The Bay of Pigs, Cuba

All photographs by Jim Rasenberger, April 17-18, 2010.

An apartment building in Havana, near the Malecón (the promenade along the sea), named after Girón and apparently designed to look like a fortress. 30 An apartment building in Havana, near the Malecón (the promenade along the sea), named after Girón and apparently designed to look like a fortress.
From the grounds of the Hotel Nacional, with central Havana in the distance. 29 From the grounds of the Hotel Nacional, with central Havana in the distance.
View from the back of the Hotel Nacional in Havana, looking out over the harbor. 28 View from the back of the Hotel Nacional in Havana, looking out over the harbor.
Playa Larga on a Sunday afternoon. 27 Playa Larga on a Sunday afternoon.
Scuba diving draws foreign tourists to Playa Larga. 26 Scuba diving draws foreign tourists to Playa Larga.
A billboard at the entrance to Playa Larga, the secondary landing beach of the invasion. "ALL FOR THE REVOLUTION." 25 A billboard at the entrance to Playa Larga, the secondary landing beach of the invasion. "ALL FOR THE REVOLUTION."
Mangrove from the swamps that surround the Bay of Pigs has long been a staple product of the region. The wood is burnt to make charcoal.  Local charcoal makers comprised a large part of the militias that first met the brigade. 24 Mangrove from the swamps that surround the Bay of Pigs has long been a staple product of the region. The wood is burnt to make charcoal. Local charcoal makers comprised a large part of the militias that first met the brigade.
One of the crabs whose ancestors tormented the brigade. Wounded survivors of the invasion would wake up in the swamps to find the black and red creatures nibbling on their torn flesh. 23 One of the crabs whose ancestors tormented the brigade. Wounded survivors of the invasion would wake up in the swamps to find the black and red creatures nibbling on their torn flesh.
The goats forage among the bushes on a path from the road to the sea. 22 The goats forage among the bushes on a path from the road to the sea.
Goats roam free on the road that runs along the sea. The dark splotches on the pavement are the remains of land crabs, millions of which migrate from the swamp to the sea every April. Tens of thousands are crushed by cars, trucks, and buses. The crabs get their revenge by wreaking havoc on the vehicles’ tires. They also fill the air with the stench of rotting crab meat. 21 Goats roam free on the road that runs along the sea. The dark splotches on the pavement are the remains of land crabs, millions of which migrate from the swamp to the sea every April. Tens of thousands are crushed by cars, trucks, and buses. The crabs get their revenge by wreaking havoc on the vehicles’ tires. They also fill the air with the stench of rotting crab meat.
Locals graze their horses in a pasture by the sea. 20 Locals graze their horses in a pasture by the sea.
The market. 19 The market.
The bodega. 18 The bodega.
The town of Girón on a Sunday afternoon. 17 The town of Girón on a Sunday afternoon.
A monument to Cuban troops-- “Martyrs of Girón”-- who were killed in the invasion. 16 A monument to Cuban troops-- “Martyrs of Girón”-- who were killed in the invasion.
A local museum is devoted to the battle of the Bay of Pigs. 15 A local museum is devoted to the battle of the Bay of Pigs.
In anticipation of VIPs who will arrive from Havana on April 19 to participate in the ceremony, workers decorate the road with palm fronds. 14 In anticipation of VIPs who will arrive from Havana on April 19 to participate in the ceremony, workers decorate the road with palm fronds.
In front of the Hotel Playa Girón workers set up for a ceremony to commemorate the victory at the Bay of Pigs, an annual event. This ceremony, held on April 19, 2010, marked the 49th anniversary. 13 In front of the Hotel Playa Girón workers set up for a ceremony to commemorate the victory at the Bay of Pigs, an annual event. This ceremony, held on April 19, 2010, marked the 49th anniversary.
On the beach of the Hotel Playa Girón. 12 On the beach of the Hotel Playa Girón.
The seawall, facing west. In the distance is the beach of the Hotel Playa Girón, a resort that was under construction at the time of the invasion.   11 The seawall, facing west. In the distance is the beach of the Hotel Playa Girón, a resort that was under construction at the time of the invasion.
The seawall near Playa Girón. Like much Cuban infrastructure, it’s falling apart. 10 The seawall near Playa Girón. Like much Cuban infrastructure, it’s falling apart.
And closer still, from the opposite side. (I stopped taking photographs when I realized that one of the sentries was peering back at me through binoculars.) 9 And closer still, from the opposite side. (I stopped taking photographs when I realized that one of the sentries was peering back at me through binoculars.)
A closer view of the sentry post. 8 A closer view of the sentry post.
Facing west again. The structure in the distance is currently a sentry post for the Cuban military. 7 Facing west again. The structure in the distance is currently a sentry post for the Cuban military.
Another view to the west, including boats, fisherman 6 Another view to the west, including boats, fisherman's shack, and the road that runs along the sea.
Near the eastern end of the beach, facing west. 5 Near the eastern end of the beach, facing west.
Another view to the east. Not visible here is the coral beneath the surface of the water, an obstacle that caused the invasion force much grief. 4 Another view to the east. Not visible here is the coral beneath the surface of the water, an obstacle that caused the invasion force much grief.
On Playa Girón, facing east. Here the invasion of the Bay of Pigs began shortly after midnight on April 17, 1961, when Cuban exiles seeking to overthrow Castro came ashore. They were almost immediately met by small arms fire, which they quickly suppressed. 3 On Playa Girón, facing east. Here the invasion of the Bay of Pigs began shortly after midnight on April 17, 1961, when Cuban exiles seeking to overthrow Castro came ashore. They were almost immediately met by small arms fire, which they quickly suppressed.
Playa Girón, as seen from the road that runs along the sea. 2 Playa Girón, as seen from the road that runs along the sea.
A billboard near Playa Girón, the main landing beach of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The image, adapted from a photograph, shows Fidel Castro jumping off a tank. Cubans celebrate Girón as the site of "the first defeat of Yankee imperialism in Latin America." 1 A billboard near Playa Girón, the main landing beach of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The image, adapted from a photograph, shows Fidel Castro jumping off a tank. Cubans celebrate Girón as the site of "the first defeat of Yankee imperialism in Latin America."

Click the i for information about each photograph.