- Fulgencio Batista
name =Fulgencio Batista
order = 14th
office = President of Cuba
10 October 1940
10 October 1944
Gustavo Cuervo Rubio
Federico Laredo Brú
order2 = 17th
office2 = President of Cuba
10 March 1952
1 January 1959
successor2 = Anselmo Alliegro
birth_date = 16 January 1901
death_date = 6 August 1973
Guadalmina, Spain[ [http://www.historicaltextarchive.com/sections.php?op=viewarticle&artid=421 Batista y Zaldívar, Fulgencio] by Aimee Estill, Historical Text Archive.]
nationality = flagicon|Cuba
United Action Party, Progressive Action Party
spouse = 1st
Marta Fernandez Miranda de Batista
children =Mirta Caridad Batista Godinez
Elisa Aleida Batista Godinez
Fulgencio Rubén Batista Godinez
Jorge Batista Fernández
Roberto Francisco Batista Fernández
General Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar (pronounced|fulˈxensjo βaˈtista i salˈdiβar;
January 16, 1901– August 6, 1973) was a Cuban military officer, dictator and politician.
Batista was the "
de facto" military leader of Cubafrom 1933 to 1940 and the " de jure" President of Cubafrom 1940 to 1944 after having won an election. After staging a successful coupin 1952, Batista ran unopposed in an election in 1954, and ruled the nation until handing over power on the last day of 1958 due to an opposition insurgency that was part of Fidel Castro's guerrilla movement, and was a significant event in the Cuban Revolution.
Youth and the Revolution of 1933
Fulgencio was born in Banes,
Holguín Province, in 1901 to Belisario Batista Palermo [ [http://cubagen.org/mil/mambi/ "Mambí Army" Data Base] ] and Carmela Zaldívar González, Cubans who fought for independence from Spain. His mother named him Rubén and gave him her last name, Zaldívar. His father did not want to register him as a Batista. In the registration records of the Banes courthouse he was legally Rubén Zaldívar until 1939, when, as Fulgencio Batista, he became a presidential candidate, but it was discovered that this name did not exist. It's alleged that a judge was paid off 15,000 Cuban pesos (about 15,000 U.S. dollars at the time) to fix the discrepancy. [ [http://www.cubanet.org/CNews/y06/mar06/13a7.htm His given name was Rubén Zaldivar (Spanish)] ]
Of very humble origins, Batista began working from a very early age. A self-educated man, he attended night school and is said to have been a voracious reader. Batista was considered socially a "
mulatto" (mixed African and European ancestry), although other sources state that he had Chinese ancestry as well. He bought a ticket to Havana and joined the army in 1921. [ [http://www.lacasaazul.org/LindenLaneMagazineVolumen4/ReneDayreAbellaLaPieldelaMemoria.htm La piel de la memoria] by René Dayre Abella.] Sergeant Batista was the union leader of Cuba's soldiers, and the leader of the 1933 "Sergeants' Revolt" that replaced the provisional government of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada, at the request of the coalition that had recently ousted President Gerardo Machado. It is generally conceded that U.S. Special Envoy Sumner Wellesapproved of this since it was a " fait accompli". Céspedes was a well-respected civil engineer and the most successful minister in the Machado government but lacked a political coalition that could sustain him. Initially a presidency composed of five members, one each from the anti-Machado coalition, was created, but within days the representative for the students and professors of the University of Havana, Ramón Grau, was made president and Batista became the Army Chief of Staff, with the rank of colonel, and effectively controlled the presidency [Argote-Freyre, Frank. "Fulgencio Batista: Volume 1, From Revolutionary to Strongman." Rutgers University Press, Rutgers, New Jersey. ISBN 0-8135-3701-0. 2006] . The majority of the commissioned officer corps was "forcefully retired"; some speculate that they were executed. [Argote-Freyre, Frank. "Fulgencio Batista: Volume 1, From Revolutionary to Strongman." Rutgers University Press, Rutgers, New Jersey. ISBN 0-8135-3701-0. 2006]
During this period, Batista violently suppressed a number of attempts to defeat his control. This included the quashing of an uprising in the ancient Atarés fort (
Havana) by Blas Hernández, a rural guerrilla who had fought Machado. Many of those who surrendered were executed. Another attempt was the attack on the Hotel Nacional in which former army officers of the Cuban Olympic rifle team (including one Enrique Ros, father of US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) put up stiff resistance until being defeated. There were many other often minor and almost unrecorded attempted revolts against Batista that were bloodily suppressed. These minor revolts included one in Guamá, a place in the Sierra Maestra, south of Guisa, where the followers of an anti-Batista guerrilla leader known as Gamboa (apparently a member, or former member, of the Antonio Guiterasanti-Machado guerrillas) were defeated and dispersed.
