Saturday, February 12, 2011

Head of food import agency is reportedly living in Tampa after defecting from Cuba

Head of food import agency is reportedly living in Tampa after defecting
from Cuba

Pedro Álvarez Borrego, former head of both the Cuban Chamber of Commerce
and the food-imports agency Alimport, (fot) has settled in Tampa after
fleeing from the island, El Nuevo Herald reported Saturday.

According to the paper, a Tampa lawyer, Ralph E. Fernández, made the
revelation in a letter to Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa.) El Nuevo Herald
was unable to independently confirm Fernández's disclosure. The FBI, CIA
and State Department declined to comment.

In his letter, Fernández reportedly said that he worries about Álvarez's
presence in Tampa because that area of Florida has become "the epicenter
of criminal activity sponsored by the government of Cuba, and of illegal
activities directed by dishonest officials of the Cuban government."

An article Jan. 6 in the Spanish daily El Mundo, said that Álvarez was
being investigated for alleged corruption and had been interrogated
repeatedly by the DTI (Departamento Técnico de Investigaciones). He left
Cuba in late December, the paper said, after phoning his mother-in-law
and saying "I'm not coming back."

On Nov. 4, his wife Olga died in the crash of a passenger plane in
Sancti Spiritus province.

During Álvarez's 10-year tenure at Alimport, the United States became
Cuba's fifth-ranking commercial partner. He was the (fot2) principal
negotiator in all transactions involving comestibles and agriculture.
U.S. exports to Cuba rose to a record $711.5 million in 2008.

Álvarez was removed from his post in June 2009, without explanation, and
replaced by Igor Montero Brito, Alimport's vice president.

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