President Prío had allowed Batista to stand for election in abstentia, and some claimed that Batista only acted because he feared that he would not be legitimately elected. A prominent political scholar of the time declared that the 1952 seizure was merely an example of the violence inherent in Cuban politics. The real tragedy, wrote Herbert Matthews, a correspondent for the New York Times who found a role in my novel, Rebels on the Mountain, was the loss of faith in Cuban political leadership.
Regardless of anyone's opinion about the legitimacy of his government, Batista seemed more interested in a speedy return to “business as usual” that had won him many friends and supporters, especially among the Americans. To outside observers, Batista's Cuba possessed all the earmarks of capitalism at its best: political stability, encouragement of tourism, protection of foreign investment, and an expanding market for industrial products. Advertisements for goods imported from the United States filled Havana's newspapers: autos, tractors, sewing machines – the list was endless.
Hollywood loved Havana. Movie marquees shone with its impact. In Guys and Dolls, a hit musical, the hero, Sky Masterson, won the heart of a Salvation Army worker after a night on the town in Havana.
Batista attracted commercial interest by his support of government agencies such as an Agricultural and Industrial Development Bank, a Cuban Foreign Trade Bank, and a Technological Research Institute. Although the sugar industry still vastly overshadowed other economic areas, announced a U.S. Department of Commerce bulletin, Cuba was not underdeveloped. Its people, they boasted, had the highest standard of living in Latin America.
In truth, Batista's Cuba was a magnificent facade. Behind the facade of prosperity and happiness, was an economic colony. The reformist ideals expressed in the 1940 constitution, that Batista helped craft, especially those relating to land reform, remained largely unsatisfied.