Before the Invasion

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Bay of Pigs

Bay of Pigs in Cuba

In 1961 the United States sent trained Cuban exiles to Cuba to try and overthrow Fidel Castro's government. They failed miserably. The invasion is considered part of the Cold War because the United States was trying to prevent communism from taking hold in the Americas.

Before the Invasion

Fidel Castro helped to lead the Cuban Revolution in overthrowing the existing government of Cuba in 1959. He was an ardent communist and was allied with the Soviet Union. This deeply concerned the United States as this gave communism and the Soviet Union a foothold in the Americas.

The CIA, or Central Intelligence Agency, was tasked with overthrowing Fidel Castro's government in Cuba. There were many people from Cuba, called exiles, who had fled the country when Fidel Castro had become leader. The CIA began to train these exiles in guerrilla warfare. The idea was that they would sneak back into Cuba and begin a guerrilla war against Castro. They would gather others and eventually overthrow Castro.

The plan changed, however. The new plan was help the exiles to invade the island. The hope was that locals would join forces with them and they would quickly take over.

Planning the Invasion

The invasion was originally planned to occur at the city of Trinidad, but President Kennedy thought that they needed a more secluded place. The Bay of Pigs was chosen instead. The idea was that planes would fly in first and destroy the air force. Then the invasion force of 1500 soldiers would land. They hoped that the Cuban people would join them in rebelling against Castro.

The CIA tried to plan the invasion in secret, however, too many people knew and word got out. The Cubans knew the invasion was coming.
The Invasion

The invasion occurred on April 17, 1961. It did not go well. Although the Cuban air force was damaged by early air strikes, there were still planes left to attack the invaders. Once the invasion started, it took too long for the troops and ammunition to get off the ships. Before the ammunition could be unloaded, Cuban planes sunk the invader's ships.

Many of the paratroopers, who were supposed to slow down Castro's forces on the ground, landed at the wrong place or in the swamps. Soon the invaders were surrounded by a much larger force and were running out of ammunition. They tried to retreat, but most were eventually captured and put into prison.


The results were disastrous for the United States. The government looked weak and the CIA inept. It also seemed to strengthen Castro's government within Cuba and caused him to look to the Soviet Union as a military ally.

Interesting Facts About the Bay of Pigs

  • The Cuban exiles were trained by the CIA in the country of Guatemala.

  • Jose Miro Cardona was set to become president of Cuba once Castro was overthrown.

  • The invasion force was known as Brigade 2506.

  • The invaders would have had a much better chance to escape into the hills if they had used the original landing site of Trinidad. However, they were surrounded by swamp at the Bay of Pigs and had nowhere to run.

  • It is thought that some of the timing of the invasion got messed up due to people getting the time zones confused.

Explain in at least one paragraph (4-5 sentences) if the Bay of Pigs was a good move by the United States and give at least 3 facts from this handout to explain why.

Make sure to answer all the multiple choice questions!!!

1) Who was the leader of Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion?

    1. Nikita Khrushchev

    1. Fidel Castro

    1. Raul Castro

    1. Che Guevara

    1. President Batista

2) What United States government agency helped to train the Cuban exiles who were involved in the invasion?

  1. National Security Agency

  1. FBI

  1. Central Intelligence Agency

  1. Department of Defense

  1. US Navy

3) What larger war was the Bay of Pigs invasion a part of?

  1. Vietnam War

  1. Korean War

  1. Yom Kippur War

  1. Central American War

  1. Cold War

4) True or false: The invasion was a great success for the United States and the Cuban exiles.



5) About how big was the invasion force of Cuban exiles?

  1. 1000 soldiers

  1. 1500 soldiers

  1. 3000 soldiers

  1. 20,000 soldiers

  1. 50,000 soldiers

6) What US President ordered the invasion?

  1. John F. Kennedy

  1. Dwight Eisenhower

  1. Richard Nixon

  1. Lyndon B. Johnson

  1. Jimmy Carter

7) What type of government had just taken over Cuba that the US and the exiles hoped to remove from power?

  1. Democratic

  1. Monarchy

  1. Dictatorship

  1. Communist

  1. None of the above

8) What year did the Bay of Pigs invasion take place?

  1. 1950

  1. 1961

  1. 1965

  1. 1970

  1. 1975

9) Which country became a strong military ally of the Cuban government after the Bay of Pigs?

  1. United States

  1. France

  1. Germany

  1. China

  1. Soviet Union

10) What happened to most of the Cuban exiles who took part in the invasion?

  1. They were captured by the Cuban army and put into prison or killed

  1. They escaped into the mountains and continued to fight for years

  1. They fled to the cities and were able to avoid capture

  1. They were rescued by the US Navy

  1. They were later airlifted out of Cuba by helicopter

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