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tv   Bay of Pigs 60th Anniversary  CSPAN  April 23, 2021 6:00pm-7:02pm EDT

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question? as right there. >> i want to cut to the chase, and we were desperate to do so, do what extent do historians now believe they can be directly ordered as they ordered the assassinations. you know the apology tests, they have not acknowledged it, and there's a biography of robert kennedy saying there's no evidence. what is the current state of evidence whether john kennedy, directly basically said go get them? >> okay the cia, is not going to make those decisions on their own. even before -- nowadays any covert a operation has to be signed off. and that was not the case before. but under dulles, they will not make these kind of decisions. because dulles, it does have free rein under eisenhower but
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not under kennedy. and kennedy makes a specific point of firing dulles at the beginning of his presidency. kennedy becomes president in january 1961, bay of pigs is a couple of months later, and dulles gets fired, but cohen is his handpicked replacement. and cohen is not going to do something, you know at least bobby. there might be times where it only gets to bobby kennedy, the attorney general, but there is no evidence anywhere that they didn't talk about everything. so i would say are almost guaranteed there's implicit blessing. and i would think it's even more explicit. kennedy may have not said let's put a bullet in his head, but if you listen to a lot of the communications from the cuban missile crisis where they talk about stuff like we tried to get rid of that, i would try to get rid of that guy and they're not saying what caliber rifle to use, but they're saying kill the dude. and that's pretty explicit in
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my book. apologies, their revisionist historians and i get that. i do not think it makes kennedy worse, i think people are trying to rehabilitate some kind of kamala out of this. you know or take it down a notch or two. but i think that you don't you know what we did. if it wasn't kennedy it would've been nixon. if it wasn't it was eisenhower before that, and johnson after that. this was the american way of doing war without actually doing more. and until as -- made that explicitly illegal, there is nothing in hindsight to say that's a bad thing. it's the way we did things. and we did it very successfully. things are going well in the 19 sixties, 1979 they say we should've got out there, but when we didn't kill -- but we blessed off that in vietnam. that was a smart move. so knocking off leaders was a
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legitimate foreign policy decision. it was a choice that we could make at the time that made some sense at times. and look again like i said in the very beginning, if we had killed castro in the beginning, it could have ended things before they even started. by 1963 1964 not so much. and certainly after that. but if you had taken castro out before he was able to consolidate power and built his government, it could've fallen. but it's counterfactual history. so who knows. but it was all based they say on charisma, his ability to lead, that chopping off the head at an early stage would've made a huge difference. so all right that's all the time i've got and thank you all. >> thank you very much a terrific presentation. >> thank you good job really interesting. >> thank you all for coming everyone.
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on april 17th 1961, a force of more than 1400 cia trained he wouldn't exiles launched an invasion of the bay of pigs. the southern coast of cuba. the goal was to overthrow fidel castro, who had taken power only a few years earlier in the cuban revolution. coming back we look back 60 years on the failed invasion. our guest is former cia historian nicholas dujmovic. first a universal newsreel reporting on the early stages
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of the attack. >> the assault has begun on the dictatorship of fidel castro. cuban army pilots opens the first phase of organize revolts with bombing raids on three military bases. two of the b 26 light bombers, and on the heels of the arid, land bases were affected by rebels in several places on the human on the cuban coast. and the revenge against the dictator with a refugee planning a fuel scale roller me revolt was on. in havana, acting minister -- claims the u.s. raiders have u.s. markets. meanwhile at the united nations, they accused the united states of unleashing a war, and he said the invading soldiers --
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but ambassador stevenson makes a quick denial. >> these charges are totally false, and i deny them categorically. we the united states is committed has committed no aggression against cuba, and no aggression has been long from florida or any other part of the united states. >> in the guatemalan foothills, there is a mysterious training depth where some of the >> -- match were based. observers have said otherwise. professional soldiers are among the teachers and once trained, the men mysteriously disappear. guatemala has had no's -- for the castro regime and has aided the rebels. >> in cuba itself the people have vin told by catcher to push back the invaders. and 300,000 militiamen have
