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Post "Doncella" Castrado and Other Anti-Castro Schemes; from Gary Moore
Created by John Eipper on 04/14/16 7:51 AM

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"Doncella" Castrado and Other Anti-Castro Schemes; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA, 04/14/16 7:51 am)

Gary Moore writes:

With the Doncella epithet (April 13), it sounds like Timothy Brown has some detailed knowledge of the fascinating Swan Island effort in the early 1960s to de-stabilize Castro through hostile or faked radio news broadcasts.

Somewhere I heard that one effort cried that the Second Coming had come--and was breaking out in Cuba. I also seem to remember that this, or Operation Mongoose, or both, formed a denouement for the charismatic Colonel Lansdale (romanticized as "Colonel Hillandale" in The Ugly American--that with-it village rapport builder with the harmonica).

Maybe Timothy can provide the real story, but as I understood it, Lansdale had shown impressive creative success battling guerrillas in the Philippines, by tactics like taking an already killed enemy corpse, draining it of blood, and then leaving it to terrify the superstitious foes amid rumors of vampires, whereupon they cooperatively fled. The impression was that when such can-do improvisation was moved to the Caribbean challenge at Swan Island, it met its Peter Principle and hit a dead-end.

Was this sort of what happened?

JE comments:  The Peter Principle was one of my late father's favorites:  everyone rises to his or her (in Pop's day, just his) level of incompetence.

With the CIA's alleged 638 attempts or attempted attempts on Castro's life, is this a tragedy, a comedy, or classic Latin American Magical Realism?

I hope Tim Brown can give more details on the Second Coming scheme.

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  • Anti-Castro Schemes (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 04/15/16 5:54 AM)
    In response to Gary Moore (14 April), I was a teen in Cuba at the time, and like many others we tuned in late at night to Radio Cisne. It was s rather weak signal in Havana. The station reported "news" about anti-Castro activity, world events, and interpretation of Cuban government actions and decisions.

    The most intriguing thing were the short messages that were interspersed during the broadcast. For example , things like "David from Jaime cruza la Calle " (to David from Jaime cross the street" or "calabaza 1214..."

    One would think that something concert was happening.

    In retrospect, I learned about the impact that such type of information operations have on target populations. At the time, Radio Cisne gave some hope to those in the opposition of forthcoming US action against Castro. After the Bay of Pigs, all hope disappeared. Radio Cisne became irrelevant after the regime paraded the Brigade 2506 prisoners on TV. Decades later, I still recall one school teacher breaking down in tears at a social while screaming "I cannot believe that the Americans would let the Communists take over in Cuba!"

    JE comments:  Francisco Wong-Díaz first explained those days to WAISworld back in 2006.  Here's a post worth revisiting:


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    • Radio Swan and Bay of Pigs; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 04/18/16 1:41 PM)

      Gary Moore writes:

      Thanks to Francisco Wong-Díaz (April 15) for the on-site look at the
      Radio Swan Island days in early 1960s Cuba.

      From Francisco's descriptions
      (both now and in WAIS 2006), I now see the hypotheses that:
      1) It wasn't the failure of flambouyant clandestine creativity in
      the Swan Island dead-end (as in Colonel Lansdale/Hillandale),
      but simply the large-scale invasion failure that left the background
      voice irrelevant; and 2) perhaps more important, Francisco's picture
      of the clamp-down prior to the invasion helps de-conflict an oft-obscured
      issue: that pesky "refusal of air support" canard.

      This involves the familiar story that the Brigade-2506 invasion, using
      Cuban expats trained in Guatemala, failed because President Kennedy
      heroically refused to yield to the invaders' pressure that the US buy into
      their invasion by sending in US planes. At the surface level this argument
      can easily be refuted because it distorts a major reality. US air support,
      using disguised Alabama Air National Guard planes flown from Nicaragua,
      had always been a part of the invasion plan from the beginning, and planners
      warned that without this support (though from only a few old planes) the
      invading force would certainly be cut to pieces by Castro's few planes.
      In reality, it was the Nicaragua planes, a lynchpin in the operation
      from the start, that JFK canceled at the last minute--while they were revving
      on the Nicaragua tarmac--after Secretary of State Rusk rushed to Kennedy
      and implored a last-minute pullback.

