Former US Ambassador Charged With Secretly Spying for Cuba for 40 Years

Stephen Katte
By Stephen Katte
December 5, 2023International
Former US Ambassador Charged With Secretly Spying for Cuba for 40 Years
Manuel Rocha during a meeting with a FBI undercover employee. (Justice Department via AP)

A retired U.S. Department of State employee who served on the National Security Council and as an ambassador has been arrested with committing multiple federal crimes after allegedly acting as an agent of the Cuban regime for decades.

According to the Justice Department, federal prosecutors charged the former U.S. diplomat Victor Manuel Rocha, 73, of Miami, Florida, with three primary federal offenses: conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification to the Attorney General, acting as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification to the Attorney General, and with using a passport obtained by false statement.

He was charged in a federal court in Miami on Dec. 4.

Attorney General Merrick Garland called it one of the “highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign agent” in history.

“We allege that for over 40 years, Victor Manuel Rocha served as an agent of the Cuban government and sought out and obtained positions within the United States government that would provide him with access to non-public information and the ability to affect U.S. foreign policy,” Mr. Garland said.

The FBI Miami Field Office investigated the case, with contributions by the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service and the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

According to a criminal complaint filed on Dec. 1, it’s alleged that Victor Manuel Rocha, originally from Colombia, became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1978 and by 1981 had begun secretly acting as a covert agent for Cuba’s General Directorate of Intelligence.

It’s further alleged that to expand upon his role as a spy for communist Cuba, Mr. Rocha applied for and successfully obtained employment with the U.S. Department of State between 1981 and 2002 in positions that provided him access to classified information.

The Justice Department also claims that Mr. Rocha continued to engage in other acts intended to support Cuba’s intelligence services after his stint at the Department of State from 2000 to 2002 as the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia. Specifically from around 2006 until about 2012, when he was an advisor to the Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, a joint military command whose area of responsibility includes Cuba.

His arrest has caught attention in Bolivia, where he is remembered for controversial comment four days ahead of the nation’s 2002 general election that boosted now former socialist President Evo Morales, the leader of a union of coca growers, to national prominence. At the time, Mr. Rocha had told Bolivians not to vote for the little known Mr. Morales.

Mr. Morales would go on to win the next election in 2005 and only recently stepped down in 2019.

According to the criminal complaint, Mr. Rocha “kept his status as a Cuban agent secret in order to protect himself and others and to allow himself the opportunity to engage in additional clandestine activity.”

“Rocha provided false and misleading information to the United States to maintain his secret mission; traveled outside the United States to meet with Cuban intelligence operatives; and made false and misleading statements to obtain travel documents,” the complaint reads.

After over 40 years of keeping his activities a secret from the U.S. government, Mr. Rocha was apparently caught by an FBI agent posing as a covert Cuban General Directorate of Intelligence representative.

During a series of meetings in 2022 and 2023, it’s alleged Mr. Rocha made repeated statements admitting his “decades” of work for Cuba, spanning over “40 years.” He also allegedly referred to the United States as “the enemy” and used the term “we” to describe himself and Cuba.

At this stage, the criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and under the values of the U.S. justice system, is assumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The Epoch Times has contacted Mr. Rocha’s lawyer for comment. A detention hearing has been tentatively scheduled for Wednesday.

From The Epoch Times

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