by Jorge A Maspóns

This coming Monday, April 17 is a very special day that perhaps you are not aware of. Forty five years ago on that day some 1,500 brave Cuban patriots landed in the Bay of Pigs on the southern coast of Cuba. I was still in Cuba in 1961, however, and I remember very well those days when we were very excited because we thought that the hour of our liberation was at hand.

I did not know then, much less understand, that powerful forces were already working from inside, in order to betray this noble effort to rid the world of one of the most bloody and oppressive regimes human beings have ever seen. It was not until years later that I began to see these dark forces at work, in particular when it was my time to serve in the US Armed Forces. (more on this later)

Most Americans today have already forgotten this Bay of Pigs invasion, and this is very unfortunate. Had these brave and true "freedom fighters" succeeded, many of our troubles today would be non-existent. But the invasion of Cuba by Brigade 2506 was destined to fail. Powerful conspiratorial forces were very busy making sure that Fidel Castro and his regime would not be taken out. My Cuban brothers trusted their American friends. And yet at the moment when most needed, our American friends abandoned the Brigade at the beaches.

What happened on April 17th, 1961 when the invasion forces landed on the Cuban coast? Surely, you would think that with our American allies behind to offer support, it was going to be a resounding victory - and it should have been. Unlike other oppressed nations, Cubans never requested American troops to assist in the liberation of Cuba. We simply asked that we would be allowed to do it ourselves, only that Americans would provide the logistics and advice to help us achieve the liberation of Cuba.

Following are portions of an editorial that I wrote years ago:

“The American military had no peer in the techniques of amphibious landings on a hostile shore. Tens of thousands of Americans in carefully planned and brilliantly executed landings at Omaha and Utah beaches in Normandy, Anzio in Italy, Iwo Jima, Saipan, Inchon and others, secured victory for our military forces. This expertise amounted to a guarantee of swift success on the shores of Cuba.

The question Americans and many others should ask is, “Why did the invasion fail?” The struggle that led to the failure was not waged in Playa Giron, as Cubans call the Bay of Pigs, but in our own capital city, Washington, D.C.

The military action on the Cuban coast was doomed by Washington decision makers before the first assault troops had disembarked. Although the fate of Cuba was at stake, no Cuban participated in the critical decision making. The tragic aspect of the operation, as things turned out, was that members of “La Brigada” had a blind faith in the United States government. They were certain that their American friends would never let them down.

The American instructors were astonished at the fervor displayed in the training program by the brigadistas. The certainty that they were dealing with representatives of the world’s greatest and most powerful nation was always in the back of the volunteer’s mind. No one conceived of the possibility of defeat.

But then, disaster! Air strikes were cancelled and called back. The brigade was abandoned at the beach, all requests for help denied. Sailors on the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga were crying because they were not permitted to help their Cuban friends. For months before there had been no doubt about U.S. involvement, but now it was an involvement in betrayal and failure.

The “world opinion” for which the Washington liberals had been so willing to sacrifice national honor now turned sharply against the United States. For those American patriots who were aware of what had taken place and why, sorrow was compounded by humiliation and defeat. The heroism of Brigade 2506 had been rewarded with betrayal, defeat and death for many, and a long and cruel imprisonment for the rest.

I understand to some extend the frustrations of those men from Brigade 2506. Years later, after coming to the United States, during the Vietnam War, I volunteered to served in the U.S. Army and I was assigned to a combat unit which not only participated in the war but was also part of the Cambodia invasion of 1970. Sad to say, we were sent to Vietnam just like Brigada 2506 was sent to the shores of Cuba in the Bay of Pigs. We were sent to a loosing war. There were no intentions of winning in Cuba and no intentions of winning in Vietnam. To add “insult to injury,” Vietnam veterans returned to a hostile ungrateful nation, and to this day many veterans are still bitter from the experience.”

Bay of Pigs veterans also have every right to feel bitter. Victory was in their hands yet they were denied the liberation of their homeland by the same very powerful conspiratorial forces that denied us the victory in Vietnam, and even now have us bogged down in another no/win war in Iraq.

A great opportunity was lost to advance the cause of freedom. Today, Cuba is a terrorist state, and while we are fighting thousands of miles away “for freedom’s sake”, there is, only 90 miles from the Florida coast, one of the most repressive and terrorist regime in the world. After 46 years of the fascist-communist state, Cuba continues to suffer unbelievable pain. Americans should well take note. It can and will happen here too, unless more people start getting involved in their individual liberties.

The City of New Orleans has the honor of being the only American city where some of the original members of Brigade 2506 are buried. When the final debacle came, a group of these brave men managed to capture a fishing boat and escaped to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. They naturally expected to be rescue by our own U.S. Navy. However, this was not to be. Another humiliation. After several weeks in the open waters some of them died of heat and thirst. Finally, the survivors were rescued by a Brazilian freighter and brought to my city of New Orleans. Four of the Brigadistas arrived dead and were buried in the Garden of Memories.

Today, my daughter and I paid tribute to Ernesto Hernandez Cosio and Ruben Vera. To the best of my knowledge, these men are the only ones from the invasion resting on American soil since that unfortunate day.

Jorge A. Maspóns
New Orleans, LA
American Vietnam Veteran of Cuban descent
April 17, 2006

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