THE COVER OF TIME MAGAZINE (April 9 1952) showed a photo of Batista with a Cuban flag behind him, and the caption: "Cuba's Batista: he got past Democracy's sentries." Ironically, that was not the first time that Batista had bypassed the process of Democracy, with the full blessing and encouragement of its self-appointed guardians. Twenty years earlier Batista had become the strongman that would come to symbolize the heart and soul of Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor Policy."
Ruben Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar was born in Cuba's Oriente Province on January 16 1901. His parents, who lived and worked in a sugar plantation, were said to be of mixed race; Negro, white, Indian, and (it was popularly believed) Chinese. In 1921 he joined the army as a private, and in 1932 he became a military tribunal stenographer with the rank of sergeant.
The First Coup
In an uprising known as the "Revolt of the Sergeants," Batista took over the Cuban government on September 4, 1933. The coup overthrew the liberal government of Gerardo Machado, and marked the beginning of the army's influence as an organized force in the running of the government. It also signaled Batista's emergence as self-appointed chief of the armed forces, king-maker and favored U.S. strong man.