Air Bombing to Airports in Cuba before Bay of Pigs Invasion

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Preparations for Invasion
As early as 1960, U.S. President Dwight Heisenhower had signed the Action Plan to be carried out to overthrow the new Cuban government headed by Fidel Castro.

The armed aggression was the expeditious way that the enemies of the Cuban Revolution found to try to wipe it out, so that their example would not spread throughout Latin America and the world.

Hence, the United States government and the CIA began to put all their efforts into the invasion that would take place the following year, but already under the command of a new president, John E. Kennedy.

On April 15, 1961, warplanes simultaneously attacked the air base of San Antonio de Los Baños, the runway of Ciudad Libertad and the current Antonio Maceo International Airport, which would be the prelude to the events that occurred two days later.

The action pursued as objectives, besides provoking fear and confusion, to destroy on land the scarce and antiquated Cuban air force, in order to assure the impunity of other enemy incursions by land.

The plan to hit Cuba

On that day, eight B-26 bombers were flying from Puerto Cabezas (Happy Valley) in Nicaragua. As they approached Cuba, they took three different directions: the Puma squadron, made up of three airplanes, attacked the Ciudad Libertad airfield. Linda, with three bombers as well, headed to San Antonio de Los Baños and the Gorilla formation would attack the airport of Santiago de Cuba.

The planes were camouflaged with the insignia of the Cuban air force. A ninth B-26 bomber flew directly from Nicaragua to Miami and it would give the public version of desertion and rebelliousness of the Cuban Air Force pilots.

Of those B-26s, only five were able to return to Nicaragua. One was shot down by revolutionary forces; another was “touched” by rebel artillery and forced to land on Key West, while a third had to land emergency on Grand Cayman Island.

The attack occurred simultaneously minutes before six o’clock in the morning. The squadron that attacked Ciudad Libertad found such a large anti-aircraft fire that some pilots unloaded their machine guns in areas close to the base, killing seven people, among them militiaman Eduardo García Delgado, who before dying, wrote Fidel’s name with his blood. Fifty-three other residents of the area were injured.

On April 6, at the funeral of the victims of the bombing, Fidel proclaims that: “we would defend this Socialist Revolution with the courage with which our anti-aircraft artillerymen shot the aggressive airplanes yesterday.

Thus the CIA and the U.S. government took the first step for the subsequent invasion on April 17…

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Jorge Luis Lora Moran

Webmaster Jorge Luis Lora

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