The Significance of the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis on the Cold War
On January 1, 1959 a Cuban nationalist by the name of Fidel Castro, drove his guerilla army into Havana, the capital of Cuba. Him and his guerrilla dethroned General Fulgencio Batista who was the Cuban president at the time. He ruled for two two years while the State Department and the CIA aimed to push Castro out of power. Eventually, in April 1961, the CIA organized a definitive strike made up of Cubans that had been forced to flee from their homes by Fidel Castro. The invaders mainly targeted the beach at Playa Giron, which was a village with a small airstrip at the mouth of the Bay of Pigs. Castro had expected an invasion to occur but was not sure where in the island, so he ordered for fortified concrete trenches to be dug up in the key points of the island.
The American plan was to sneak ashore without a challenge and secure the area. From there they were planning to take over the airfield and fly in a government-in-exile. This was a government that was temporarily stationed at a foreign land by exiles that wanted to establish that government in their own country after liberation. Unfortunately when a combat diver lit a beacon to show the Americans where to land it alerted the Cuban Militia. The exiles had enough air support but the US President, John F. Kennedy, made sure to keep the involvement of the US a secret so he turned away from the invading force. During this Fidel Castro took initiative in the operation and within three days the battle came to end. This humiliating defeat pushed Cuba into the hands of the Soviet Union in may 1961. The United states responded to this by cutting the importation of Cuban sugar. Throughout the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, the leaders of the Soviet Union and U.S engaged in a an overly strained 13 day military and political standoff. The standoff was about the installation of nuclear armed Soviet missiles in Cuba.
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On October 22, 1962, John F Kennedy made it known to all America about the presence of the missiles which justified his naval blockade around Cuba. He also made it clear that the U.S was prepared to use its military force at any time necessary if felt threatened. Hearing this news on television, many Americans feared that the world was close to a nuclear war breakout. Nonetheless, disaster was avoided when the U.S agreed with Nikita Khrushchev’s, Soviet leader, to not invade Cuba in exchange for them to remove the Cuban missiles. Fidel Castro placed himself with the Soviet Union and grew dependent on the Soviet’s for economic and military aid. Throughout all this time the U.S. and Soviets were still involved in an ongoing series of political and economic confrontations.