      The abandoned operators of the invasion
      then felt sure they had been betrayed, and this impression was deepened by
      interestingly nuanced cover stories saying, incorrectly, that Kennedy had canceled
      only extra US planes on US aircraft carriers, whose use would have opened
      a geopolitical quagmire (as the cover stories had it).
      So that's the surface level.

      Francisco Wong-Díaz's personal experience suggests
      a deeper interpretation--that even if the Nicaragua planes had not been canceled
      and the invasion force had not been cut to pieces immediately on the beach by
      Castro's few trainer jets, the quagmire would seemingly have opened anyway,
      only a bit later, as an intact invasion force then moved inland to meet a monolithically
      locked-down Cuba, perhaps meaning a prolonged, bloody firefight resembling the
      Cuban insurrectionary burn prior to the Spanish-American War in 1898.

      So it was
      a betrayal, all right (that panicky last-minute Kennedy about-face), but a more
      nuanced betrayal than often believed--and one whose inevitability was perhaps

      Something like that?

      JE comments:  Gary Moore raises a hypothetical that (to my knowledge) we've never explored on WAIS:  how would Bay of Pigs have played out had the US gone ahead with the promised air support?  Faithful WAISers know that Bay of Pigs is in our DNA.  It was Prof. Hilton's Hispanic American Report (our direct ancestor publication) that first reported on the impending invasion by Cuban exiles.

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      • What if the US Had Given Air Support at Bay of Pigs? (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 04/19/16 4:09 AM)
        In response to Gary Moore (18 April), I want to clarify some things: the Brigade was not cut to pieces in Bahía de Cochinos. They just ran out of ammunition, and while a number fled (and died) into the swamp (Ciénaga de Zapata), most were captured alive and soon displayed on national TV. The latter group were thereafter exchanged by Castro for US tractors and farm machinery. JFK and Jackie welcomed them back to the US at Miami Stadium. Of these, a number joined or were recruited into the US army.

        If the planes had flown as expected and had the invaders established a beachhead, then the USA would have flown the leaders of the opposition to the island to declare a new Cuban government in existence and asked for US intervention! In such a follow-up scenario, a prolonged bloodbath would have begun. The USA kept control of events by holding the exile leaders under protective custody and incommunicado until the final denouement.

        JE comments:  How could the invaders run out of ammunition?  Logistics, as Tim Brown has reminded us on several occasions, are how wars are won or lost.

        And to think that the whole fiasco could have been averted had JFK listened to Prof. Hilton.

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        • Bay of Pigs Hypotheticals; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 04/20/16 4:09 AM)

          Gary Moore writes:

          John E asked: "How would the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion
          have played out if the air support hadn't been canceled?"

          There are so
          many cover stories here that an infinitude of nuance is lost in the shuffle.

          For one thing, CIA wasn't so moronic as to choose an invasion spot at
          a place called Bahía de Cochinos. It was Playa Girón. The application of that
          peripheral colloquialism (or whatever) was Castro's--and the world embraced
          it as a kind of mystical sign of how evil the capitalist invaders were. See, see:
          Even they knew they were pigs.

          It's also fascinating to play it through once some of the obscured factors
          are considered: Did Rusk know that all you had to do was pull the plug
          on those three or four old planes in Nicaragua, and this would effectively save
          the US from getting into a meat grinder (as he saw it, perhaps accurately)?

          Something doesn't wash here. Maybe something big?

          In his response to Francisco Wong-Díaz, John also asked how the invaders could have run out of ammunition.

          I'd have to check, but didn't they run out because they didn't have it, but because they couldn't get it
          from their supply ships--because the ferries (to repeat the phrase)
          were being cut to pieces by Castro's jets, which were unchallenged
          without the planned US air support.

          As you may know, one of the
          Nicaragua pilots (a US national) was so horrified that he took off
          anyway, and fought over Cuba until he was closed in on and killed.

