1961 – The Bay of Pigs Invasion fails

In the early hours of April 17, 1961, a combined force of Cuban expatriates and American military advisors landed at Playa Girón, a beach in the Bay of Pigs. They were outgunned almost at once, and approximately 80% of the invading force was captured by the Cuban military.

In many ways, it seems to modern eyes that the Bay of Pigs was a dry run for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. In both cases, the invading force was under-resourced, acting on faulty intelligence guided more by ideology than information, and relying on a sympathetic uprising that never eventuated.

The Bay of Pigs fiasco marked the last overt attempt by the USA to deal with the clear and present danger that Castro’s Cuba apparently posed to the American way of life. Fifty years of more or less peaceful coexistence later, it’s hard to see what all the fuss was about.

Referenced in:

We Didn’t Start The Fire — Billy Joel

1959 – Cuban Revolution ends in Communist victory

The fall of Cuba’s Batista government, after six years of fighting between government forces and Castro’s revolutionary army, was officially complete when Castro and his soldiers captured Havana on January 8, 1959.

Wild scenes of celebration ensued, as Castro’s army were hailed as liberators throughout the city. Law professor José Miró Cardona had created a new government with himself as prime minister and Manuel Urrutia Lleó as president on January 5, and the United States had officially recognized this new government two days later. Upon Castro’s arrival in Havana, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Cuba’s Armed Forces.

A month later, Miró suddenly resigned, and on February 16, 1959, Castro was sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba.

Referenced in:
We Didn’t Start The Fire — Billy Joel