Big Trouble in the New Frontier:
The Bay of Pigs
Max A. Delgado
Boise State University
1 hour and thirty minute "block" period
Subject Matter: Social
Studies and History
January 1, 1959, Fidel Castro, along with his guerrilla army marched triumphantly
into Havana, Cuba, successfully defeating the U.S.-backed regime of Fulgencio
Batista. The successful Cuban Revolution was a social revolution unlike
any other so close to the United States. After first proclaiming that
his regime was not communist, Castro became intimately close to the Soviet
Union. As a result, a serious threat to the United States materialized
just 90 miles from American soil. Shortly after, President Eisenhower
announced that the United States would not "tolerate the establishment
of a regime dominated by international communism in the western hemisphere."
Because of this new threat, the U.S. began to plot the demise of the fledgling
Cuban government. In
1961, John F. Kennedy succeeded Eisenhower as well as inheriting a plan
of destroying the Castro regime. This plan called for a U.S. sponsored
invasion of Cuba. The counterrevolutionary forces, known as Brigade 2506
were comprised of Cuban exiles trained and equipped by the United States.
The plan called for this invasion to be launched from Honduras under the
support of U.S. B-26 bombers. This operation was to be a covert one in
which the U.S. could deny any involvement. After the invasion began, President
Kennedy received a letter from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev informing
the president that it was already known that the invasion force was indeed
an American operation and that the Soviets would regard the invasion as
an attack on an ally. Kennedy, bowing to pressure called off the air support
to Brigade 2506, and as a result, the operation failed miserably. The
Kennedy administration suffered a tarnished reputation and lost much prestige
throughout the world. However, from this setback, President Kennedy learned
a valuable lesson which no doubt saved the United States during the subsequent
Cuban Missile Crisis.
Students will explore the Bay of Pigs invasion
and defend both sides of the issue.
Students will be able to:
- Understand the conditions that lead to the
- Understand the dangers faced by the U.S. by
having a hostile neighbor;
- Describe the United States' responses to the
formation of a communist Cuba;
- Understand the basic plan of the Bay of Pigs
- Understand Kennedy's decision to halt air support
to the exile force and the lessons that he learned from the whole debacle.
From the Idaho Board of Education for grades 9-12,
available online at: http://www.idahoachieves.com/standards.html#ss
Standard 497: Critical and Analytical Skills
Students will acquire critical thinking and analytical skills by evaluating
and interpreting other points-of-view using primary and secondary sources
Standard 489: International Relations and
01. Students will understand significant conflicts in United States history
by identifying causes and consequences of the Cold War including the Korean
War and the conflict over Berlin (489.01.F)
From the Independent School District of Boise
City Secondary Curriculum, available online at:
1321.16 Assess the cultural, social, and political struggles in
the 1960's 01. Examine the successes and failures of John F. Kennedy's
The Bay of Pigs Videocassette Dist. By PBS Video
For each student:
Introductory Overview: The Bay of Pigs (see
Pencil or Pen
Study Guide (see
Prep For Teachers
Before the lesson bookmark the Web sites on each
computer in the classroom.
Prepare for the hands-on element of the lesson
- Make copies of Introductory
Overview: The Bay of Pigs, for all students.
- Make copies of Study
Guide worksheet, for all students.
When using media, the students will be provided
with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, for each media interaction.
Each media source, whether it is a video clip, Web site, or any other
multimedia element will be included on the Study
Distribute the attached document "Introductory
Overview: The Bay of Pigs" to your students. Discuss with students.
Cue and BEGIN the video where the trumpet
player is shown on screen. FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION: Have students
watch for and list three reasons the revolution was succesful.
At approximately 4:09 (on time counter) into
the video segment press STOP and check for
comprehension: What conditions were responsible for the success of the
revolution? (#1 on Study Guide)
FAST FORWARD to 4:30. FOCUS
FOR MEDIA INTERACTION Why was Castro successful in his revolution?
Why was it important for the U.S. to become involved? PLAY video. PAUSE
at 8:38 and check for comprehension. Why was it important for the U.S.
to become involved?
RESUME the video, FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION
Which presidential administration began plans to disrupt the Cuban regime?
Which government agency was responsible? Pause at 10:30 and check for
comprehension. Discuss with students the
plan to undermine Castro was based on the assumption that Castro's regime
was an unpopular one and therefore vulnerable. However, this was not the
FAST FORWARD to 17:00 FOCUS
FOR MEDIA INTERACTION Have students raise their hands and note on
their study guides when they hear what the invasion plan was. PLAY
until 19:12, PAUSE and discuss Why
Kennedy agree to the plan even though it was evidently flawed? FAST
FORWARD to 19:42, stop at 26:04. Discuss why the plan
was no longer a secret.
Review the study sheet and revisit the video segments
Have students to log on to: http://www.historyofcuba.com/baypigs/pigs.htm
and answer questions 8, 9,10,and 11 on study guide. After twenty minutes
review the questions and discuss. What are their opinions? Did Kennedy
do the right thing by calling off air support?
Have students to log on to: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,106537,00.html
and answer question 12 on their study guide.
DIvide the class into two groups.
Designate one group as the "pro-invasion" group. Within this group, designate
three subgroups with one being CIA people, another Kennedy's advisors,
and yet another group as the Cuban exiles themselves.
The second group will be the "anti-invasion" group.
These two groups will be able to use the three
Websites in the lesson to research each respective opinion. There will
be a debate on what was the correct way of dealing with Cuba; they must
be persuasive in presenting their case. Those within the groups will each
have a specific task in their groups.
Based on the debate, the teacher will take the
part of President Kennedy; who will ultimately decide on what action to
take based on the arguments made by the students.
To assess students' knowledge of the issue, each
student will personally write an essay on the particular stance they were
given and write it from that point of view. Students will then write another
small essay on their own opinion on the situation. They must defend their
stance. Students may consult the Websites as well additional research.
- Language Arts
Interview a family member about their views on the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
Develop a PowerPoint defending their "group".
- Although there is not a large group of Cubans
in Idaho, there are other groups that disagree with what has happened
or is happening now in their homeland. These
groups may or may not be here for any or all of the following reasons
such as politics, economics, or persecution. These
groups include, but are not limited to the Bosnians, the Basques, and
the Mexicans. Invite a member from the community in to talk about these
issues and their feelings.