          JE comments:  I thought the other way around, that the Cubans referred to the invasion as "Playa Girón," not Bahía de Cochinos.  See, for example, the Museo Girón, built on the spot of the botched landing.

          The US Civil War had a similar discrepancy in how battles were named:  the Union preferred bodies of water (Bull Run, Antietam), while the Confederacy opted for places (Manassas, Sharpsburg).  This even leads to the confusion between the Army of the Tennessee (Union) and the Army of Tennessee (Confederate). 

          "Virgil, quick come see, there goes the Robert E. Lee."

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          • More on Bay of Pigs; Pepe San Román (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 04/21/16 3:37 AM)
            Let me add one more comment to this discussion, based on personal knowledge and testimony from Brigadistas I knew and interviewed long ago:

            They fought bravely, and successfully held their ground for the first two days. The attackers' planes made initial sorties and thought they had destroyed the Castro Air Force and controlled the skies. But two Castro trainer jets survived the attack and fought back. After one Brigade bomber plane was hit, the rest took off. The trainers then hit the chartered ship carrying the supplies and ammunition, thus depriving the Brigade of its ability to hold the beach. I vaguely recall hearing that the ship might have carried at least one or two small tanks. (Check the literature on this.)

            All this took place in front of a row of US naval ships that visibly stayed in the horizon and under orders withheld military aid. The leader of the Brigade 2506, Pepe San Román, asked in vain for US Navy help against the trainers but got none except for a willingness to receive any survivors at sea. Pepe swore at them over the open radio. On the third day the invaders finally stopped fighting. Pepe San Román survived, escaped into the swamp, but was captured and later exchanged for tractors. He was shown on the stage with the Kennedys in Miami Stadium in 1962 and tragically committed suicide in Miami years later.

            JE comments:  I found this photo of Pepe San Román (second from right) with RFK.  San Román, born in 1930, was in his early 30s at the time.  He committed suicide in 1989.  Wikipedia does not give details.

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            • Air Battle over Bay of Pigs; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 04/22/16 4:19 AM)

              Gary Moore writes:

              On Francisco Wong-Diaz's description of the Brigade 2506 landing and disaster (21 April),
              I'm intrigued by what his otherwise accurate description leaves out.

              Francisco says:
              "The attackers' planes [meaning the planes of the attacking CIA-led invasion]
              made initial sorties and thought they controlled the skies and thought they
              had destroyed the Castro Air Force and controlled the skies. But two Castro
              trainer jets survived the attack and fought back [then destroying the ammo
              supply line from offshore]."

              He leaves out the whole sequence by which
              the planned air support was intentionally canceled--as agreed by all the participants,
              including Rusk, Lynch, Doster and everyone else. Interestingly, perhaps because
              Francisco could receive the story firsthand inside Cuba, and from the brigadistas
              he interviewed, he may have received a narrowed view. There were no
              "attackers' planes" in the skies over Cuba. There was only the one that disobeyed
              the cancellation order and took off from Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, anyway, with
              its pilot then outnumbered by the two trainer jets and killed, while the trainer jets
              could then destroy the invasion on the beach (causing it to run out of ammunition).

              The "attackers' planes" (nor even the one plane that got through) never "thought they
              had destroyed the Castro Air Force and controlled the skies" (though the one US pilot
              may conceivably have hoped for something like that, before he saw the two trainer jets
              coming at him). The narrative Francisco has received would seem to leave out the pain
              and ignominy of the real betrayal, while filtering in an element of inevitable defeat--and, ironically, Castro prowess (in the jets rising to triumph even after the supposedly
              full-strength enemy "thought they had destroyed the Castro Air Force").

              JE comments:  Was the entire air skirmish over Playa Girón just three planes?  I'm no expert in planespotting, but the craft displayed at the Museum is definitely not a jet.  It looks to me like a P-51 Mustang.  Were the Cubans still flying old US military planes in '61, or had they switched to Soviet?  Perhaps the plane depicted below did not even participate in the battle. Who can help?  I'd love to hear from General Sullivan.

              (Alas:  I wish Prof. Hilton were here to join this discussion.)

