A “10 de Marzo” that our parents remember

Before I was born, Cuba had a complicated history, or those “gobiernos de quita y pon” that Marisela Verena sings about in “Son de cuatro decadas“.

Despite these political problems, the island enjoyed a lot of economic prosperity and Cubans learned to live their lives around the frequent political crisis.

According to Cuba 1952-1959, this is what happened that fateful day of March 10, 1952:

“Fulgencio Batista leads a group of disaffected military officers and a handful of political activists to overthrow President Carlos Prío Socarrás [1948-1952] in a bloodless coup.

The coup plotters encountered almost no resistance, exploiting public revulsion against a government that had lost public respect and confidence being widely regarded as corrupt and incompetent, and incapable of dealing with increasing civil unrest and violent crime.

Batista had been involved in the overthrow of Gerardo Machado’s dictatorship in 1933, and by 1934 had become a power and king maker in Cuban politics.

Over 1938-1939, realizing that he had to compromise with strong civic opposition, Batista supported return to constitutional rule and drafting of the Constitution of 1940.

Batista was then elected president for the term of 1940-1944. Honoring constitutional term-limits and his candidate’s electoral defeat in 1944 to Ramón Grau, Batista moved to Florida.

He returned to Cuban politics and was elected senator in 1948, and in 1952 ran as a presidential candidate.

The polls before the election indicated he was running a distant third behind the Auténtico and the Ortodoxocandidates.

Batista’s 1952 coup provoked immediate and strong political opposition.

The opposition had two major wings: revolutionaries who saw violent overthrow of Batista as the solution; and electoralists/constitutionalists who sought to remove Batista through political means.

The Batista government was swiftly recognized by most free world countries, including the US on 27 Mar 1952.”

The tragedy of “el 10 de Marzo” is that it stopped Cuba’s constitutional march since 1940.   It also made a lot of young Cubans very cynical about the institutions of government.

I won’t defend the incompetence or corruption of the Prío Socarrás govenrment but he was elected and should have been allowed to complete his term.

My parents do not remember this day very fondly!  My guess is that most Cubans of their generation don’t either!

You can hear our “10 de Marzo” show here:



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