The President went to the Orange Bowl with Jackie,
who made a speech in Spanish hailing the bravery of the members of the brigade.
Kennedy was so overwhelmed with emotion
when he was pressented with the rebel flag from the Bay of Pigs
that he declared in his address that
'this flag will be returned to this brigade in a free Havana.'
JFK'S ICH BIN FREE HAVANA
Diplomatically, it was the worst possible gesture that a President of the United States
could have made at that time, but, as Bobby expected,
it did John F. Kennedy a lot of internal good.
JOHNNY WE HARDLY KNEW YE,
by Kenneth O'Donnell and David Powers, page 310-313
"...Outwardly President Kennedy seemed to accept the defeat at the Bay of Pigs with his customary calmness and resignation, but within the privacy of his office he made no effort to hide the distress and guilt that he felt when he thought of the one thousand one hundred Cuban patriots who had been captured by Castro. During the months after the invasion he thought of those prisoners constantly. One morning when he came to his desk he remarked to me that he had had no sleep th enight before. 'I was thinking about those poor guys in prison down in Cuba,' he said. 'I'm willing to make any kind of a deal with Castro to get them out of there.' The President's determination to get the prisoners released, at any cost to his own pride, led him into one of the most ill-advised moves in his career. In May, 1961, he quickly accepted an offer from Castro to release the survivors of the Cuban rebel brigade in return for five hundred tractors, or bulldozers, or $28,000,000.
"President Kennedy talked Milton Eisenhower, Eleanor Roosevelt, Walter Reuther and Cardinal Cushing, among others, into organizing a Tractors for Freedom committee. The obviously vulnerable project was soon demoslished by political controversy. The Republicans denounced the idea of bartering with Castro for human lives. Milton Eisenhower became embarassed and begged off the committee. 'Ike must have told Milton to be more careful about answering his phone,' President Kennedy observed, 'especially when the White House is calling.'
"Bobby Kennedy, trying to relieve his brother's concern for the prisoners, pushed ahead with another prolonged attempt to ransom them out of Cuba during the following year. Bobby arranged for James B. Donovan, the New York lawyer who had negotiated the exchange of the Soviet spy Rudolf Agbel for Gary Powers, the U-2 pilot, to go to Havana and negotiate with Castro. The negotiations dragged on into the fall of 1962, into the tense period of the Cuban Missile crisis, but Bobby and Donovan persisted, even in those dark months, in seeking to get the prisoners freed before Christmas. Finally, in December, Castro agreed to exchange the survivors for $53,000,000 worth of food and medicines. Then at the last minute, only a few days before the Christmas Eve deadline that Bobby was eager to meet, Castro demanded another $2,900,000 in cash, which he said was owed to him by the Cuban refugee organizations in the United States as payment for sick and wounded Bay of Pigs veterans already released.
"In desperation, Bobby raised $1,900,000 in a hurry with the help of General Lucius D. Clay and, at the suggestion of the President, asked Cardinal Cushing to get up the other million.
"'Bobby called me on the telephone, and asked me if I could get a million dollars before the day was over,' Cardinal Cushing recalled later. 'He said they had to have the money right away in order to get the prisoners sent to the United States before Christmas, which was only a couple of days away. I remembered a talk I had with Jack about the Bay of Pigs prisoners. It was the first time I ever saw tears in his eyes. So I said I would call Bobby back in three hours. I called him that afternoon and told him I had gotten the million dollars and promised to have it delivered at the White House before six o'clock that night. I borrowed it from a few freinds, a few Latin-American friends in particular, and I promised them it would be repaid within three months, and it was.'
"General Clay, a senior partner in a New York banking firm, found himself in the Attorney General's office the next morning signing a note for $2,900,000, and arranging a transfer of the money from a bank in Canada to a Canadian bank in Havana. The prisoners were released that afternoon and flown to Miami. Jim Donovan later regaled the President with an account of his trip to Havana that day with John E. Nolan, Jr., another New York lawyer who was helping him to arrange the transsaction. The tension of the recent missile crisis was still fresh in Castro's mind. When Castro met Donovan at the airport in Havana, where the prisoners were waiting to be turned over to Americans, a flight of Cuban MIG fighter planes swooped low over the runway. Donovan, a witty Irishman, dug his elbow into Castro's ribs and yelled at him, 'It's the invasion!' Castro seemed startled, but then laughed. The other Cubans, seeing Castro laughing, laughed, too.
"The President spent the Christmas holidays that year, as usual, at Palm Beach. The leaders of the Cuban brigade visited him there and invited him to review their troops at a demonstration of Cuban rebels in the Orange Bowl in Miami on December 29. The President was eager to accept their invitation, but he realized that considering the present delicate relationship between him and Khrushchev and Castro such a gesture would be politically unwise. The President telephoned me and asked me what I thought of the invitation. 'Don't go there,' I told him. 'After what you've been through with Castro, you can't make an appearance in the Orange Bowl and pay a tribute to those rebels. It will look as though you're planning to back them in another invasion of Cuba.'
"'You're absolutely right,' the President said. 'I shouldn't do it.'
"Dean Rusk and Mac Bundy also strongly advised him against appearing at the Orange Bowl ceremony. But Bobby told him to go ahead and accept the invitation. Bobby knew the President so well that he often realized, better than the President himself, what was the right and best thing for him to do. Bobby knew how heavily the disaster of the Bay of Pigs had been weighing on JFK's conscience, and Bobby decided correctly that if a public appearance with the rebel brigade would ease the Presiden'ts sense of guilt, it would be well worth the political risk involved. Bobby was right, and the rest of us were wrong. The President went to the Orange Bowl with Jackie, who made a speech in Spanish hailing the bravery of the members of the brigade. Kennedy was so overwhelmed with emotion when he was pressented with the rebel flag from the Bay of Pigs that he declared in his address that 'this flag will be returned to this brigade in a free Havana.' Diplomatically, it was the worst possible gesture that a President of the United States could have made at that time, but, as Bobby expected, it did John F. Kennedy a lot of internal good. He came back to the White House to start the new year in a much happier frame of mind."
JFK & BAY OF PIGS
USA watches China woo Carribean (Beijing's growing economic clout is tipping scales in Western Hempishere). ABC News, Feb 23, 2005. Go to USA APPLAUDS CHINA TAKE CARRIBEAN
China, Cuba seek closer ties (behind the scenes it is also expected that military ties will be strengthened). BBC, Nov 23, 2004. Go to 7.Systems of Thought & COMMUNISM CUBAN STYLE
PANAMA FALKLAND REVELATIONS (USA gave Panama Canal to Communist Chinese and British ships carried nukes to Falkland War)
PROFILES IN COURAGE, by John F. Kennedy, 1957
During 1954-1955, John F. Kennedy, then a U.S. Senator, chose eight of his historical colleagues to profile for their acts of astounding integrity in the face of overwhelming opposition..."This is a book about that most admirable of human virtues-- courage. 'Grace under pressure,' Ernest Hemingway defined it. And these are the stories of the pressures experienced by eight United States Senators and the grace with which they endured them." Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1957, Profiles in Courage resounds with timeless lessons on the most cherished of virtues and is a powerful reminder of the strength of the human spirit. It is as Robert Kennedy states in the foreword, "not just stories of the past but a book of hope and confidence for the future. What happens to the country, to the world, depends on what we do with what others have left us."
PT-109 MOVIE, BOAT & COCONUT
JFK TRUTHS & UNTRUTHS
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