Grau was president for just over 100 days before Batista forced him to resign in January 1934. He was replaced by
Carlos Mendietaand within five days the U.S. recognised Cuba's new government, which lasted 11 months. Succeeding governments were led by José Barnet(5 months) and Miguel Mariano Gómez(7 months) before Federico Laredo Brúmanaged to rule from December 1936 to October 1940.
Batista was well liked by the USA, who had feared Grau's socialistic reforms, but saw Batista as a stabilizing force for American interests. It was in this time period that Batista formed a renowned friendship and business relationship with gangster
Meyer Lanskythat lasted over three decades.
Through Lansky, the
Mafiaknew they had a friend in Cuba. Gangster Lucky Luciano, after being deported to Italyin 1946, went to Havanawith a false passport. A summit at Havana's Hotel Nacional, with mobsters such as Frank Costello, Vito Genovese, Santo Trafficante, Jr., Moe Dalitz, and others, confirmed Luciano's authority over the U.S. mob and coincided with Frank Sinatra's singing debut in Havana. It was here that Lansky gave permission to kill Bugsy Siegelfor skimming construction money from the Flamingo hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Stripin Paradise, Nevada, USA, near Las Vegas.
Many of Batista's enemies faced the same fate as the ambitious Siegel. One of his most bitter opponents,
Antonio Guiteras(founder of the student group Joven Cuba) was gunned down by government forces in 1935 while waiting for a boat in Matanzasprovince. Others just seemed to disappear into thin air.
Term as President (1940-44)
Batista's chance to sit in the president's chair came in 1940. Supported by a coalition of political parties, which included the old Cuban Communist Party, he defeated his rival Grau in the first presidential election under the new Cuban constitution.
During his presidency, trade relations with the U.S. increased, Cuba entered
World War IIon the side of the Allies in December 1941, and a series of war taxes was imposed on the Cuban population. Following Grau's election in 1944, Cuba experienced its first peaceful transfer of power in two decades.
Term as a Senator and the 1952 Elections
While living luxuriously in
Daytona Beach, Florida, Batista ran for and won a seat in the Cuban Senate in 1948. Four years later, he ran for president, but a poll published in the December 1951 issue of the popular magazine "Bohemia" showed him in last place. Not expected to win, Batista staged a coup.
The 1952 election was a three-way race.
Roberto Agramonteof the Ortodoxos party led in all the polls, followed by Dr. Carlos Heviaof the Auténtico party, and running a distant third was Batista, who was seeking a return to office. Both front runners, Agramonte and Hevia in their own camps, had decided to name Col. Ramón Barquín, who was then serving as the Cuban military attachein Washington, D.C.from 1950 until 1956, to head the Cuban Armed Forces after the elections. Barquín was a top officer who commanded the respect of the professional army and had promised to eliminate corruption in the ranks. Batista feared that Barquín would oust him and his followers, and when it became apparent that Batista had little chance of winning, he staged a coup on March 10, 1952and held power with the backing of a nationalist section of the army as a “provisional president” for the next two years. Justo Carrillo told Barquín in Washington in March 1952 that the inner circles knew that Batista had aimed the coup at him; they immediately began to conspire to oust Batista and reestablish the democracy and civilian government in what was later dubbed La Conspiración de los Puros de 1956 (Agrupación Montecristi).
