More classified Bay of Pigs documents released
The U.S. has made public two never-released volumes from its official classified history of the 1961 failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, detailing the close relationship between the CIA and two unpopular Central American leaders who provided bases to prepare for the attack.
The release Monday came in response to a lawsuit filed in April by the independent, Washington-based National Security Archive. The nonprofit research group has sought for years to declassify all five volumes on the invasion. Two other volumes released Monday were previously made public but not in wide circulation. A fifth remains classified.
The invasion by CIA-trained Cuban exiles who sought to overthrow Fidel Castro’s fledgling government remains a seminal moment in U.S. covert actions and is studied by military experts. It also continues to affect U.S.-Cuba relations today. The U.S. initially sought to deny a connection with the exiles.
The newly released volumes describe how then-Guatemalan President Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes helped secure the training space for the exiles in Guatemala and even wanted his own troops to participate in the Cuba invasion. He was rebuffed. At one point, he hoped the U.S. would back a multinational force to fight communism throughout Latin America.
Meanwhile, when Ydigoras’ military-backed government faced a series of attacks from Guatemalan rebel forces in November of 1960, Guatemalan officials asked the U.S. for napalm to wipe out the rebels.
“(Government of Guatemala) requests if at all possible send Napalm bombs to be mounted on GAOG B’26’s,” states one cable.
The request was denied for technical reasons. But the U.S. did provide flyovers to help quell the unrest.
The cozy relationship between Nicaraguan President Luis Somoza and his brother Gen. Anastasio Somoza, and the CIA, already well documented, is also on display in detail rarely seen. The brothers provided the base from which the Bay of Pigs air attacks were launched.
“It just goes to show you the priorities of the United States during the Cold War. The top priority was to overthrow Castro, and it was a low priority to put pressure on very unpopular regimes like those of Somoza,” said Peter Kornbluh, head of the Archive’s Cuba Documentation Project, who filed the lawsuit.