It has been within that space flanked by conflict, contradiction and passion that Miguel González-Pando has existed, even before leaving Cuba as a teenager. By then, his "love of country" had already compelled him to take a stand against the Batista dictatorship, as he led a student walk-out that forced the government to close down every high school in the country. Because of that action, he was indicted for "conspiring against the powers of the state" and was forced to flee into exile for the first time. A political amnesty in 1958 made his return possible. Soon after Castro came to power, González-Pando became disenchanted with the Revolution for the same reasons he had opposed the Batista regime: lack of freedom and disregard for human rights.
It was time again to take a stand. Still a teenager, González- Pando enrolled in the Bay of Pigs Invasion, landed in Cuba and was captured. Sentenced to a term of thirty years, he was released after only two years in Castro's infamous prisons. Then came his third exile which has lasted to this day.
In the United States, even as he continued to participate in covert operations against Castro, González-Pando attended the University of Miami and later won a scholarship to Harvard's Graduate School. He completed all course work for a doctorate in economics, but family demands prevented him from finishing his dissertation.
At Florida International University, where he has been a faculty member since 1973, González-Pando became a pioneer in bilingual education and refugee assistance. He also founded the University's Center for Latino Education, which served as a locus of community and educational activities for Hispanics.
Despite his violent past as a freedom fighter, González-Pando has forged the public image of a man of peace. In 1978 he accepted Cuba's invitation to participate in the controversial diálogo, a negotiation between Castro and a group of exiles selected by the communist government. The event, denounced by Miami's more conservative ranks, did serve to open up the island to travel by Cuban exiles and to obtain the freedom of thousands of political prisoners. Nevertheless, it became clear that Castro had orchestrated it to improve his deteriorating international reputation. Much to the dictator's astonishment, González-Pando challenged Castro to his face and later denounced that very process as a self-serving charade staged by the Cuban government.