The Chronology of Cuban Politics, 1890s – 1950s and Gallery of Cuban Heads of State, 1902-1959 were created to complement Cuba Project’s seminars on Democracy and Revolution in Cuba: the Republic (February 5, 2016) and The Struggle for Democracy in Cuba: The Republic (October 30, 2015).

May 20, 1902 Tomás Estrada Palma Moderate Party
Dec 1, 1905 Tomás Estrada Palma (resigns) Moderate Party
Sept 28, 1906 William Howard Taft (Provisional Governor) US Occupation of Cuba
Oct 13, 1906 Charles Edward Magoon (Provisional Governor) US Occupation of Cuba
José Miguel Gómez Jan 28, 1909 José Miguel Gómez Liberal Party
Mario García Menocal May 20, 1913 Mario García Menocal Conservative Party
Apr 17, 1921 Alfredo Zayas y Alfonso Cuban Popular Party-National League
Gerardo Machado May 20, 1925 Gerardo Machado Liberal Party
Aug 12, 1933 Carlos Manuel de Cespedes y Quesada ABC Revolutionary Society
Sept 10, 1933 Ramón Grau San Martín Authentic Cuban Revolutionary Party
Carlos Mendieta Jan 15, 1934 Carlos Mendieta (Provisional President) National Union
Dec 13, 1935 José Agripino Barnet National Union
Miguel Mariano Gómez May 20, 1936 Miguel Mariano Gómez National Union
Federico Laredo Brú Dec 24, 1936 Federico Laredo Brú National Union
Fulgencio Batista July 14, 1940 Fulgencio Batista Democratic Socialist Coalition
Oct 10, 1944 Ramón Grau San Martín Authentic Cuban Revolutionary Party
Carlos Prío Socarrás Oct 10, 1948 Carlos Prío Socarrás (deposed) Authentic Cuban Revolutionary Party
Fulgencio Batista Mar 10, 1952 Fulgencio Batista (coup d’état) Progressive Action Party
Jan 3, 1959 Manuel Urrutia Lleó Independent
Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado July 18, 1959 Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado Integrated Revolutionary Organizations, United Party of the Cuban Socialist Revolution, Communist Party of Cuba