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been mobilized. the invasion was successful in the early hours with fidel blaming u.s.. it is a in his armor. >> we are back with nicholas dujmovic who is a former cia deputy chief historian, and currently director at catholic university and he is here today with us to discuss the 60th anniversary of the bay of pigs invasion. it was the failed cia back effort to remove cuban leader fidel castro from power. good morning nicholas's. >> good morning it's a pleasure to be with you on this auspicious anniversary. >> tell us exactly what happened 60 years ago today on the southern coast of cuba. >> yes well, let me talk about what it was intended to do and what happened. the bay of pigs operation was a well meaning, but totally
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missed managed attempt on the part of the u.s. government to oust the cuban government of fidel castro and liberate documents cubans from communism. it turned out to be a disaster. what was intended, was an invidious invasion of some 1500 cuban exiles, trained and armed and supplied by the central intelligence agency, who would come ashore on the southern coast of cuba, at a remote place called the bay of pigs. they would establish a peach head, and hold that beach head. that would attract dissidents to the regime, defectors from the cuban military who would spark a general uprising it was believed among the key would people. and it would sweep away fidel castro from power. them they would declare a provisional government, that
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would then request the help of the united states. what actually happened, 60 years ago was that the cuban military was alerted to the fact of a an invasion somewhere. they had sufficient security forces in the area to respond far more quickly than the cia planners had envisioned. so there were other many many mistakes. their cover was supposed to be guaranteed by a series of airstrikes. there was only one airstrike. we president kennedy canceled, actually two airstrikes. there was mostly a total of three. the second one was scotch to. the third one was called off at the last minute. so there is no air cover over the beaches and the cuban air force under castro had command
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of the air. and that really chewed up those brave cubans the cuban exiles who are fighting for their country, for freedom. it was the, it turned out to be one of the biggest blunders in american foreign policy history and one of the biggest failures in the history of the u.s. intelligence operations. so there is a lot to talk about. a lot went wrong with this. well meaning but very mismanaged operation. >> so what were the actual results of the invasion? what happened that day and the days after? what were the direct results? >> well as in the predawn hours, of april 17th, about 1400 cuban exiles on various landing craft and landing ships, actually
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most of them actually made a short despite the fact that one the mistakes was out. we didn't realize they were coral reefs there the landing craft had a great deal of trouble with those coral reefs causing most of the exiles have to wait the assault has begun on the ashore because the air force and commander the air, his fighters were able to destroy to supply ships that carried ammunition another supplies for the they were caught on the beach, some of them made it as far as 20 miles. there were some bright spots. there were battles between brigade armored vehicles and tanks and castro's tanks. they were able to hang on surprisingly for all of two days and on the afternoon of april 19th they basically ran
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out of ammunition. the cuban assault brigade did not give up so much as they simply run out of ammunition. they were captured. >> we see here. i'm going to put up some facts about the bay of pigs invasion. 114 people were killed during the bay of pigs invasion, including for u.s. airman. more than 1100 people were captured from the assault brigade 20 5:06. five b 26 bombers were shot down. two u.s. supply ships sank during the bay of pigs invasion. with all of that wet went wrong? you talked about the coral reefs, but what went wrong here? >> it has been said and i totally agree with this that the operation, the military
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operation was too small to succeed. castro, with 1400 men ashore no matter how well trained and how well positioned castro is able to quickly mount 20,000 men in arms against them. both regular military and militia. he had a potential to mobilize 200,000. the concept of the cuban exiles being able to hang on to this beach head is quite debatable. it's important to realize that this started out as a kind of world war ii classic support mission for gorillas infiltrating gorillas or commandoes. there were anti-castro elements in the mountain. and in the maestra. we will do the castro would
