Helion's Pigs, Missiles and the CIA vol 1

Author/Artists: Linda Ross Bromley


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 64 pages, softcover, approx 100 images
ISBN 978-1-914377-14-3

In the years following WWII, it became very much in vogue for some politicians to fling around the word 'communism' for anything they saw that they felt threatened them. Very similar to what we see in the US today though the buzz words have changed.

In efforts to stop what they saw as a move away from the US sphere of influence in Central America. The CIA (a rebranding of WWII's OSS) spent considerable time, effort, and money ensuring that the 'wrong' governments were short lived. Probably their most notable success was in Guatemala in 1954. Of course, these efforts did little to affect the people living in these nations as it often traded one dictator for another, but at least the new one was one that the US could easily influence. It was at times the case that US corporations pressured the US government to perform these tasks so that their monopolies in those nations would not be disturbed.

This was very much the case with Cuba. It was run for decades by a dictator that was friendly to the US and US corporations (who owned much of the land in Cuba). This meant that there was a tiny percentage of very wealthy people in the nation while the rest were living in poverty. Into this we bring Fidel Castro and a little later, Dr. Che Guevara. Castro wanted to remove the current dictator (as did quite a few Cubans) and install another government that would strip US corporations of all the land they owned and provide it to the farmers of the country so that they could rise out of poverty. Though his initial attempt did not work as hoped and he spent time in jail, the second time did. As an interesting side note, Castro was trained as a lawyer and managed to shorten his initial sentence.

With Castro in power, he started implementing socialist policies which included free health care, education, and spending money on infrastructure. He nationalized the oil companies, which did not go over well with Mobile, Shell, etc. and caused US politicians to worry that he might be a communist instead of just a socialist. So naturally, the first step was to try to get him to come around and reverse his policies. That meant an embargo. One of Cuba's major exports to the US was sugar and so the US stopped buying sugar. There were no more parts for their military equipment and so on. With no where to turn, Castro looked to the Soviet Union, who was more than happy to help out.

This really sent fear into the US administration and so with the CIA, a plan was made in secret to train troops and airment to invade Cuba and toss out Castro. They use WWII vintage bombers and cargo aircraft painted to look like Cuban planes, hired ships to carry ex-pat Cubans and other mercenaries and made plans. The result was a major fiasco as multiple red flags in planning were ignored and a vacillating Washington DC meddled to the extent that is was bound to fail. Fail it did in a big way.

The author does a superlative job of telling the story of the Cuban gov't after WWII, the rise of Castro, and the plans and execution of the Bay of Pigs campaign. Full of great period photos as well as the usual well done profiles, this is yet another superlative book from the folks at Helion. Well worth picking up as it clears away a lot of the fog and misconceptions that have grown over the decades. A book that I can quite easily recommend to you.

January 2022

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