The Bay of Pigs Invasion
In May 1960, under the Eisenhower administration, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) began training Cuban exiles in Guatemala for an invasion of Cuba. The invasion was intended to incite an uprising and overthrow Fidel Castro’s Communist regime. The rebels prepared for a beach landing near Trinidad—a strategic location because the city’s population generally opposed Castro. In addition, the rebels could retreat to nearby mountains if the landing did not go well.
Eisenhower’s successor as president, John F. Kennedy, approved the invasion of Cuba but changed the plan: The exiles would land at two beaches in the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos), rather than at Trinidad. The surrounding area was swampland.
On April 17, 1961, about 1,500 Cuban exiles, armed by the U.S. government, landed at the Bay of Pigs. After several hours of fighting, it became clear that the locals would not support the rebels. By April 20 the Cuban army had killed or imprisoned most of the invading force. Castro later exchanged the captured rebels for over $50 million in food and medicine from the United States.
1. Use a highlighter or pen to shade Cuba.
2. Use a second highlighter or pen to shade U.S. territory.
3. Circle the area where the Cuban exiles had intended to land according to the invasion plan developed under the Eisenhower administration.
4. Circle the area where the exiles actually landed on April 17, 1961.
1. Region On what coast of Cuba did the exiles land: north, south, east, or west?
2. Location Based on the map’s scale, approximately how far is Miami from Havana?
3. Movement The exiles intended to cross Cuba from the Bay of Pigs to Havana. In what direction would they have been traveling?
4. Draw Conclusions Based on the map and the passage, how might the location of the landing have affected the invasion’s success?
President Kennedy did not provide U.S. air or naval support to the invading force. Research the Bay of Pigs invasion to determine why Kennedy might have made this decision. Do you agree with the decision?
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The New Frontier and the Great Society
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