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castro had done to bautista before him. so as the planning went forward in the late days of the eisenhower ministration, the plan kept getting bigger. it started with we are going to infiltrate 30 or so trained guerrillas that one time that will link up with resistance forces and then by the fall of 1916, and especially after the election, it's sort of morphed into this conventional amphibious operation that had these presumptions that the cuban people were ready to rise up against castro and it was totally false. one of the mistakes was that the operational planners were not consulting the cia analyst who knew cuba best. the analysts were never asked
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well, if we are able to put a force ashore, with the cuban people then rise up? i mean there's a lot of discontent in cuban society, that castro's grip on power, it seems pretty secure. anyway, the analysts would never ask that question. >> let me remind everyone watching that they could take part in this conversation about the bay of pigs 60th anniversary. we're going to open up regional lines, which means that if you are in the eastern or central time zones you are numbers going to be 2:02 seven four eight eight 8000. if you are in the mountain and pacific time zone, you're numbers going to be 2:02 seven four eight 8001. we are going to open up a special line for cuban americans. cuban americans, we want to know what you are thinking on the 60th anniversary of the bay of pigs invasion and a line for cuban americans will be two to
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seven four eight 8002. keep in mind you could always text us at two zero two seven four eight eight zero zero three. we are always reading on social media, on twitter, c-span, facebook and slash c-span. nicholas, we are at the top of this show. we showed a newsreel. it referenced a mysterious training base in guatemala. if the media knew about this, was this operation of really a secret? >> that's the problem and i mentioned that it was too small to succeed as a military operation. it was too large as an intelligence operation to stay secret. you are absolutely right. castro knew it was happening. he had agents in guatemala where the cuban exiles, most of them were being trained. but also he was relying mostly
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on american, regional and newspaper reporters who would hear things from the cuban exile community in miami. and were able to piece together pretty much the whole story, and fact the new york times on january 10th, 1961, had a front page above the fold with a map article explaining that the u.s. was preparing cuban exiles for action against the castro regime. president eisenhower, who is in the last days of his administration said basically they had the whole story and yet planning went forward. one of the many blunders of this operation. >> who are these cuban exiles who were being trained for this assault brigade? how long had they've been
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outside of cuba and with type of support could they realistically expect if when they got back to cuba in this invasion force? >> after castro took power in early 1959 and started nationalizing industries and expropriating the property classes there was an exodus of cubans professionals, people with money who saw that the socialist practices were going to be injurious to them. so you have in southern florida 100,000 or so, cuban exiles, anti-castro. the big challenge for cia was trying to unite them into a single front, because there were many differences between them. some of them had been for the
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previous dictator bautista, and most of the others did not like that. there were differences of opinions. that was a great challenge. would cia offered to them was a chance to retake their country. and they signed up. there was a recruiting drive and they were trained and guatemala and nicaragua and a few places in the united states, despite the state department objecting to that. they were hoping to take back the country for freedom. >> let's let some of our viewers take part. roger, good morning. >> good morning. how are you? >> great, roger. >> just fine. >> yeah, i. i have a question, an
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interesting question. in 1898, the u.s. with teddy roosevelt -- 17th volunteer in new york got rid of the spaniards and mckinley sent the rough riders and and everybody into cuba to get rid of the spaniards. why didn't eisenhower -- why didn't kennedy -- why didn't dickson, the u.s. military -- i was reading this thing about the bay of pigs on usa today in las vegas, nevada. most generals at the time -- the cia was not supposed to go in and do military operations. the u.s. military, was supposed to go into cuba to get rid of castro.
