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José Miró Cardona was born in Havana, Cuba on August 22, 1902. His father fought for liberation from Spain as a general in the Cuban War of Independence (1895-1898). Miró Cardona graduated from the University of Havana Law School. He set up a law practice in Havana in 1938, and accepted a position as a professor of criminal law at his alma mater. Later, he was named Dean of the university’s law school, and became president of the Cuban Lawyers College.
In 1955, he joined the Society of Friends of the Republic (Sociedad de Amigos de la República), founded by the elder statesman Cosme de la Torriente. The society worked towards reconciling the differences between the Batista regime and its opponents. Miró Cardona moved soon into outright opposition to Batista, and was forced to seek asylum in the Argentine embassy in Havana. Afterward, he fled to Miami where he joined forces with Fidel Castro during the 26th of July Movement (Movimiento 26 de Julio). Miró Cardona’s task was to organize various exile groups in Miami and rally them behind Castro’s banner.
On January 6, 1959, after the Castro’s revolution had succeeded in overthrowing the Batista regime, Miró Cardona was appointed Prime Minister of the new government. He proceeded to steer the country toward a democratic and constitutional government and to reform the court system in accordance with the constitution of 1940. In 1960, Miró Cardona agreed to serve as Cuban Ambassador to Spain. Later, Castro designated Miró Cardona to be Ambassador to the United States. However, Miró never assumed his ambassadorial post. Instead, Miró resigned his professorship at the University of Havana in protest against demands of the pro-Castro University Student Federation that all “counter-revolutionary professors” be dismissed. After his resignation, Miró Cardona took refuge yet again in the Argentine embassy and left for the United States.
One of the principal challenges facing the anti-Castro movement in the United States was a lack of unity among some 187 exile groups, spanning widely divergent political and economic views, and united only in their common opposition to Castro. A series of meetings held in New York City and Washington D.C. in February and March of 1961 led to an agreement between the two main opposing groups: The Revolutionary Democratic Front (FRD) under Manuel Antonio de Varona and the People’s Revolutionary Movement (MRP) lead by Manuel Ray. Miró Cardona served as a mediator in this process.
On March 22, 1961 the formation of the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC), under the presidency of Miró Cardona, was formally announced. The Cuban Revolutionary Council was neither a government in exile nor a provisional government. The fundamental objective of the CRC was the liberation of Cuba through arms with the help of United States. Miró became the head of the exile group that worked with the Kennedy administration to prepare for the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961. It was decided that Miró would become the provisional president of Cuba should the invasion succeed. Miró detailed a plan for an economic and political constitution for Cuba’s post-Castro future.
On April 17, 1961, a force of some 1300 anti-Castro fighters landed at the Bay of Pigs on the southern coast of Cuba. The attempted invasion had immediate international repercussions. Within seventy-two hours, the offensive was crushed, and most of the participants were taken prisoner by the Castro government. After the defeat, Miró Cardona consulted with President John F. Kennedy at the White House and received assurances that efforts would be made to obtain humane treatment for the prisoners. The dissensions inside the Cuban Revolutionary Council rose after the Bay of Pigs disaster. Miró Cardona renounced the presidency of the Council in 1963. He and his wife, Ernestina Torra, moved with their two children from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico where he worked in the University of Puerto Rico as a professor of Criminal Law and Legal advisor until his death on August 10, 1974.