An army sergeant, Batista took part in the overthrow of Gerardo Machado in 1933 and subsequently headed the military and student junta that ousted Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and installed Ramón Grau San Martín. Made chief of staff of the army, he increased its size and power and soon became de facto ruler, launching a three-year plan of economic and social rehabilitation. In 1940, with centrist support, he was elected president and sponsored several reforms that spurred economic growth. After being defeated in 1944, however, he left for the United States. He returned to Cuba in 1949, and in 1952 he seized power through a coup. His second term as president was marked by brutal repression, which led to several uprisings, notably that of Fidel Castro. Pressed by the rebels and after a mock election (1958) had failed to calm the populace, Batista fled Cuba (Jan., 1959) for the Dominican Republic and thence to Portugal and Madeira. He died in Spain.