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This lesson plan is supplemented with material from

A look back at the Bay of Pigs

April 17, 2001
Web posted at: 5:08 PM EDT (2108 GMT)

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Curriculum connections: Social Studies (U.S.-Cuban relations; Cold War)


Students will be able to:

  • Describe the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961 and the historical context in which it occurred.
  • Analyze why the invasion failed.
  • Evaluate present-day evaluations of the events from both an American and a Cuban perspective.
  • Appraise the 40-year U.S. embargo on Cuba and defend or oppose its continuance.


National Council for the Social Studies

II. Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ways human beings view themselves in and over time.

VI. Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance.

Mid-continent Research on Education and Learning (McREL)

Language Arts/Media

Standard 10, Level 4: Students understand that media messages have economic, political, social, and aesthetic purposes (e.g., to make money, to gain power or authority over others, to present ideas about how people should think or behave, to experiment with different kinds of symbolic forms or ideas)

Materials article, "Remembering the Bay of Pigs invasion,"

Maps or globes

Research materials that explain the current U.S. policy towards Cuba

Internet access

Suggested time

One-two class periods


1. Ask the class if they have ever heard of the Bay of Pigs and see what they know about the invasion. Have students find Cuba on a world map or globe. If the map is sufficiently detailed, ask them to find the Bay of Pigs.

2. After students read the article, "Remembering the Bay of Pigs invasion," ask the following questions:

  • How long ago did the Bay of Pigs invasion occur? Why was the invasion launched? Who was involved? What was the anticipated result on the part of the United States? What were the actual outcomes, and why?
  • Why do you think that there are still such avid anti-Castro feelings among Cuban exiles in the United States? What incident occurred during the summer of 2000 that brought these feelings to the forefront of the news? What event occurred earlier in April that brought to light ongoing Cuban exiles' sentiments? What is the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association? Who is Mario Cabello, and why was he expelled from the Miami-based brigade? Why do you think that he chose to attend the conference? Who is Alfredo Duran, and why did he attend?

3. Give students a historical context for the Bay of Pigs invasion: Kennedy's recent election, fear of a Communist presence so close to the United States, Cold War mentality. You may choose to refer to the Web Guide to Episode 10 of CNN's Cold War series and to the accompanying Educator's Guide to the Cuba episode.


A Cuban newspaper, Granma Internacional, has published an interview with José Ramón Fernández, currently vice president of the Council of State, a retired general and one of the officers under Fidel's direct command who led the Battle of the Bay of Pigs for Castro almost 40 years ago. Additionally, the paper has published an in-depth Web special on the Bay of Pigs conference held in Havana in March 2001. Direct students to the two last sites listed in Related Sites to read a Cuban perspective of the invasion and to other listed sites or print resources to learn the American perspective. (Many of the sections can be read in Spanish; some in Spanish only.) Have them analyze the differences in the reporting and perspectives in an essay. Ask them to conclude with an evaluation of the points of view: Which do they think are most accurate, and why? What do they think is the truth, and why?

Students may want to follow through's student-directed Evaluating News Sources to learn more about determining balance and perspective in news reporting as they do this assignment.


Using geographical information from textbooks or other sources, students can learn about the geographical features of the Bay of Pigs. Based on what they find, they can argue that the landing spot chosen was a good or a poor site for an invasion.


Students can research the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Then they can write persuasive essays in favor of maintaining the embargo or proposing to limit or eliminate the embargo.

Cold War
Educator Guide to CNN's COLD WAR Episode 10: Cuba
U.S. House votes to modify Cuba trade embargo to allow food, medicine sales
October 11, 2000

The Bay of Pigs Invasion
The Bay of Pigs Invasion
Electronic Briefing Book: The ULTRASENSITIVE Bay of Pigs
Cuba Campaign: US-Cuba Relations
Cuban and U.S. academics to analyze various aspects of Bay of Pigs - by Gabriel Molina and Aldo Madruga
Academic Conference, Bay of Pigs, 40 years After

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