CUBA

Son of Cuban Interior Minister lives in Miami

 

jtamayo@ElNuevoHerald.com

The son of Cuban Interior Minister Abelardo Colomé Ibarra, one of the island’s most powerful and feared figures, has defected and joined the long list of relatives of top government officials now living in South Florida, according to a Miami blog.

Josué Colomé Vázquez crossed from Mexico to Texas and arrived in Miami one month ago, according to the list published by Cuba al Descubierto — Cuba Uncovered — a blog that focuses on sensitive information about the island and its ruling class.

His Facebook page includes recent photos showing him in a bathing suit on Miami Beach and in a gym, his new car, two pairs of fancy sneakers, a lobster dinner and a gathering with friends at a Hooters restaurant.

Also on the list compiled by blog editor Luis Dominguez are the sons of three senior Cuba figures — a former intelligence chief, a former top diplomat in Washington and the godfather of virtually all of Latin America’s leftist guerrillas.

Dominguez said he has been gathering the names for months and published them late Wednesday to highlight the case of one of his cousins, a Cuban doctor who defected while working in Venezuela last year but who has been repeatedly denied a U.S. visa.

“Where is the justice, morality and national security when visas are issued to members of the Castro nomenklatura (ruling class) and are denied to Cuban doctors in other countries,” he wrote in a blog post.

His cousin was denied a U.S. visa because she could not prove she was in Venezuela as part of an official Cuban program, Dominguez added, “an absurd argument because it is known that there is no other way for a Cuban doctor to go there.”

Parts of Dominguez’s list could not be independently confirmed. But his previous reports, including one last week on the promotion to the rank of brigadier general of a son-in-law of Cuban ruler Raúl Castro, have proven to be reliable.

Dominguez said Josué Colomé Vázquez left Cuba for Cancún, Mexico, crossed the border into Texas and flew last month to Miami to reunite with his mother, Suri Vázquez Ruiz, a former wife of Colomé Ibarra. The son could not be reached for comment.

Colomé Ibarra, 75, is vice president of the Council of State, and as interior minister, he is in charge of national security, from the Directorate of Intelligence to the police and fire departments. A veteran of Fidel Castro’s revolution, he is nicknamed “Furry.”

Also on the bloggers’ list is Pablo Ernesto Remírez de Estenoz Semidey, 24, who arrived in Miami in August. His father is Fernando Remírez de Estenoz, former deputy foreign minister and head of Cuba’s diplomatic mission in Washington from 1995 to 2001.

The father was fired in 2009, along with Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and Carlos Lage, then vice president and executive secretary of the Council of Ministers, amid accusations by Fidel Castro that they were too ambitious for power.

Dominguez’s list also said that Alejandro Luis Barreiro Agrelo, 25, the son of former Directorate of Intelligence chief Gen. Luis Barreiro Carames, arrived in Miami in September 2012. The son worked in Miami with John Henry Cabañas, a pro-Castro businessman whose company used to charter flights to Cuba, the list noted.

The father was fired from the Intelligence Directorate in 1989 amid the case against Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa, Cuba’s top combat veteran, executed by firing squad on charges of drug trafficking.

Dominguez’s list also included two offspring of the late Manuel Piñeiro Losada, known as “Redbeard” and the notorious chief of Cuba’s campaign to train and arm Latin American and Middle Eastern guerrillas in the ’60s and ’70s.

Manuel Kahlil Piñeiro Burdsall, 56, now lives in the United States, according to the list. And Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, 34, is a Cuban economist who has participated in several public conferences in the United States and is married to a U.S. citizen.

Division Gen. Guillermo Rodríguez del Pozo, a top-ranking veteran of Castro’s guerrillas, has two grandchildren in the United States: Juan Carlos Sarol Rodríguez and Ana Cristina Sarol Rodríguez. Their uncle is Brig. Gen. Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja, married to Raúl Castro’s eldest daughter and head of military enterprises.

Also living in Miami, according to the list, is Ramón Castro Rodríguez, son of Ramón Castro Ruz, the oldest brother of Fidel and Raúl Castro.

South Florida has been rife with reports of relatives of senior Cuban government officials, especially the young, moving to South Florida to escape the stagnant economy, the communist system or other issues. Most try to keep a low profile once they arrive.

Pedro Alvarez, former head of Alimport, the Cuban government agency that imports more than $1.5 billion worth of food products each year, turned up in Tampa in late 2011, shortly after Cuban authorities began investigating him on suspicion of corruption.

Glenda Murillo Díaz, daughter of Marino Murillo, vice president of the Council of Ministers and enforcer of the economic reforms pushed by Raúl Castro, defected in August 2012 and also settled in Tampa with her husband.

Under migration reforms adopted by Havana early last year, Cubans can now obtain U.S. residence after spending one year and one day in the United States, then return to the island to retain their residency there — and from then on travel back and forth at will.

Dominguez said he’s not done uncovering the relatives of powerful Cuban government figures who are living in South Florida.

“The list is already long,” he said, “and there’s many more to come.”

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