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              • Air Battle over Bay of Pigs (Clyde McMorrow, USA 04/23/16 6:08 AM)
                When commenting Gary Moore's post of 22 April, John E asked about the specific aircraft used in the Playa Girón battle. The Latin American Aviation Historical Society come to the rescue.


                According to them, the FAR comprised 5 - T33s, 5 B-26s, and 4 Sea Furies.

                The Lockheed T-33 was a 2-seat jet trainer; the B-26 (also, A-26) was a two-engine bomber; the Hawker Sea Fury was a propeller-driven British-made fighter. All of these are desirable civilian planes today. The Sea Fury is the plane on display in Cuba.

                This does seem consistent with the other material I have read and accounts from the Cuban pilots. The generally accepted sequence of events is that presented in the LAAHS article. An initial B-26 attack followed several days later by the sea invasion without air cover other than the American-piloted rogue B-26.

                JE comments: Clyde McMorrow to the rescue! Thank you, Clyde. The Wikipedia article on the Sea Fury seems to say that the specific Sea Fury on static display at the Playa Girón museum did not participate in the battle. Rather, it is a "second air frame." The Hawker Sea Fury was developed at the end of WWII but did not debut until 1947. It represented the high-water mark of prop-driven fighter technology, and was used by the RAF through 1955. Other air forces (like Burma) deployed them well into the late 1960s. The Sea Fury reportedly held its own against Soviet jet fighters in the Korean war.

                From Caracas, José Ignacio Soler has sent a long comment on Bay of Pigs. His post will appear later today.

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              • Air Battle over Bay of Pigs (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 04/23/16 8:41 AM)
                I mentioned the recent posts about Cuba and the 1961 invasion to an old friend from Cuba. He was a privileged participant witness of the events and he made some remarks on the posts. I thought his comments might be of interest to WAISers.

                My friend agrees with JE that the Cubans refer to the invasion as "Playa Girón," (Girón Beach) not "Bahía de Cochinos" (Bay of Pigs). Playa Giron is a beach on the bay.  In fact it is the Blue Beach, as well as Playa Larga or the Red Beach. The invasion took place on both beaches. The Cubans always refer to the Playa Girón invasion, whereas internationally, and perhaps more properly, the invasion is known as Bahía de Cochinos.

                JE commented that "the craft displayed at the [Girón] Museum is definitely not a jet. It looks... like a P-51 Mustang. Were the Cubans still flying old US military planes in '61, or had they switched to Soviet?" My friend remarked that the airplanes that made the difference were two American Lockheed T-33 training jets adapted for combat, and three British piston Sea Furys (probably the one seen in the picture at the Girón Museum). It was just a month and a half after Playa Girón that the first unassembled Russian MIG-19s arrived at the San Antonio de Los Baños base. My friend is an aircraft fan and I take his word for it.

                There were other planes in the Cuban Army, two or three American B-26 piston bombers, but they did not see much action during the invasion. The interesting thing about one of the T-33s, registration number 703, is that it was piloted by Rafael del Pino, a hero of the air combats during the invasion, and later in Cuba's Angola intervention. Eventually del Pino became a high official in the Cuban government as War Minister. He deserted with his family in an epic mono-engine piston plane flight to USA in 1986, where he presently lives incognito.

                By the way, in Del Pino's memoirs Proa a la Libertad (a book unlikely translated to any other language), he describes air combats with enemy B-26s, having shot two of them down into the sea: "La silueta del B-26 está dentro de mi alcance, está casi a boca de jarro, aprieto el gatillo y una lluvia de plomo cae sobre la victima..". This recollection seems to support the view that the invaders really did have some air support during the invasion.  In fact he also mentions in his book to have confrontations with two American war planes that were protecting one of the B-26 on the run, "en ese instante cuando Douglas se disponia a hacer el ataque final.. al B-26 en fuga, se interpusieron dos aviones reactivos norteamericanos..."

                Regarding Francisco Wong Díaz's post of April 21st, my friend remarked that the invasion Brigade had five WWII Sherman tanks, two of which were able to reach the beach and cause heavy damage to Castro's militia. The other tanks went down with the Houston and the Rio Escondido, sunk by the two T-33s and the Sea Furys.

