MIAMI – Hundreds of Cuban exiles recalled in an emotion-filled event in Miami the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion.
The event took place in Little Havana before a monument dedicated to those who died on April 17, 1961, while battling Cuban government forces as part of the CIA-trained Brigade 2506.
“It was a tragedy. It seemed that the day would never end,” Fernando Rene Gutierrez, a veteran of Brigade 2506, said.
“It’s been 50 years and we still remember everything. I still keep photos and letters from that time so my grandchildren will keep memories of the Brigade alive,” Gutierrez said.
“Those were very sad days because we lost a lot of our buddies,” Jorge Infiesta, another survivor of the failed invasion, said.
“I began that day swimming because they sank our boat. I had to swim to reach dry land and there we joined up again with the other survivors,” Infiesta said.
Another member of Brigade 2506, Mario Martinez Malo, said that he preferred to remember the positive side of the whole experience.
“I try to see the good side of the invasion, because thanks to what happened, I could start a family and make a lot of friends in Miami,” Martinez Malo said.
“Unfortunately the Cuban people were the losers. We lost a battle, but Cuba suffered and continues to suffer the consequences,” he said.
Congressman David Rivera, a Miami Republican, told Efe that “it is so important to honor and commemorate the sacrifices made by the veterans of Brigade 2506.”
“They set a fine example for us and for the new generations of Cubans that long for a free, democratic Cuba,” he said.
Many young people fought with Brigade 2506.
Such was the case of Silvio Rodrigo, who was only 17 when he took part in the Bay of Pigs invasion.
“It was very hard to see people shot down and killed. We were very young, but those times will never be forgotten. Thanks to my escaping that battle alive I can now keep telling its story,” Rodrigo said.
Renowned actress and singer Maria Conchita Alonso was on hand to lend support to the exile community’s event and said, “I’ve spent my whole life knowing what happened. Everyone of us wants to see democracy reestablished once and for all in Cuba.”
“I have many friends who were at the Bay of Pigs and they tell me how sad those days were. That’s why I think we must pay tribute to those young people who went off to win freedom and democracy for the Cuban people,” she said. EFE