Juan Juan Almeida, son of a revolutionary who fought with Fidel Castro, grew up around Cuba’s political and military elites.
He studied criminal law and became a lawyer.
In 2009, he wrote “Memoirs of an unknown Cuban guerrilla fighter,” a novel that satirized the ruling class.
He wanted to leave the country, but authorities wouldn’t let him, so Almeida went on a hunger strike.
His mother and daughter were already in the United States. They urged Cuban authorities to let him leave, saying he had a degenerative rheumatic disease that couldn’t be treated in Cuba.
Cuban authorities relented and Almeida traveled to the United States in 2010.
Eight years later, Almeida, 52, is a fixture at Radio & TV Martí, where he has revealed juicy tidbits about the inner workings of the Cuban government. In 2016, for instance, he reported that someone had stolen classified files from Cuba’s Ministry of Interior. He told Radio & TV Martí that “these same people who saw me being born” and had known him since he was a child “are the ones who tell me everything I have published.”
Almeida’s inside knowledge, as it turns out, is worth money.
Records show that the former Broadcasting Board of Governors, or BBG, which oversees Radio & TV Martí, has paid him and his family members at least $1.2 million since 2012. See graphics showing $845,565 and $366,005 in payments totalling $1,211,570.
Most of the money – $1,127,420 – went to Almeida. The BBG paid the rest to El Morro Productions Inc.
Corporate records show Almeida created El Morro Productions on Oct. 17, 2015, in Coral Gables, Florida. He was listed as president and his wife, Consuelo, as secretary.
By 2018, he was listed as vice president, his wife was secretary and his daughter, Indira, 34, was president.
The BBG, now called the Agency for Global Media, paid El Morro Productions a total of $84,150. That included $40,500 “for in-country produced content…to hire and manage stringers in Cuba.”
Records show El Morro was to pay stringers for 90 news reports at $450 each.
Juan Juan Almeida’s father was Juan Almeida Bosque, who fought with Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra during the Cuban revolution.
Almeida Bosque later became a top figure in Cuba’s Communist Party and vice president of Council of State. He died in 2009.