MIAMI, United States. — “Supregiista government” and “puppet ruler” have been some of the qualifiers given by Castro’s historiography to define the mandate of the Dr. Alfredo Zayas and Alonso at the head of the Republic of Cuba between 1921 and 1925.
Born in Havana on February 21, 1861, Alfredo Zayas was a lawyer, orator, and poet. Before occupying the presidency, he developed an extensive political career in which he held different positions.
Zayas was a prosecutor, a judge and became mayor of Havana. In 1905 he held the position of senator and a year later that of president of the Senate. He was also Vice President between 1908 and 1913.
It should be noted that Alfredo Zayas won the 1916 presidential elections, but the United States intervened under the Platt Amendment and kept General Mario García Menocal in power.
Finally, Zayas, one of the most influential politicians on the island in the first half of the 20th century, would come to power after the elections held in 1920, although his term would officially begin on May 20, 1921 in the midst of a major economic crisis. produced by the sharp decrease in sugar prices.
When he came to power, many banks and commercial and industrial companies had gone bankrupt, leaving thousands of people in ruins. State revenue decreased due to the crisis, and was not enough to cover budget expenses, which, as was done for times of great abundance, was excessively high. This context led to an increase in disgust among citizens.
During his government, Alfredo Zayas emphasized trying to reduce expenses and obtain resources with new income to save the situation. The government of the United States, through its representative, General Crowder, urged the improvement of the administration, which was very disorderly due to the crisis and the upheavals of the last years of the government of General Mario García Menocal, and so that the credit of the Public Treasury be reestablished, invoking the rights that the Permanent Relations Treaty said to grant it.
In his four years in government, Zayas managed to promote women’s rights, particularly the right to vote, as well as reforms in the field of education and social security. However, his management did not escape corruption scandals, which led to clashes with different sectors of society, the most notorious being the so-called “Protest of the Thirteen”.
He also negotiated the return to Cuban sovereignty of the Isle of Pines (current Isla de la Juventud), occupied since 1898 by the United States. He also obtained a loan of fifty million dollars from JP Morgan in order to relaunch the economy devastated by his predecessor.
Alfredo Zayas was the first president to allow freedom of the press without censorship.
After failing to stand for re-election in 1924, he devoted his last years to writing and republishing his works.
Alfredo Zayas died in the Cuban capital on April 11, 1934 at the age of 73.