Fiasco in the Bay of Pigs
Half a century ago John F. Kennedy’s brief presidential administration began. Afterward it acquired a rosy hue and was dubbed “Camelot,” named for a popular Broadway musical. As celebrated as Kennedy’s term became in retrospect, his national-security team stumbled badly in April 1961, less than three months after he took office.
The nation was then preoccupied by the Cold War. A major irritant was that Fidel Castro had taken power in nearby Cuba in 1959 and moved increasingly into the communist orbit. Getting rid of him became a U.S. objective. Kennedy acquiesced to a Central Intelligence Agency scheme devised when his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was in office.
The plan called for training anti-Castro guerrillas in Guatemala and then sending them ashore at the Bay of Pigs, a body of water on the south coast of Cuba. The goal was to inspire other Cuban citizens to join with the invaders and overthrow Castro’s regime. U.S. armed forces were to support the invaders but not take an active combat role.