Cuban People's Party (Ortodoxos)

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Cuban People's Party (Ortodoxos)

The Cuban People's (Ortodoxo) Party was created in 1947 by a faction that broke with the ruling Auténtico Party over the issues of the 1948 presidential nomination and the corruption of the Ramón Grau San Martín administration (1944–1948). Its leader was the mercurial senator Eduardo Chibás, a former student activist who had built a strong national following through his weekly radio broadcasts. He launched a national crusade against governmental corruption, promising to rescue the Cuban revolutionary tradition and to clean up Cuba's politics. Appropriately, he chose a broom as the party emblem. Under the slogan "vergüenza contra dinero" (honesty versus money), he entered the 1948 presidential race, and although he lost to the Auténtico candidate, Carlos Prío Socarrás, he was able to attract nearly 20 percent of the vote.

Since Auténtico scandals continued, Chibás pressed onward with his often immoderate campaign, increasing his political strength and contributing powerfully to the final discrediting of the Prío administration. When he again ran for president in 1951, it appeared that this time he had a good chance of winning. A few months before the election, however, he shot himself at the end of one of his broadcasts. His suicide was apparently an ill-conceived attempt to regain popularity that he had momentarily lost as a result of a campaign miscalculation. It dealt a severe blow to the hopes of the party, for although his candidacy was eventually filled, the new candidate, Roberto Agramonte, was a colorless university professor who lacked Chibás's dynamism and oratorical skill. It also paved the way for Fulgencio Batista, who, three months before the election, staged his 10 March 1952 coup d'état, thereby putting an end to the political aspirations of all parties. Thus forced into the opposition, many Ortodoxos, especially the younger elements who made up the party's more radical left wing, chose revolution as the way to overthrow Batista's dictatorship. One of them was a young lawyer who was running for Congress—Fidel Castro.

See alsoChibás, Eduardo; Grau San Martín, Ramón.


In English see Hugh Thomas, Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom (1971); Samuel Farber, Revolution and Reaction in Cuba, 1933–1960 (1976); Ruby Hart Phillips, Cuba: Island of Paradox (1959). On the corruption of the Auténtico administrations, see Enrique Vignier and Guillermo Alonso, La corrupción política y administrativa en Cuba, 1944–1952 (1973); Chibás's life and work are studied by Luis Conte Aguero, Eduardo Chibás, el adalid de Cuba (1955), probably the most extensive treatment of the subject as of 2007.

Alavez Martín, Elena. La ortodoxia en el ideario americano. Havana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 2002.

Argote-Freyre, Frank. Fulgencio Batista: From Revolutionary to Strongman. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006.

                                          JosÉ M. HernÁndez