The Bay of Pigs
from the book
The CIAs Greatest Hits
by Mark Zepezauer
When Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro
overthrew the US-backed Batista dictatorship in 1959, he closed
down the casinos and brothels and nationalized all businesses.
This deprived the Mafia-and other US-based multinationals-of a
very profitable cash cow.
Vice President Nixon, who had longstanding
ties with the Mob (through his best friend, Bebe Rebozo, among
others), began plotting with the CIA to eliminate Castro. They
did this largely behind Eisenhower's back, fully expecting that
Nixon would be the next president. When JFK was elected instead,
he inherited an operation-an invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs-about
which he had serious misgivings.
While JFK was eager to get rid of Castro,
he didn't want to use US forces to do it, just Cuban exiles. The
CIA hoped they could provoke an incident that would force JFK
to use the US military. When he held his ground and refused, the
whole invasion failed (in April 1961).
It probably wouldn't have succeeded in
any case. Security for the operation was poor, as was the training
given the 1500 man invasion force. A planned phony attack on the
US base at Guantanamo never happened, nor did the agency's other
ace in the hole-the assassination of Castro.
The CIA had hired the Mafia to kill Castro
(something they both dearly desired); the hit was to occur at
the same time as the invasion. Ironically, because the CIA's left
hand didn't know what its right hand was doing, the Mob's hit
man was almost assassinated himself. He was one of eight JFK-backed
exile leaders chosen to head a post-Castro government, but Nixon
had them detained during the invasion. If the invasion had succeeded,
all eight would have been killed, so that Nixon-backed Cubans
could take over.
To shift blame from themselves, and to
embarrass JFK into more militant actions, the CIA mounted a propaganda
campaign that attributed the whole Bay of Pigs failure to JFK's
decision to cancel a crucial air strike. In fact, the decision
had been made behind JFK's back-though he took full responsibility
for it, as President Eisenhower did in a similar situation).
After JFK's death, the CIA's war against
Castro continued. The agency has tried to kill Castro more than
two dozen times, up until at least 1987. There have also been
numerous cases of CIA sabotage in Cuba, including the use of germ
As for the Cuban exiles involved in the
Bay of Pigs, many have turned to organized crime and freelance
terrorism. Others have continued to work for the CIA on covert
operations. And many, of course, do both.