The Second Coup
The Coup and the Constitution of 1940
March 10, 1952, almost twenty years after the Revolt of the Sergeants, Batista took over the government once more, this time against elected Cuban president Carlos Prío. The coup took place three months before the upcoming elections that he was sure to lose. Fidel Castro, at the time a young attorney, also ran in that election for a different position. On March 27, just seventeen days after the coup, Batista's government was formally recognised by U.S. President Harry S. Truman.Shortly after this recognition, Batista declared that, although he was completely loyal to Cuba's constitution of 1940, constitutional guarantees would have to be temporarily suspended, as well as the right to strike. In April, writes Hugh Thomas in "The Cuban Revolution", "Batista proclaimed a new constitutional code of 275 articles, claiming that the 'democratic and progressive essence' of the 1940 Constitution was preserved in the new law."
The gambling sector
Batista opened the way for large-scale gambling in Havana. He announced that his government would match, dollar for dollar, any hotel investment over $1 million, which would include a casino license. Havana became the "Latin Las Vegas," a playground of choice for many gamblers. Fact|date=April 2008
In 1956, in midst of the revolutionary upheaval, the 21-story, 440-room Hotel Riviera was built in Havana at a cost of $14 million. It was known as mobster Meyer Lansky's dream and crowning achievement.Fact|date=April 2008 The hotel opened on
December 10, with a floor show headlined by Ginger Rogers. Lansky's official title was "kitchen director," but he controlled every aspect of the hotel.
Political unrest and the revolution of 1959
Just over a year after Batista's second coup, a small group of revolutionaries led by
Fidel Castroattacked the Moncada Barracksin Santiago on July 26, 1953. The rebellionwas easily crushed. Many who led the revolt died, and Fidel Castrowas jailed, along with others involved.
Due to growing popular opposition and unrest, manifested by the Cuban people with increasing acts of civil disobedience, and in order to appease the growing concerns in
Washington, DC, Batista held an election in 1954 in which he was the only legal candidate. Without opposition, he obviously won, becoming president of Cuba in 1954, prompting yet more waves of civil unrest.
The distinguished Colonel
Cosme de la Torriente, a surviving veteran of the Cuban War of Independence, emerged in late 1955 to offer compromise. A series of meetings led by de la Torriente became known as "El Diálogo Cívico" (the civic dialogue). Writes Hugh Thomas: "This Diálogo Cívico represented what turned out to be the last hope for Cuban middle-class democracy, but Batista was far too strong and entrenched in his position to make any concessions."
May 15, 1955, Batista unexpectedly released Fidel Castro and the remaining survivors of the Moncada attack, hoping to dissuade some of his critics. Within weeks it was rumoured that Batista's military police were out to kill Castro, prompting him to flee to Mexicoand plan for revolution.
"The Havana Post", expressing the attitude of the U.S. business community after a survey of the four years of Batista's second reign, alluded to the disappearance of gangsterism and said: 'All in all, the Batista regime has much to commend it." Hugh Thomas disagrees with that commentary. "In a way," Thomas writes, "Batista's "golpe" formalized gangsterism: the
machine gunin the big car became the symbol not only of settling scores but of an approaching change of government."
By late 1955, student
riotsand anti-Batista demonstrations had become frequent. These were dealt with in the violent manner his military policehad come to represent. Students attempting to march from the University of Havanawere stopped and beaten by the police, and student leader José A. Echeverríahad to be hospitalized. Another popular student leader was killed on December 10, leading to a funeral that became a gigantic political protest with a 5-minute nationwide work stoppage.
Instead of loosening his grip, Batista suspended constitutional guarantees and established tighter censorship of the media. His military police would patrol the streets and pick up anyone suspected of insurrection. By the end of 1955 they had grown more prone to violent acts of brutality and torture, with no fear of legal repercussions.
In March 1956, Batista refused to consider a proposal calling for elections by the end of the year. He was confident that he could defeat any revolutionary attempt from the many factions who opposed him.
