, I can't remember). So the head of the navy simply ordered Canadian ships to proceed with "exercises".

RCN apparently made several contacts with Soviet subs and had at least one pinned down very close to NFLD.

Kennedy hated Dief the Chief because he was a blustering Canadian nationalist and had vacillated over US missiles on Canadian soil.

EDIT: Dief didn't like Kennedy believing he was of the privileged class who did not have the interests of the little people at heart. Diefenbaker was a Conservative. He was slighted by Kennedy on a number of occasions. It was a disastrous relationship.

The efforts of the RCN which freed some USN ships to go south were never acknowledged because officially, they never happened or heads would have rolled at the top of the RCN.


Thankfully, Nikita Khrushchev blinked. His daughter, after his death claimed that he did not want the deaths of hundreds of thousands on his conscience. I don't know whether that is why he blinked.

But he had sent a letter to JFK offering to remove the missiles from Cuba with the assurance that the US would agree to never invade the island.

Now I have read that Nikita Khrushchev also demanded that the US remove its nuclear arsenal from Turkey and Italy.

JFK's official response to N. K. was agreeable to the Khrushchev proposal.

But there are suggestions that a secret deal was offered by JFK in which the US would take its missiles out of Turkey and Italy but the deal had to remain secret. Apparently Bobby Kennedy relayed the proposal through the Russian ambassador to Washington, Dobrynin.

The Soviets claim that JFK agreed to the removal of the US missiles from Turkey and Italy.

Bobby Kennedy saw it a little differently:


Quote:
He asked me what offer the United States was making, and I told him of the letter that President Kennedy had just transmitted to Khrushchev. He raised the question of our removing the missiles from Turkey. I said that there could be no quid pro quo or any arrangement made under this kind of threat or pressure and that in the last analysis this was a decision that would have to be made by NATO.

However, I said, President Kennedy had been anxious to remove those missiles from Italy and Turkey for a long period of time. He had ordered their removal some time ago, and it was our judgment that, within a short time after this crisis was over, those missiles would be gone.


The Soviet ambassador's account paints it in a different light of course, indicating that JFK did not want to go to war over Cuba but circumstances were unfolding too quickly and he was looking for a way out without having to admit publicly that he was removing missiles from Turkey to get the deal done.

The Soviet ships had already turned around when the deal was done but saner heads on both sides prevailed.

The North American nations weren't happy with Soviet missiles on Cuba. I'm sure that the Soviets weren't happy with US missiles so close to their homeland.

Winners and losers? Well I'm still here and no Soviets died so that's good.

The only losers, in my opinion, are the Cuban people who have endured a blockade of goods that has held them back and to what end?

Cuba is not and can never be a threat to the US or the rest of us in North America.

Cheers,

George




George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
Posts: 5294
Re: Bay of Pigs 55th Anniversary
Posted on: 1/26/2017 7:48:02 AM
Got my events backwards. Sorry. Bay of Pigs was '61.

George