Gerardo Machado

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Gerardo Machado
President of Cuba
In office
20 May 1925 – 12 August 1933
Vice President Carlos de la Rosa
Preceded by Alfredo Zayas
Succeeded by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada
Personal details
Born Gerardo Machado y Morales
(1871-09-28)September 28, 1871
Manajanabo, Santa Clara, Spanish Cuba
Died March 29, 1939(1939-03-29) (aged 67)
Miami Beach, Florida, United States
Nationality Cuba Cuban
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Elvira Machado Nodal
Children Laudelina (Nena) Machado-Machado
Ángela Elvira Machado-Machado
Berta Machado-Machado
Gerardo Machado, Time, 1933

Gerardo Machado y Morales (September 28, 1871, Camajuaní – March 29, 1939, Miami Beach, Florida) was President of Cuba (1925–1933) and a general of the Cuban War of Independence. He was born in the central Province of Las Villas (now Villa Clara). He was the eldest child in his family and had a brother named Carlos and a sister named Consuelo.


He married Elvira Machado Nodal (28 October 1868 in Villa Clara – 1968) and they had three daughters; Laudelina (Nena), Ángela Elvira and Berta.[1]


He spent his childhood on his family's cattle farm and in his early 20s engaged in growing and selling tobacco. During Cuba's Ten Years War (1868-1878) against Spain, Machado's father had joined the Cuban rebels, attaining the rank of major. Machado followed in his father's steps, and when the Cubans resumed the war in 1895, he enrolled, rising to the rank of brigadier general.[2]

After the war ended, Machado turned to politics and business. He became mayor of Santa Clara and during José Miguel Gómez's administration (1909-1913) was appointed inspector of the armed forces and later secretary of interior. Soon after, he engaged in farming and in business investing in public utilities. He grew wealthy, returning to politics in the early 1920s.[2]

War experience[edit]

General Machado was one of the youngest Cuban generals of the 1895 to 1898 Cuban War of Independence.[3] Only two other War of Independence generals were younger: Calixto Enamorado (1874–1951)[4] and Enrique Loynaz del Castillo (1871–1963).[5][6] Gerardo Machado fought in the middle provinces[7] along with José Miguel Gómez (1858–1921) who also was president on the Liberal Party ticket and José de Jesús Monteagudo who would later defeat the disorganized black separatist forces of Evaristo Estenoz and Pedro Ivonet in the 1912 Race War[8] and cruelly crush this rebellion.[9]

Machado, said to be the party's War leader in Las Villas province, fought on the defeated Liberal side in the 1917 "Little War of February 1917” La Chambelona (Chambelona War), with José Miguel Gómez, Alfredo Zayas and with Enrique Loynaz del Castillo. Calixto Enamorado fought on the Conservative side. After the initial victories of the Liberals, things turned for the worse, yet Machado continued to fight even after the Liberals lost to the machine guns of Colonel Rosendo Collazo at Caicaje[7] once the hacienda of Santiago Saura Orraque[10] and Juan Manuel Perez de la Cruz[11] on 8 March until his cause was unsustainable and surrendered.[12]

President Mario García Menocal had clearly won. Technically there was no US intervention in this war,[13] and Cuban Army officers, notably Julio Sanguilí in Santiago,[14] regained control. Since in this war the Liberals were said to be pro-German, US President Woodrow Wilson, worried about Mexico and Pancho Villa, and the loss of able general, Menocal's friend and Cuba hand Frederick Funston had one less distraction on his hands. Menocal declared war on Germany April 7 of that same year. John J. Pershing, less tactful than Funston, in the Cuban circumstance, would be sent first to Mexico and then Europe.

Political life[edit]

A political figure, he served as Interior Minister under José Miguel Gómez.[1] Allied with his predecessor outgoing president Alfredo Zayas and running as a Liberal Party candidate, he defeated Mario García Menocal of the Conservative Party by an overwhelming majority to become Cuba's 5th president. He campaigned with the slogan, "Water, roads, and schools".[2] He took office as President of Cuba on May 20, 1925 and left office on August 12, 1933. Elected at the time of a fall in world sugar prices, he was a Cuban industrialist and member of the political elite of the Liberal Party.

