The veterans say Arnaz donated $50,000 — an amount worth about $300,000 today. Reportedly, Arnaz gave the money to a commission headed by Eleanor Roosevelt that arranged to send $53 million worth of food, medicine and farm equipment to Cuba in exchange for the prisoners’ release.
Desi Arnaz of “I Love Lucy” fame and fortune helped finance the freedom of hundreds of Bay of Pigs fighters captured in 1961 by Cuban government forces, veterans say.
A belated thank you to the late entertainer has now happened, 18 years after he died.
This past Friday, according to a Miami Herald report, surviving vets of the Bay of Pigs invasion presented a posthumous award to daughter Lucie Arnaz for her father’s “moral support and generosity.”
That generosity was legend among Bay of Pigs veterans.
“He always supported the Cuban cause,” said Felix Rodriguez Mendigutia, president of Bay of Pigs Veterans Association. “Anything against Fidel Castro, he supported.”
In accepting the award, Lucie Arnaz said her father would have felt honored. She revealed that even she was unaware that her famous father had given money to the cause of the imprisoned invaders, but said it would be consistent with his character and his sympathies.
“Knowing my dad and my grandfather, I’m sure they were emotionally very involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion. I’m sure my father would be very proud to be acknowledged,” Arnaz added.
Surrounded by admirers of her father at the Miami event, Arnaz said: “I feel like I have a lot of friends and family here. We’re all probably related.” Desi Arnaz was a native-born Cuban.