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>> yes. both eisenhower and kennedy were unwilling to commit, at least openly. u.s. military forces to the overthrow of the castro regime. one of the great concerns was to maintain good relations with the rest of latin america. latin america, latin american people saw the united states as overbearing. they did not like the maduro doctrine. they did not like to be in america's backyard. so good foreign policy reasons, it was ruled out that we would have the united states military openly go against the castro regime. now kennedy considered that when it came to the event that happened some 18 months later,
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that was a cuban missile crisis, but that was another story. >> what made u.s. officials decided to back this bay of pigs invasion? what was going on that made u.s. officials decide to consider any type of intervention in cuba at this point? >> well castro was definitely cozying up to the soviet union. at the time this is in the depths of the cold war tensions where there are high. there's an arms race. eisenhower in particular had already acted against what he thought was going to be a soviet beach head and western hemisphere in guatemala. he used cia any covert action to oust the democratically elected president of guatemala, you kabul ardennes in 1954. cuba, as castro gets closer to
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the soviet union, starting to accept arms, starting to implement socialist policies, accepting soviet advisers of the kgb and military. eisenhower believed that we had an even bigger problem with cuba becoming part of the soviet orbit and we had without paul civility and guatemala several years previously. so for eisenhower it was a matter of keeping the soviets out of our hemisphere and the thing is it's only 90 miles from the united states. why kennedy went forward with it was a little harder to justify. he did campaign in the 1960 election on freeing cuba, providing support. he was actually unwittingly saying with the eisenhower
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administration was doing secretly. kennedy was advocating it openly. he was politically committed to moving forward on that, and he inherited this plan, this plan that had grown from a guerrilla infiltration and supply operation to a can for federal -- and cbs landing. kennedy ruled the fact that he had trusted the experts. this left him with great skepticism of the judgment of cia leaders in the u.s. military leaders who were encouraging -- >> let's go back to our phone lines. as we do i want to remind everyone that this is a coal production with american history tv and it is being cast on c-span three so let's talk to henry who is calling from ash furrow, north carolina. henry, good morning. >> hello. >> go ahead, henry. >> yes, dwayne with castro
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taking charge of the revolution -- [inaudible] certain jobs -- there were a lot of cubans out there fighting. yeah -- and ships -- you didn't see no dark skin. you seen them with light skin. why did they not -- [inaudible] you could not go to the beach at night. certain beaches you couldn't go. you couldn't go to hotels. there were slaveowners. there were the end words.
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>> what was going on with the cuban people with the bay of pigs invasion? >> there were resistance elements in there were anti-castro resistance who were expecting some sort of action. some sort of invasion. they were waiting for it. they had weapons, explosives. there were active guerrilla movements in the sierra -- mountains. the problem was that in order to keep it secret because cia believed that some of these resistance groups were probably penetrated by castro's intelligence service. they were not told, another mistake. they were not told of the imminent invasion. they could not get ready. they heard about it from cuban media. not only that, but after the first airstrike which happened
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two days before the invasion, castro started rounding up suspected dissidents. 20,000 or more. a lot of the resistance forces were simply rounded up in a security suite. so if there was a basis for a groundswell of opposition that castro, that this invasion would have sparked, castro pretty effectively sweltered that option. dealt with the potential for resistance by sweeping them all up. >> we've talked a little bit about international policy with the united states and the bay of pigs and vision, but how did the bay of pigs invasion affect national policy? i want to show a clip here of a policy being discussed during the fourth presidential debate between 1960, between john f.
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kennedy and richard nixon. here is that exchange. >> i look at cuba. 90 miles off the coast of the united states. in 1957 i was in havana. i talk to the american ambassador. he said that he was the second most powerful man in cuba. yet, even though ambassador smith and ambassador gunned both republican ambassadors both warned of castro, the marxist influences around castro, the communist influence around castro, both of them had testified in the last six weeks that in spite of their warnings to the american government nothing was done. >> i think that senator kennedy's policies and recommendation for the handling of the castro regime, probably the most the most dangerously irresponsible recommendations that he has made during the course of his campaign. in effect, with senator kennedy recommends is that the united states government should give help to the exiles and to those with -- within cuba, who oppose the
