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Posted April 15, 2006 by publisher in Cuban History

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Maj. Gen. (DCNG-Ret.) Erneido A. Oliva, Former Second-in-Command of the Assault Brigade 2506. CAMCO, April 13, 2006.

On April 17, 1961, approximately 1,300 courageous Cuban patriots belonging to the Assault Brigade “2506” landed on Cuban beaches. Our mission was to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and to reestablish democracy in our homeland. However, the military operation at the Bay of Pigs which had been personally approved by President John F. Kennedy lasted only three days.

After 72 hours of continuous fighting, exhausted, we found ourselves surrounded by more than 40,000 enemy troops, hundreds of artillery pieces and more than 50 heavy tanks. Soon we realized that we had been abandoned by those who had recruited, encouraged, organized and trained us—American U.S. warships carrying more than 2,000 marines watched our inevitable defeat from only miles away. The American fighter planes flew over our heads, rocked their wings as a sign of friendship, and continued their flight without firing a single shot.

History records show that our invasion forces were able to land, secure and defend our assigned positions and repel continuous attacks at Playa Larga and Playa Giron as had been initially planned. However, by our second day our ammunition was exhausted, and I had to redeploy the forces I commanded at Playa Larga to Gir�n’s Western Front. The lack of the promised American air support enabled the sinking of the Rio Escondido and the Houston by Cuba’s air force. Along with the ships, the supplies required to sustain the military operation were lost.

By the end of the third day, with no supplies or ammunition and with 114 of our heroic comrades already dead, I realized that our “allies,” only a short distance away from the beachhead, would never come to our aid. Facing that bitter reality, I withdrew to the Zapata swamp with the last defenders of Playa Larga and Playa Giron where we eventually were confronted by our enemies—several brigadistas were executed on the spot and the majority taken prisoners.

Unfortunately, despite the politically motivated promises of “FREE CUBA” made during the last 45 years by all U.S. administrations, nothing has changed in Cuba . Despite their intense crackdown on dissidents, executions of innocent people and continued human rights violations, the 79-year-old Fidel Castro and his 74 year-old brother Raul remain entrenched in power unchallenged by the international community.

Unfortunately, the Castro brothers have now outlasted ten U.S. presidents who have failed to recognize the threat that they represent to the national security of the whole American Continent. Yet despite almost half a century of unfulfilled U.S. promises, the Bay of Pigs veterans still hold out hope that the Free World will awaken and enforce appropriate economic and political pressures to the communist dictatorship that will eventually bring freedom and democracy to the enslaved Island.

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  1. Follow up post #1 added on April 20, 2006 by J. Perez

    Mr. Oliva was a very courageous man and fought bravely for what he believed, however, some of his statements are inaccurate, It was president Eisenhower who organized the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion, JFK just inherited what was already in progress. Furthermore, history shows that he was railroaded by the CIA into believing that the people of Cuba and its armed forces would welcome the invasion and topple the regime, having realized that this was not going to happen, providing air support and landing marines in Cuba would have proven to be a catastrophe of enormous international consecuences. As far as Mr. Oliva’s statement with regards to applying political and economic pressure to Cuba, I would like to ask him, what does he call what the U.S. has been doing for the past 45 years?

  2. Follow up post #2 added on April 21, 2006 by MiamiCuban

    I wish Mr. Oliva would have clarified what he meant when he said that Cuba is a threat “to the national security of the whole American Continent”.

    If he is referring to the new wave of leftist leaders in South America, I’d like to point out that they were all democratically elected leaders.  IF Cuba was an influence, perhaps it was because the poor of Latin America realize that they, too, can have the same medical care and quality education that Cubans enjoy.  I don’t see this as a threat to anyone.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on April 26, 2006 by Democracy is not perfect

    I would like to enlighten those who believe Socialism or Castrism is so bad. First, the “democracy” America portrays as “freedom” is not the best or only way to live. Perfection and freedom is not equal to economic disparity and rampant inequalities. Freedom and democracy in America is achieved through the consent of 15-20% of the population (thats how many people voted for this government). This by no means is Democracy or Freedom or the “majorities will”.

