Events in American Foreign Policy
The Bay of Pigs Invasion, 1961

Overview (Home) Castro Eisenhower JFK Invasion Aftermath


  

Map of the Bay of Pigs, Cuba.

Overview of the Bay of Pigs Invasion**

The Bay of Pigs Invasion was a failed attempt to invade the southwest portion of Cuba by Cuban exiles in 1961.  The exiles were aided in their efforts by the United States government, under the command of President John F. Kennedy, in an attempt to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro.  Castro came to power after a long struggle in the 1950s, rising up against the regime of Fulgencio Batista, in what became known as the Cuban Revolution.  After Castro came to power in 1959, it became clear that his regime was Communist in nature.

Leading up to this point, the relations between the United States and the Soviet Union had been less than pleasant.  The two nations competed in a nuclear arms race, both seeking to outperform the other in terms of military power.  But military power aside, the United States and the Soviet Union at the time engaged in what was essentially an international staring contest over ideology.  The US believed in its free, democratic, capitalist society, while the Soviet Union prided itself on its implementation of Marxist-Leninist Communism.  Both countries believed it was only a matter of time before the other's society ultimately failed, but they both feared the prospect of an all-out nuclear war.  So rather than confront one another, the US and Soviet Union instead sought to gain the upper hand by expanding their own influence with developing nations around the world.

Because of their mutual objective to expand their influence, the US and Soviet Union took great interest in Cuba.  Located just 90 miles off the southern coast of Florida, Cuba at this time was a developing nation struggling to find its place in the world.  Prior to 1961, the United States made efforts to overthrow Communist regimes in developing countries, but never had the US taken action against a country so close to home.  Because of its close proximity to the US, a free, democratic Cuba became a top priority for many leading American officials.  However, the Soviet Union did not overlook the new Communist regime in Cuba, nor did it underestimate the significance of having an ally so close to its rival nation.

Both the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations worked in the effort to train Cuban exiles for their invasion.  The CIA trained a counterrevolutionary force of Cuban exiles in Guatemala, as well as a group predetermined to take over the government in the event that the invasion succeeded.  However, a series of grievous errors in the invasion caused the American-aided insurgency to fail, thus strengthening support for Castro in his own country, as well as garnering greater support from his ally the Soviet Union.

 

To follow a more-detailed chronology of events related to the Bay of Pigs Invasion, click on the links found at the top of the page.


**I have elected to classify the different aspects of the Bay of Pigs invasion by the world leaders involved.  It is by no means a comprehensive listing of all involved parties, but I have chosen this classification for the sake of easy navigation.