This Week in History

Listen to and learn about events that happened this week in history—including politics, war, crime, inventions, entertainment and fashion. An archive of events that have shaped history — for learners and teachers of English, with vocabulary, audio recordings and quick quizzes.

17 April 1961

Cuba Repels Bay Of Pigs Invasion

Cubans defeat US-backed insurgents trying to bring down their government.

In 1961, a force of 1,400 Cuban exiles from the USA landed at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba with the aim of overthrowing Fidel Castro's government. The insurgents landed with American support from the sea and air but were defeated by Cuban forces in just 3 days. More than 100 of the insurgents died in the attack, and 1,189 were taken prisoner. The failed invasion proved an embarrassment for the US government after their involvement was revealed.

repel (verb): beat or drive back invaders
insurgents (noun): rebels; revolutionaries; fighters who attack a government
exile (noun): person living outside their native country, by choice or otherwise
overthrow (verb): take over; put another out of control
invasion (noun): the forceful entry into an area

Test your understanding:

The insurgents who landed at the Bay of Pigs were supported by

  1. the US government
  2. the Cuban army
  3. the United Nations

It took just three days for

  1. the insurgents to defeat the Cuban forces
  2. the Cuban forces to defeat the insurgents
  3. the US forces to defeat the Cuban forces

Insurgents are people who fight

  1. for anyone who pays them
  2. to overthrow an established government
  3. to defend an established government
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Contributor: Matt Errey. Matt is the author of several books including 1000 Phrasal Verbs in Context and Common English Idioms for learners, and Matt's ESL Games and Quizzes for teachers. He is also creator of WORD UP, the world's #1 EFL board game.