Miró Cardona audio recordings online

José Miró Cardona

Now online: 74 audio recordings from the José Miró Cardona collection including speeches, interviews, and radio broadcasts from the 1960s. The majority of these recordings are speeches and interviews with Miró Cardona and broadcasts of the radio program La voz del Consejo Revolucionario de Cuba. They also include interviews with exile leaders and activists Manuel Antonio Varona, Manuel Ray, and others; radio broadcasts from Cuba; and an interview by Cuban journalists with José Miró Torra, Miró Cardona’s son, who was captured during the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

A lawyer and politician who served as Prime Minister of Cuba for just over one month in early 1959, Miró Cardona (1902-1974) was president of the Consejo Revolucionario Cubano (Cuban Revolutionary Council), or CRC, the Cuban exile organization that worked with the CIA and the administration of US President John F. Kennedy to prepare the Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961.

These reel-to-reel audio recordings form part of the José Miró Cardona Papers held by the Cuban Heritage Collection.

 



Tomás Estrada Palma Rides to Havana to Become Cuba’s First President

Originally Published by María R. Estorino on October 2001

Convoy accompanying Tomás Estrada Palma from Bayamo to Havana. From folder 24 of the Tomás Estrada Palma Collection (CHC0460), Cuban Heritage Collection, University of Miami Libraries, Coral Gables, Florida.

In 1902, Tomás Estrada Palma set foot on the island of Cuba for the first time in almost twenty-five years. José Martí’s successor as head of the Partido Revolucionario Cubano, Estrada Palma was living in exile in Central Valley, New York when he was elected Cuba ‘s first president in 1901. Once elected, he renounced his naturalized American citizenship and traveled to his homeland, landing in Gibara, Oriente on April 20, 1902. Estrada Palma traveled across Cuba for three weeks, getting reacquainted with the island and giving Cubans a chance to see in person the man they had elected as their first repúblican president. He reached Havana on May 11, 1902 and was inaugurated eight days later on May 20, 1902. This photograph depicts Estrada Palma’s caravan as he marched across Cuba. At the head of the group is a rider carrying the flag of Bayamo, Estrada Palma’s hometown and birthplace of Cuba’s struggles for independence. Estrada Palma rides in a black carriage at the center of the photograph. It is part of the Tomás Estrada Palma Collection of the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) of the University of Miami Libraries. This collection was donated to the CHC by Estrada Palma’s grandson, Tomás Douglas Estrada Palma, in 1995. Along with this photograph, the collection contains other pictures of Tomás Estrada Palma and his family as well as personal letters and other documents. For more information about this collection, view the finding aid.



Cuban Memories: the Cuban Constitution of 1940, then and today

By Rudo Kemper, CHC Web Communications Technician

Gaceta Oficial, Lunes, 8 de Julio de 1940
Gaceta Oficial announces at 3:00pm on July 8, 1940 that the Constitution was promulgated in Guáimaro. Link to IBISweb record.

Seventy years ago on October 10, 1940, the Cuban government promulgated a new Constitution in Guáimaro, a historic town in the Camagüey province. The Constitution, known later as the 1940 Constitution of Cuba, was the culmination of a six-month debate that took place during the presidency of Federico Laredo Brú. Comprising 286 Articles grouped in 19 Titles, it was drafted with the collaboration of a Constitutional Convention, presided over by Carlos Márquez Sterling and composed of seventy-six delegates from nine political parties. These delegates represented practically all sectors of Cuban political opinion according to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in 1962. The ICJ furthermore describes that the 1940 Constitution was characterized by “the rare balance it established between republican, liberal and democratic postulates on one hand and the demands of social justice and economic advancement on the other.” [1]

On the same day, Cuba held the first presidential election under the 1940 Constitution, resulting in the election of Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar over former president Dr. Ramón Grau San Martín. Although Grau, one of the delegates, was instrumental in the passing of the 1940 Constitution, Batista enjoyed strong support from a coalition of political parties, and served out a four year term as the first President of Cuba under the 1940 Constitution. Grau succeeded Batista four years later, but when Batista returned in 1952 under a coup d’état, he suspended parts of the constitution via a Constitutional Act passed on April 2, 1952.

Dr. Carlos Márquez Sterling is presented the golden pen with which he signed the Constitution.
Dr. Carlos Márquez Sterling is presented the golden pen using which he signed the Constitution. From Memorias de un estadísta: frases y escritos en correspondencia. Link to IBISweb record.

