First Lady of Cuba
Escudo de Cuba.gif
Lis Cuesta.png
Incumbent
Lis Cuesta Peraza

since April 19, 2018
ResidencePalace of the Revolution
Term length5 years
Inaugural holderGenoveva Guardiola Arbizú
FormationMay 20, 1902
(120 years ago)
 (1902-05-20)
Websitewww.twitter.com/LisCuestaCuba

First Lady of Cuba (Spanish: Primera Dama de Cuba) is de facto title of the wife of the President of the Republic of Cuba.[1] The current first lady of Cuba is Lis Cuesta Peraza, the second wife of President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who is also the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, the most senior position in the Cuban government.[2][3] She is the first presidential wife to be referred to as "first lady" by Cuban state media since the 1960s.[2]

History

The term "First Lady of Cuba" was first used as far back as 1913 to refer to the wife of the Cuban president. The role of first lady is purely ceremonial, and the first ladies since the Cuban Revolution hold little official influence on the politics of Cuba. Although the wife of the president of Cuba is referred to unofficially as the "first lady", it is used in state ceremonies, protocol events, and international tours. However, no official government position currently exists, particularly since the Cuban Revolution, when the term was largely eliminated by the Castro brothers.[2]

The position was regarded as a "remnant of capitalism" and fell into disuse during the rule of Fidel Castro.[1] Castro and his first wife, Mirta Díaz-Balart, had divorced before the 1959 Cuban Revolution, which contributed to the decline of the role as well, according to Cuban writer, Wendy Guerra.[1] However, Vilma Espín, Castro's sister-in-law and wife of Raúl Castro, took on the role of "Cuba's low-key first lady" for 45-years, even after Fidel Castro reportedly married Dalia Soto de Valle in 1980.[4] Dalia Soto de Valle was not seen publicly until Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba in January 1998.[3]

In recent years, the concept of a national first lady has been revived under President Miguel Díaz-Canel and his wife, Lis Cuesta. In 2018, Cuesta became the first woman to be publicly referred to as "first lady" by some of Cuba's state-controlled broadcasters and other media outlets since the 1960s, while other state-run newspapers initially ignored her new role.[2][3] Lis Cuesta Peraza was previously the Second Lady of the Republic of Cuba from the February 24, 2013, to April 19, 2018, during her husband's term as First Vice President of Cuba. As Second Lady of Cuba, she accompanied her husband on state tours to Angola, Laos, Vietnam, Chile, Russia, among others.

The current Second Lady of the Republic of Cuba is Julia Piloto Saborit (since April 2018), the wife of the current Vice President of Cuba, Salvador Valdes Mesa.

First ladies of Cuba

First ladies of the Republic of Cuba (1902–1959)

Portrait First Lady of Cuba Term Began Term Ended President of Cuba Notes
Genoveva Guardiola Arbizú May 20, 1902 September 28, 1906 Tomás Estrada Palma Born in Honduras, Veva Guardiola was the inaugural First Lady of Cuba.[1]
Sra. América Arias de Gómez.jpg
América Arias January 28, 1909 May 20, 1913 José Miguel Gómez
Madame Mariana Seva de Menocal LCCN2017672935 (cropped).jpg
Mariana Seva de Menocal May 20, 1913 May 20, 1921 Mario García Menocal
María de la Asunción Jaén y Planas May 20, 1921 May 20, 1925 Alfredo Zayas y Alfonso [1]
Elvira Machado Nodal May 20, 1925 August 12, 1933 Gerardo Machado Elvira Machado was Machado's cousin.[1]
Laura Bertini Alessandri[1] August 13, 1933 September 5, 1933 Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada Bertinni, who married Carlos Manuel de Céspedes in 1915, was Italian. Mother of writer Alba de Céspedes y Bertini.
Polita Grau.jpg
Polita Grau September 10, 1933 January 15, 1934 Ramón Grau Grau, who was unmarried, appointed his niece, Polita Grau, as first lady during his first presidency.
Elisa Edelmann Ponce January 15, 1934 January 18, 1934 Carlos Hevia [1]
Mercedes Márquez Sterling January 18, 1934 January 18, 1934 Manuel Márquez Sterling [1]
Carmela Ledón January 18, 1934 December 11, 1935 Carlos Mendieta [1]
Marcela Cleard December 11, 1935 May 20, 1936 José Agripino Barnet [1]
Serafina Diago Cárdenas[1] May 20, 1936 December 24, 1936 Miguel Mariano Gómez Miguel Mariano Gómez was the son of former first lady, América Arias.
Leonor Montes de Laredo Bru.jpg
Leonor Gómez Montes December 24, 1936 October 10, 1940 Federico Laredo Brú [1]
Elisa Godinez Gomez de Batista.jpg
Elisa Godínez Gómez de Batista October 10, 1940 October 10, 1944 Fulgencio Batista Elisa Godinez Gomez was Batista's first wife and first lady from 1940 to 1944. Batista divorced her in 1945 after leaving office and soon married his mistress, Marta Fernandez Miranda de Batista.
Paulina Alsina Fernández October 10, 1944 October 10, 1948 Ramón Grau President Grau never married. He appointed his sister-in-law, Paulina Alsina Fernández, as first lady during his second presidency.[1]
María Dolores Tarrero.jpg
Mary Tarrero-Serrano October 10, 1948 March 10, 1952 Carlos Prío Socarrás Tarrero was also a stenographer in the national Senate.[1] Prio was overthrown by Batista in the 1952 Cuban coup d'état.
Marta Fernandez Miranda de Batista.jpg
Marta Fernandez Miranda de Batista March 10, 1952 January 1, 1959 Fulgencio Batista Batista's second wife and first lady during his dictatorship. Both went into permanent exile following his ouster during the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
Ana Durán January 1, 1959 January 2, 1959 Anselmo Alliegro y Milá Interim presidency
María Luisa Martínez Díaz January 2, 1959 January 3, 1959 Carlos Manuel Piedra Interim presidency

