Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
Teaser Image

Batista y Zaldivar, Fulgencio (1901–1973)

Authoritarian Cuban president (1940–1944, 1952–1958). Born in Banes, Cuba, on 16 January 1901, Fulgencio Batista joined the army in 1921, eventually becoming a military stenographer. He first emerged on the national scene during the 1933 revolution that deposed the Gerardo Machado dictatorship. During the short-lived Ramón Grau San Martín government (September–January 1934), Batista was the military strongman behind the scenes and was ultimately responsible for the collapse of the Grau government.

Batista was the power behind the throne during a series of puppet governments during 1934–1940. In 1940 he was elected president, and his four-year term was noted for its progressive social reforms, links with the Communist Party, and support for the Allied side in World War II. Batista provided the United States with access to naval and air bases and sold to it nearly all of Cuba's sugar production.

Batista was succeeded by another democratically elected leader, Ramon Grau San Martín, the man he had helped overthrow in January 1934. The increasing corruption of the Grau government and its successor facilitated Batista's return to power in 1952. In March 1952, Batista and elements of the army seized power. The new regime suspended the constitution and declared its loyalty to the United States. Batista now backed away from his earlier reformism and consolidated the anticommunist measures introduced by his predecessors. In the mid-1950s, with support from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Batista established a repressive anticommunist political police force.

Rapid successes in anti-Batista movements, especially among middle-class students and including Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement, led to Batista's fall at the end of 1958. On 1 January 1959, he fled Cuba for the Dominican Republic as Castro's forces closed in on Havana. Batista died on 6 August 1973 in Estoril, Portugal.

Barry Carr


Further Reading
Morley, Morris. Imperial State and Revolution: The United States and Cuba, 1952–1986. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  Y
  Z
  Z
  Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer