Mainstream and local news have fallen all over themselves covering the Cuban “entrepreneurs” visiting Miami. What none of that media has investigated, however, is their ties to the communist Castro dictatorship. According to independent journalists who have gone to the trouble of investigating the individuals involved, the organized visit by these so-called small business owners has all the earmarks of a Cuban State Security operation.
The relationship between the Cuban regime and MIPYMEs
Activists and journalists from the Cuban exile community in Miami presented a list of names of owners of the so-called “MIPYMEs,” the micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises that are associated with the Cuban regime in an attempt to “try to bypass” the United States embargo and be used as a “front” to obtain new funds from the European Union.
The coordinator of the Assembly of Cuban Resistance (ARC), Orlando Gutiérrez-Boronat, stated, “The regime is pretending to have economic freedom with these ‘MIPYMEs’ because they need more resources from the European Union,” and added, “These are maneuvers to bypass the embargo, involving companies registered in other countries.”
Faces behind the MIPYMEs
Gelet Fraguela, director of the digital media outlet ADN Cuba, joined Gutiérrez-Boronat’s statements, revealing a “web of MIPYMEs” that would have been created by “high-ranking regime officials, their relatives, or friends.” This case was presented during a press conference held at the Brigade 2506 headquarters in Miami.
“This isn’t new, it spans decades. These are companies that have established themselves here in Miami, and in other cities and countries; their owners have bought million-dollar properties through entities in tax havens like Panama or Canada,” she said.
Fraguela pointed to Cuban spy Gerardo Hernández as the “godfather” of one of the ‘MIPYMEs,’ which she believes was one of the first known in Matanzas, Cuba. The commercial firm would be part of “Cultiva tu pedacito,” a program of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution in Cuba (CDR), she said.
Hernández was imprisoned in the United States for 16 years on espionage charges and currently serves as the national coordinator of the CDR, a surveillance network of the dictatorship to exert control over the population on the island.
Fraguela also referred to Yoandy Riverón González as a “director” of one of these companies, called Calzado Jona’s. “This is a former counterintelligence agent known by the alias ‘Cristian’ and is responsible for harassing and intimidating professors and students at the Central University of Las Villas.” She associated Riverón González with the company Merca-Max.
According to the journalist, these types of businesses serve the regime as a “gateway” from other countries, with the purpose of obtaining money through purchases made by exiles destined for their relatives on the island.
“Merca-Max sells work boots, sewing threads, and chicken from an American company,” she stated.
Fraguela asserted that another “MIPYME” is owned by Lourdes Dávalos León, daughter of the lawyer and regime official Rodolfo Dávalos Fernández, “who, along with her father, defended the Cuban dictatorship in the recent trial of the London Club.”
The list outlined by the reporter also included the firm TL38 SURL, based in the Havana municipality of Boyeros, under the name of Yureibys Pérez Blanco. “The company is dedicated to meat preparation. She didn’t participate in the group that came to the United States, to Miami; they sent a representative,” she asserted.
Pérez Blanco would have “companies registered in Coral Gables [a city in Miami-Dade County, South Florida], with Aníbal Quevedo,” according to Fraguela.
The accusations were made a week after Cuban-American entrepreneurs and some recognized figures from the island’s exile in Miami held a meeting with alleged owners of MIPYMEs, a meeting that caused discomfort among the Cuban exile community.
Another company mentioned by Fraguela is 25MN, registered by Juan Alejandro Quevedo Ponce, whose father, Aníbal Quevedo Rodríguez, a resident of the United States and a veteran of the Angolan war, has been described as a “regime frontman,” she said after citing the Cubanet news portal.
Rodríguez would have other commercial firms, some with operational records in Panama, “so that exiles can continue to use their cards” and send money to the regime, according to the journalist’s investigation.
She added that Aníbal, son of Quevedo Rodríguez, has been a “financial assistant and helped collect more than a million dollars in 2016” for former Congressman Joe García, who, it is rumored, coordinated the meeting with Cuban-American entrepreneurs in Miami.
Violation of the embargo
Meanwhile, former political prisoner Luis Zúñiga said that with the MIPYMEs, the communist regime of Cuba seeks to open accounts in U.S. banks and then ask these financial entities to grant loans.
“The purpose is that when banks are prohibited from granting these loans, the same banks become lobbyists against the embargo,” he stated.
The economic embargo of the United States against Cuba includes a series of economic, financial, and commercial sanctions that essentially restrict the purchase and sale of goods to and from Cuba.
This measure began in 1960 when Cuba undertook a wave of nationalizations that affected American interests, estimated at about 1 billion dollars, which included land and sugar refineries on the island, among other assets.
Links with the regime
Norge Rodríguez, director of the online outlet Yucabyte, referred to another group of MIPYMEs’created on the island, which would be managed by former regime officials to carry out work for the dictatorship, “such as creating websites for them.”
The association of these MIPYMEs with the dictatorship is “close, systemic, and undeniable,” Rodríguez explained.
Data provided by the journalist contextualize that “the idea of the ‘MIPYMEs'” began in August, right after the protests of July 11, 2021, known as 11J, “in response to the freedoms demanded by the protesters.”
“People were demanding freedom, and the regime responded with this idea of a supposed economic opening, which isn’t real because the approval process for these companies has to go through the regime’s controls,” he said.
Meanwhile, Silvia Iriondo, member of the Secretariat of ARC, called for all the information presented at the press conference to be compiled and a summary to be prepared to be presented to the U.S. Congress.
“The American public cannot be deceived by this publicity stunt by the communist regime of Cuba,” she pointed out.
Rejection of the meeting with Díaz-Canel
In turn, former Cuban political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez ‘Antunez’ read a statement from the ARC, in which the recent meeting held between Cubans residing in the U.S. and dictator Miguel Díaz-Canel was “rejected.”
As part of his agenda in New York, on the occasion of the UN General Assembly, Díaz-Canel held several meetings with entrepreneurs and activists close to the regime in Havana or interested in doing business with the regime.
Among the attendees were artists sympathetic to the communist government of the island nation, such as American actor Danny Glover, Bridges of Love founder Carlos Lazo; coordinator of The People’s Forum, Manolo de los Santos, and Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, according to press reports.
In the proclamation read by Antúnez, he said that “those individuals do not represent the exile” and reminded everyone that Díaz-Canel “ordered a fratricidal war among Cubans during the massive popular rebellion on July 11.”
“Our exile is a way of life, it is Homeland and Life, it is the constant struggle for the freedom and rights of our captive people,” he said in his declaration.