A very interesting report from Juan Tamayo in The Miami Herald. A cold case from 1995 suddenly becomes very hot.
A Cuban man, slain in 1995, was preparing to testify about Cuba’s bioweapons capabilities to Congress, el Nuevo Herald has learned.
When Cuban exiles Lilian Rosa Morales and husband Manuel Ramirez were murdered in an execution-style shooting in Coral Gables shortly after midnight on Feb. 2, 1995, most news reports on the case focused on Morales.
After all, Morales, 25, was known as the host of a radio program on astrology and a flashy dresser who favored big hats in vivid colors. The reports noted that her recent New Year’s prediction that Fidel Castro would survive 1995 might have angered a listener.
Ramirez, 57, was mentioned in the reports only as her husband. They said he had died at Jackson Memorial Hospital soon after Morales was pronounced dead at the scene, around the corner from the WCMQ radio station on Ponce de Leon Boulevard.
Few people, in fact, knew at the time that Ramirez was a very important man. He had led the construction of Cuba’s top-security biological laboratories in the 1980s and was preparing to testify about the island’s bioweapons capabilities to the U.S. Congress when the couple was murdered, el Nuevo Herald has learned.
Ramirez also had directed the construction of some of Cuban ruler Fidel Castro’s offices and several military bunkers, and had received a U.S. visa under a semi-secret “national interest” program for top island defectors managed by exiles in Miami.
A former Cuban government official has now told the newspaper that the killer was a petty Havana thief living in Miami who was ordered by Havana officials, perhaps Castro himself, to murder Ramirez for allegedly stealing $2 million from the government.
The killer was nicknamed “Indio” and was rewarded afterward with permission to traffic narcotics from the island to South Florida, said the former government official, who asked to remain anonymous because of fear of retaliation.
No one was ever charged with the murders. The former official’s tale could not be confirmed independently, but some of his key assertions matched details of the case. The Miami-Dade Police Department declined to comment because the case remains active.
Role of Ramirez
Ramirez was clearly the star manager of Cuba’s key construction projects in the 1980s, including the Russian Embassy, the Convention Palace and eavesdropping-proof offices for Castro, which he listed in a nine-page résumé written shortly after he arrived in Miami in 1991.
But his key project was the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) in western Havana, a complex of a dozen buildings and more than 100 individual laboratories, Ramirez wrote in the résumé, obtained by el Nuevo Herald.
Ramirez wrote that he had a good relationship with Castro because he headed the Havana branch of UNECA, Cuba’s top state construction firm, and Castro visited the CIGB project four or five times per week to discuss its progress.
A friend now in Miami confirmed that Ramirez was known to Castro. “Manolito managed to reach a high level of communication and acceptance with el Comandante,” the friend said. He and others interviewed for this story asked for anonymity to speak frankly.
The résumé adds that Ramirez and Castro eventually had “a couple of somewhat disagreeable arguments” that got him banished in 1986 to a UNECA project in Czechoslovakia. He did not explain the reasons for the clashes.
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