THE DEVIL IN PARADISE
by Stephen Francis Montagna
The insurrection by Fidel Castro and his ill trained troops began inauspiciously on July 26th, 1953, when all his rebels began their raid on the Moncada Army Barracks in the Cuban city of Santiago. This attack was a complete and utter disaster to the small band of highly motivated but ill prepared rebel invaders, and its failure quickly lead to the arrest of the leader, Fidel Castro, and many of his followers as well. Castro was placed in jail for a short period of time and then, after a quick mock military trial, he was exiled until he finally returned to Cuba as a conquering hero.
In 1933, a Sergeant’s Revolt hit the island of Cuba. It was lead by a young upstart sergeant who was named Fulgencio Batista Zaldivar. This small rebellion shared the full support of university students, many intellectuals and the professionals alike. This backing gave the sergeants the power to overthrow the presidential administration of Carlos Manual deCespedes. After the successful revolt a minor provisional government was left in full command of Cuba. Right in the midst of the fighting, General Gerardo Machado, the President of Cuba, fled the country by plane.
A few days after the end of the Sergeant’s Revolt, Ramon Grau San Martin was named the new seated President of Cuba. He was installed to power by the sergeants of the Cuban Army who taken part in the revolt. This was also supported by the intellectuals who also encouraged the uprising to begin in the first place. President Grau San Martin’s first order to the army was to elevate Sergeant Fulgencio Batista to the rank of colonel. This was done to cement Batista’s loyalty to him; President Martin quickly installed Batista as the Commander in Chief of the Army of Cuba, making him one of the most powerful men in Cuba. President Grau San Martin then allowed the colonel to influence many of his decisions while ruling over Cuba and reducing President San Martin to a mere puppet to Batista’s whims and wants.
The United States government, who was controlled by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the time, was extremely disturbed Batista gained such control of the revolt torn Cuba. When Batista installed San Martin to the presidency, the American President was left with no other choice but to consider having little to do with this new and highly unstable government. This opened the door further and in the future to Fidel Castro who would use it to open his quest for complete control over of Cuba, and to also enslave all her people under his oppressive thumb.
The Grau San Martin government did very little in the way of improving the lifestyles of any of the civilians of Cuba during his presidency. He found he couldn’t carry through with his ideas. With the growing despair of the people of Cuba, San Martin slowly bled Cuba dry, helped by his generals and ministers. In his short time, San Martin established the Cuban Revolutionary party with its cry, “Cuba for Cubans.” To take the shadow of failure further away from himself, he attacked what he referred to as the ‘Yankee Imperialism’, doing business in his country.
Grau San Martin was a physician and a part time University Professor, who was well noted for his national zeal and great passion. But his regime never contacted, or was ever recognized by the United States Administration. The failure of America to recognize the San Martin government brought about its quick end. After weathering an attempted revolt by a second military faction, there was a loss of support by his party, and Batista’s lack of faith for San Martin quickly led to his resignation. Grau San Martin’s stay of power lasted for just four months in office.
Colonel Carlos Mendieta, who was a very strong willed and uncontrollable Cuban, and he was also a veteran of the war of Independence for Cuba, enjoyed the full and complete support of the traditional parties who originally controlled a large membership, and he was installed to the Presidency of Cuba by Batista from the years of 1934 through 1935.
But Batista remained working in the background to allow Cuba to begin down the long road Cuba was destined to follow, and to find her true fate in the scheme of world affairs. Far from being idle though, Batista skillfully massed and organized the power of his army. He ruled the country from behind the scenes, and he used the puppet governments he created, to carry out his wishes and commands. Batista was more interested in keeping the military of Cuba strong, than he was in openly and fairly ruling over Cuba and her people.
Throughout the years of 1934 to 1940, Batista made many important contributions to the Cuban way of life. The first of these contributions were through the negotiations between Batista and President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934. Batista talked Roosevelt into making it possible for Cuba to sidestep the hated Platt Amendment. But the United States kept one stipulation in place during these negotiations that was the United States would keep the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in operation, enabling America to keep its finger resting on Cuba’s pulse.
Batista’s second accomplishment in Cuba came with the drafting of a new constitution passed in 1940, where he became the real President of Cuba. Batista’s first political mistake occurred when he allowed Grau San Martin, now his most powerful political enemy, to remain alive, and to retake the office of the Presidency of Cuba after Batista grew bored with it.
The eight years of Grau San Martin’s second rule as the President of Cuba, was about as ineffective and corrupt as his first one was. San Martin’s many failures in office, soon forced him to ally himself with Carlos Prio Socarras. The Gran San Martin administration shortly galvanized its power with Socarras, and together they organized the New Cuban Revolutionary Party of Cuba, with the help of the ruling Conservatives of the Republicianos of Cuba.
In 1952, with the new elections looming over the horizon for Cuba, and with the Reform Party expecting to overwhelmingly win the election, and the Presidency of Cuba. Batista read the signs and he quickly organized the Coalition Socialista Democratica Party which was now composed of the Liberal Party faction. He also organized a small fraction of the Conservatives called the Democratas. The Socialist Popular Party of the Communists was as well, organized by Batista, along with the much smaller groups of the Nationals of Cuba. Once he felt he was in the proper position to strike out, Batista announced his intent and then he openly ran for the Presidency of Cuba. But he was opposed by the much more powerful Grau San Martin, who was armed with the backing of the New Cuban Revolutionary Party, and most of the Republicianos.
The future President of Cuba, Batista, feeling extremely threatened by the political power aimed directly at him, and suddenly wielded together by San Martin and Cocarras. Caused Batista to decide, and he then suppressed the elections for Cuba and in late March of 1952, he merely seized power over the entire Cuban government, by means of a military coup of the island. Throughout the seven years of Batista’s second Administration of Cuba, he tightened his death like grip over the Island of Cuba and her people. President Batista used increasingly savage means and efforts of suppression and torture to enable him to maintain his influence and power over the military, and to remain in office.
Under this second term of President Batista’s corrupt administration and rule, the economy of Cuba mainly dominated by the United States influence caused many social services of Cuba to suffer drastically, as President Batista quickly gained complete control over the entire nation of Cuba. Poverty and illiteracy became widespread throughout most of the small island country, with Batista taking out his revenge on the state universities who didn’t back his latest bid for the Presidency over Cuba this second time around. And where the youth of Cuba were rioting, and completely rejecting Batista’s military takeover of the government of Cuba. The public and military officers quickly became flagrantly corrupt under President Batista’s second rule over Cuba, and Cuba soon found itself looking for a new redeemer to come along and free them from this terribly unjust and oppressive leader. A new leader who would free Cuba from the terrible suppression her people were forced to live under, and thus allowing the upstart Fidel Castro to enter the picture for the first time in his political life for the future sake of Cuba. The people of Cuba were desperately looking for anyone who would free them from the brutal military rule Cuba was constantly suffering through.