                Finally, my friend remarked that the invasion basically failed because the aircraft attacks on the air bases of San Julián, Campamento Libertad (Havana) y Antonio Maceo (Santiago de Cuba), which was planned for the landing day, the 17th, were cancelled. Previously on the 15th, these bases were attacked by B-26 planes of the 2506 Brigade that took off from Nicaragua.

                He is also of the opinion that Kennedy did not make the decision to fully support the invasion because he was under pressure from Adlai Stevenson, US ambassador at the UN, who was afraid of confronting the USSR.

                My friend had many other interesting anecdotes about the invasion, but I hope to share these at another time.

                JE comments: Bay of Pigs/Playa Girón is one of those military actions that even students of the era tend tend to discuss politically more than tactically. For this reason, our latest posts have been very instructive. For example, until José Ignacio Soler's remarks above, I was unaware of the "softening up" air strikes two days before the invasion. I suppose they achieved little besides spoiling the element of surprise on the 17th.

                Just last week was the 55th anniversary of the attack, yet we did not mention this.

                Rafael del Pino has a book in English titled Inside Castro's Bunker.  Is it the same as Proa a la libertad?

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                • Rafael del Pino (Timothy Brown, USA 04/24/16 5:34 AM)
                  To add to José Ignacio Soler's post of 23 April, General del Pino gave me a copy of Proa a La Libertad several years ago when he and his family stayed near us while he, and several other top-level Cuban defectors (Domingo Amuchástegui, etc.) , came to Sierra Nevada College at my invitation to speak during a summer conference I organized.

                  I'll need to check to be sure, but I believe Proa a la Libertad is the story of his defection to the US from his flight to Florida and meeting with the US President. Inside Castro's Bunker is centered on the Cuban Missile Crisis. I understand he wrote a third book, Amanecer en Girón, but I haven't read it.

                  JE comments:  I'd like to know more about the conference, Tim!

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                • Air Combat over Bay of Pigs: Setting the Record Straight (Timothy Ashby, Spain 04/25/16 3:36 AM)
                  To set the record straight, the aircraft on display at Playa Girón is a British Hawker Sea Fury.

                  The real, unsung, heroes of the "Bay of Pigs" may have been six unknown British mechanics from the Hawker aircraft company, plus a Nicaraguan volunteer and a young Cuban-born pilot of English descent.

                  The first ten Hawker Sea Furies were delivered to Cuba in late 1958, shortly before the overthrow of the Batista regime. A final shipment of seven Sea Furies arrived in crates in early 1959 after the Revolutionary forces assumed power. Other equipment delivered by Hawker included 297 70-inch rockets and 60,000 rounds of 20mm ammunition. By November 1959, only 12 Sea Furies were airworthy but their batteries were stolen as a result of "counter-revolutionary" sabotage in the Fuerza Aérea Revolucionaria (FAR). The other five Sea Furies were damaged beyond repair. Most of the other aircraft in the Cuban air force including F-47As, B-26Ds and T-33As, were grounded due to lack of spares and maintenance staff.

                  In early 1960, a team of six mechanics from Hawker arrived in Cuba to make the Sea Furies operational. These men were on a six-month contract allowing for extension to a year. On June 8 1960, another counter-revolutionary plot was discovered within the FAR, and 28 pilots from the Sea Fury and B-26 squadrons were arrested. The Sea Furies were grounded although the Hawker team continued to keep them airworthy. At this time the FAR had only six "politically reliable" pilots supported by six Chilean pilots.

                  By February 1961 the FAR had 25 pilots, including Nicaraguan and Chilean volunteers. The entire Cuban air force had only 24 airworthy combat aircraft: four B-26As, eight T-33As and the twelve Sea Furies.

