Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar (Spanish:
[fulˈxensjo βaˈtista i salˈdiβar]; born Rubén Zaldívar;
 January 16, 1901 – August 6, 1973) was the elected
President of Cuba from 1940 to 1944, and U.S.-backed dictator from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown during the
Cuban Revolution. Batista initially rose to power as part of the
1933 Revolt of the Sergeants, which overthrew the provisional government of
Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada. He then appointed himself chief of the armed forces, with the rank of
colonel, and effectively controlled the
five-member "pentarchy" that functioned as the collective head of state. He maintained this control through a string of puppet presidents until 1940, when he was himself elected President of Cuba on a
 He then instated the
1940 Constitution of Cuba
 and served until 1944. After finishing his term he lived in
Florida, returning to Cuba to run for president in 1952. Facing certain electoral defeat, he led a
military coup that preempted the election.
Back in power, and receiving financial, military, and logistical support from the United States government,
 Batista suspended the 1940 Constitution and revoked most political liberties, including the
right to strike. He then aligned with the wealthiest landowners who owned the largest
sugar plantations, and presided over a stagnating economy that widened the gap between rich and poor Cubans.
 Eventually it reached the point where most of the sugar industry was in U.S. hands, and foreigners owned 70% of the arable land.
 As such, Batista's repressive government then began to systematically profit from the exploitation of Cuba's commercial interests, by negotiating lucrative relationships with both the
American Mafia, who controlled the drug, gambling, and prostitution businesses in
Havana, and with large U.S.-based
multinational companies who were awarded lucrative contracts.
 To quell the growing discontent amongst the populace—which was subsequently displayed through frequent
student riots and demonstrations—Batista established tighter censorship of the media, while also utilizing his
Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities
secret police to carry out wide-scale violence,
public executions; ultimately killing anywhere from hundreds to 20,000 people.
Catalyzing the resistance to such tactics, for two years (December 1956 – December 1958)
26th of July Movement and other
nationalist rebelling elements led an urban and rural-based
guerrilla uprising against Batista's government, which culminated in his eventual defeat by rebels under the command of
Che Guevara at the
Battle of Santa Clara on New Year's Day 1959. Batista immediately fled the island with an amassed personal fortune to the
Dominican Republic, where
strongman and previous military ally
Rafael Trujillo held power. Batista eventually found political asylum in
Portugal, where he first lived on the island of
Madeira and then in
Lisbon. He was involved in business activities in
Spain and was staying there in Guadalmina near
Marbella at the time of his death from a heart attack on August 6, 1973.