In April 1956, Batista had given the orders for Barquín to become General and Chief of the Army. cite news |first=Patricia |last=Sullivan |title=Ramón M. Barquín, 93; Led Failed '56 Coup in Cuba |url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/05/AR2008030503300.html|work=
Washington Post|publisher=|date=2008-03-06 |accessdate=2008-03-31] But it was too late. Even after Barquín was informed, he decided to move forward with the coup to rescue the morale of the armed forces and the Cuban people. On April 6, 1956, a coup by hundreds of career officers led by Colonel Barquín (then Vice Chair of the Inter-American Defense Boardin Washington, DCand Cuban Military Attache of Sea, Air and Land to the United States) was frustrated by Lieutenant Ríos Morejón, who betrayed the plan. The failed coup attempt broke the backbone of the Cuban armed forces when Batista tried in vain to negotiate the denial of the so-called conspiracy. The officers were sentenced to the maximum terms allowed by Cuban martial law. Barquín was sentenced to solitary confinement for 8 years on the Isle of Pines. La Conspiración de los Puros resulted in the imprisonment of the top commanders of the armed forces and the closing of the military academies. Barquín was the founder of La Escuela Superior de Guerra(Cuba's war college) and past director of La Escuela de Cadetes(Cuba's military academy). Without Barquín's officers the army could not sustain a fight against Fidel Castro, who landed in western Cuba just eight months after the coup attempt. cite news |first=Anthony |last=DePalma|title=Ramón Barquín, Cuban Colonel, Dies at 93 |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/world/americas/06barquin.html?_r=1&em&ex=1204952400&en=fad514edbfcebfa1&ei=5087%0A&oref=slogin|work= New York Times|publisher=|date=2008-03-06 |accessdate=2008-03-31]
Batista continued to rule without concerns, even after the landing of the "Granma" in December 1956 (which brought the Castro brothers back to Cuba along with
Che Guevaramarking the start of the armed conflict).
Due to its continued opposition to Batista, the
University of Havanawas temporarily closed on November 30, 1956. (It would not reopen until early 1959, after a revolutionary victory.) Echeverría was killed by police after a radio broadcast and attempted attack on the Presidential Palace on March 13, 1957.
Another election in 1958 placed Andrés Rivero in the president's chair, but losing the support of the U.S. government meant his days in power were numbered.
January 1, 1959, after formally resigning his position in Cuba's government and going through what historian Hugh Thomasdescribes as "a charade of handing over power" to his representatives, remaining family and closest associates boarded a plane at 3 a.m. at Camp Colombia and flew to Ciudad Trujilloin the Dominican Republic.
Throughout the night various flights out of Camp Colombia took Batista's friends and high officials to
Miami, New York, New Orleansand Jacksonville. Batista's brother Francisco "Panchín" Batista, governor of Havana, left several hours later, and Meyer Lanskywas also flown out that night. There was no provision made for the thousands of other Cubans who had worked with Batista's regime.
Batista later moved to
Madeira, then Estoril, outside Lisbon, Portugal, where he lived and wrote books the rest of his life. He was also the Chairman of a Spanish life insurance company which invested in property and mortgages on the Spanish Riviera. He died of a heart attackon August 6, 1973at Guadalmina, near Marbella, Spain. [cite news
publisher=New York Times
title=Batista Dies in Spain at 72
date=August 7, 1973]
He was married to Elisa Godinez-Gómez (1905-?) on
July 10, 1926and they had three children, Mirta Caridad (April 1927), Elisa Aleida (1933), and Fulgencio Rubén Batista Godinez (1933-2007 [ [http://www.pensacolanewsjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071109/NEWS01/71109004 Son of former Cuban leader dies] ] ). He later married Marta Fernandez Miranda de Batista(1920-2006) and they had Jorge and Roberto Francisco Batista Fernández. Marta Fernandez Miranda de Batista, Batista's widow, died on October 2, 2006. cite news |first=Tim |last=O'Meilia |title=Widow of Cuban dictator Batista dies in WPB |work= Palm Beach Post|publisher=|date=2006-10-04 |accessdate=2008-03-31] Roberto Batista, her son, says that she died at her West Palm Beachhome. cite news |first=|last= |title=Widow of Cuban strongman Batista dies |url=http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Top_News/2006/10/05/widow_of_cuban_strongman_batista_dies/7347/ |work= United Press International|publisher=|gujtfuyhtfyhtfhgfhdate=2006-10-05 |accessdate=2008-03-31] She had suffered from Alzheimer's diseaseand had a heart attack on September 8, 2006.Fact|date=March 2008 Batista was buried with her husband in San Isidro Cemetery in Madridafter a mass in West Palm Beach. Raoul G. Cantero, III, born in Spain, naturalized in the US, a graduate of Harvard Law School, a Justiceon the Florida Supreme Court, is the grandson of Fulgencio Batista.
