Fox 40 KTXL TV/DT Sacramento 
Guatemala apologizes to Cuba for Bay of Pigs 


HAVANA (AP) — Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom apologized to Cuba on 
Tuesday for his country's having allowed the CIA to train exiles in 
the Central American country for the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. 

"Today I want to ask Cuba's forgiveness for having offered our 
country, our territory, to prepare an invasion of Cuba," Colom said 
during a speech at the University of Havana. "It wasn't us, but it was 
our territory." 

He added that he wished to apologize "as president and head of state, 
and as commander in chief of the Guatemalan army." 

About 1,500 Cuban exiles trained under CIA guidance in Guatemala 
before invading the island beginning April 17, 1961, in an 
unsuccessful bid to overthrow Fidel Castro's communist government. 

The invasion ended after less than three days, with about 100 invaders 
killed and more than 1,000 captured by Cuban forces. 

Colom, whose government is considered center-leftist, said he was 
asking Cuba's forgiveness as "a sign of solidarity and that times are 
changing," and to "reaffirm my idea that Latin America is changing." 

At the height of the Cold War, the Guatemalan military government of 
Miguel Ramon Ydigoras Fuentes allowed the CIA to train an exile force 
in the rural province of Retalhuleu. Known as the 2506 Brigade and 
comprising mostly Miami-area Cuban exiles, the group was determined to 
overthrow Castro's government — which had brought the Soviet bloc 
closer than ever to the continental United States by seizing power in 
Cuba 28 months before. 

The invaders landed at Playa Larga at the innermost part of the Bay of 
Pigs, on the southern coast of central Cuba. The fighting later moved 
south, to Playa Giron, where Castro's forces triumphed after less than 
72 hours, when U.S. President John F. Kennedy failed to provide air 

Colom said Tuesday that "Cuba deserves its own destiny, a destiny that 
you all built with this revolution of 50 years." 

"Defend it," he said, referring to the guerrilla uprising that brought 
Castro to power on Jan. 1, 1959. "Defend it like you have always 

Colom's comments drew sustained applause from his Cuban audience. 

Like Cubans, Guatemalans harbor a deep resentment toward the United 
States for past violence. The CIA helped topple the democratically 
elected government of Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 and Washington backed a 
series of hardline military and civilian governments during that 
country's 36-year civil war, in which 200,000 Guatemalans died or 
disappeared before peace accords were signed in December 1996. 

During a visit to Guatemala in March 1999, President Bill Clinton said 
any U.S. support given to military forces or intelligence units that 
engaged in "violent and widespread repression" was wrong. "And the 
United States must not repeat that mistake." 

During Colom's state visit to Havana, he awarded his country's highest 
honor to Castro, though it was unclear if he would meet with the 
ailing, 82-year-old former president, who has not been seen in public 
since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006. 

The Guatemalan president's was the latest in a string of recent visits 
to Havana by regional leaders, including Panama's Martin Torrijos and 
Rafael Correa of Ecuador. 

Fidel Castro, who ceded power to his younger brother Raul about a year 
ago, met with two other visiting Latin American presidents, Cristina 
Fernandez of Argentina and Chile's Michelle Bachelet. Photographs of 
him with each of the presidents were later released by their 
respective governments, and a series of photos featuring Castro and 
Bachelet appeared in Cuba's communist newspaper Granma on Tuesday. 


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