This month included the 54th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion. It is important that we remember this military operation and say something about it because had this operation succeeded, the first communist dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere would have been liquidated and we would not have had so much trouble in Central America, and today, Cuba would be a free, independent, pro-Western nation. And there would not have been the October ’62 Missile Crisis.
Our American military forces had no peer in the techniques of amphibious landings on a hostile shore. Tens of thousands of Americans in carefully planned and brilliantly executed landings at Omaha and Utah beaches in Normandy, Anzio in Italy, Iwo Jima, Saipan, Inchon and others secured victory for our military forces. This expertise amounted to a guarantee of swift success on the shores of Cuba.
The question Americans should ask themselves is, “Why did the invasion fail?” The struggle that led to the failure was waged not in Playa Giron, as the Cubans call the Bay of Pigs, but in Washington, D.C.
The military action on the Cuban coast was doomed by Washington decision-making before the first assault troops had disembarked. Although the fate of Cuba was at stake, no Cuban participated in the critical decision-making. The tragic aspect of the operation, as things turned out, was that the members of “La Brigada” had a blind faith in the United States government. They were certain that their American friends would never let them down.
The American instructors were astonished at the fervor displayed in the training program. The certainty that they were dealing with representatives of the world’s greatest and most powerful nation was always in the back of the volunteers’ minds.
Not one conceived the possibility of defeat.
But then, disaster! Airstrikes were canceled and called back. The brigade was abandoned at the beach, all requests for help denied. Sailors on the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga were crying because they were not permitted to help their Cuban friends. For months before, there had been no doubt about U.S. involvement, but now it was an involvement in betrayal and failure.
The “world opinion” for which the Washington liberals had been so willing to sacrifice national honor now turned sharply against the United States. For those Americans who were aware of what had taken place, and why, sorrow was compounded by humiliation and shame.
The heroism of Cuba Brigade 2506 had been rewarded with betrayal, defeat, death for many and a long and cruel imprisonment for the rest.
I understand to some extent the frustrations of those men from Brigade 2506. Later, after coming to the United States, during the Vietnam War I volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army and I was assigned to a combat unit in Vietnam. Before my tour of duty was over, I was offered American citizenship and thus became an American citizen while on active duty.
We were sent to Vietnam just like Brigade 2506 was sent to the shores of Cuba, to a losing war. There were no intentions of winning in Cuba and no intentions of winning in Vietnam.
And just like Vietnam, an opportunity to advance the cause of freedom was lost.
Jorge A. Maspons