Gerardo Machado y Morales

(b. 1871)

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(b. Santa Clara, Cuba, 28 Sept. 1871; d. Miami Beach, Florida, 29 Mar. 1939)

Cuban; President 1924–33 The son of a cattle rancher, Machado served as a brigadier-general in the Liberation Army in Cuba's second War of Independence (1895–8). He then entered politics, becoming mayor of Santa Clara and then Inspector of the Armed Forces and then Secretary of the Interior in the Gomez administration (1909–13). After a successful period as farmer and businessman, he returned to lead the traditionally nationalist Liberal Party, in the wake of a disastrous sugar crisis (1921). Capitalizing on widespread unrest at growing dependence on the United States and at rampant corruption, Machado was elected Cuba's fifth president in 1924 after a populist and nationalist campaign. Initially, thanks to a recovery of sugar and the vital US market, much of his public works, social, and protectionist programme was enacted.

In 1928, however, arguing force majeure, Machado decreed a two-year extension of his presidency and changed the constitution to allow for his re-election largely unopposed, since dissent was met with a fierce and unprecedented repression.

Eventually, with the Depression, opposition grew, especially from students, the terrorist group ABC, and increasingly militant Communist-led unions. It became so widespread and violent that, despite Washington's attempts to mediate, a student-led rebellion and an NCOs' mutiny succeeded in removing him from power on 12 August 1933. He died six years later in exile in Florida.

Overall, Machado bridged the period between the early Republican generation of political leaders and the later radicalism which he did much to accelerate.

Subjects: Politics.

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