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Rivera 'silly' to deny friendship with Pereda

Spanish-language media was buzzing yesterday about The Miami Herald story connecting state Rep. David Rivera -- a hardline proponent of the Cuban embargo -- with Ariel Pereda, whose company facilitates trade with Cuba.

Even though he was spotted at his wedding and Pereda chaired his fundraising committee, Rivera denies they are more than acquaintances.

"I laughed out loud when I heard that,'' said state Rep. J.C. Planas, who was asked to comment on the Pereda connection on the radio yesterday. "How can he deny that? It's just silly. I've seen them hang out together."

The National Republican Congressional Committee's response to the story was to hone in on Pereda's ties to Rivera's Democratic congressional opponent, Joe Garcia. The Herald story noted that Pereda has donated to Garcia.

"If Joe Garcia keeps company with others who have close relations with the communist regime, does Joe Garcia himself also like to cozy up to Fidel Castro and others in the communist regime?" demanded the NRCC.