On April 17, 1961 the Bay of Pigs fiasco commenced.
That night Maurice and two other FBI agents sat with Charles watching with great apprehension the development of the landings in Playa Larga and the surrounding sites of “la Bahia de Cochinos”. Charles was worried. He remembered how the locals had been organized in enthusiastic militias and how the population of peasants and villages was supporters of the Revolutionary Government. What mattered most in his mind were the swamps surrounding the only two access roads to the mainland that could be very easily defended by deployed artillery and armor.
When a single Castro airplane sank the “invader’s” ammunition supply ship offshore, Charles and the FBI agents knew that something was very wrong. It wasn’t very long before the USA Ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, demanded that President Kennedy stop the use of the American air force that was scheduled to support the invasion and abandon the beached brigade of Cuban exiles. President Kennedy ordered the offshore armada, not to rescue the Cuban exile brigade and it was “left behind”. It ran out of ammunition and was forced to surrender to the Cuban Rebel Army.
The foiled plans did not end there. Commander Higinio “Nino” Diaz, with his guerrilla force stationed off the Province of Oriente shores, refused to land. His scouts and intelligence staff warned him that the Castro Rebel Army had mustered their forces at the CIA assigned landing zone. On board, he was able to confirm this when he saw alerted enemy troop movements on shore with his binoculars. He averted a potential disaster.
Significantly, immediately after the first landing in Cochinos, the Castro security forces began an enormous round up of the “usual suspects” that had been previously listed by the Communist Party. Many underground counter-revolutionary cells that had not been alerted of the invasion by the CIA were captured and arrested. Among them was Charles’ first cousin, Mario Santos-Buch, who was later convicted to serve 22 years in prison.
Carol’s brother, Tony Valle-Friend, was able to escape and find his way into the US Naval Base in Guantanamo. Tony had been a member of a secret counter-revolutionary cell of five armed combatants. The chief of the cell and Tony survived the ordeal, but the other three were captured and executed by firing squads.
Charles was able to convince Senator Eastland to arrange for Tony to fly out of the US Naval Base of Guantanamo to the mainland. Tony was detained at the Florida Opa-Locka Detention Center for a year and a half until his underground CIA cell director who was still stuck in hiding in Cuba, finally escaped by way of Spain and was able to vouch for Tony in person. Tony was subsequently freed to his family in Atlanta, Georgia.
Following his triumph at Cochinos, Fidel Castro announced he had been a Communist Revolutionary all along. No one was surprised. Cuba’s Revolutionary Government was reassured by the victory that it had won a secured place in the Caribbean and began to consider exporting its Revolution to its neighbors at risk.
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