Enrique José Varona, Cuba (1849-1933)

Enrique José Varona was born in Camagüey, Cuba in 1849. In 1868 he joined the ranks of those fighting for independence from Spain. He held the strong belief that there was no alternative to independence for the Spanish colonies. He was sent into exile in New York and worked on the independent newspaper, Patria.

In 1898, following Spanish withdrawal from Cuba, Varona returned to Cuba and became the Secretary of Education. In this post Varona introduced sweeping reforms to the Cuban educational system which lasted until 1940. From 1898 until 1917 Varona also held the Chair of Logic, Ethics, Psychology and Sociology at the University of Havana. Here he defended the ethical standards of human co-existence in an attempt to correct the defects and vices he perceived in society.

Varona was the President of the Partido Conservador and Vice President of the Republic from 1913-1917. He was critical of administrative corruption within his party which led him to renounce his presidency.

Varona became a symbol of intellectual liberalism and in his later years he provided the source of inspiration to many young Cubans fighting against the dictator General Machado. Throughout his life Varona was an outspoken critic of Socialism, and a Liberal philosopher publishing nearly 2000 books. He died in Havana in 1933.

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