Zayas y Alfonso, Alfredo (1861–1934)

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Zayas y Alfonso, Alfredo (1861–1934)

Alfredo Zayas y Alfonso (b. 21 September 1861; d. 11 April 1934), president of Cuba (1921–1925). An urban leader of the struggle against Spanish domination, Zayas held many offices after independence: president of the Senate (1905), revolutionary leader (1906), and adviser to the occupation authorities during the second U.S. intervention in Cuba (1906–1909). In 1909–1913 he was vice president and in 1921 finally succeeded in ascending to the presidency.

Historians usually focus on the nepotism, graft, and corruption that characterized Zayas's administration and tend to underemphasize his achievements. Nevertheless, despite his mismanagement, Zayas reestablished Cuba's international credit, which had been suffering from a sugar crisis. He succeeded in keeping within certain bounds the interference of U.S. envoy General Enoch Crowder. And he secured title to the Isle of Pines in 1925 after twenty years of U.S. procrastination. Above all, Zayas recognized that Cuba was undergoing a period of transition and that new social and political forces were emerging in the country. While in office, he had to face increasing student turbulence at the University of Havana, numerous bitter strikes, and even an uprising organized by the Veterans' and Patriots' Association. But Zayas preferred compromise to violence and managed to keep the peace. He always respected the right to dissent. In 1925, unable to secure his own reelection, he ceded the presidency to General Gerardo Machado y Morales and retired to private life.

See alsoCrowder, Enoch Herbert; Cuba, Revolutions: Cuban Revolution.


A good study on Zayas by Nestor T. Carbonell appears in the Patronato Ramon Guiteras Intercultural Center's Presidentes de Cuba (1987), pp. 139-179.

Additional Bibliography

Whitney, Robert. State and Revolution in Cuba: Mass Mobilization and Political Change, 1920–1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

                                      JosÉ M. HernÁndez

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Zayas y Alfonso, Alfredo (1861–1934)

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