                  In the early morning of April 15, 1961, eight CIA B-26Bs with FAR markings but piloted by Cuban exile crews, took off from Happy Valley in Nicaragua and flew to Cuba. At 6:00 AM, the planes attacked La Libertad airbase, where they destroyed a Sea Fury and other aircraft and killed seven people. Later that same morning, another Sea Fury was destroyed in a hangar at the Moa Bay mining company. Shortly after, the San Antonio de los Baños airbase and the Antonio Maceo airport were attacked by the B-26s. By the end of that day, the FAR had less than half of its original air power, with only two surviving B-26s, two Sea Furies, and two T-33s at San Antonio de Los Baños airbase, and one Sea Fury at the Antonio Maceo airport. Two of the attacking B-26s were damaged by ground fire: one reached Key West with an engine feathered and low on fuel, and the other landed at Miami International airport.

                  Around 2:00 AM on April 17, the CIA/Cuba exile Brigade 2506 landed at Playa Girón and were discovered by an army patrol. The soldiers alerted the nearing bases and fighting began. The two surviving Sea Furies were deployed from the San Antonio airbase, and within fifteen minutes they were over the area, making low passes to strafe the invading forces. When the FAR B-26s arrived and began to attack the invaders, the Sea Furies headed out to sea to search for and attack the mother ships. Sea Fury FAR 541, piloted by Major Enrique Carrera, damaged with rockets the command and control ship Marsopa and sank the main supply ship Houston.

                  One Sea Fury (FAR 542), piloted by Carlos Ulloa, a Nicaraguan volunteer, was lost to anti-aircraft fire from an invading ship while he was trying to shoot down a Curtis C-46. Soon after, the four T-33s arrived and began strafing the invader ships while they were trying to reach international waters. At this time, four Brigade B-26s were deployed from Nicaragua, but after reaching the Playa Girón sector, one was shot down by a T-33 and another by the Sea Fury piloted by Major Carrera. A third B-26 was badly damaged by a Sea Fury piloted by Lt. Douglas Rudd. Both surviving B-26s managed to escape to Miami. The aircraft piloted by 27-year-old Lt. Rudd (whose parents were English) is on display at the Museo del Revolución in Havana. Rudd was a friend of Rafael del Pino and was under virtual house arrest for years in Cuba. He left the island in 1990 and spent the last years of his life in Miami, living in the home of a former Brigade pilot who befriended him.

                  Near the end of that day, a Sea Fury piloted by Lt. Gustavo Bourzac, strafed the invading ship Rio Escondido near international waters. From then on, the two surviving Sea Furies concentrated only on ground attack missions against the invasion forces.

                  The Sea Furies and other surviving FAR combat aircraft were replaced in June 1961 with 60 Soviet Mig-15s.

                  One Sea Fury is displayed located at Playa Girón Museum and as mentioned above the other is at the Revolution Museum in Havana.

                  JE comments:  Thanks, Tim, for this crystal-clear overview of the air battle.  

                  Has Lt Rudd's story ever been told in detail?  I found this 2014 note from Clive Rudd Fernández, his son:


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                  • Air Combat over Bay of Pigs; Nicaraguan Airfields (Timothy Brown, USA 04/25/16 1:32 PM)
                    The Nicaraguan airfield used during the Playa Girón was Punto Cabezas, one of only two airfields in Nicaragua at the time capable of handling light bombers. Punto Cabezas had been upgraded during WW II for the use of US anti-submarine patrols flying out of the Canal Zone. This allowed the US patrol aircraft to increase markedly their patrol ability.

                    During the Playa Girón invasion, when it became apparent that the aircraft required to provide covering power for the operation received orders not to engage further, Somoza reportedly offered to use Nicaraguan Air Force light bombers stationed in Punta Cabezas, but the US refused to provide the ordinance they needed.

                    The only other military airfield in Nicaragua at the time of Playa Girón was the dual civilian/military field in Managua primarily used by Pan American and other commercial airlines. I went there many times to pick up diplomatic pouches during my 1956-58 Marine Embassy Guard tour in Managua.

                    The answer to how there came to be an Army patrol at Girón at 2 AM just waiting for them to arrive seems simple, albeit not widely known to the American public. Cuban intelligence had information in advance, in great part thanks to Cdte Benigno (Dariel Ramírez Alarcón), later one of Che Guevara's top-level field commanders in Congo and Bolivia, who later defected from Cuba to France. (See Memorias de un soldado cubano--vida y muerte de la Revolución, Tusquets, Paris 1997.)