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castro regime provided they are anti bautista. let's just see with this means. we have five treaties with latin america. including the one setting up the organization of america states in bogotá in 1948. which we've agreed, not to intervene in the internal affairs of any other american country. and they as well have agreed to do likewise. the charter of the united nations, it's preamble article one an article to. also provide that there shall be no intervention by one nation in the internal affairs of another. i do not know what's senator kennedy suggest when he says he's we should help those who oppose the castro regime. both in cuba and out. but i do know this? but if we were to follow that recommendation and lose all of our friends in latin america that we would not accomplish our objective are rejected. and i know it would be an open
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invitation for mr. khrushchev to come in and to come into latin america and to engage us in what would be a civil war and probably even worse than that. >> so what role did questions about castro in cuba play in the 1960 presidential campaign. >> it is such a bizarre situation because nixon is arguing the exact opposite of what he believes. kennedy is attacking nixon from the right on cuba saying that cuba revolution has to be quarantined and that its opponents have to be supported. the kennedy campaign to put out a campaign statement that the eisenhower administration was not helping. providing virtually no help. so in this debate which was the fourth of the presidential debates. nixon is countering that press statement from the kennedy campaign. and it's for all those reasons that he articulated. you have this bizarre situation,
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if you are an american voter in 1960. and you don't want the united states to intervene in cuba. you would vote for nixon. who articulated why the shun happen. even though nixon himself, was actually pressing for the cia to act against castro. and he even wanted the u.s. military involved. if you're an american voter in 1960, you want intervention in cuba, you're going to vote for kennedy who actually has serious misgivings about it. particularly any use of overt force on the part of either the cia or the military. so it was a bizarre situation. and it definitely played into the election. one of the closest ever. >> once he took office, how much did domestic politics have to do with president kennedy's
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decision-making when it came to the bay of pigs? >> significantly. because kennedy and his brother robert, the attorney general were determined that they would not give republicans any ammunition that they were chicken. that they were weak. kennedy had this persona of vigor. and a new way of doing things that contrasted with the old doctoring school roddick eisenhower administration. it was unfair, but that was what kennedy believed. that he could not afford not to act in some way. so he believed morales that what he inherited from the eisenhower administration i say more or less because he accepted it. he allowed it to go forward and
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have put severe constraints on it that help doomed its chances of success. >> let's talk to eric who is talking who is calling from lawrence new york. >> good morning thank you very much, my question is into parts. objectively how responsible is president kennedy, also his brother for calling off the invasion and not giving the air cover. that is historically we -- . and second all was being taught the information gathering organization. if i've understood you correctly, and many others it's been involved in military preparations, training people, militarily to intervene. perhaps the assassination of jacob ihra. what is the truth about these two military issues? because i knew one man who said you don't know what it's like
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to see the bodies coming back. >> yes a lot of people in the cia and u.s. military who were near my on the essex and other ships believed it was a mistake for president kennedy to council that last morning of d-day airstrike. the first air strike on the 15th had at best taken care of or disabled half of castro small air force but the few aircraft that he had played havoc. and they were not disabled by subsequent airstrikes. there was a lot of resentment about that. but it does raise the question, even if the brigade had perfect air cover, could it have survived? there is is a lot of reason to believe that the concept was fundamentally flawed whether or
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not the brigade had air cover or not. in terms of you know it's a common your question about cia as info gathering, versus covert action, or organization, it was not well done from the beginning. from a from very early on, from cia's charter with the national security act in 1947. there has been an understanding with the cia in addition to collecting intelligence, would from time to time act in what has been called, now covid covert action. and covert action under the u.s. law, is simply the implementing of a policy to effect political military economic conditions abroad in a way that united states cannot be denied. from the beginning, the cia was considered the best u.s. agency to do that because cia had already established a secret
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relationship with foreigners. and that was necessary for this to happen. the difference is that early on cia was in favor of doing covert influence operations. propaganda, influencing newspaper, having you no influence of a political party or leader. the question was whether the cia would you paramilitary activity. things that involved violence. and thanks to policy derived by george cannon at the state department, cia got that mission in 1948. so they began during the eisenhower administration, a series of cia pereira military covert actions. some of which were successful, many of which were not. and culminating and as a cia historian, i used to call the
