Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cuba Vice President Marino Murillo’s daughter defected and is living in Tampa

Posted on Monday, 08.27.12

Cuba Vice President Marino Murillo's daughter defected and is living in
By Juan O. Tamayo

The 24-year-old daughter of Cuban Vice President Marino Murillo,
sometimes mentioned as a possible successor to ruler Raúl Castro,
defected earlier this month and is now living in Tampa, knowledgeable
sources said.

Glenda Murillo Diaz crossed the Mexico border at Laredo, Texas, around
Aug. 16, the sources told El Nuevo Herald, meaning she was paroled under
the wet-foot, dry-foot policy, which allows Cubans who set foot on U.S.
land to stay.

Her decision to abandon communist-ruled Cuba and settle in the
historically antagonistic United States would be a vote of no-confidence
on the profound economic reforms that Castro has ordered and that her
father is in charge of enacting.

Marino Murillo, 51, known as Cuba's "reforms tsar," is vice president of
the ruling Council of State and member of the powerful political bureau
of the Cuban Communist Party. Castro last year put him in charge of
executing the reforms.

A portly economist reported to have served as a military officer, he
first came to public notice in 2006 when Castro, who served for decades
as defense minister before succeeding brother Fidel, named him minister
of internal commerce. He was later appointed as minister of planning and

Glenda Murillo Diaz is his daughter and never received a U.S. visa to
visit relatives or study in the United States, said the knowledgeable
sources, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized
to officially comment on the case.

A person who claimed to have learned of Murillo Diaz's defection from
her relatives in Havana had been sending anonymous tips to El Nuevo
Herald since last Monday, but the information could not be totally
confirmed until Monday.

The young woman left Cuba about two weeks ago to attend a psychology
conference in Mexico and turned up later at the Tampa home of a maternal
aunt, Idania Diaz, who is married to Boris Loynaz, according to the person.

Her grandfather, Rolando Diaz, a Havana resident, happened to be
visiting Idania Diaz in Tampa when Murillo Diaz arrived, the person
added. Her father broke down crying when he learned of the defection,
another relative in Havana told several neighbors.

A young woman who identified herself only as Glenda Murillo started a
Facebook page last Tuesday that described her as a 24-year-old
psychology student at the University of Havana.

She posted one photo of herself somewhere hugging "Aunt Idy" and "Uncle
Boris" and another smiling and leaning against an Elvis fortune-telling
machine. El Nuevo confirmed the Elvis machine is at The Pier, a tourist
attraction in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Other photos she posted on Facebook and then removed showed her at a
Hooters restaurant, hugging an elderly man and at Sculleys, a popular
seafood restaurant in Madeira Beach north of St. Petersburg.

A man who answered the Cuban cell phone registered to Murillo Diaz and
identified himself as her husband first told El Nuevo that she was in
Tampa and would not be making any public comment. Asked if she had
defected, he then said she was in Mexico and later that she was in
Havana. He did not give his name and hung up.

A woman who identified herself as Rolando Diaz's wife, Norma, said she
could not comment when asked by phone if her niece had defected or
planned to return to Cuba after visiting relatives in Tampa.

Several messages sent by El Nuevo to the Facebook accounts of Glenda
Murillo and Idania Diaz were not returned. Glenda Murillo first accepted
a Facebook friend request from an El Nuevo reporter, then quickly
unfriended him. A woman who answered a phone listed to an Idania Diaz in
Tampa hung up.

The Glenda Murillo in the Facebook photos bears a strong resemblance to
the daughter of Marino Murillo, as shown in photos that were posted on
the Facebook page of another Murillo daughter, Claudia.

Murillo Diaz did not receive a U.S. visa to visit or study, according to
the knowledgeable sources. One Cuban man said he heard a vague report
recently that a daughter of the vice president had received a
scholarship to study in the United States.

Thousands of Cubans arrive in the United States each year by land from
Mexico, then present themselves to U.S. border authorities so that they
can be covered by the wet-foot, dry-foot policy.

One of the most senior Cuban government officials to defect in recent
years, Pedro Alvarez, 68, the former head of the government agency in
charge of all food and agricultural imports, also went to live with
relatives in Tampa in late 2010.

Alvarez, who had been under investigation for corruption at the Alimport
agency — which bought $711.5 million worth of U.S. products in 2008 —
has never publicly confirmed that he defected or that he lives in Tampa.


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