Chronology of Cuban Politics, 1890s-1950s

1892 Organization of the Partido Revolucionario Cubano (PRC); goals are to gain independence and establish republican government.
1895-1898 War for independence. Battle at Havana Harbor [1989] and defeat of Spain.
1898-1902 Cuba under U.S. military rule.
1901 Cuban Constitution drafted at the Constitutional Convention. Consists of 115 articles including the Platt Amendment, which keeps the island under U.S. protection and jurisdiction, and grants the U.S. a permanent naval base at Guantanamo Bay.
1902 Tomás Estrada Palma is elected president (former leader of PRC in exile in the U.S.)
1903 Reciprocity Treaty of 1903 ties the Cuban and U.S. economies.
1904 Congressional elections marred by sporadic violence and voter fraud.
1905 Estrada Palma seeks reelection. Alfredo Zayas and José Miguel Gómez join forces and run against him. Elections held December 1st indicate voter fraud. Zayas and Gómez drop out in protest and Estrada wins the election.
1906-1909 Uprisings against the elections lead President Estrada Palma to resign. With no government U.S. forced to intervene, leaving Charles Edward Magoon in charge until January 1909.
1907 Afro-Cubans agitated by a lack of compensation from the Independence War form The Independent Party of Color, the first political party based on race.
1908 Municipal elections. The Conservatives, formerly under Estrada Palma’s leadership, are successful in 28 municipalities. The Historic Liberals, under the leadership of José Miguel Gómez, win 35 municipalities and the Liberals, under the leadership of Alfredo Zayas, win 18. After uniting the Historic Liberal Party and the Liberal Party, Gomez and Zayas win the presidency and vice presidency respectively.
1909 Magoon transfers power to newly elected President Gómez and troops are withdrawn on March 31.
1910 The Independent Party of Color grows in numbers and importance. The “Morua Law” forbids the creation of political parties based on race or color.
1912 Approximately 6,000 Blacks rebel causing U.S. intervention. Gómez supports presidential nominee Mario García Menocal, a Conservative associated with American sugar interests. Menocal defeats the Liberals.
1913 President Menocal is sworn into office.
1914 Municipal elections with different parties now represented in government. Introduction of the Partido Liberal Unionista (PLU) and the Partido Liberal Provincial (PLP).
1916 President Menocal wins reelection.
1917 Ex-president Gómez and the Liberal party rebel after voter fraud is revealed. The Chambelona Uprising forces supplementary elections and Conservatives win.
1918 Partido Liberal Unionista, Partido Liberal Independiente and Partido Liberal Provincial gain seats in the legislature during midterm elections. Women’s suffrage becomes a rallying point for feminists and politicians from the Liberal and Popular parties.
1919 American General Crowder back in Cuba to amend laws and enforce voting practices.
1920 President Menocal hands presidency over to ally, Alfredo Zayas causing the U.S. to intervene.
1921 General Crowder returns to Cuba and holds a meeting with Zayas, Gómez and Menocal. Not able to appease all three groups, the U.S. recognizes Zayas as President.
1922 Midterm elections; Crowder loses faith in Zayas’ cabinet members.
1923 Different sections of society organize to denounce the government. The first Cuban National Women’s Congress held in Havana on April 1st.
1924 Zayas loses support of the Conservatives as they choose ex-President Menocal. Alfredo Zayas supports Liberal nominee, Gerardo Machado, who wins on a platform of nationalism, transparent governance and cooperation between major political parties.
1925 The Partido Communista de Cuba (PCC) forms and is quickly outlawed.
1926 Midterm elections show the dominance of the Liberal, Conservative and the Popular Party.
1927 Machado extends his presidential term.
1928 Constitutional reforms allow Machado to stay in power until 1935. His “Ley de Emergencia Electoral” prohibits presidential nominations from parties other than the main three. He is the chosen nominee of all three.
1929 Arrest of many protestors and death of a student leader; growing opposition.
1930 State of siege declared.
1931 Violence from various political groups trying to create conditions for revolution deepen economic crisis; many people unemployed. Machado suspends several news sources.
1932 Violence increases; new groups sabotage and kill government officials. The police respond with harsh repressive measures.
1933 The Revolution of 1933. Political and economic stress contribute to daily bombings, kidnappings, urban and rural violence. Machado steps down.
Céspedes becomes provisional president. Céspedes restores the Constitution of 1901, removing the alterations Machado added.
A “Sergeant’s Revolt” planned by Fulgencio Batista takes control of the island’s military forces. Student groups select Ramón Grau San Martín as provisional president. This administration abrogates the Platt Amendment, encourages unionizing, grants female suffrage, redistributes land and nationalizes the labor force.
1934 Grau San Martín resigns in January 1934 and Mendieta becomes president. Elections are scheduled for the winter. The US abandons its right to intervene in Cuba’s internal affairs, revises Cuba’s sugar quota and changes tariffs to favor Cuba.
1935 The Mendieta government collapses and Secretary of State José Barnet becomes provisional President. Batista controls government through him.
1936 Miguel Mariano Gómez is elected President and his party wins a majority of Congressional seats. Later Gómez is overthrown and Federico Laredo Brú becomes president.
1937 Different factions of the opposing Auténtico party unite.
1938 The Communist Party becomes legal.
1940 The Constitutional Assembly of 1939 features two coalitions vying for power. Controlled by Batista, one includes the Democratic Socialists, Unión Nacionalista, and Liberal Party. The other one, PRC (A), or Auténticos, includes the ABC, Menocal supporters and other minority parties. The latter “favored government control of the sugar industry, establishment of a Tribunal of Accounts and a National Bank, a budget law, tax reforms, a civil service system, creation of a merchant marine, the expansion of education…” (Gil 378). The Constitution of 1940 acknowledges universal suffrage, limits presidential power, strict term limits, grants political and civil liberties.
1942 Batista defeats opposition bloc in partial elections, increasing his majority in Congress.
1944 Civilian Ramón Grau San Martín, of the PRC (A), elected president.
1945 Auténticos establish a policy of stabilization of sugar prices and distribution of wealth. Sought to reduce the dangers of a one-crop economy, gave impulse to a social security system, and financed a vast educational program (Gil 378).
1946 Auténtico Party wins majority of both Houses. Accused of corruption and dishonesty leads to the formation of the Party of the Cuban People (Orthodox). “The break with the Auténticos was justified by three factors: first, corruption; second, slowness in the reform program; and third, the belief that the party leader, Grau San Martín, intended to handpick his successor” (Gil 341).
1947 Alliance between the Auténticos and the Communists is broken.
1948 Carlos Prío Socarrás wins the presidential election as the Auténtico candidate.
1950 The Ortodoxos, led by Senator Chibás, argue for clean and efficient government.
1951 Chibás commits suicide but many say would have won the 1952 election.
1952 Batista launches a coup and dissolves all political parties.
1953 Student and urban guerilla organizations revolt against the Batista regime. Leaders of the Auténticos and the Ortodoxos sign The Montreal Charter, which specified cooperation and restoration of the 1940 Constitution (Ameringer 335).
1954 Batista runs for office unopposed.
1955 Political groups and leaders opposed to Batista form the Sociedad de Amigos.
1956 Violence between students and the police prompts Batista to close University of Havana. Fidel Castro lands in eastern Cuba and wages a guerrilla war.
1958 Rebel forces have control of the island. Batista flees on December 31st.
1959 Castro becomes the new leader of Cuba.