A Cuban State Security agent becomes the face of Cuba’s so-called private businesses

If you still believe the “private businesses” in Cuba promoted by the communist Castro dictatorship are all private and not a government front, you really aren’t paying attention.

Via CubaNet:

Alfonso Larrea: From Being Agent ‘David’ to Being the Forefront for MIPYMES

On September 26, 2023, a group of 70 representatives from Cuban MIPYMES (micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises) landed in Florida, United States to meet with businessmen, politicians, and U.S. officials. Leading this group was a burly, gray-haired man in his 60s, always dressed in long-sleeve shirts or guayaberas. His name is Alfonso Valentín Larrea Barroso, and it’s not the first time he has captured the spotlight.

Eight years ago, when Barack Obama was in the U.S. presidential office, Alfonso was also introduced as a successful private entrepreneur and one of the most active voices calling for trust in Cuban entrepreneurs. Now, he has returned in a similar role.

He is what we could call the official face of the private sector in Cuba. As the sole administrator of the MIPYMES Evexcon, Larrea has organized business trips abroad involving representatives of other MIPYMES that he selects. Additionally, he hosts networking meetings every week for entrepreneurs to meet and engage in dialogue. Similarly, on his company’s networks, he promotes the activities of prominent merchants who, although not residing on the Island, do business with the Cuban state, like Hugo Cancio or John Felder.

If Cuban MIPYMES owners had an official leader, that role would be filled by Larrea. And it’s not surprising, since the raison d’être of his business is precisely that: to promote the Cuban private sector. That’s why, in articles, events, and informal settings—wherever MIPYMES are discussed—the name of Alfonso Larrea comes up.

Without directly confronting the regime, he focuses on maintaining the idea that, despite all suspicions and criticisms, the Cuban private sector is real and not a mirage constructed by the Government. In every interview, he insists on denying that this emerging space is co-opted by the elite. This would be, he has said, “childish fears,” “the bogeyman story.”

However, he himself has a history of close ties with the Cuban dictatorship. According to former members of State Security and an opposition activist who was his direct victim (all of them consulted by CubaNet), Larrea worked as a police agent and infiltrated the opposition at the end of the last century. Moreover, a brother of his still holds a high position in State Security.

Two of these sources confirm that Larrea continued his working life in commercial positions of state companies without losing contact with the political police.

Later, when the first service cooperatives were approved in 2013, he immediately registered Scenius to provide accounting services mostly to government intities.

Now, with the rise of MIPYMES, Larrea returns and again counts on the support of state media outlets and connects with private entrepreneurs living abroad who have close ties to the Cuban State.

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