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Fulgencio Batista

Fulgencio Batista ruled Cuba, sometimes formally and sometimes by proxy, for most of the 25 years before Fidel Castro's rise to power at the end of 1958. During that time, he subverted the constitution and terrorized political opponents. He enjoyed a wealthy lifestyle from the money generated by the influx of tourism and American corporations to the island, while the country's poor became even more impoverished. He did so with the explicit support of American mobsters and with the acquiescence of the American government. American interest in Cuban democracy did not emerge until after the country had a communist government.

Fulgencio Batista

General Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was born on January 16, 1901, in Banes, Cuba. He joined the army in 1921 and led the successful “Sergeants’ Revolt� in 1933, which resulted in Bastista becoming the Army Chief of Staff and controlling the presidency that was nominally given to Ramon Grau. Following a series of presidents, Batista was elected in October 1940. Because of term limits imposed by the country’s constitution, Bastista could not seek re-election in 1944.

He returned to Cuba, after a brief retirement in Florida, in early 1952. After staging a military coup d'état, Batista became Cuba’s dictator in March. After Castro’s first unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Batista, Batista's gangster friend Meyer Lansky turned Cuba into an international drug trafficking port. Batista was said to have received up to 30 percent of Lansky’s profits from casinos and hotels built there. At an inflated price, Batista approved contracts with U.S. corporations to build such projects as the Havana-Varadero Highway, the Rancho Boyeros airport, train lines, the power company, and a plan to dig a canal across Cuba. After a series of guerilla warfare battles in 1958, Batista was overthrown by Fidel Castro.

Batista fled to the Dominican Republic, then to Spain. He wrote Cuba Betrayed and The Growth and Decline of the Cuban Republic. He was permanently exiled in Portugal and Spain. Batista died in Guadalmina, Spain, on August 6, 1973.

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