Corruption probes reaches the Castro family

"POSTED: Friday, Sep. 09, 2011

Cuba corruption: Boyfriend of Raul Castro's daughter detained in
corruption drive
By JUAN O. TAMAYO – McClatchy Newspapers"

POSTED: Friday, Sep. 09, 2011

Cuba corruption: Boyfriend of Raul Castro's daughter detained in
corruption drive
By JUAN O. TAMAYO – McClatchy Newspapers

MIAMI Cuban authorities have detained the boyfriend of Raul Castro's
youngest daughter as part of a corruption investigation, according to
several knowledgeable sources.

Julio Cesar Diaz Garrandes, a former Miami resident who has bragged of
being a spy for Cuba, has been held in an interrogation center in Havana
for three months, two of the sources told El Nuevo Herald.

But his sister Maria, who lives in Miami, told El Nuevo Herald on Friday
that they spoke by telephone Thursday and that he had denied being under
detention. "He is well," she added.
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Diaz Garrandes is the boyfriend of Nilsa Castro, the youngest of the
Cuban ruler's three daughters. Both in their late 40s, they have been
together for years but are not married and keep separate homes, the
sources added.

"He is in jail, no doubt on that," said one Cuban man who has known Diaz
Garrandes in both Havana and Miami. He said he learned of the detention
from contacts high in the Cuban government.

The man added that the boyfriend was under investigation, but has not
been charged, in a corruption case involving an unidentified
Canadian-Spanish company that was doing business with the Cuban government.

The Cuban man, like the two other sources who separately reported the
detention to El Nuevo Herald, asked for anonymity because of the
political sensitivity of the case.

Juan Juan Almeida, who lived for a time in Raul Castro's house because
he was the son of a hero of the revolution, wrote Thursday that Diaz
Garrandes was being held in a military facility.

Raul Castro launched a powerful campaign against corruption after he
succeeded his ailing brother Fidel in 2006, arguing that it was eating
away dangerously at the very roots of Cuba's communist system.

A string of scandals in the island's telecommunications, aviation,
nickel, cigar and other industries have led to the arrests and
dismissals of scores of government officials, including some deputy

Maria Diaz Garrandes claimed that the reports of her brother's detention
were the result of the "total confusion" sparked by an exile she
contacted for help after she was not able to speak with her brother for
several weeks.

She declined to comment further on this aspect of the case.

"He called me yesterday" as a result of Almeida's report, she told El
Nuevo before adding, "He's home. He should be home." She declined to
provide her brother's telephone number in Havana.

One of El Nuevo's sources speculated that Diaz Garrandes, on orders from
the Cuban investigators or on his own initiative, made the phone call in
order to tamp down the reports of his detention.

Nilsa Castro is the third of the children of Raul Castro and the late
Vilma Espin. Deborah and Mariela preceded her, and she was followed by
Alejandro, an Interior Ministry officer in charge of the government's
anti-corruption drive.

Friends of Diaz Garrandes said he has a strangely twisting history of
involvement in several businesses and unproven claims that he worked for
Cuba's intelligence services in Miami and Havana.

He arrived in Miami during the Mariel boatlift in 1980, married a
Colombian woman with whom he had a daughter, they said. He opened a
clinic on Coral Way dedicated mostly to Medicare patients, and drove
around in a secondhand Rolls Royce, they said.

But sometime in the 1990s, he returned to Cuba and offered himself as a
point of contact and influence for foreigners, most of them Spaniards,
looking to invest in Cuba.

His businesses were successful enough so that he could send support
money to his wife and daughter in Miami, the friends said, but he also
bragged about his alleged intelligence work for Cuba.

Almeida's report, published on the Miami-based Website, said Diaz Garrandes also had worked with the Cuban
Institute for Cinematography and bought foreign-made equipment for Cuban

Almeida said he also boasted that he had travelled to Miami, Puerto
Rico, Paris, Colombia and New York on spy business and served as a
contact among members of the "Wasp Network" – the Cuban spy ring in
Miami broken up in 1996.

One of his friends said he had "one foot in business and one foot in

Another said he distanced himself from Diaz Garrandes in recent years
"because I did not know what he was doing in Cuba, or what he had been
doing in the United States."