Carlos Prío Socarrás

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Carlos Prío Socarrás (July 14, 1903 – April 5, 1977) was the 16th President of Cuba from 1948 until he was deposed by a military coup led by Fulgencio Batista on March 10, 1952, three months before new elections were to be held.[1]



In 1940 he was elected senator of Pinar del Río province when fellow Partido Auténtico member [1] Ramón Grau became president. During the Grau administration he served turns as Minister of Public Works, Minister of Labor and Prime Minister. On July 1, 1948 he was elected president of Cuba as a member of the Partido Auténtico [2]. In 1948, Carlos Prio was assisted by Chief of the Armed Forces General Genobebo Pérez Dámera and Colonel José Luis Chinea, who had previously been in charge of the Province of Santa Clara.

The eight years under Grau and Prío, were, according to Charles Ameringer,

[...] unique in Cuban history. They were a time of constitutional order and political freedom. They were not 'golden years' by any means, but in two elections (1944 and 1948), Cubans has the opportunity to express their desire for a rule of civil liberties, primacy of Cuban culture, and achievement of economic independence. If there were sharp contradictions in Cuban society under the Autenticos, the circumstances differed only in degree from the complexities and dynamics encountered in free societies everywhere (how often did Cubans compare Havana with Chicago?).[2]

Prío, called El presidente cordial ("The Cordial President"), was committed to a rule marked by civility, primarily in its respect for freedom of expression. Several public works projects and the establishment of a National Bank and Tribunal of Accounts count among his succeesses.

However, violence among political factions and reports of theft and self-enrichment in the government ranks marred Prío's term. The Prío administration increasingly came to be perceived by the public as ineffectual in the face of violence and corruption, much as the Grau administration before it.

With elections scheduled for the middle of 1952, rumors surfaced of a planned military coup by long-shot presidential contender Fulgencio Batista. Prío, seeing no constitutional basis to act, did not do so. The rumors proved to be true. On March 10, 1952, Batista and his collaborators seized military and police commands throughout the country and occupied major radio and TV stations. Batista assumed power when Prío, failing to mount a resistance, boarded a plane and went into exile.

According to Arthur M. Schlesinger, Prío later said of his presidency,

They say that I was a terrible president of Cuba. That may be true. But I was the best president Cuba ever had.[3]

Personal life

He first married Gina Karel and they had one daughter, Rocio Guadalupe Prío-Socarrás-Karell. He then married María Dolores "Mary" Tarrero-Serrano (October 5,1924 - September 23, 2010) on 17 June 1945 in the Chapel of the Presidential Palace, and they had two daughters, Maria Antonetta Prío-Tarrero (b. 14 June 1946 in Cuba and married to Cesar Odio, former City Manager of the City of Miami) and Maria Elena Prío-Tarrero (b. 30 March 1949 in Cuba, divorced from Alfredo Duran). He also had two "recognized" children with his former mistress, Celia Rosa Touzet (b. 18 July 1929): Carlos Prio-Touzet (b. 5 February 1955 in Havana) and Rodolfo Prio-Touzet (b. 12 June 1959). His oldest son, Carlos Prio-Touzet, is an architect of some prominence.

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