Machado's first administration coincided with a period of prosperity. Sugar production expanded, and the United States provided a close and ready market. Machado embarked on an ambitious public works program which included the completion of the Central Highway, Carretera Central, which ran practically the entire length of the island, from Pinar del Rio in the west to Santiago de Cuba, a distance of over 700 miles...[15]

Machado was also responsible for the construction of El Capitolio (The Capitol), the elegant and former home of the Cuban Congress for thirty years from 1929 to 1959 during the island’s Republican era. The Capitolio was built between 1926 and 1929 The architects whose vision was chosen for the design of what would be the future home of Cuba’ Parliament were Raúl Otero and Eugenio Rayneri Piedra. The new building would have a neoclassical design that borrowed elements from the U.S. Capitol building and the Pantheon in Paris. Its purpose was to portray the optimism, confidence and elegance of the new democracy.[16]

Additionally he oversaw the enlargement of the University of Havana, and the expansion of health facilities. He also sponsored a tariff reform bill in 1927 providing protection to certain Cuban industries. Despite these accomplishments, Cuba's dependence on sugar continued, and United States influence and investments increased.

Politically he was less adroit. He determined to make Cuba the "Switzerland of the Americas." His detractors claimed that he became despotic and forced his way into a second term.[17] According to his critics, Machado abused and censored the press.[18][19]

In 1927 Machado pushed a series of constitutional amendments in order to enable him to seek re-election, which he obtained in the 1928 Cuban presidential election. This act of continuismo, coupled with growing economic depression caused by a decline in sugar prices starting in 1925, its aggravation due to the crash of 1929, and political repression, led to significant political instability.[20]

The struggles against Machado have influenced both film[21] and literature. It was in these turbulent times, when Machado ruled, that Cuban links to the Stalinist Communist International were made for the first time by Fabio Grobart.[22][23] Although Machado is said to have ordered the murder of defecting communist Julio Antonio Mella in Mexico this murder is generally conceded to have been carried out by the Stalinist faction of the Communist International who were in a death struggle with the followers of Leon Trotsky.[citation needed] The actual assassination was probably done by an action group that included notorious communist assassin Vittorio Vidali. Trotsky was eventually also murdered in that country by communist assassin Ramón Mercader.

Machado loses power[edit]

Gerardo & Elvira Machado's crypt

In Cuba, Machado engaged in a long struggle with diverse insurgent groups which varied from the green shirts of the ABC to Blas Hernández, to the conservative veterans of the Cuban War of Independence to the radical Antonio Guiteras group, and clung on for several years. He was finally toppled in a bloodless coup in 1933 by US influence, Sumner Welles,[24] Cuban War of Independence veterans, Army officers and civic leaders in a general strike[1] (Alba, 1968). His government's collapse was followed by a revolution led by dissident students, labor activists, and non-commissioned military officers.

He died in Miami Beach and is entombed in Miami at Woodlawn Park Cemetery and Mausoleum (now Caballero Rivero Woodlawn North Park Cemetery and Mausoleum).


  1. ^ a b c Gerardo Machado, from The History of Cuba at
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ Generales del Ejército Libertador de Cuba at
  4. ^ Enamorado at
  5. ^ Enrique Loynaz del Castillo at
  6. ^ Enrique Loynaz del Castillo at
  7. ^ a b Noti-CUTC at
  8. ^ LA GUERRA RACIAL DE 1912 at
  9. ^ SSHL: Latin American Election Statistics: Cuba: Elections and events 1912-1929 at
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Cuba's Central Highway at
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Patricia_Lee_TGHK at
  20. ^ Benjamin, Jules The Machadato and Cuban Nationalism, 1928-1932
  21. ^ DOc DVD Review: We Were Strangers (1949) at
  22. ^
  23. ^ Liberales y Comunistas 1920-1933, Zayas y Machado at
  24. ^ PHILIP, DUR; Gilcrease, Christopher (2002). "US Diplomacy and the Downfall of a Cuban Dictator: Machado in 1933". Journal of Latin American Studies (full text) 34 (2): 255. doi:10.1017/S0022216X02006417. 