Post Revolution (1959–Present)

Portrait First Lady of Cuba Term Began Term Ended President of Cuba Notes
? January 3, 1959 July 18, 1959 Manuel Urrutia Lleó Interim president following the ouster of Batista. No first lady appeared in public during his brief presidency.[1]
María de la Caridad Molina July 18, 1959 December 2, 1976 Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado Though married, President Osvaldo Dorticós did not introduce his wife, María de la Caridad Molina, as first lady (or any other public position) during his presidency.[1]
Vilma Espín Guillois.jpg
Vilma Espín[4] (acting) December 2, 1976 February 24, 2008 Fidel Castro The concept of a public "First Lady" fell into disuse following the Cuban Revolution under President Fidel Castro.[1] Little was known about Castro's private life during his rule and he was divorced when he officially became president in 1976, which contributed to the position's decline.[1] However, Vilma Espín, wife of Raúl Castro, took on the role of "Cuba's low-key first lady" for 45-years, even after Fidel Castro reportedly married Dália Soto del Valle in 1980.[4] Espín was also a Secretary of State[1] and had established the Federation of Cuban Women in 1960. Celia Sánchez, another Cuban revolutionary and close confidante of Castro, also served as a Secretary of State and fulfilled some of the roles traditionally attributed to a first lady as well.[1]
Vilma Espín Guillois.jpg
Vilma Espín July 31, 2006 June 18, 2007 Raúl Castro Vilma Espín died in Havana on June 18, 2007, during her husband's acting presidency.[4]
Position vacant June 18, 2007 April 19, 2018 Raúl Castro Vilma Espín had died in Havana on June 18, 2007.[4] Mariela Castro Espín, daughter of Vilma Espín and Raúl Castro, assumed a protocol role for her father at times during his presidency.[3]
Lis Cuesta.png
Lis Cuesta Peraza April 19, 2018 Present Miguel Díaz-Canel The concept and role of a first lady began to revive under Díaz-Canel and Cuesta.[2][3] In 2018, Cuesta, a tourism executive, became the first woman to be called "first lady" by some Cuban state-run media outlets since the 1960s.[2]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Guerra, Wendy (2018-06-25). "¿Primera Dama cubana?". El Nuevo Herald. Archived from the original on 2018-06-18. Retrieved 2022-06-30.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Quién es Lis Cuesta, la esposa del nuevo presidente de Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, que retoma el título de "primera dama" eliminado por los hermanos Castro hace décadas". BBC Mundo. 2018-04-23. Archived from the original on 2022-04-12. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  3. ^ a b c d e Whitefield, Mimi (2018-06-01). "Cuba's first lady is no mystery, but you would not know it from coverage in state media". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on 2020-11-28. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Obituary: Vilma Espín Guillois, wife of Raúl Castro, 77". New York Times. 2007-06-19. Archived from the original on 2022-07-10. Retrieved 2022-07-10.