Creating paradise: The Cuban-American struggle for control of Cuba's economic development, 1944--1952

Date of Completion

January 1988


History, Latin American




This study examines the Cuban-American struggle to control Cuba's postwar economic development in the period 1944-1952. Cuba emerged from the war in a strong position to negotiate with the United States. The Americans required sugar and Cuba had plenty of it. When the United States suggested to Cuba's President, Ramon Grau San Martin, a strategy for economic development that de-emphasized the sugar industry and instead recommended industrial growth and a suitable climate for foreign investment, including restraints upon labor, the Cuban government refused to comply. Cuba needed to sell sugar and market conditions were favorable for sales.^ But by 1947 circumstances had changed. The United States no longer needed as much sugar from Cuba, so Havana was forced to modify its stance. When the new Cuban President, Carlos Prio Socarras, realized that the Americans were no longer willing to grant its sugar petitions, he began to look for new markets. At the same time the Cubans drafted a policy of industrialization. Prio also opened Cuba's doors to military links with the Americans, an initiative which the United States viewed as fundamental to achieve internal security. President Prio, however, resisted American pressures to modify his labor policy which tolerated strikes and provided for higher wages. He needed the political support of the workers and refused to take measures to restrict them. Employers criticized him and the United States lost trust in the Cuban President. The military coup orchestrated by Fulgencio Batista on March 10, 1952, found Prio politically weak. Cuban capitalists and the Truman Administration supported the new regime. They turned to Batista in the hope that a strong hand could help them achieve their goals. The United States and Cuba were finally in basic agreement on the strategy to develop the Cuban economy.^ This study is based upon archival research at the United States National Archives, the Harry S. Truman Library, and the University of Florida Libraries, as well as upon contemporary Cuban and American documents and publications. Interviews with persons who participated in the events also helped in reconstructing the Cuban side of the story. ^