Fulgencio Batista

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Fulgencio Batista (1952)

Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar [ fulˈhensjo βaˈtista i salˈdiβar ] (born January 16, 1901 in Banes , Cuba , † August 6, 1973 in Marbella , Spain ) was commander and politician in Cuba. From 1940 to 1944 he was elected President of Cuba and from 1952 to 1958 as dictatorial president. He was overthrown in 1958 as part of the Cuban Revolution .


Origin and advancement to the presidency

Batista was the son of Belisario Batista Palermo and Carmela Zaldívar y González. After graduating from school, he trained as a stenographer . Shortly thereafter, Batista joined the Cuban Army in 1921 and became sergeant- stenographer of the Army General Staff.

After a general strike against the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado in Cuba on August 3, 1933, the dictator had to resign because he could no longer count on the support of the USA . Against the new government set up by the USA with the support of three destroyers under Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada , there was another uprising, the uprising of the sergeants , which the soldiers of the central military camp "Columbia" joined under the leadership of their NCOs. One of the sergeants was Fulgencio Batista.

In the following years he succeeded in disempowering the old officer corps and placing himself at the head of the military. He was an influential puller in the background of political power and was able, with the help of the USA, to exert extensive influence on the installation and removal of Cuban presidents .

At the end of the 1930s, Batista supported the growing influence of the communists as a counterweight to the left-wing liberal Partido Revolucionario Cubano (PRC / Auténticos) of Ramón Grau , which had dominated until then, and the radicalism of the student movements of the time, to which Fidel Castro later belonged. In the constituent assembly , which was called in November 1939, the alliance of Batista supporters and the communist allies as well as the PRC made up the majority and jointly passed the constitution of 1940 , which was considered the most progressive in Latin America at the time. In addition to all civil liberties, it also introduced a number of social guarantees such as the eight-hour working day.

Batista was elected President in 1940. During this time, Cuba established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and joined the anti-Hitler coalition. There were numerous Communist ministers in his government. Cuba's economy experienced a strong wartime boom .

For the elections in 1944, in which Batista could no longer run in person, his incumbent Prime Minister was sent into the race. However, it was won by the bourgeois candidate Grau. Batista initially withdrew from politics and finally settled in Florida after a trip to Latin America .

Coup in 1952

In 1948 Batista returned to Cuban politics. He was elected senator but had little political influence. In the meantime, however, he had become a lobbyist for American mafiosi , including Meyer Lansky , who had turned the Cuban capital Havana into an amusement metropolis for North American tourists and who, for their part, had evaded US justice. When his later great opponent Fidel Castro married Mirta Díaz-Balart , who came from an influential Cuban family, he is said to have contributed two checks worth a total of 1,000 US dollars as a wedding gift (more than 10,000 US dollars in today's purchasing power).

In the run-up to the elections in 1952, Batista founded his own party, but did not find enough supporters in the form of electoral alliances to be able to calculate realistic chances of victory. So he accepted the offer of some officers to head a military coup , which was then carried out relatively smoothly during the carnival celebrations in Havana. The incumbent President Carlos Prío , who was accused of corruption , fled to the USA via Mexico. An attempt by the Auténticos to call a general strike was nipped in the bud. However, no one was arrested or killed. The constitution was temporarily suspended and Congress was on leave. Batista justified his coup with the fight against corruption . Demonstrations and strikes were banned, but the freedom of the press continued to exist . The US government was probably surprised by this move. However, after Batista had promised to keep his former allies - the communists - under rigorous control, the USA also recognized Cuba's new government after many Latin American and European states.

Fidel Castro sued the Supreme Court, like shortly before against the corrupt government of Prío, against the coup and demanded the immediate arrest and conviction of the coup plotters for violating the constitution. However, the lawsuit was dismissed.

In November 1954, Batista had elections carried out which, according to observers, he might even have won. However, they were largely boycotted by the opposition and additionally manipulated by Batista . So they turned into a farce.

According to the Castro government, under Batista's dictatorship, around 20,000, and according to other sources, around 2,000 people were murdered by the secret service, often after severe torture . Many of the bodies were thrown from moving cars on the streets to intimidate the population and deter any resistance.

Fall in 1958 as a result of the Cuban revolution and exile

The resistance against Batista grew particularly after the unsuccessful storming of Fidel Castro's group on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba in 1953, which was actually intended as a beacon for a popular uprising . Between 1956 and 1959 resistance groups sprang up all over Cuba, both in the cities and as guerrilla units in the mountains of the Oriente province . The movement against Batista increasingly affected all social classes. In a departure from its previous policy, the USA imposed an arms embargo in 1958.

After the last successful struggle of the revolutionaries on December 31, 1958 with the fall of the city of Santa Clara , Batista fled to the Dominican Republic on January 1, 1959 with some followers , carrying around 40 million dollars in cash, and later found his permanent exile in Portugal and Spain , where he died of a heart attack on the Costa del Sol in 1973 .

Awards (selection)


  • Respuesta. Mexico 1960 (Spanish)
  • Cuba betrayed. Vantage Press, New York 1962 (English)
  • Piedras y leyes: Balance sobre Cuba. Mexico 1963 (Spanish)
  • The Growth and Decline of the Cuban Republic. Devin-Adair, 1964 (English)


  • Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar , in: Internationales Biographisches Archiv 37/1973 of September 3, 1973, in the Munzinger archive ( beginning of article freely available)
  • Frank Argote-Freyre: Fulgencio Batista: From Revolutionary to Strongman: The Making of a Dictator. Rutgers University Press, 2006 (English)
  • Jorge I. Domínguez: The Batista Regime in Cuba. In: Sultanistic Regimes. Edited by HE Chehabi and Juan J. Linz, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London 1998, pp. 113–131 (English, available online )
  • Gerd Koenen : Dream Paths of the World Revolution: The Guevara Project. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2008, ISBN 978-3-462-04008-1 ( table of contents ; text of contents ).

Web links

Commons : Fulgencio Batista  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Gerd Koenen : Dream Paths of the World Revolution. ISBN 978-3-462-04008-1 , pp. 79ff.
  2. Gerd Koenen: Dream Paths of the World Revolution. P. 81.
  3. Gerd Koenen: Dream Paths of the World Revolution. P. 86.
  4. Gerd Koenen: Dream Paths of the World Revolution. P. 89 f.
  5. ^ Minor Atrocities of the Twentieth Century - Cuba (1952-59). by Matthew White, last updated February 2005
  6. ^ Miami Herald via Latin American Studies: Batista Lives in Constant Fear of Bullet. October 25, 1959