Recently I was swimming in the archives of the Charlie Rose website and bumped into an episode filmed April 2001. It’s a panel discussion about the international conference on the 40th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion.
The guests included renowned historian and former special adviser to President Kennedy Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, and Cuban-American veteran of the invasion and member of the CIA-trained brigade 2506 Alfredo Duran discuss the conference.
Duran was a member of Brigade 2506, a group of Cuban exiles trained by the CIA for a planned invasion of Cuba and overthrow of President Fidel Castro. Duran was captured and spent 18 months in prison in Cuba,before being ransomed by the U.S. government. He began as an anti-Castro activist in the States but it wasn’t until the early 90’s that he “came out of the closet” and announced his new stance: to use dialogue and peaceful means to bring democracy to Cuba. He also publicly called for an end on all travel restrictions to Cuba on PBS NewsHour. Needless to say, this enrages hardline Cuban-Americans who view him as a traitor.
Alfredo is an interesting man. He’s lived alot and seen alot. Having been involved in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, he finally returned to Cuba in 2001 to face the old demons and attend a reconciliation conference. In terms of the anger and disappointment you would expect this veteran to harbor, Duran admits, “I left alot of that behind” . He also describes the changing tides of popular voices in the Miami Comuninty on the topic of Cuba/US relations — “The hard liners are losing a great deal of influence right now” he says. There’s lots more to discover from this man and Arthur Schlesinger Jr so take a look at the interview itself. Remember this was filmed in 2001 but it’s still relevant and educational in terms of showing the different voices in the Miami community.
To learn more about the Bay of Pigs and Alfredo Duran, watch the episode here on Charlie Rose website.
To read more about the organization Alfredo Duran founded which promotes a peaceful transition and supports like-minded ideas and organizations in the island, go to Cuban Committee for Democracy.