The Bay of Pigs 60th Anniversary, Part II
A story of betrayal -- and heroism.
Outnumbered over ten-to-one by Soviet-led forces and betrayed by their sponsor, these mostly civilian volunteers fought 'til the last bullet. In three days of relentless, close-quarter fighting they made monkeys of the Soviet commanders at the scene and their Cuban lackeys and cannon fodder, inflicting losses of 20-to-one.
Castro and Che Guevara were jittery there for awhile, urging caution in the counterattack. From the lethal fury of the attack and the horrendous casualties their troops and militia were taking, the two Soviet satraps assumed they faced at least 20,000 invading "mercenaries," as they called them.
Yet it was a band of mostly civilian volunteers they outnumbered laughably. But to hear Castro's echo chamber (the Beltway media and leftist academics), Fidel was the plucky David and the invaders the bumbling Goliath!
(We discussed the battle in greater detail last week here.)
In fact, if JFK wanted some genuine Profiles in Courage he might have looked at the men he betrayed on that heroic beachhead. Some of the most jaw-dropping heroics, however, came after the shooting ended, after they’d spent their last bullets and knew no more were coming from their ally, the most powerful nation on earth, the same one that enforced a "no-fly zone" half a country wide on another continent (Iraq) with half the U.S Air Force for a decade—but refused to provide one three miles across, 90 miles away, for half a day with two planes.
At any rate, the battle was over in three days, but the heroism was not.
Now came almost two years in Castro’s dungeons for the captured Brigada, complete with the physical and psychological torture that always comes with communist incarceration. During almost two years in Castro’s dungeons, the freedom-fighters lived under a daily death sentence.
Escaping that sentence would have been easy: simply sign the little paper confessing they were “mercenaries of the Yankee imperialists” or go on camera denouncing the U.S. Given these freedom-fighters' betrayal, you might think that Fidel and Che Guevara had a cakewalk here.
Hah! None of these men signed the document, or uttered a peep against their “ally.” The freedom-fighters stood tall, proud, defiant, even sparring with Castro himself during their televised Stalinist show trials. “We will die with dignity!” snapped their commander Erneido Oliva (a black Cuban, by the way, Ms. Maxine “VIVA FIDEL!” Waters and Jesse “VIVA FIDEL!” Jackson) at the furious Castroites again, and again, and again. To a Castroite, such an attitude not only enrages but also baffles.
Think about it, amigos: even after that betrayal these men (and boys, some as young as 16-17) refused to utter any anti-American slogan for Castro and Che Guevara’s cameras and propaganda mill. The very slogans that half-wit, grandstanding “woke” celebrities and politicians parrot daily for free publicity, these betrayed men REFUSED to utter even while thinking it might SAVE THEIR LIVES!
The Castroites also staged a classic Soviet-style show trial attempting to showcase (for all the world to see) the Bay of Pigs prisoners admitting they were “mercenaries in the pay of the Yankee Imperialists.” And initially they thought they’d get the propaganda bonanza they so desperately desired.
For this big production the prisoners were thoroughly interrogated beforehand (the KGB had been coaching Castro’s secret police for almost two years by then) to see who’d crack, who’d play along. Only these would get in front of the cameras.
Tomas Cruz, Felipe Rivero and a few other Bay of Pigs freedom-fighters gave every impression of having broken down. They whimpered to their Castroite “interrogators” that they’d be willing to go on camera and denounce the U.S.
“AHA!” Fidel and Che snickered while rubbing their hands. “Now we got ‘em!” (Rivero and Cruz were also snickering.)
So the day came. The Stalinist stage was set at Havana’s Sports Arena and the communist cameras rolled. Castro and Che Guevara’s lackey vice President Carlos R. Rodriguez was the opening act. He put the microphone to Felipe Rivero.
"Nobody paid us to do a damn thing!" Rivero blurted… Whoops! The Castroites’ mouths dropped. They gaped nervously. They looked around. A rumble went through the crowd.
"We came here to fight communism!" Rivero continued. "Men from every class and race in Cuba volunteered to come here and FIGHT you!"
“Holy S**T! What now?!” the Castroites were frantic! The cameras were rolling but started shifting around nervously. Rodriguez’s lips trembled. He wiped his forehead. He stretched his collar. Some heads would (literally!) roll when the Maximum Leader saw this! The cameras didn’t know where to focus.