Memoirs and papers[edit]

Machado y Morales, Gerardo (written in 1936 published in 1957 and later) Ocho años de lucha – memorias. Ediciones Universales, [1] and Ediciones Historicas Cubanas. Miami ISBN 0-89729-328-2 ISBN 0-89729-328-2

The papers of Gerardo Machado y Morales are available for research at the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami. Selected materials from these papers have been digitized and are available online at

General references[edit]

  • Alba, Víctor 1968 Politics and the labor movement in Latin America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California . ASIN B0006BNYGK
  • Duarte Oropesa, José (1989) Historiología Cubana. Ediciones Universal Miami ISBN 84-399-2580-8
  • Carrillo, Justo 1985 Cuba 1933: Estudiantes, Yanquis y Soldados. University of Miami Iberian Studies Institute ISBN 0-935501-00-2 Transaction Publishers (January 1994) ISBN 1-56000-690-0
  • Masó, Calixto (1998) Historia de Cuba 3rd edition. Ediciones Universal, Miami. ISBN 0-89729-875-6
  • Perez, Louis A. Jr. "Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution." Third Edition. New York/Oxford:Oxford University Press, 2006
  • Perez-Stable, Marifeli (1999); The Cuban Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Riera Hernández, Mario. 1953. Cincuenta y dos años de política: Oriente, 1900-1952. La Habana.
  • Riera, Mario. 1955. Cuba política, 1899-1955. La Habana: Impresora Modelo, S.A.
  • Riera Hernández, Mario. 1968. Cuba libre: 1895-1958. Miami: Colonial Press of Miami, Inc.
  • Riera Hernández, Mario. 1974. Cuba repúblicana: 1899-1958. Miami: Editorial AIP.
  • Thomas, Hugh (1998) Cuba or the Pursuit of Freedom. Da Capo Press; Updated edition (April, 1998) ISBN 0-306-80827-7
  • Perez-Stable, Marifeli (1999); The Cuban Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Otero, Juan Joaquin (1954). Libro De Cuba, Una Enciclopedia Ilustrada Que Abarca Las Artes, Las Letras, Las Ciencias, La Economia, La Politica, La Historia, La Docencia, Y ElProgreso General De La Nacion Cubana - Edicion Conmemorative del Cincuentenario de la Republica de Cuba, 1902-1952.  (Spanish)


  • Cano Vázquez, F. 1953: La Revolución de la Chambelona. Revista Bohemia. La Habana, May 1, 1953. 45 (19) 82-86, 184, 188.
  • González, Reynaldo 1978 Nosotros los liberales nos comimos la lechona. Editorial de Ciencias Sociales. Havana
  • Waldemar, León Caicaje: Batalla Final de una Revuelta. Bohemia pp. 100–103, 113
  • Carlos Alberto 1982 Cuba: claves para una conciencia en crisis Archived April 9, 2004 at the Wayback Machine.
  • Montaner, Carlos Alberto 1999 Viaje al Corazón de Cuba. Planes and Janés [2]
  • Morales y Morales, Vidal 1959 (printed 1962) Sobre la guerra civil de 1917. Documentos del Siglo XX, Boletín del Archivo Nacional. Volume 58 pp. 178–256.
  • Parker, William Belmont 1919 Cubans of Today Putnam's Sons, New York,
  • Portell Vila, Herminio La Chambelona en Oriente. Bohemia pp. 12–13, 112-125.
  • Primelles, L- 1955 Crónica cubana, 1915-1918: La reelección de Menocal y la Revolución de 1917. La danza de los millones - Editorial Lex, Havana.
Political offices
Preceded by
Alfredo Zayas
President of Cuba
Succeeded by
Alberto Herrera y Franchi