HAVANA – Cuba on Thursday began commemorating the 54th anniversary of the proclamation of the socialist nature of its revolution, which had been declared a day before the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, an event that marked the start of the long confrontation with the United States, although both Washington and Havana are now undertaking a process of rapprochement.
To celebrate the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution, a 21-cannon salute was scheduled to be fired on Thursday afternoon from the La Cabaña fortress on Havana Bay, the island’s official media reported.
Also on Thursday, a military ceremony will be held in a municipality on the outskirts of the capital to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Great Tank Unit within the Revolutionary Armed Forces.
The daily Granma, the official organ of the Cuban Communist Party, emphasized the date on Wednesday and noted that the socialist revolution has made possible “the full participation of citizens in political and social life, access to free healthcare and education, a social security system that leaves nobody defenseless or without equal opportunities.”
“To make our system irrevocable” is what the current measures to update the country’s economic model are designed to do, said Granma, referring to the economic reforms undertaken by President Raul Castro to make the system sustainable.
On April 15, 1961, U.S. troops bombarded Cuban air bases in Havana and Santiago de Cuba as a prelude to the Bay of Pigs landing scheduled for the 17th, an incursion made during John F. Kennedy’s presidency but planned months beforehand by his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, along with the CIA.
As a result of those air strikes, Fidel Castro, in a speech to the Cuban people, proclaimed the Revolution to be a socialist one.
The Bay of Pigs invasion was made the next day by some 1,500 Cuban exiles and mercenaries grouped into Brigade 2506 and supported by U.S. aircraft and ships. The exiles had been trained by the CIA in Guatemala and Nicaragua.
After 72 hours of combat, the Giron battalion secured a Cuban victory. Casualties among the Cuban revolutionary forces were 156 dead and 800 wounded, while the anti-Castro forces suffered 108 men killed and 300 wounded.
In an historic shift, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced last December the start of a process of rapprochement between the two nations, after more than 50 years of antagonism.