The Cuban lawyer Carlos Márquez Sterling, who presided over the 1940 Constitutional Convention, ran for the Cuban presidency in 1958. During the election, which was to be held one year before the Cuban Revolution, Márquez Sterling famously asserted that Castro’s coming to power would be the death knell of democracy in Cuba. In his campaign, he championed the Constitution that he helped usher in 18 years ago, asserting that “ni el gobierno de Batista ni la sangre derramada por los nuevos caudillos perniciosos serán la solución correcta del grave problema cubano, y sólo unas elecciones libres, con todas las garantiás ofrecidas por la Constitución del 40 podrán devolver la paz a Cuba.” (Translation: neither the government of Batista nor the blood shed by the pernicious new caudillos will be the right solution for the momentous Cuban problem; only free elections, with all of the guarantees offered by the 1940 Constitution, can return peace to Cuba.“) [2] CHC holds the papers of Márquez Sterling, which primarily consist of correspondence from after he went into exile in the United States in 1961. Visit the finding aid of the Carlos Márquez Sterling papers.

As leader of the 26th of July movement during the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro claimed (e.g. in his October 1953 “History Will Absolve Me” speech) that one of the Revolution’s main goals was to reinstate the 1940 Constitution. When he came to power following the abdication by Batista and his collaborators, however, Castro proceeded to repeal much of the Constitution by way of various reforms that culminated with it being replaced by the Fundamental Law decreed on February 7, 1959. Although the Fundamental Law repeated many of the articles from the 1940 Constitution word for word, it contained key alterations in the form of “transitional and exceptional” provisions and reforms of the organs of the state. It was eventually replaced in full by the Socialist Constitution of 1976.

Constitución de 1940
A copy of the 1940 Constitution published by Movimiento Patriotico Cubo Libre (Patriotic Movement for a Free Cuba), 1960. Link to IBISweb record.

The 1940 Constitution continued to have a life of its own outside of Cuba, however. The Constitution was often republished by Cuban exile groups and organizations in the United States, who considered this constitution to be the legitimate source of Cuban law, with Castro’s legal reforms and his Socialist Constitution of 1976 being fraudulent. One important reason why the 1940 Constitution is continued to be taken as a legitimate legal document is the fact that the alterations to the Constitution by Castro were not modified through the established legal procedures outlined in Articles 285 and 286.

The continued importance that the 1940 Constitution holds outside of Cuba is evident in the post-1960 work of José Morell Romero. Morell Romero served as a justice of the Cuban Supreme Court during the period of 1950-1960 and as a leader of various exile groups upon arrival in the United States. Morell Romero resigned from the Cuban Supreme Court on November 12, 1960, noting in his letter of resignation that:

I do not share the opinion of the majority of the members of the Court of Constitutional and Social Guarantees and the Government Division, as expressed in their judicial or executive action, concerning the scope of the powers of the de facto Government in respect to what they have been pleased to call its ‘constitutive powers.’ I must repeat that the constitutive power resides in the people alone and must be manifested through a public referendum, as was done in 1940 when the lawful Constitution of the Republic was adopted…the de facto Government is not empowered to take measures of a constitutive nature that conflict with those adopted by the People in lawful organization and constitution and which form the historical basis of the Cuban nation. [3]

Artículo 149
Article 149, from a republication of the 1940 Constitution in the same year. Link to IBISweb record.

Morell Romero’s service in Cuban exile groups seeking to achieve the liberation of Cuba led to his being sworn in on February 24, 1995 as provisional president of Cuba in exile under the 1940 Constitution, in accordance with provisions established in Article 149 of the Constitution. Article 149 stipulates that, in the case that appropriate presidential substitutes, the conditions for which are stipulated in Title X of the 1940 Constitution, are lacking, “the most senior Magistrate of the Supreme Tribunal shall occupy the Presidency of the Republic in the interim, and shall call national elections within a period of not more than ninety days.” Hence, since Fidel Castro did not meet these conditions, Article 149 was invoked to allow for the oldest Supreme Court judge to be elected provisional president in exile, which was José Morell Romero. He served as provisional president in exile until his death.

In his statement of acceptance of office he invokes Article 149 as justification for his mandate in the absence of the rule of law in Cuba, and writes that “to the greatest extent possible, given its nature and circumstances, the government of Cuba in exile will adhere to the principles established in the Cuban Constitution of 1940.” We reproduce below this letter, as well as several other items including the cover page of the first issue of the Gaceta Oficial of the Cuban Constitutional Government in Transition, published the same year. Further into this issue, Morell Romero asks governments of other states, as well as the Organization of American States, to recognize the Constitutional Government in Transition as the one and only legitimate representative of the Cuban nation.

The José Morell Romero Papers were donated to the Cuban Heritage Collection this year by his daughter, Silvia Morell Alderman. To learn more about this collection, visit the finding aid online.

Acceptance of Office and Statement of Principles
Acceptance of Office and Statement of Principles to assume the provisional presidency of Cuba in exile, 1995. Link to José Morell Romero finding aid.
Gaceta Oficial, Gobierno Constitucional de Transicion, Republica de Cuba, Edicion Mensual
The first monthly issue of the Gaceta Oficial of the Cuban Constitutional Government in Transition, written by José Morell Romero in his capacity as President of the Cuban Nation for the democracy transition of Cuba, 1995. Link to José Morell Romero finding aid.