    Every government does bad things (Vietnam, Bay of Pigs, Iraq I (Bay of Pigs part II), Iraq II, Wiretaps, torture in illegal detention centers). 

    People need to realize that “freedom” as defined by America is not the only way to live. There are millions of Americans who would love to have food, shelter, free education, free health care.

    The Cuba before Castro was an economically disparate country run by corrupt people who stole the land from the Cubans and sold it to foreign wealthy white-collar criminals. The American government supported the dictators prior to Castro because it profited from the corruption. History shows America will support any government, no matter how corrupt, if it can profit.

    Castro overthrew that government and gave the land back to Cuba. This angered America because many wealthy individuals and companies were profiting from the stolen land. America viewed Castro’s reclaiming of the land as dictatorial, even though he merely took it from foreigners who stole it in the first place!

    The economic plight in Cuba is because America forced the majority of the Western world to cease trade with Cuba.  JFK began the economic pressure not because of communism and the missile crisis but before. The following time line details events BEFORE the missile crisis. America coerced every North and South American country to stop all trade with Cuba. Two countries balked at Americas imperialist attitude and continued trade, Canada and Mexico. Castro was forced to find other financial means to support the country so he turned to Russia and China.

    Every form of government has tradeoffs. Castro believes certain liberties which America provides are not worth the trade-off for economic oppression by the wealthy elite.

    Castro has achieved enormous success in certain social areas, 100% literacy, unparrelled health care, free education, and a low income gap. Critics will say the income gap is huge and all cubans are poor, but the reality is sure, there are some wealthy Cubans, but the overall income gap is low and Cubans are not poor because of socialism, they are poor because the country as a whole has been oppressed economically by America. The definition critics use for “poor” is that Cubans do not have color TVs and cars etc. but Cubans can all read and have the longest life exptancy of any latin american country.


    Is “castrism” worse than “bushism”?? Think of the above benefits of Cuba’s socialism and then consider the following.

    America has the highest total prison population in the world at over 2 million people.

    America also has the highest percentage of its population incarcerated: 759 per 100,000 or nearly

    People imprisoned( per 100000)
    US - 750
    Cuba - 250

    Unemployment: Cuba - 1.9% America - 5.1%

    Consider the GDP disparity first. Despite have 7 times less money per person, Cuba equals or beats the US in MANY Human Development categories.
    US - $35,500/pp
    Cuba - $5,000/pp

    (US - Cuba)
    1. Human development index
    Human development index (HDI) value, 2003 0.944 - .817
    Life expectancy at birth (years) (HDI), 2003 77.4 - 77.3
    Adult literacy rate (% ages 15 and above) (HDI), 2003.. 99 - 97
    Combined gross enrolment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary schools (%), 2002/03 93 - 80
    Life expectancy index 0.87 - .87
    Education index 0.97 .91

    4. Human and income poverty: OECD countries, Eastern Europe & CIS
    Human poverty index (HPI-2) Rank 17 - 5
    Human poverty index (HPI-2) Value (%) 15.4 - 4.8
    Probability at birth of not surviving to age 60 (% of cohort), 2000-05 11.8 - 3.2

    6. Commitment to health: resources, access and services
    Public health expenditure (% of GDP), 2002 6.6 - 6.5
    Private health expenditure (% of GDP), 2002 8.0 - 1.0
    One-year-olds fully immunized against tuberculosis (%), 2003 .. 99 - 99
    One-year-olds fully immunized against measles (%), 2003 93 - 99
    Contraceptive prevalence rate (%), 1995-2003 76 - 73
    Births attended by skilled health personnel (%), 1995-2003 99 - 100
    Physicians (per 100,000 people), 1990-2004 549 - 591