                    To my knowledge there is no Happy Valley airfield in Nicaragua, although that may be an NGO, Cuban or Russian nickname for Punta Huete.

                    JE comments:  As Gary Moore (next) explains, "Happy Valley" was the name for the airfield at Puerto Cabezas.  How it came to be so happy, I don't know.

                    I wonder how much of the Cuban support for the Nicaraguan revolution of the 1970s was payback for that Somoza's role at Girón. No doubt Cuba would have intervened anyway, but...

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                  • Air Combat over Bay of Pigs and "Pete" Ray: from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 04/25/16 2:18 PM)

                    Gary Moore writes:

                    Re: Tim Ashby's impressive post (April 25) detailing the air theater in the
                    1961 invasion of Cuba by Brigade 2506: Again we have a wonderfully detailed
                    and informative look--which leaves out the key pivot of the planes ordered
                    to stand down in Nicaragua, and the one plane that disobeyed that order
                    and desperately tried to save the brigade anyway, causing the pilot's death.

                    Did I miss something? Is that part in there? Far from being insignificant,
                    it speaks to the key question of whether the invasion was deluded from the
                    start, or whether it had a chance that was taken away. Surely knowledge
                    as comprehensive as Tim's can provide details on that part, too--without
                    which the other details don't tell the story.

                    I can understand if Tim feels
                    that aspect has already been covered, so he's supplying the parts missed
                    (and which I had forgotten). But always this story seems to come out
                    bowdlerized--as if the old cover stories on all sides were still throwing
                    monkey wrenches behind the scenes. Why is pilot Thomas "Pete" Ray,
                    of the Alabama Air National Guard and the "Happy Valley" airfield at
                    Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, so hard to see?

                    JE comments:  "Pete" Ray's opposite number would be Douglas Rudd.  One, an Alabaman who died for Cuba (or invading Cuba, if you prefer) and the other an Englishman (or Cuban, if you prefer) who thwarted the invasion.  There would be ample material here for a "parallel lives" book.

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                    • Bay of Pigs and the Escambray Rebellion (Timothy Brown, USA 04/26/16 4:20 AM)
                      The "Bay of Pigs/ Playa Girón has come up earlier on WAIS.  In 1992, after an extended conversation, Prof. Hilton asked me to send him my analysis of the Bay of Pigs, which I did. He posted my response on 26 September 2002. The story of the 3-5,000 strong anti-Castro Escambray peasant rebellion, the precursor to Playa Girón had, until then, been largely ignored, especially by those on the left who prefer to believe a romantic, more pro-Castro history of the event and those on the right who would rather believe anything that absolves the US government of responsibility for its failure.

                      As I had noted before in my doctoral dissertation, the uprisings of Cuban Escambray peasants and the Nicaraguan Contras were both uprisings by small holder peasant farmers whose independent way of life as micro-bourgeoisie (owners of the means of production and freedom to dispose of the surplus of the production, no matter how tiny, made them by definition enemies of Marxism). The primary difference between the two was their self-identification--the Escambray peasants simply as small holders. The Contras saw themselves as both Segovian small holder peasant and "indios" of Chibchan descent.

                      My discussion of the similarities and differences between the two peasant rebellions are laid out on pages 189-192, the beginning pages of my Chapter Seventeen, "Resistance and Survival," in the published version of my PhD dissertation, The Real Contra War--Highlander Peasant Resistance in Nicaragua (Oklahoma University Press, 2000).

                      Look at any decent map, such as Google Earth, at the locations of the Sierra de Escambray, Cuba and Playa Girón, rather than discussing hypotheticals based on philosophical preferences and just a fraction of the whole story.

                      Hopefully, this explanation will help my fellow WAISers clearly see with their own eyes rather than through unsubstantiated third-person observations, that a landing just west of the Cuban city of Trinidad would have put the landing force in close proximity to the Escambray rebels. Instead, at the last minute, they moved the landing to Playa Girón, which put the landing force a hundred miles away from the rebels, making it virtually impossible for the two to link up.

