Useful Notes: Fulgencio Batista

Before he was formally president.

Fulgencio Batista (1901-1973) was a former president of Cuba, best known for being "the guy who was president before the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro." He was born Ruben Zaldivar in Banes, Oriente Province, to parents who were canecutters on a sugar plantation. Batista's father, Belisario, fought in the Spanish-American War or Cuban War of Independence and when he was 8, his mother, Carmela, died, forcing him to leave school and work in the canefields.

However, he eventually managed to get a job as a railroad brakeman which enabled him to attend night classes at a Quaker-run school. He joined the Cuban army, and in 1933 he was a participant in the Sergeants' Revolt, overthrowing Gerardo Machedo's corrupt government and installing a series of puppet presidents. Appears as a character in productions involving the Cuban Revolution, including The Godfather.

The following tropes are related to him:

  • Affably Evil: Had a very charismatic personality and was described as nice and friendly by those who met and knew him.
  • Banana Republic: Cuba became an even more obvious example of this during his second term.
  • Bishōnen: One of his nicknames (which he hated) was "El Mulato Lindo," meaning "The Pretty Mulatto."
  • But Not Too Black: Batista was of mixed African, Spanish, American Indian and Chinese descent. He had relatively dark skin which was lightened in later photos.
  • Corrupt Politician: Became this during his second term in 1952, when he and his Mafia friends got kickbacks from the Cuban national lottery and pocketed money from gambling and the sex trade.
  • Dad the Veteran: His father, Belisario Batista Palermo, was a veteran of the Cuban War of Independence (Spanish-American War).
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "El Mulato Lindo."
  • The Exile: What he became after Castro forced him out of power.
  • Fallen Hero: Before he became an infamous Carribean dictator whose main concern was enriching himself, Batista's first term in office was considered one of the most progressive in Cuban history and even his future enemies, the Cuban Communist party supported him.
  • Family Values Villain: Was devoted to his second wife and all his children.
  • Freudian Excuse: His impoverished upbringing may have been a factor in his later corruption and furtherance of his own interests.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Was a participant in the 1933 revolution to overthrow Gerardo Machedo, but became corrupt himself. During his second term, Havana was prosperous, with the most modern technology for the period, while everywhere else, especially the rural areas, were desperately poor. For example, according to the UN report in 1953, two-thirds of houses in rural areas had dirt floors and people lacked access to running water and electricity.
  • The Generalissimo: Western media portrays him as this.
  • Happily Married: To his second wife, Marta Fernandez Miranda.
  • La Résistance: He was one of the leaders of a group of soldiers opposed to Machedo.
  • May-December Romance: With Marta.
  • The Mafia: Batista was close friends with Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Before and after his second term, he pulled strings to get his puppet candidates elected.
  • Parental Abandonment: His mother died when he was 8.
  • Rags to Riches: He couldn't even afford shoes and then eventually became president of Cuba.
  • Start of Darkness: Originally he was considered one of the most beloved presidents in Cuba's history. During his first period in office, he tried to look out for the interests of the lower class members of Cuban society and even the Communist party supported his government. But after failing to get reelected, he attempted to use puppet candidates to get back into a position of power and some historians suggest his desire to rise above his humble origins led him to ally himself with the upper echelons of Cuban society and form the dictatorship he became infamous for.
  • Swiss Bank Account: Had one where he hid all his money.
  • Vote Early, Vote Often: A common part of Cuban politics pre-Revolution. Now they don't even have elections. Batista often employed this method to get his candidates into power.

In media:

  • The movie The Lost City shows his Committee for the Suppression of Communist Activities shooting a wounded dissident.
  • The Godfather TV series shows him and his family leaving Havana on boats with the rest of the city's rich.
  • The 1979 movie Cuba is about a British soldier who meets him and helps him train Cuban military troops in a counter-insurrection against Fidel Castro.
  • The 1954 book A Sergeant Named Batista was written by his friend and speechwriter Edmund Chester.
  • He's the last boss in the original version of the video game Guerrilla War.