    7. Water, sanitation and nutritional status
    Population with sustainable access to improved sanitation (%), 1990 100 - 98
    Population with sustainable access to improved sanitation (%), 2002 100 - 98
    Population with sustainable access to an improved water source (%), 2002 100 - 91
    Children underweight for age (% under age 5), 1995-2003 1 - 4
    Children under height for age (% under age 5), 1995-2003 2 - 5
    Infants with low birthweight (%), 1998-2003 8 - 6

    10. Survival: progress and setbacks
    Life expectancy at birth (years), 1970-1975 71.5 - 70.7
    Life expectancy at birth (years), 2000-2005 77.3 - 77.2
    Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births), 1970 20 - 34
    Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births), 2003 7 - 6
    Under-five mortality rate (per 1,000 live births), 1970 26 - 43
    Under-five mortality rate (per 1,000 live births), 2003 8 - 8
    Probability at birth of surviving to age 65, female (% of cohort), 2000-2005 86.7 - 86.2
    Probability at birth of surviving to age 65, male (% of cohort), 2000-2005 79.1 - 80
    Maternal mortality ratio reported (per 100,000 live births), 1985-2003 8 - 34
    Maternal mortality ratio adjusted (per 100,000 live births), 2000 17 - 33

    11. Commitment to education: public spending
    Public expenditure on education (as % of GDP), 1990 5.1 - 8.9
    Public expenditure on education (as % of GDP), 2000-2002 5.7 - 18.7
    Public expenditure on education (as % of total government expenditure), 1990 12.3 - 12.3
    Public expenditure on education (as % of total government expenditure), 2000-2002 17.1 - 18.7
    Public expenditure on education, pre-primary and primary (as % of all levels), 2000-2002 39.5 - 25.7
    Public expenditure on education, secondary (% of all levels), 2000-2002 35.3 - 39
    Public expenditure on education, tertiary (% of all levels), 2000-2002 25.2 - 17.5

    12. Literacy and enrolment
    Net primary enrolment ratio (%), 1990/91 97 - 92
    Net primary enrolment ratio (%), 2002/03 92 - 94
    Net secondary enrolment ratio (%), 1990/91 85 - 69
    Net secondary enrolment ratio (%), 2002/03 88 - 86

    20. Priorities in public spending
    Public expenditure on education (% of GDP), 1990 5.1 - 8.9
    Public expenditure on education (% of GDP), 2000-2002 5.7 - 9
    Public expenditure on health (% of GDP), 2002 6.6 - 6.5

    26. Gender empowerment measure
    Seats in legislature held by women (% of total) 14.8 - 36

    28. Gender inequality in economic activity
    Female economic activity rate (% ages 15 and above), 2003 59.6 - 51.5
    Female economic activity rate (index, 1990=100, ages 15 and above), 2003 107 - 122
    Female economic activity rate (% of male rate, ages 15 and above), 2003 83 - 67

    Timeline before the missile crisis:

    1960 -
    March 17. President Eisenhower approves a covert action plan against Cuba. The plan includes: a) the termination of sugar purchases b) the end of oil deliveries c) continuation of the arms embargo in effect since mid-1958 d) the organization of a paramilitary force of Cuban exiles to invade the island.

    1961 -
    September 4. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 passes in the U.S. Congress. It prohibits aid to Cuba and authorizes the President to create a “total embargo upon all trade” with Cuba.

    1962 -

    February 7. President Kennedy broadens the partial trade restrictions imposed by Eisenhower to a ban on all trade with Cuba, except for non-subsidized sale of foods and medicines.

    March 23. President Kennedy expands the Cuban embargo to include imports of all goods made from or containing Cuban materials, even if made in other countries.

    August 1. The Foreign Assistance Act is amended to prohibit aid to “any country” that provides assistance to Cuba.

    October 2. The U.S. government cables all Latin American governments and NATO countries new measures to tighten the economic embargo against Cuba. As of today, the transport of U.S. good is banned on ships owned by companies that do business with Cuba.

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