Batista in power
1934-1959
• Ruled through a series of puppet presidents
from 1934 – 1940
• Political violence and strikes lead to
military repression and martial law
• Military fills virtually every branch of
Government
• Autentico party formed in 1934
• By 1937 peace had been restored to Cuba
• Reform follows repression
• Batista becomes populist
– Directed reform at “los humildes”
– Joined forces of Communist Party
• Batista’s reforms
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Workers health care
Agrarian reform – gives state land to poor
Easy mortgage credits for poor
Civic-Military Institute – Rural social services and
education
• Constitution of 1940
– Constituant assembly representing all political
affiliations
• Very progressive constitution
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Universal suffrage
Free elections
Political and civil liberties
Social and labor protections
• Lacked effective enforcement provisions
• Election of 1940
• Batista wins in fair and open election
against Grau and the Autenticos
• Batista presidency from 40 to 44 coincided
with economic prosperity of war
– Not all prospered – tobacco sales declined
– Shipping was scarce
• 1944 Autenticos win election - Grau
president
• Autentico Rule
– Grau 1944 to 1948
– Carlos Prio Socarras 1948 – 1952
• Autenticos usher in new era of Corruption
and Gangsterismo
– Civil service becomes bloated
– 1950 – 11% of working population worked for
national government
– 80% of national budget paid salaries
– Violence and terror return as standard of party
politics
• Economic prosperity continues from 1945
through early 50’s
– Economic windfall squandered however
– Low investment into Cuba – mostly US and
foreign banks and real estate
– Structural problems not addressed –
dependence on sugar and attachment to US
deepens
– US cost of living increases
Ortodoxos
• Discontentment and outrage over Autentico
corruption led to split
• Senator Eddie Chibas and others split from
Autenticos in 1947 to form Ortodoxo party
• Chibas powerful orator had large following in
idealistic college crowd including Castro
• Chibas commits Suicide in 1951 during live radio
broadcast due to Autentico campaign
• Cynicism and disillusion mark Cuban politics
following Chibas suicide
Batista’s return
• Batista seizes power in 1hr and 17 minutes
by military coup
– Many people welcome his return
– Main political parties thrown into disarray
• Batista disappoints however
– Old cronies returned to power
– Military demoralized by nepotism and
corruption
– Early disappointment results in armed uprisings
and military mutinies
• Cuban Economy declines in mid to late 50’s
– Amplifies discontent with Batista
– New generation of radical student organiztions
and economically displaced middle class join
protests
• 1954 presidential election offends most
because of open manipulation by Batista
– Military and police oppression increase
• Military mutiny led by Col. Barquin was
foiled and a mutiney at Cienfuegos naval
base out down
Rise of Castro
• Fidel Castro Ruz was follower of Chibas
• Chibas suicide and Batista Coup led him armend
rebellion as only solution
• Leads and attack on Moncada barracks on July
26th 1953
– Failed miserably
– Catapulted to national fame during trial and “History
will absolve me” speech
• Freed in 1955 in a general amnesty by Batista
Castro’s return
• Went to Mexico in 1955 formed July 26th movement
– Met Che Guevara – a radical marxist
• Landed in Santiago de Cuba in 1956 to coincide
with uprising in Cuba with 80 compatriots
– Expected by Batista’s forces only 18 survive including
Fidel, Raul, Che,
– Escape to Sierra Maestra Mountains and begin to rebuild
• Begin small scale raids on local garrisons with help
of local population
– Success attracts attention of media
• Feb 1957 Herbert Matthews of NY Times
interviews Castro in Mountains
– Lends credibility to Castro’s Rebellion
• Batista’s mismanagement and demoralized
Military add recruits to Castro’s forces
• By mid 1957 Castros forces expand north
and West
• In Jan 1958 US suspends arms shipments to
Batista’s regime
– Terrible blow to Cuban Army
– Batista seems not to care
• May 1958 Batista launches major offensive
against Rebels –
– Fails miserably
– Batista’s regime is doomed
• In August Rebels push west in three
columns
– The size of Castros forces reach 3000 men
– Other oppostion groups coordinate with
Castro’s forces and by Dec are on outskirts of
Havana
• Batista flees in exile in US in Jan 1 1959