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Former US Ambassador Spied for Cuba for 40 Years, Was Caught in FBI Sting, Officials Say

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Victor Manuel Rocha was targeted by FBI counterintelligence agents who suspected he was a Cuban intelligence officer, one security source told Soldier of Fortune.

by Susan Katz Keating

He loved Fidel Castro, reviles the United States, and feels comradeship with Cuban intelligence agents, as per his own admissions. He isn’t an old school revolutionary from days gone by. Victor Manuel Rocha, a former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia and member of the National Security Council, spent the past 40 years spying for Cuba against the U.S., the Justice Department said on Monday. He is among the longest acting foreign agents known to have infiltrated the U.S. government, surpassing even Larry Wu Tai Chin, who was a Chinese mole inside the CIA for 30 years.

The charges against Victor Manuel Rocha, 73, “exposes one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign agent,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Monday.

According to the complaint, Rocha, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Colombia, worked as a covert agent for Cuba’s General Directorate of Intelligence from around 1981 through the present.

Rocha was targeted by FBI counterintelligence agents who suspected he was a Cuban intelligence officer, one security source told Soldier of Fortune. The source did not reveal how Rocha came under suspicion, but said that the investigation unfolded in Miami, where Rocha lives.

An undercover FBI agent began meeting with Rocha while posing as a compadre from Cuban intelligence, the source said.

“Call it a sting,” the source said.

The FBI agent told Rocha he was “a covert representative here in Miami” whose mission was “to contact you, introduce myself as your new contact, and establish a new communication plan,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Rocha then engaged in a lengthy conversation wherein he described and celebrated his activity as a Cuban intelligence agent, the DOJ said.

Over the course of meetings in 2022 and 2023, Rocha repeatedly talked about his decades of work for Cuba, spanning “40 years.”

Throughout the meetings, Rocha behaved as a Cuban agent, consistently referring to the United States as “the enemy,” and using the term “we” to describe himself and Cuba, the DOJ said. Rocha additionally praised Fidel Castro as the “Comandante,” and referred to his contacts in Cuban intelligence as his “Compañeros” (comrades) and to the Cuban intelligence services as the “Dirección.” Rocha described his work as a Cuban agent as “a grand slam.”

Rocha worked for the U.S. Department of State in positions that gave him access to classified information, and the ability to affect U.S. foreign policy. He had posts in Havana, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, the Dominican Republic, and Washington.

After Rocha left the State Department, he worked in other positions to support Cuba’s intelligence services. From around 2006 through 2012, Rocha was an advisor to the head of U.S. Southern Command, a major military command whose area of responsibility includes Cuba.

Rocha is not the only well placed Cuban intelligence officer to be arrested by U.S. officials.

Authorities in 2001 charged the Defense Intelligence Agency’s top Cuba analyst, Ana Montes, as a spy for Havana. Montes was convicted in 2002 and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

About Susan Katz Keating

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