In January of 1959, Fidel Castro became the leader of Cuba by overthrowing Fulgencio Batista and his regime. The resulting dictatorship was not smiled upon by U.S. politicians. The U.S. knew Castro was on very friendly terms with a number of socialist/communist countries. The U.S. feared that any of those countries could start an invasion of the U.S. from Cuba because of its proximity to the U.S. mainland. For about fifteen months after Castro's coup, they tried various ways of dealing with him. The U.S. placed a trade embargo on exports to Cuba except food and medicine and eventually broke diplomatic ties. Finally, the U. S. government decided it was necessary to invade Cuba.
On April 15, 1961, three U.S. planes flown by Cuban pilots bombed Cuban bases to try and destroy as much Cuban air power as possible to prepare for the coming invasion.. On April 17, 1961, about 1300 Cuban exiles, who were opposed to Castro, invaded Cuba at a the Bahía de Cochinos, or Bay of Pigs, on the southern side of the island. These exiles expected help from the local population and U.S. air support. They didn't receive either. The recently elected president, John F. Kennedy, pulled the air support and nearly the last minute, but the invading force was not informed of the decision. Because he had just taken over the presidency from Eisenhower, Kennedy was most likely not fully aware of what was going on. This left the exiles severely outnumbered and unable to last for more than a couple of days in the face of the very large Cuban army. By April 19, the exiles' bases, along with over 1200 men, were captured. There were almost 100 exiles killed during the few days of fighting.
The captured force was imprisoned and Kennedy tried to ransom them. Castro wanted money to help pay for heavy construction equipment and more. After lengthy negotiations, and through the help of James B. Donovan, the U.S. finally reached an agreement with Castro and gave him fifty three million dollars worth of food and medicine in exchange for the exiles. Throughout the next three years, the prisoners were returned to the U.S.
The Pay of Pigs invasion greatly changed the relations between the U.S. and Cuba. This invasion made Castro wary of anything that the U.S. did and also helped lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis soon after.