Guatemala formally apologizes for Bay of Pigs invasion

Alvaro Colom

Alvaro Colom

The President of Guatemala has issued a formal apology to the government of Cuba for his country’s role in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Speaking on Tuesday in a packed auditorium at the University of Havana, President Alvaro Colom said he wanted to “ask Cuba’s forgiveness for having offered our country, our territory, to prepare an invasion of Cuba” and to officially apologize “as president and head of state, and as commander in chief of the Guatemalan Army. It wasn’t us” who carried the operation, said President Colom, “but it was our territory”. Beginning in 1960, the Guatemalan dictatorship hosted nearly 1,500 Cuban anti-Castro exiles. They were transported from Miami, Florida, and trained in paramilitary tactics with CIA money. They invaded southern Cuba on April 17, 1961, by landing in the Bay of Pigs. However, the group had been infiltrated by communist agents, who alerted the Cuban defense forces. Consequently, the invasion was overwhelmingly quashed, with over 1,000 of the invaders captured and nearly 100 killed in less than 72 hours. The United States has never issued an apology for its covert role in the operation. Speaking for Guatemala, President Colom said that apologizing to Cuba was “a sign of solidarity” and a “reaffirm[ation] that Latin America is changing”.

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