                      PS, in response to Timothy Ashby and Gary Moore. I've lived in, and worked on, Nicaragua first as a Marine Guard, then as a Foreign Service Officer, adviser to the OAS peace mission and as an academic, and have visited Punto Cabezas many times. And this is the first time I've heard it called "Happy" anything. My stepfather never called it that. Nor did any of the Miskito, Sumu or Rama leaders I've worked with call it that. If I hazard a guess, perhaps that was the nickname some foreigner visitors used among themselves, since it isn't even in a valley.

                      JE comments: Toponyms have always been a WAIS staple. How about a discussion on Valleys? The most famous Happy Valley I know of is the liberal Connecticut River enclave of the "Five Colleges" in Western Massachusetts.  The BBC also has a crime series called Happy Valley.  Anyone seen it?  I know of no Sad Valleys, although Death (Valley) is anything but jolly.

                      Here's Tim Brown's 2002 comment on Playa Girón.  It's one of those mysterious yellow WAIS postings that still lurk in Cyperspace.  I thought we had moved them all to our present website, but apparently not.


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                      • Happy Valley Explained... (Timothy Ashby, Spain 04/26/16 10:08 AM)

                        "Happy Valley" was the CIA code word for the Nicaraguan airfield used by the Bay of Pigs invasion forces.

                        JE comments:  Mystery solved.  Perhaps the CIA agent who coined the name was an Amherst or U Mass alumnus.  Hampshire College didn't exist in 1961, and not too many "spooks" in those days came from Smith or Mt Holyoke.  On the other hand, the "Happy Valley" moniker may not have appeared in W Massachusetts until the Hippy era.

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                      • BBC's "Happy Valley" (John Heelan, UK 04/26/16 1:26 PM)
                        JE asked on 26 April: "The BBC also has a crime series called Happy Valley. Anyone seen it?"

                        Yes--it stars Sarah Lancashire, one of our favourites--but its production fell into the modern directorial fad of encouraging actors to mumble in dark-lit scenes, making it difficult for the hard-of-hearing who need to lip-read as my wife does.  It's a pity really--yet another case of a director spoiling a good story (by Sally Wainwright) acted by fine exponents of their craft!

                        JE comments:  Perhaps it's the David Duchovny effect?  He was a virtuoso mumbler.  I have a related beef:  the recent trend in magazines to use a tiny pale gray font on a white background.  Unless you're under 30, reading now requires surgical lights.

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                    • Parallel Lives of Ray and Rudd; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 04/28/16 4:04 AM)

                      Gary Moore writes:

                      John Eipper has a gem of a suggestion (April 25) for a parallel lives book
                      on Pete Ray and Douglas Rudd--as a lens on the 1961 Cuba invasion.

                      The way this topic seems to bounce strangely in WAIS (tons of information
                      on tangentials yet avoidance of obfuscated essentials--which perhaps
                      nobody can get) suggests that Bay of Pigs/Playa Girón may be not just
                      a great American riddle, but a special one, perhaps unique in a convergence
                      of ideology and secrecy that continues to veil what should be obvious.

                      For example, this idea of disputing whether there was or was not a
                      Happy Valley at Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua (of course there was, and
                      of course that was just the CIA code name or nickname for a makeshift
                      airstrip) seems wildly unjust to the depth of impressive knowledge
                      from which it comes. What is this energy in the place with the pig-sty name?

                      JE comments:  Among the scores of B o P hypotheticals, there's the central issue of WAIS.  If Playa Girón had not been such an embarrassment for the United States, Prof. Hilton's "I told you so" mugwumpism may not have angered Stanford's higher ups, who might not have closed Bolívar House and the Hispanic American Report in 1964, which would not have motivated RH to found the CIIS/WAIS the following year.

                      So I can identify two outcomes from Bay of Pigs:  the solidification of the Castro regime, and Yours Truly has something to do every morning.

                      (A postscript on Happy Valleys:  David Duggan wrote to remind us that Penn State is another HV university.  My takeaway:  despite their political bickering and bloated bureaucracy, universities are happy places!)

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