Nuevo Siglo, Jueves 2 de Marzo de 1995
Newspaper article from Nuevo Siglo about Morell Romero’s acceptance of the presidency, March 2, 1995. Link to José Morell Romero finding aid.
Declaración Internacional, Coalición para la restauración del Gobierno Constitucional de la Republica Cuba
International declaration by the Coalition for the restoration of the Constitutional Government of Cuba, laying out the principles of the transition government, 1998. Link to José Morell Romero finding aid.



[1] International Commission of Jurists. 1962. Cuba and the Rule of Law. Geneva: The Commission, 79.


[2] Márquez Sterling, Carlos. 2005. Memorias de un estadísta: frases y escritos en correspondencia. Miami: Ediciones Universal, 36.

[3] Cuba and the Rule of Law, 73.



Tomás Estrada Palma Rides to Havana to Become Cuba’s First President

Originally Published by María R. Estorino on October 2001

In 1902, Tomás Estrada Palma set foot on the island of Cuba for the first time in almost twenty-five years. José Martí’s successor as head of the Partido Revolucionario Cubano, Estrada Palma was living in exile in Central Valley, New York when he was elected Cuba ‘s first president in 1901. Once elected, he renounced his naturalized American citizenship and traveled to his homeland, landing in Gibara, Oriente on April 20, 1902 . Estrada Palma traveled across Cuba for three weeks, getting reacquainted with the island and giving Cubans a chance to see in person the man they had elected as their first repúblican president. He reached Havana on May 11, 1902 and was inaugurated eight days later on May 20, 1902 .

This photograph depicts Estrada Palma’s caravan as he marched across Cuba. At the head of the group is a rider carrying the flag of Bayamo, Estrada Palma’s hometown and birthplace of Cuba’s struggles for independence. Estrada Palma rides in a black carriage at the center of the photograph. It is part of the Tomás Estrada Palma Collection of the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) of the University of Miami Libraries . This collection was donated to the CHC by Estrada Palma’s grandson, Tomás Douglas Estrada Palma, in 1995. Along with this photograph, the collection contains other pictures of Tomás Estrada Palma and his family as well as personal letters and other documents.

For more information about this collection, view the finding aid.

Photo: CHC0460, Folder 24. Tomás Estrada Palma Collection, Cuban Heritage Collection, University of Miami Libraries, Coral Gables, Florida.



El Plan de Miami

Originally Published by Eugenio A. Alonso López in April 2002

Gerardo Machado y Morales was born in 1871 in Santa Clara, Cuba. In 1924, with the support of outgoing President Zaya’s approval, Machado was elected president of Cuba and became Cuba’s leader from 1925 to 1933. With the support of many sectors of the Cuban populace who opposed the Platt Amendment, he ran on a nationalist agenda that focused on building a national infrastructure.

In 1927, with Machado’s support, the Cuban constitution was amended to extend the president’s time in office. This allowed for Machado to extend his tenure two more years from the stipulated four, giving him more time in office without going to reelection. In 1928, he was granted a further six years which meant he would remain in office until 1935.

Machado’s increasingly autocratic rule coupled with the economic crisis of the 1920’s led to civil unrest in Cuba. A widely popular uprising forced Machado to flee the country on August 12, 1933. Ambassador Carlos Miguel de Cespedes was left to run the government but was quickly removed by revolutionary forces. Between Machado’s overthrow and the middle of 1934, Cuba was immersed in violence and confusion.

Gerardo Machado spent several years in exile in the Bahamas, Europe, and Montreal and finally in the United States. In the early years of his exile, Machado worked with his supporters, also living in exile, to develop a plan for his return to Cuba. In October 21, 1934, the “Plan Miami” was drafted. This plan called for the recognition of the Revolution of 1933 and for the establishment of an interim government that would oversee a change in Constitutional law with a return of Machado elements to the political process. It also contained overtures to Washington by requesting its involvement in the reorganization of the Cuban military and recognition of the financial obligations of Machado’s former government to the U.S. None of the goals spelled out in the plan where carried out and Machado died in Miami Beach in 1939 without ever returning to Cuba.

This document forms part of the Gerardo Machado y Morales Collection of the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) of the University of Miami Libraries. This collection was donated to the CHC by Machado’s great-grandson, Francisco X. Santeiro, in 1992. Along with this document, the collection contains correspondence, business and legal papers, speeches, and photographs of Gerardo Machado’s years in exile as well as some materials related to his presidency.

For more information about this collection, view the finding aid.

Document: CHC0336, Box 2, Folder 5. Gerardo Machado y Morales Collection, Cuban Heritage Collection, University of Miami Libraries, Coral Gables, Florida.