What is Enrique Tarrio’s ethnicity? The political leader’s Cuban roots

By Chege Karomo — ON Sep 11, 2023
Enrique Tarrio
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Enrique Tarrio got the harshest sentence of anyone charged with seditious conspiracy following the 6th January 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The prosecutor, Conor Mulroe, had urged the judge to sentence Tarrio to 33 years, saying the former Proud Boys leader ‘demonized his adversaries’. Judge Timothy J. Kelly imposed a 22-year sentence on Tarrio. 

Enrique Tarrio is Afro-Cuban; his parents are Cuban immigrants to the U.S

Enrique Tarrio was born in Miami, Florida, to Afro-Cuban parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba. Tarrio told The Miami New Times that his grandfather fled to the United States in the 1960s with his family after the execution of his granduncles for failing to cede land to Fidel Castro’s revolutionaries. 

Tarrio grew up alongside his sister in the Flagami neighborhood of Miami. He was raised in a conservative-leaning Catholic family. His father, Enrique, worked as a mechanic, and his mother, Zuny Duarte, worked in import and export logistics. Tarrio was eight when his parents divorced in 1992. 

He said that most second-generation Cubans like him have conservative values. “All my friends are second-generation Cubans, you know,” Tarrio told The Miami New Times. “So even if they’re apolitical, they’re right-wing and have conservative values.” Tarrio plunged into Republican politics while assisting his paternal aunt, Zaida Nunez, during campaigns. 

As the Proud Boys came under intense criticism for promoting white supremacist ideology, Tarrio defended himself, saying his Afro-Cuban ethnicity shielded him from white supremacist accusations. “I’m pretty brown. I am Cuban,” Tarrio told Insider in September 2020. “There’s nothing white supremacist about me.”

Tarrio maintains strong family ties. He bought the house he grew up in the 1990s from his grandfather to keep it in the family. Per The Miami New Times, family memorabilia like photos and an old boxy TV occupy the house. At the time of publication, Tarrio lived with his grandfather in the residence. 

Tarrio employed Zuny and his sister at 1776.shop, an outlet that sold far-right merchandise. After credit card processors like Square and Chase stopped working with the online store, effectively shutting down the outlet, Tarrio used his savings to cover family expenses. 

During Tarrio’s sentencing, Zuny pleaded with Judge Kelly, after which Tarrio apologized for his role in the Capitol attack. “I am not a political zealot,” Tarrio said. The judge disregarded Zuny’s plea and Tarrio’s supposed remorse. Judge Kelly referred to Tarrio as the ‘ultimate leader of that conspiracy’, adding that he’d been ‘motivated by revolutionary zeal’.