Ramón Grau

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Ramón Grau
President of Cuba
In office
10 October 1944 – 10 October 1948
Vice President Raul de Cardenas Echarte
Preceded by Fulgencio Batista
Succeeded by Carlos Prío Socarrás
In office
10 September 1933 – 15 January 1934
Vice President None
Preceded by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada
Succeeded by Carlos Hevia
Personal details
Born Ramón Grau San Martín
(1881-09-13)September 13, 1881
La Palma, Pinar del Río Province, Spanish Cuba
Died July 28, 1969(1969-07-28) (aged 87)
Havana, Cuba
Nationality Cuba Cuban
Political party Partido Auténtico
Alma mater University of Havana
Occupation Medical Doctor

Dr. Ramón Grau San Martín (September 13, 1881, La Palma, Pinar del Río Province, Spanish Cuba – July 28, 1969, Havana, Cuba) was a Cuban physician and the President of Cuba (1933–1934, 1944–1948). He was the last president other than an interim president, Carlos Manuel Piedra, to be born during Spanish rule. He is sometimes called Raymond Grau San Martin in English.[1]


Grau's father, a rich tobacco grower, wanted Ramón to continue in his footsteps, but Ramón himself wanted to be a doctor. He studied at the University of Havana and graduated in 1908with a Doctor of Medicine degree, then expatriated to Europe in order to expand his medical knowledge. He returned to Cuba in 1921 and became a professor of physiology at the University of Havana.

Activism and the Revolution of 1933[edit]

In the 1920s he was involved with the student protests against then–President Gerardo Machado, and was jailed in 1931. Upon his release he was exiled from Cuba, temporarily migrating to the United States.

After the 1933 Cuban Revolution Grau initially became the titular President of Cuba, but he was eventually marginalized by Army Chief of Staff Fulgencio Batista, who distanced the military from other elements of the revolution and became de facto leader of Cuba behind the scenes. Batista forced Grau's resignation in 1934. That same year he went on to found the Partido Auténtico. His niece, Pola Grau Alsina (1915–2000), served as First Lady of Cuba during his first presidency.

Constitution of 1940[edit]

Grau was instrumental in passing the 1940 Constitution of Cuba. For much of the Constitutional Convention, he served as the presiding officer (even after his coalition was pushed into the minority after the defection of one of the parties that formed it). He would eventually come to be replaced by Carlos Márquez Sterling.

In 1940 Grau ran in the presidential election and lost to Fulgencio Batista. Most independent observers at the time qualified the 1940 election as free and fair elections.

Election of 1944[edit]

In 1944 Grau won the popular vote in the presidential election, defeating Carlos Saladrigas Zayas, Batista's handpicked successor, and served until 1948. Despite his initial popularity in 1933, accusations of corruption tainted his administration's image, and a sizable number of Cubans began to distrust him.

As Grau assumed the presidency, he was forced to address many financial problems left by his predecessor, Batista. In a July 17, 1944 dispatch to the U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Ambassador Spruille Braden stated:

"It is becoming increasingly apparent that President Batista intends to discomfit the incoming Administration in every way possible, particularly financially. A systematic raid on the Treasury is in full swing with the result that Dr. Grau will probably find empty coffers when he takes office on October 10. It is blatant that President Batista desires that Dr. Grau San Matin should assume obligations which in fairness and equity should be a matter of settlement by the present Administration." [1]

After turning over the presidency to his protégé, Carlos Prío, in 1948, Grau virtually withdrew from public life. He emerged again in 1952 to oppose Batista's coup d'état. Grau ran for president in the 1954 and 1958 Batista-sponsored elections but withdrew just prior to each election day, claiming government fraud. After the Cuban Revolution and the rise of Fidel Castro in 1959, Grau retired to his home in Havana and maintained a low profile. He died there on July 28, 1969.


  1. ^ "Grau San Martin Leaves Cuba In Plane". The Pittsburgh Press (The United Press). September 28, 1934. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  • 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 El Progreso General De La Nación Cubana - Edicion Conmemorative del Cincuentenario de la Republica de Cuba, 1902–1952.  (Spanish)
  • Argote-Freyre, Frank. Fulgencio Batista: Volume 1, From Revolutionary to Strongman. Rutgers University Press, Rutgers, New Jersey. ISBN 0-8135-3701-0. 2006.
  • The Cuban Democratic Experience: The Autentico Years 1944–1952, University Press of Florida, 2000. Dr.Charles D.Ameringer. ISBN 978-0813026671
  • "En Defensa Del Autenticismo"- Aracelio Azcuy y Cruz, Julio 1950, La Habana, 135 pages, P. Fernandez y Cia.
Political offices
Preceded by
Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada
President of Cuba
10 September 1933 – 15 January 1934
Succeeded by
Carlos Hevia
Preceded by
Fulgencio Batista
President of Cuba
Succeeded by
Carlos Prío Socarrás