Five Cuban postage stamps celebrating their victory over CIA-led forces at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961.
After Fidel Castro’s stunning and successful revolution in Cuba which saw him seize power in January 1959, the US government struggled to understand his intentions for Cuba’s future. Planning to oust him one way or another began in earnest as Castro began aligning himself with the Soviet Union and nationalizing US-owned businesses on the island. The potential for a new Soviet ally less than 100 miles from Florida was considered unacceptable.
The biggest plot of all involved training and arming nearly 1,500 Cuban expatriates, most of whom had resettled in Florida, and sending them back as an invasion force to rally the Cuban people to overthrow Castro. The Cuban volunteers were trained at camps in Guatemala and Nicaragua, and became known as Brigada 2506. Led by two CIA paramilitary officers, the brigade landed at Playa Giron on the south side of Cuba on April 17th, 1961. Their amphibious invasion was supported by an aerial bombing campaign intended to cripple Cuba’s air force on the ground.
But the bombing runs were insufficient, and the Kennedy administration canceled the final sorties which might have tipped the scales in favor of Brigada 2506. Furthermore, the Cuban people did not take up arms and join the invasion force as anticipated. For three days, Brigada 2506 fought to establish a beachhead but eventually ran out of ammunition. The men surrendered, with more than 100 killed in action.
The survivors returned to the US after months of incarceration, and the failure of the invasion was an enormous victory for Castro, and a stain on the reputation of the CIA.
Cuba continued to celebrate their victory with many commemorative stamps including this one over the next five decades.
The stamps each depict scenes from battle, from the Cuban Government's point of view.
2 centavo - A Cuban soldier leaping from down from a T-34 tank.
3 centavo - The CIA's Rio Escondido communications ship being destroyed, with a B-26 bomber crashing in the background.
9 centavo - A US M41 Walker Bulldog tank disabled on the beach.
10 centavo - A Cuban soldier armed with an FN FAL battle rifle. alongside an anti-aircraft gun emplacement.
13 centavo - A map of the failed beach landings at Playa Giron.
All stamp sets are shipped in a protective cardboard display card, and include a free Soviet ruble from the KGB Museum in New York City and two free miscellaneous Cold War stamps, while supplies last.
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