The other Bay of Pigs story

Mention "The Bay of Pigs" and most people will remember the failed invasion of Cuba and President Kennedy taking responsibility a few days later.

Most people do not know that most of the men of Brigade 2506 were captured and sentenced to prison in Cuba.

They were eventually released 50 years ago today:

"In the days before Christmas 50 years ago this weekend, 1,113 Bay of Pigs fighters captured by Fidel Castro's forces and imprisoned for 20 months were finally released to a heroes' welcome in Miami.   

The first planeload of POWs arrived at Homestead Air Force Base on Dec. 23, 1962. Gaunt and betrayed by the John F. Kennedy administration, members of the proud Brigade 2506 were bused to Miami's Dinner Key Auditorium, where waiting relatives engulfed them with hugs at a massive reunion that made front-page news. Five days later, JFK and his wife Jackie would be at the Orange Bowl to welcome them, too.  

On Saturday, the 50th anniversary of those pivotal days will be observed as surviving brigade members - now in their 70s and 80s - hold a and 11 a.m. Mass and reunion at the Bay of Pigs Museum in Little Havana."

A few years ago, I spoke with several of these men in Miami.  They are still confused about President Kennedy's decision to leave them stranded on the beach.  At the same time, most of them became great citizens in Miami and did not dwell on the events.

There is still another part of the story that many people don't know. 

Thousands of Cubans were incarcerated right after the invasion and there was a huge wave of repression on the island. 

A few months later, Castro declared that he was a Marxist Leninist.  The odd thing about this is that people were arrested in the early days for calling Castro a communist.  None of these people were released after Castro admitted that he was a communist.

The Bay of Pigs had a big impact on Cubans and President Kennedy, who had to spend much of 1961 fighting accusations of weakness and indecision. 

P. S. You can hear my conversation with Humberto Fontova about The Bay of Pigs & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.