"And another thing!" Felipe shouted. "We outfought you!” The Castroites were frantic now, they looked from one to another aghast and cleared their throats. They looked like Democrats during the Ollie North hearings.
Rodriguez finally caught his breath and with a trembling voice started with the usual commie mumbo-jumbo about "the masses" and "the people…bah…blah…”
"Ok, fine!” Rivero rolled his eyes and waved his hand. "You say you have the people with you? Then hold an election! That’ll really tell us, won’t it!"
Complete pandemonium, amigos. Even the diehard commies in the crowd couldn’t restrain themselves. Che Guevara himself had to snicker. A rumble of laughter, a rustle of claps and hoots erupted from all corners. All this was on Cuban national TV, remember.
And Cuba – that impoverished and squalid little Third World country Castro’s echo chamber (the mainstream media) always tells us about – besides having net immigration from Europe shortly before the glorious liberation, also had more TVs per capita than Canada or Germany.
The very island almost shook with a collective roar.
Finally the Maximum Leader himself (Fidel Castro) pranced on the stage. Only he could straighten things out. He had it all figured out. He had an ace up his sleeve. So he approached the black parachutist prisoner Tomas Cruz. "We opened the beaches for you blacks," he sneered. (in 1958 Cuba had a private whites-only country club with a private beach.) "So what on earth are you doing with these Yankee mercenaries?"
Tell it to Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus, Fidel. Tell it to Maxine Waters and Jesse Jackson – they’ll swallow your BS and ask for seconds. But Cruz didn’t flinch. He looked Castro straight in the eye. "I didn’t come here to swim," He glowered. "I came here to fight communism. I came here with my brothers of every race to free my homeland from communism.”
Well, amigos, the Castroites decided to hold these "trials" behind closed doors and with the cameras off after that.
A guilt-stricken JFK finally ransomed the Brigade back from Castro's dungeon. The negotiations took almost two years while the men suffered mental and physical tortures. One source claims that Castro had agreed to terms 7 months earlier. But the Kennedy brothers (both President and Attorney General) feared the Bay of Pigs issue in the news for the Nov. 62 Congressional races. They feared the issue of how those men came to be prisoners in the first place might skew the races Republican. So the prisoners were conveniently released on Christmas Eve of '62. A few died in prison during those intervening 7 months.
Outrageously, thanks to yet another Democrat administration, Castro might have gotten the last laugh with Rivero. In 1967 Felipe Rivero found himself in a U.S. federal prison. His crime? Organizing attacks from the U.S. trying to overthrow Castro!
You read right. The same man accused and jailed by Castro for being a U.S. mercenary and lackey, of being bribed by the U.S. to overthrow communism in Cuba was later jailed by the U.S. for trying to overthrow Communism in Cuba! LBJ had to honor that Kennedy-Khrushchev Missile Crisis swindle to safeguard Castro, you see.
"We ended up getting exactly what we'd wanted all along," snickered Nikita Khrushchev about the Missile Crisis in his diaries, “security for Fidel Castro’s regime and American missiles removed from Turkey and Italy. Until today the U.S. has complied with her promise not to interfere with Castro and not to allow anyone else to interfere with Castro. After Kennedy's death, his successor Lyndon Johnson assured us that he would keep the promise not to invade Cuba."
The Brigadistas' ordeal was mostly over by late 1962. But when it came to JFK's lies I'll yield to Bachman Turner Overdrive: "You ain't seen nothing yet! B--ba-ba-ba-BY, you just AIN'T seen nothing yet!"
"I promise to deliver this Brigade banner to you in a free Havana!" That was JFK addressing the recently-ransomed Brigade and their families in Miami's Orange Bowl Dec. 29, 1962. I guess those people hadn't been subject to enough lies, to enough betrayal. They hadn't suffered enough. And the mothers, widows, children -- they hadn't been through enough either. In Camelot's eyes, they deserved more shameless lies.
Kennedy’s secret deal with Khrushchev to safeguard Castro was made barely a month before JFK made his liberation promises in the Orange Bowl. Yet he addressed those men, their families and compatriots with a straight face.
Small wonder that these Brigadistas, their families and most of their compatriots always refused to file meekly into the liberal plantation, like obedient little "hispanics," or “latinos,” with a nice pat on the head by the condescendingly smirking doyens of the Democrat-Media complex.