Books written by Batista
*1939: "Estoy con el Pueblo" [I am With the People] . Havana.
*1960: "Repuesta". Manuel León Sánchez S.C.L., Mexico City.
*1961: "Piedras y leyes" [Stones and Laws] . Mexico City.
*1962: "Cuba Betrayed". Vantage Press, New York ASIN|B0007DEH9A
*1962: "To Rule is to Foresee" ASIN|B0007IYHK4
*1964: "The Growth and Decline of the Cuban Republic." (Blas M. Rocafort trans.) Devin-Adair Company, New York. ISBN 0-8159-5614-2
*unfinished autobiography and archive in the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection [http://www.miami.edu/UMH/CDA/UMH_Main/1,1770,2593-1;37251-3,00.html]
Bibliography on Batista
*Argote-Freyre, Frank. "Fulgencio Batista: Volume 1, From Revolutionary to Strongman." Rutgers University Press, Rutgers, New Jersey. ISBN 0-8135-3701-0. 2006.
*Chester, Edmund A. "A Sergeant Named Batista." Holt. ASIN|B0007DPO1U. 1954.
*Gellman, Irwin F. "Roosevelt and Batista: Good neighbor diplomacy in Cuba, 1933-1945." University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM. ISBN 0-8263-0284-X. 1973.
*Valdés Sánchez, Servando Fulgencio Batista: El poder de las armas (1933-1940) Editora Historia, SBN 597048051. 1998
History of the era
*Argote-Freyre, Frank Fulgencio Bastista: From Revolutionary to Strongman, Rutgers University Press (April 2006) ISBN 0-8135-3701-0
*Carrillo, Justo 1985 Cuba 1933: Estudiantes, Yanquis y Soldados. University of Miami Iberian Studies Institute ISBN 0-935501-00-2 Transaction Publishers (January 1994) ISBN 1-56000-690-0
*Fernández, Julio César 1940 Yo acuso a Batista. Construyendo a Cuba. Havana
*Kapcia A. 2002. The Siege of the Hotel Nacional, Cuba, 1933: A Reassessment. Journal of Latin American Studies, 34, 283-309.
*Phillips, R Hart 1935 Cuban side show. Cuban Press, Havana 2nd edition. ASIN|B000860P60
*Phillips, R Hart. 1959 Cuba, Island of Paradox. McDowell Obolensky, New York, NY ASIN|B0007E0OAU
*Phillips, R Hart. 1960 Cuba Island of Paradise 1960 Astor-Honor Inc, ISBN 0-8392-5012-6
*Phillips, Ruby Hart 1961 The Tragic Island: How Communism Came to Cuba. Englewood Cliffs, NJ
*Phillips, R Hart. 1962 The Cuban dilemma McDowell Obolensky, New York, NY Library of Congress number 6218787
*Smith, Earl T. 1962 (1991 edition) The Fourth Floor. Selous Foundation Press, Washington DC. ISBN 0-944273-06-8
Hugh ThomasCuba or the Pursuit of Freedom (Paperback) Da Capo Press; Updated edition (April, 1998) ISBN 0-306-80827-7
*Welles, Sumner 1944 The time for decision Harper & brothers ASIN|B0006AQB0M
* cite book
last = Otero
first = Juan Joaquin
title = Libro De Cuba, Una Enciclopedia Ilustrada Que Abarca Las Artes, Las Letras, Las Ciencias, La Economia, La Politica, La Historia, La Docencia, Y ElProgreso General De La Nacion Cubana - Edicion Conmemorative del Cincuentenario de la Republica de Cuba, 1902-1952
year = 1954
isbn = (Spanish)
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