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bay of pigs the mother of all covert actions disasters. >> let us talk to ron, who is calling for michigan. ron good morning. >> good morning. good morning to you both. nicholas i remember watching the cuban revolution on tv. i don't remember what year was, but i was probably about nine or ten years old. and i was rooting for castro now. but i'm a vietnam veteran, and can you tell me the first cia agent to be killed in vietnam? >> well that was john birch. so i know that was later serena. that was in china. >> in 1945, the first officer was killed in vietnam. and they help my father
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survived three years in the pacific, because he was fighting the japanese. and he asked us for help. he begged us. he wrote to the constitution on our own, and now he is the only friend we have in southeast asia. you called vietnam one of your great failures, or how about iran with the coup d'état in iran. and now we have the islamic revolution going on forever. and the same thing is happening with afghanistan. 1979 under carter, we stuck our nose in their. and i said after, as it's like the russians are coming after us. here they are worldwide. when you guys ever going to get something right? as >> well you know, i think cia does get a lot of things right. in implementing the policy, that constitutes a covert action cia is operating under the desires of the president, and the president has to sign a
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document called the finding. it says i find this action necessary. i want cia to do this. the finding is then transmitted in a memorandum of notification to the congress. which then can weigh in on it if they so choose. there's a lot of adult supervision. that is not to say that there hadn't been mistakes. these are policy failures that were owned by the u.s. government. not just cia. cia is not the only -- as a rock elephant as one swiss claimed. >> let's remind everyone that we are talking about the 60th anniversary of the bay of pigs invasion here in washington journal. this is a coal production with american history tv and being simulcast on c-span three right now. nicholas, one of our social media followers have written and with their story of the bay
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of patients. i want to read it to you. this tweet says i was a child in cuba during the bay of pigs fiasco. we hid in a closet while anti aircraft fire raged from the nearby hilltops. the next day in the middle of the night we fled the roundup of the opposition to the countryside and had four weeks until it was over. what was happening with the people of cuba during the bay of pigs invasion. >> again, tens of thousands of them were rounded up. the result of the invasion was that even though there had been a lot of opposition with castro in the country, because he stood up to the united states. he stood up to the united states. he was more popular than ever with the cuban people and actually popular regionally. so the action in terms of foreign policy really backfired on the united states.
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and the exit us continued from cuba. for many decades. >> another one of our social media followers have a question for you. if the cia had succeeded in cuba was there any guarantee it wouldn't have turned into a right-wing dictatorship like other cia south american interventions? >> i am a historian, not a fortune teller. i would speculate that that certainly is a possibility because we saw that happening in the latin american countries overtime, these right-wing dictatorships generally became more democratic, so who knows what would have happened? >> let's go to jason who is calling from san diego california. jason, good morning. >> yes, good morning. i would like to ask a question
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to get some verification. is it true that when castro found the revolution and was celebrating, he came to the united states to meet with american congressman, politicians, whatever. he went to new york. he could not find a place to stay. he had to go to harlem to get a hotel. nobody came to congratulate him or anything. but russia, which have hopped on a plane, came to the u.s., came to harlem. walked the streets of harlem. found castro at the hotel and celebrated with castro. from that day on, castro, russia had one castro's
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confidence and they became friends. >> is that what happened, jake? is that what happened, nicholas? >> yes. that's what happened. a lot of that was political theater, but castro intended to stay in harlem for appearances. he already was developing relationships with the soviet union with a spark because of this act of generosity on the part of khrushchev. these things are usually political theater. it's interesting that on that trip, castro did meet -- eisenhower would not meet with him but he met with vice president, richard nixon who was impressed by this young, charismatic new leader of cuba. that he said afterwards that he is either incredibly naive about communism or he is one of them. >> i'm going to show everyone a
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clip from president kennedy who was speaking about the bay of pigs invasion to the american society of newspaper editors on april 20th, 1961. here's what he said. >> the president of a great democracy such as ours and the editors of great newspapers such as yours, oh a common obligation to the people. an obligation to present the facts. to present them with candor. and to present them with perspective. it is with that obligation and mind that i've decided in the last 24 hours to discuss briefly at this time the recent events in cuba. on that unhappy island, as in so many other areas of the contest for freedom, the news has grown worse instead of better. i have emphasized before that
