« | Home | »

At the Lighthouse

Tags: |

Ernesto Fernández Nogueras: Playa Girón después de un bombardeo

Beyond the Frame, an exhibition of Cuban paintings and photographs in aid of the campaign to release the Miami Five, is at the Lighthouse in Glasgow until Sunday (it was at Gallery 27 in London last month). Many of the works are apolitical but some are inspired by the various attempts by US governments to destabilise Castro’s Cuba.
 
The Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 is represented in several works, including this photograph by Ernesto Fernández Nogueras. He describes the shot as the favourite of his career, because it shows both the terrible but limited impact of the US invasion (a bus blasted by aircraft fire, from which 19 bodies had been pulled earlier in the day), and the defiance of a group of Cuban militia fighters, mobilised by the government to defend the beaches, calmly moving from one combat site to another. 
 
Planning for the Bay of Pigs foresaw an air raid to wipe out Castro’s planes, and tanks to accompany the landing force. But President Kennedy ruled both out as making US involvement too obvious: the invasion was supposed to be a venture by disaffected Cubans. On 15 April, US aircraft painted to look like Cuban planes made limited raids ahead of the invasion. One of them landed in Miami, where reporters were told that a Cuban pilot had defected after attacking his own airfields. The press quickly saw through the ruse, which also alerted Castro that a sea-borne attack was imminent.
 
When boats carrying 1400 counter-revolutionaries approached the Bay of Pigs two days later, militias spotted the lights of one that had run aground on the coral. Air attacks sank two of the boats; two more turned back. Those that landed desperately needed US air and sea support, which Kennedy first denied and then granted, providing the planes were unmarked. But when a new wave of the attack began, air support failed to arrive, having not taken account of the one-hour time difference between the invaders’ starting point (Nicaragua) and Cuba.
 
By the afternoon of 19 April almost the entire landing force had been captured. Most of the prisoners were released two years later. Kennedy admitted that the invasion had been a US plot soon after its failure, though he’d denied it in an earlier exchange with Khrushchev. Castro called it ‘one of the most ridiculous things that has occurred in the history of the United States’.
 
Neither Kennedy nor later presidents learned much from the failure at the Bay of Pigs. The CIA’s infamous attempts to assassinate Castro (begun immediately before the raid) continued, and ill-planned schemes to destabilise Cuba are still going on under Obama. Of the five men jailed in Florida in 1998 for attempting to thwart plots by US-based Cuban dissidents, one has been released. The others continue to serve long sentences.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • mideastzebra on Swedish-Israeli Tensions: Avigdor Liberman was not foreign minister November 2015.
    • lars hakanson on Exit Cameron: Europe will for good reason rejoice when the UK elects to leave. The country has over the years provided nothing but obstacles to European integration...
    • Michael Schuller on Immigration Scandals: The Home Office is keen to be seen to be acting tough on immigration, although I'm not sure that the wider project has anything to do with real number...
    • Geoff Roberts on What happened in Cologne?: The most surprising thing about the events in Cologne (and the most disturbing) is that some 600 incidents of theft, harrasment and rape were reported...
    • EmilyEmily on What happened in Cologne?: The author's argument is straightforward: Sexual violence is one beast; fears about migrants is another - let's not confuse the two. Alfalfa's poin...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Chris Lehmann: The Candidates
    18 June 2015

    ‘Every one of the Republican candidates can be described as a full-blown adult failure. These are people who, in most cases, have been granted virtually every imaginable advantage on the road to success, and managed nevertheless to foul things up along the way.’

    Hugh Pennington:
    The Problem with Biodiversity
    10 May 2007

    ‘As a medical microbiologist, for example, I have spent my career fighting biodiversity: my ultimate aim has been to cause the extinction of harmful microbes, an objective shared by veterinary and plant pathologists. But despite more than a hundred years of concentrated effort, supported by solid science, smallpox has been the only success.’

    Jeremy Harding: At the Mexican Border
    20 October 2011

    ‘The battle against illegal migration is a domestic version of America’s interventions overseas, with many of the same trappings: big manpower commitments, militarisation, pursuit, detection, rendition, loss of life. The Mexican border was already the focus of attention before 9/11; it is now a fixation that shows no signs of abating.’

    James Meek: When the Floods Came
    31 July 2008

    ‘Last July, a few days after the floods arrived, with 350,000 people still cut off from the first necessity of life, Severn Trent held its annual general meeting. It announced profits of £325 million, and confirmed a dividend for shareholders of £143 million. Not long afterwards the company, with the consent of the water regulator Ofwat, announced that it wouldn’t be compensating customers: all would be charged as if they had had running water, even when they hadn’t.’

Advertisement Advertisement