The tale of the Cuban vice president’s daughter who defected may turn out to be a love story after all. Glenda Murillo went to Tampa to be with her boyfriend and not for political reasons, her aunt declared Tuesday.
Murillo has a boyfriend in Tampa and left Cuba “for personal and not political reasons,” the aunt, Idania Diaz, told El Nuevo Herald in a polite but brief phone conversation from her home in Tampa.
What’s more, Murillo is not married, the aunt added, regardless of what El Nuevo was told by the mystery man who answered her cell phone in Havana and claimed to be her husband.
Murillo’s defection, first reported by El Nuevo Herald on Monday, drew intense news interest because her father is vice president of Cuba’s ruling Council of State and member of the powerful political bureau of the island’s Communist Party.
The father, Marino Murillo, 51, an economist trained in Cuba’s National Defense University, is in charge of enacting Cuban ruler Raúl Castro’s ambitious economic reforms and has been mentioned as a possible successor.
Glenda Murillo did not have a U.S. visa and slipped into Texas from Mexico, where she had been attending a psychology seminar, around Aug. 16, according to knowledgeable sources. She was paroled under the wet-foot, dry-foot policy, which allows Cubans who set foot on U.S. land to stay.
The State Department said Tuesday that privacy regulations bar it from providing information on specific cases of visa, asylum or parole requests. It referred all questions on the Murillo defection to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Idania Diaz told El Nuevo Herald in a phone conversation that her niece left Cuba and was living with her in Tampa to be with her boyfriend, whom she declined to identify.
But it was clear that Diaz spoke with the newspaper primarily to ask about the mystery man who identified himself as Murillo’s husband when the newspaper called her cell number in Havana last week to inquire about her case. The man confirmed she was in Tampa, said she would not make any comment and declined to give his name.
Diaz, who told El Nuevo that Murillo was next to her during the phone chat, confirmed the cell number called by the newspaper belonged to Murillo and added that her niece had arranged to sell the phone before she left to a man she did not know.
“We don’t know who that might have been, the man who answered,” Diaz added.
Diaz also noted that Murillo was happy to be in Tampa, but hung up quickly when she was asked about a report that Marino Murillo cried when he learned that his daughter had defected and was in Tampa.
Her husband, Boris Loynaz, also told a Univision 23 television news crew outside the couple’s home in Tampa that Murillo was happy to be in the United States and declined comment on the report that the father had broken down in tears.
Diaz also noted that her elderly father, Rolando Diaz, who is visiting her from Havana, had overcome the shock he suffered when he answered the doorbell Tuesday morning and found the Univision 23 crew asking questions about Murillo.
He told the crew he was afraid that he was going to have a heart attack.