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this was a struggle of cuban patriots against a cuban dictator. while we could not be expected, with sympathies, we made it very clear that the armed forces of this country would not intervene in any way. any unilateral american intervention in the absence of an external attack, upon ourselves or an ally, would have been contrary to our traditions and to our international obligations. >> did the media and the american people accept president kennedy's angle there on the bay of pigs tory? >> he did, and quite to kennedys surprise, his popularity shot up. he was more popular as a result of this and taking responsibility for it, he said
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i am the responsible officer of this government. he took the blame, even though there was plenty of blame to go around. it was a very interesting speech, because he emphasized that this was the work of cuban patriots, anti communists who loved their country and wanted castro and the communists out. the cuban rugged's does themselves have always maintained that they were using cia and not the other way around. they were using cia to achieve their ends and the average age was around 22 very young. many of them are still alive and several hundreds of them are still alive and so i would love to hear from any of them if they call in. what's interesting also is that kennedy definitely said later in that speech that having ruled out military force unless
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there is an imminent threat, he did not rule it out entirely and this may have encouraged khrushchev the soviet leader on a gamble to do his gamble to place medium-range and inter medium range, ballistic missiles nuclear tipped in cuba the following year. >> let's talk to jay who is calling from indiana. jay, good morning. >> good morning. thank you so much for taking my call. i was a first year student at university in 1961. i remember all of this. at the university there was a colony of refugees or escapees, i guess, from cuba. they lived near us and made friends with them.
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they introduced me to espresso coffee, which i still love. if i recall correctly, one was a lawyer, the other one was a doctor. they were clearly well educated and part of an elite that had left cuba with the help of the united states. my comment goes to how we are using the term freedom. it seemed to me that this is to my 18 year old self in 1961 and later, that we were really supporting was a elitist governing group flourishing under batista, and it also seemed to me that the real support was for capitalism and not necessarily freedom for the masses. i don't romanticize castro. i know exactly who and what he was. but i am still wondering if we were really on the side of the
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people, the masses and not the governing elite. i'm wondering if you would speak to that. thank you so much. yes well, again as a historian i often take it face value what people at the time say their motivations were. it definitely ain't the u.s. government working through the cia wanted to enhance american national security. they were upset at the nationalization of industries that were owned by americans so. there is that angle to. and yet they saw a mutual interest with these cubans. i can say that the cuban exile community, they were not all lawyers and doctors. there were a lot of people who are anti-castro, who were from the classes that castro had
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most of his support with because of his workers. and it's a mixed picture as always as these things are. but i think the rhetoric of freedom is still not a bad way to describe these events and try to explain them. >> what were the consequences of the bay of pigs invasion for u.s. relationships or u.s. relations with the soviet union? >> well, that is the problem. you could draw a straight line from the bay of pigs to the cuban missile crisis of october 1962. the soviet he leader at the time khrushchev he saw the bay of pigs failure, failure of the united states as a great victory for soviet foreign policy. and its desire to have inroads
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into the western hemisphere through cuba. khrushchev saw this as an indication of weakness, and indecision on the part of the american president. and at their later summit in vienna, in the summer of 1961, chris schiff basically beat up kennedy rhetorically. and then that summer put up the berlin wall. chris schiff also saw this as an opportunity to change the strategic imbalance in nuclear force posture by putting these medium range and intermediate range secretly these missiles secretly in cuba. and he thought he would be able to get away with it, and announce it as a fait accompli and force western concessions on other issues like berlin. >> did president kennedy or anyone from the united states
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ever admit the country's role in the bay of pigs invasion? >> oh i think so. yes. it was a pretty clear to all, through the media and the exile community, the cia had been involved and again kennedy took responsibility for it. but an important legacy of all this is this you don't the fact that kennedy learned about decision-making from this. he learned not to trust the experts. cia leadership, the u.s. military leadership he felt with justification, had let him down. he also realized that he had made some poor decisions based on faulty information that he had received. so when it comes time for the cuban missile crisis and want to do about these missiles in the that the u.s. intelligence has now detected in cuba, it has changed the whole process of consultation and
