The Nation April 24, 2019
In the early hours of April 17, 1961, a CIA operative placed a beacon on the beach known as Playa Girón, to literally light the path for a paramilitary assault on Cuba. The infamous Bay of Pigs invasion has become an enduring symbol of US aggression against the then-fledgling Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro. For Cubans, Playa Girón remains a proud symbol of their David-versus-Goliath triumph over the Colossus of the North. For imperially minded US policy-makers and a diminishing but still politically powerful generation of hard-line Cuban exiles, the defeated invasion remains a symbol of unfinished business.
It comes as no surprise, then, that the imperious administration of Donald Trump chose the 58th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs to launch another round of US aggression against Cuba. On April 17, the State Department announced that it would, for the first time, implement a section of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act that opens the door to tens of thousands of lawsuits against international companies doing business in Cuba, in an effort to deter much-needed foreign investment on the island. The same day, National Security Adviser John Bolton traveled to Coral Gables, Florida, outside Miami, to speak at a commemorative luncheon of the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association, where he denounced “the disastrous Obama-era policies” of peaceful coexistence and promised to “finally end the glamorization of socialism and communism” by levying new sanctions against Cuba.
Those sanctions will be aimed not at the Cuban military or government but at the Cuban people and US citizens. The Trump administration will cap remittances—unlimited under Barack Obama’s policy of encouraging the growth of Cuba’s private sector through informal support from relatives in the United States—at $4,000 per person a year. And, Bolton said, the administration would soon gut Obama’s policy of people-to-people engagement by cracking down on what Bolton called “veiled tourism” and restricting the freedom of US citizens to travel to the island.