Collapse of the Fulgencio Batista regime
After the loss at the Battle of Santa Clara, expecting betrayal by his own army and having lost all backup from the previously supportive US government, Batista (accompanied by president-elect Andrés Rivero Agüero) boarded a plane and fled to the Dominican Republic in the early hours of January 1, 1959. Accompanying Batista into exile was an amassed fortune of more than $ 300,000,000 that he acquired through "graft and payoffs."
Batista left behind a junta headed by Gen. Eulogio Cantillo, recently the commander in Oriente province, the center of the Castro revolt. The junta immediately selected Dr. Carlos Piedra, the oldest judge of the Supreme Court, as provisional President of Cuba as specified in the Constitution of 1940. Castro refused to accept the selection of Justice Piedra as provisional President and the Supreme Court refused to administer the oath of office to the Justice.
The rebel forces of Fidel Castro moved swiftly to seize power throughout the island. At the age of 32, Castro had successfully masterminded a classic guerrilla campaign from his headquarters in the Sierra Maestra and ousted Batista.
In 1954 and ’58 the country held presidential elections that, though purportedly “free,” were manipulated to make Batista the sole candidate. His regime was finally toppled by the rebel forces led by Fidel Castro, who launched their successful attack in the fall of 1958. Faced with the collapse of his regime and with the growing discontent of his supporters, Batista fled with his family to the Dominican Republic on Jan. 1, 1959. Later he went into exile on the Portuguese island of Madeira and finally settled in Estoril, near Lisbon.
In March 1952 former president Batista, supported by the army, seized power. Batista suspended the constitution, dissolved the congress, and instituted a provisional government, promising elections the following year. After crushing an uprising in Oriente Province led by a young lawyer named Fidel Castro on July 26, 1953, the regime seemed secure, and when the political situation had been calmed, the Batista government announced that elections would be held in the fall of 1954. Batista's opponent, Grau San Martin, withdrew from the campaign just before the election, charging that his supporters had been terrorized. Batista was thus reelected without opposition, and on his inauguration February 24, 1955, he restored constitutional rule and granted amnesty to political prisoners, including Castro. The latter chose exile in the United States and later in Mexico.
In the mid-1950s the Batista government insituted an economic development program that, together with a stabilization of the world sugar price, improved the economic and political outlook in Cuba. On December 2, 1956, however, Castro, with some 80 insurgents, invaded. The force was crushed by the army, but Castro escaped into the mountains, where he organized the 26th of July Movement, so called to commemorate the 1953 uprising. For the next year Castro's forces, using guerrilla tactics, opposed the Batista government and won considerable popular support. On March 17, 1958, Castro called for a general revolt. His forces made steady gains through the remainder of the year, and on January 1, 1959, Batista resigned and fled the country. A provisional government was established. Castro, although he initially renounced office, became premier in mid-February. In the early weeks of the regime military tribunals tried many former Batista associates, and some 550 were executed.