While Anderson Cooper and many other media are focused on the one-year anniversary of BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, there is another anniversary that has been largely ignored in America -- except in Miami, of course: today is 50 years since the disastrous Bay of Pigs landing.
Many claim that there are always at least three sides to the story: two sides plus the truth. But since truth is dependent on perspective, there are at least as many truths as there are potential narrators, which in war time is well into the thousands. For The Miami Herald, as you would expect, the Bay of Pigs invaders are martyrs.
While the attempted invasion of Cuba for the overthrow of Fidel Castro remains a great shaming failure for the US, the CIA, and the Kennedy administration, it is a source of great pride and celebration in Cuba.
In the Museum of the Revolution in Havana, bullet-ridden armored tractors Castro and his men used in their revolution are displayed alongside Granma, the yacht on which they landed, as well as bits of fuselage from American planes Castro shot down in the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Where Castro succeeded in a military invasion and overthrow, the mighty US failed. In a swift 48 hours, the Americans lost: by the morning of April 19th, the invasion was defeated and American soldiers were taken prisoner -- in some cases for decades -- and held for ransom.
Logistically, there were more than a few factors for this. The CIA-trained Cuban expatriates could only get 20 to 30 minutes of air cover at a time from the planes that had to fly roundtrip between Cuba and their covert air base in Nicaragua. Castro’s men, meanwhile, had the home field advantage.
Still, the same could be said of Castro versus Batista’s men -- yet the Castros prevailed in that far more protracted battle with more primitive military equipment.
So really you can’t blame the Cubans for being proud: they’ve outlasted the Cold War, the Special Period (when Cuba lost Soviet patronage as the Soviet Union collapsed), an attempted US invasion, too many assassination attempts to count and the longest embargo in history.
If the shoe were on the other foot, we might well have more than one museum to glorify it -- and Anderson Cooper would be talking about American resilience instead.