Biografía en Español
271208 - Answers - (b. Banes, Cuba, 16 Jan. 1901; d.
Madrid, 6 Aug. 1973) Cuban; President 1940 – 4, 1952 – 8 The son
of a poor labourer, he joined the Cuban army in 1921, after a
string of largely unskilled jobs. There he flourished,
graduating from the National Journalism School and being
promoted to sergeant at Havana's Campamento Columbia, where, as
nationwide dissent finally toppled the dictator Machado in
August 1933, he rose to prominence as a spokesman of the
discontented soldiers. On 4 September 1933, he and other
sergeants joined student rebels to remove Machado's successor
and establish a revolutionary government which, though radical
and nationalist, depended on a Batista-led army. Finally,
encouraged by a watchful Washington, Batista conspired to bring
it down in January 1934.
Until 1940, Batista controlled Cuba through a series of puppet
presidents, defeating both the left (especially the Communists)
and the traditional élite. Batista, however, realized the depth
of discontent behind the 1933 revolution and, through his
striking deals with Washington in 1934 to ensure Cuban sugar
sales and remove the more blatant aspects of US control, his
popularity grew. Forging a skilful alliance with the Communist
Party in 1938 and ensuring a Constitution (1940) which reflected
the 1933 agenda, he was elected President on a programme of
nationalist and social reform, much of which succeeded, thanks
to wartime sugar prices and clever political manœuvring and
In 1994, Batista left office constitutionally, eventually
settling, somewhat richer, in Florida, from where, in 1948, he
was elected to the Cuban Senate, returning to launch a campaign
for the presidential elections of 1952. Certain to be defeated,
however, he then prevented these elections with a coup on 10
Thereafter, Batista became a more brutal and less skilful shadow
of his former self, controlling through coercion, patronage,
corruption, and Washington's tolerance. In 1954, after an
abortive rebellion by a then largely unknown Fidel Castro, he
won elections almost unopposed; however, from late 1956, the
rebel movement began to grow, especially in the eastern
mountains and in Havana. He responded to this, and an
assassination attempt in 1957, by ever more widespread
repression, eventually alienating allies in the middle class,
the United States (which withheld arms in 1958) and the army
itself. Finally, on 31 December, army conspirators acted, and
Batista fled Cuba to the Dominican Republic (some $300 million
richer), finally settling in Madrid, where he died.
Overall, Batista dominated Cuban politics between the 1933 anti-Machado
revolution and Castro's 1959 rebellion, rising to power as a key
actor in the former and being overthrown by the latter.
271208 - Wikipedia - General Fulgencio Batista y
Zaldívar (pronounced [fulxensjo βatista i saldiβar]; January 16,
1901 – August 6, 1973) was a Cuban military officer, dictator
Batista was the de facto military leader of Cuba from 1933 to
1940 and the de jure President of Cuba from 1940 to 1944 after
having won an election. After staging a successful coup in 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
and the Revolution of 1933
Fulgencio was born in Oriente Province Cuba, Holguín Province,
in 1901 to Belisario Batista Palermo 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
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. 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 Welles approved 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. The majority of the commissioned officer corps was "forcefully
retired"; some speculate that they were executed.
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 U.S.
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 Guiteras anti-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
Mendieta and 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 Brú managed to rule from December 1936 to
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 Lansky that lasted over three decades.
Through Lansky, the Mafia knew they had a friend in Cuba.
Gangster Lucky Luciano, after being deported to Italy in 1946,
went to Havana with 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 Siegel for skimming construction money
from the Flamingo hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip in
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 Matanzas province.
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 II on 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 1945, 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 Agramonte of the
Ortodoxos party led in all the polls, followed by Dr. Carlos
Hevia of 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
attache in 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, 1952 and 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
On 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.
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. 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 Castro attacked the Moncada
Barracks in Santiago on July 26, 1953. The rebellion was easily
crushed. Many who led the revolt died, and Fidel Castro was
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
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
On 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 Mexico and 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 gun in the big car
became the symbol not only of settling scores but of an
approaching change of government."
By late 1955, student riots and anti-Batista demonstrations had
become frequent. These were dealt with in the violent manner his
military police had come to represent. Students attempting to
march from the University of Havana were stopped and beaten by
the police, and student leader José A. Echeverría had 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. 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 Board in Washington, DC and 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.
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 Guevara marking the start
of the armed conflict).
Due to its continued opposition to Batista, the University of
Havana was 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.
On January 1, 1959, after formally resigning his position in
Cuba's government and going through what historian Hugh Thomas
describes 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 Trujillo
in the Dominican Republic.
Throughout the night various flights out of Camp Colombia took
Batista's friends and high officials to Miami, New York, New
Orleans and Jacksonville. Batista's brother Francisco "Panchín"
Batista, governor of Havana, left several hours later, and Meyer
Lansky was also flown out that night. There was no provision
made for the thousands of other Cubans who had worked with
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 attack on August 6, 1973 at Guadalmina, near
He was married to Elisa Godinez-Gómez (1905-?) on July 10, 1926
and they had three children, Mirta Caridad (April 1927), Elisa
Aleida (1933), and Fulgencio Rubén Batista Godinez (1933-2007).
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. Roberto Batista, her son, says that she died at
her West Palm Beach home.  She had suffered from Alzheimer's
disease and had a heart attack on September 8, 2006.[citation
needed] Batista was buried with her husband in San Isidro
Cemetery in Madrid after a mass in West Palm Beach.
Raoul G. Cantero, III, grandson of Fulgencio Batista, who was
born in Spain, naturalized in the United States, and became a
graduate of Harvard Law School; was a Justice on the Florida