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Bay of Pigs fiasco occurred 50 years ago

April 17, 2011 - CUBA

Fidel Castro's forces repelled the Bay of Pigs invasion, a CIA-sponsored effort by 1113 Cuban exiles to overthrow the Cuban leader, 50 years ago. The exiles were defeated in three days. Most were taken prisoner. The incident has become a catch phrase for any fiasco, and it blighted the early days of the John F. Kennedy administration. The anniversary could be the symbolic date on which United States and European Union lift or ease their present trade and travel restrictions on the island. Despite continuing questions about human rights problems in the still-Communist country, there is a bill in the US Congress that would lift the American ban on travel to Cuba and increase American food exports to the island. The European Union is also debating whether to change the Continent's so-called common position toward Cuba. Havana has long objected to the European Union's insistence that the regime must show progress on human rights and democracy before it can hope to improve relations with the 27-nation bloc.

Fidel Castro's forces repelled the Bay of Pigs invasion, a CIA-sponsored effort by 1113 Cuban exiles to overthrow the Cuban leader, 50 years ago. The exiles were defeated in three days. Most were taken prisoner. The incident has become a catch phrase for any fiasco, and it blighted the early days of the John F. Kennedy administration. The anniversary could be the symbolic date on which United States and European Union lift or ease their present trade and travel restrictions on the island. Despite continuing questions about human rights problems in the still-Communist country, there is a bill in the US Congress that would lift the American ban on travel to Cuba and increase American food exports to the island. The European Union is also debating whether to change the Continent's so-called common position toward Cuba. Havana has long objected to the European Union's insistence that the regime must show progress on human rights and democracy before it can hope to improve relations with the 27-nation bloc. The BBC reports that Spain, under Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's socialist government, has been pressing the European Union to embrace the Cuban regime without using human rights as a condition for more-favorable trade agreements. The broadcaster notes that the recent harassment of and regime-backed mob violence directed at dissidents and Cuba's snail's-pace response to treating the ailing political prisoners makes unlinking the Cuban trade and human rights issues unlikely. Cuban authorities deny they hold political prisoners, calling their jailed dissidents mercenaries in the pay of the United States. The government has become increasingly sensitive to international criticism of its policy since one prisoner, Orlando Zapata, died on 23 Feb after a long hunger strike. In June the government began moving some of the 200 jailed dissidents to prisons closer to their families, under an agreement reached with the Catholic Church. John W. Douglas, a Washington DC lawyer who died in June, was part of a four-man committee, including future attorney general Nicholas Katzenbach, who eventually negotiated a US $53 million food-and-medicine swap for 1113 prisoners. (Written Jun 2010)

Cuba blocks visit by UN torture investigator (BBC 9 Jun 2010)

Cuba urges EU to change &lsquoobsolete' policy (Daily Nation 11 Jun 2010)

Date written/update: 2011-04-17