Publish date:
Updated on

JFK denies U.S. military intervention in Cuba

On this day in 1961, President John F. Kennedy heats up Cold War rhetoric in a letter responding to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s claim that the U.S. was engaging in armed aggression against the communist regime in Cuba. Kennedy denied the allegations, told Kruschev he was under a serious misapprehension and stated that the U.S. intends no military intervention in Cuba. However, Kennedy insisted that he would support Cubans who wish to see a democratic system in an independent Cuba and that the U.S. would take no action to stifle the spirit of liberty.

In fact, the night before Kennedy wrote this letter, approximately 1,200 Cuban exiles, supplied and trained by the CIA, landed in Cuba’s Bay of Pigs with plans to overthrow Castro. Kennedy was fully aware that the invasion was underway; he had authorized it three days earlier. CIA documents released in 2000 indicated that Kruschev had also learned of the plans for a CIA-led invasion well in advance and had passed the information on to Castro via the KGB, Russia’s secret police. Early on April 18, Kruschev sent a letter to Kennedy warning the president to stop the little war against Cuba or risk an incomparable conflagration with the Soviet Union. Privately, Kennedy dismissed as hypocritical a lecture on intervention coming from a Soviet leader who had supported communist-led coups in Europe and Asia. In his official response, Kennedy warned Khrushchev not to use the U.S.’s support for Cuban rebels as an excuse to inflame other areas of the world and told the Soviet Union to stay out of the Western Hemisphere’s internal affairs.

The Bay of Pigs invasion quickly fell apart when it became apparent that the CIA had gravely miscalculated the willingness of Cuba’s military to join the exiles in a coup. Castro’s forces quickly put down the rebellion, killing approximately 200 of the exiles and capturing the rest, except for a few who managed to escape and report back to the CIA. On April 24, 1961, Kennedy accepted sole responsibility for the botched invasion. The Bay of Pigs failure did not stop Kennedy from supporting subsequent covert plans to overthrow Castro.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


Mt. Everest sees its single deadliest day

On this day in 2014, 16 Nepali mountaineering guides, most of them ethnic Sherpas, are killed by an avalanche on Mt. Everest, the Earth’s highest mountain. It was the single deadliest accident in the history of the Himalayan peak, which rises more than 29,000 feet above sea level more

Journalist Ernie Pyle killed

During World War II, journalist Ernie Pyle, America’s most popular war correspondent, is killed by Japanese machine-gun fire on the island of Ie Shima in the Pacific. Pyle, born in Dana, Indiana, first began writing a column for the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain in 1935. more

Doolittle leads air raid on Tokyo

On this day in 1942, 16 American B-25 bombers, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet 650 miles east of Japan and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, attack the Japanese mainland. The now-famous Tokyo Raid did little real damage to Japan (wartime Premier more

Joan Benoit wins Boston Marathon

Joan Benoit wins her second Boston Marathon in the women’s division with a time of 2:22:43 on April 18, 1983. The following year, she went on to win the first-ever women’s marathon at the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles and became the first person to win Boston as well as more

San Francisco earthquake

A devastating earthquake begins to shake the city of San Francisco in the morning hours of this day in 1906. The first of two vicious tremors shook San Francisco at 5:13 a.m., and a second followed not long after. The quake was powerful enough to be recorded thousands of miles more

Missouri is ravaged by tornadoes

Missouri is hit by a string of deadly tornadoes on this day in 1880. Statewide, 151 people were killed by the twisters, including 99 in the town of Marshfield. The first tornado struck at about 4:30 p.m. in Springfield, Missouri, where seven people lost their lives. It then more

The Red Brigade terrorizes Italy

On this day in 1974, Italian prosecutor Mario Sossi is kidnapped by the Red Brigades. It was the first time that the left-wing terrorist group had directly struck the Italian government, marking the beginning of tensions that lasted for 10 years. The Red Brigades were founded by more