On the morning of April 17th 1961, I woke up when a plane flew over our home. I looked out the window and saw the aircraft flying very low. I learned later that the plane dropped leaflets and was part of the invasion.
The Bay of Pigs invasion impacted my life in several ways:
1) It confirmed what my parents had been saying about an imminent attack from Cuban exiles determined to liberate the island from communism. My parents knew that Castro had betrayed the democratic aspirations of Cubans who wanted change not a communist dictatorship;
2) The invasion failed and my dad's cousin Ignacio was arrested. He spent the next 14 years in a political prison without a trial. He was eventually released when French President Mitterand persuaded Castro to release some political prisoners to improve the regime's image in Europe;
3) The repression in Cuba went into high gear. All of us were targeted by the Castro dictatorship. Our lives were hell when the CDRs (The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution) threatened my parents and made a boy like me understand that there was no guarantee that your dad would come home that evening; and,
4) It reminds me again of what could have been,
President Kennedy chose not to support the men of Brigade 2506. His decision sealed their fate and killed the invasion.
Let me tell you that no one in the Brigade, or the active anti-Castro movement inside Cuba, was looking for US troops to die for Cuba's freedom.
My parents would often say: "This is our fight. We just need Pres Kennedy to put a couple of jets in the air". The US jets were intended to decapitate the very small Cuban force and to break the morale of very undisciplined and unprepared Cuban troops.
A lot of years have passed and I am now living in this wonderful land that opened its doors to us many years ago. Nevertheless, every April 17th I remember cousin Ignacio and all of the brave men and women who were ready to fight against Castro.
They deserved a better fate. They really did!