An escape story, 1961 style

Carmen Richards writes in the Miami Herald about how she and her family left Cuba days after Bay of Pigs.

The day of freedom arrived for my mother, sister and me on April 25, 1961. It was several days after Fidel Castro’s military squelched the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion.

“On the streets of Havana, there was a trembling quiet,” my mother said, “but inside we were terrified.” Castro reopened the airport, and a window of opportunity, by kicking the foreign press out of Cuba. When my mother heard this, her Latina determination activated and, with divine intervention, we left Cuba.


In Havana, the police interrogated my mother about her missing husband. “He is gone and I am leaving too,” she said. After a couple of hours they let her go. “There was a kind of chivalry back then,” she told me. “War was man’s business and women were left out of it. But, all of that changed after the failed invasion, and I knew I was living on borrowed time.”

My father and his men never made it to Cuban shores again. They were among the lucky ones from the 2506 who never deployed. “We were ready to go,” Becerra said, “but it was over before we stepped foot on the plane.” By April 25, Fidel Castro had arrested 200,000, including women and family members of those he suspected of counter revolutionary activity. This was ironic for my parents who said, “Fidel Castro was the only counter revolutionary, because he was the one who betrayed the revolution.”