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decision-making. it led to a good outcome. so that is the best legacy of the bay of pigs. that is the silver lining in what's otherwise is a great debacle for the united states and for those cubans who fought there. >> let's talk to randy, who is calling from louisiana. randi good morning. >> yes in my mind, thinking about the chain of events that happen. you have fugitive who came here in 1959, and then in 1960 you had a shootdown of garry powers. than april of 61, the bay of pigs. then in october it was a cuban missile crisis. it's interesting how all of these things played out. and also in 1961, the berlin wall was put up. and all of these things just
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how they all fell into place. >> yes and there is perceived communist advances in southeast asia. in the congo. it was a very you know it was a time of high tension in the cold war. and at the time of the bay of pigs, i was like four years old. i remember in subsequent years, when i went to elementary school and still the cold war, there is still the threat of a nuclear exchange between the superpowers. i remember the drills that we would be put through and to basically we have to hide under our desks in the event of a nuclear attack. that's a lot of tension. we sometimes forget that the cold war, when we look back on it now, it was even with if we look back at it with some humor. but at the time it was deadly serious. we did not handle how was going to turn out. and thank you for that litany of cold war events. it is very true and it really
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ratcheted up the overall tension. >> it wasn't until about 20 months after the bay of pigs invasion that castro released the bulk of the exile brigade prisoners. and president kennedy had a ceremony at the orange bowl miami, for those regain embers. how do they released him about? >> yes, negotiations began between the u.s. government working unofficially, but still directly through a man named james donovan. he had been a former oasis member. officer strategic services. a lawyer. he had negotiated a release of francis garry powers, in the movie the bridge of spies, he is played by tom hanks. james donovan worked with the castro regime negotiating to
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free the prisoners. 1189 were captured, i believe nine died in captivity. and castro actually withheld about eight of those that he considered most dangerous. but by december of 1962 he was releasing them, in exchange for what donovan had negotiated, about 53 million dollars in medicines pharmaceuticals, and food aid for cuba. >> it turns out that the very last one of those exile brigade members to get released, was released in 1986. okay we're going to talk to -- who is calling from planes new york. >> it is tsai. >> yes we're talking to tsai. >> good morning i would like to ask how castro was able to
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maintain power was through his ruthlessness? and death squads, and incarceration of his opponents. i can to what she jinping does. and many of the communists do. and can you comment on the cia attempts to assassinate castro threw poisoned cigars, another crazy methods. thank you very much. >> okay well on the assassination attempt there were many. in 1960 still when eisenhower was president ideas that if pop leadership could be eliminated then you'd be more likely to have this general uprising. and by the infiltration of
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guerrillas and yale for the in and phoebe is landing. so they were thought to take out castro and who just yesterday step down from power and che guevara the roof of the revolutionary. the people would be more likely to rise up against it a leaderless regime and there were some imaginative ideas and most of them never went past the drawing board. they're worse there was a few attempts, there was an attempt to enlist a mafia figure who was offered 150,000 dollars for a hit on castro. they were to use poison pills. the person never got into a position to use them. in terms of castro's hold on the regime your absolutely right. it's a feature of communist
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regimes that the use repression. secret police. a series of informants. to keep a lid so basically just let it go that. >> what lessons did the cia and other american intelligence communities learn from the failure at the bay of pigs? and are any of those lessons still relevant today? >> i think so in terms of the conventional military nature of an amphibious landing they've never been tried before. the bay of pigs is not a conventional paramilitary covert action. and it was never attempted again. it is a one-off. and i think the other lesson that the cia learn from this is
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you have to involve your analysts. the ones who are most experts on a particular region and that was put into effect by dulles is successor. at the cia. dulles was required to resign. and they make sure the best experts and the analysts would be involved so they could help operational planners know what is the ground and where the ground troops? >> you just brought up the fact that castro had retired ahead of the communist party and leader in cuba since the bay of pigs invasion, are we still living with the consequences of the bay of pigs invasion? nicholas: oh, yes. every time the united >> are we still living with the consequences of the bay of pigs and visions? >> oh yes. every time the united states


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