Former US ambassador admits spying for Cuba for decades

Former US ambassador Victor Manuel Rochac has been charged with spying for Cuba. (Photo/AFP Archive)

A former US ambassador to Bolivia charged with spying for Cuba for four decades has told a judge that he will plead guilty.

Victor Manuel Rocha, 73, was arrested in December for what US officials called "one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign agent."

Rocha pleaded not guilty two weeks ago to charges of conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government but he told Judge Beth Bloom at a pre-trial conference on Thursday that he wanted to change his plea.

A date of April 12 was set by the court for Rocha to formally change his plea to guilty and for sentencing.

Rocha, a naturalised US citizen originally from Colombia, allegedly began aiding Havana as a covert agent of Cuba's General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) in 1981, and his espionage activities continued until his arrest, according to US authorities.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, announcing Rocha's arrest, said he had "repeatedly referred to the United States as 'the enemy'" and "repeatedly bragged about the significance of his efforts."

Rocha joined the State Department in 1981 and rose through the ranks as a career diplomat, also serving in posts in Havana, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, the Dominican Republic and Washington.

Rocha served on the National Security Council from 1994 to 1995 in the administration of President Bill Clinton and was the ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002 under Clinton and George W. Bush. He also served as an adviser to the US military command responsible for Cuba.

The criminal complaint against Rocha details how, over multiple meetings with an undercover FBI agent beginning in November 2022, he "behaved as a Cuban agent," praising the communist-ruled island's late leader Fidel Castro and "using the term 'we' to describe himself and Cuba."

He admitted travelling to Havana in 2016 or 2017 to meet with his DGI handlers and asked the undercover agent to send "my warmest regards to the Direccion," referring to the DGI.

Other Americans arrested for leaking secrets to Havana have included Walter Kendall Myers and Gwendolyn Myers, who were indicted in 2009 on charges of spying for Cuba for nearly 30 years.



Rocha additionally faces a lawsuit filed on Thursday in Florida by the widow of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya.

She alleges Rocha was responsible for the death of her late husband, the 2002 winner of the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for human rights, in a car crash in Cuba in 2012.

A court document claims that "the Cuban terrorist dictatorship assassinated Mr. Paya with impunity" as a direct result of Roche's "actions as a covert agent for the Cuban terrorist dictatorship and its intelligence-gathering mission against the United States."

Another Cuban dissident, Harold Cepero, also died in the same car crash, while two others in the vehicle survived: Spanish politician Angel Carromero and Swedish conservative politician Jens Aron Modig.

Cuban authorities blamed the crash on Carromero, who was driving, but he claims the car was struck by a Cuban secret service vehicle.

In a report published last June, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concluded that Cuban state agents participated in the dissidents' deaths.

"I seek what I have sought all along: for the truth, for justice, and for the regime and its accomplices" to "stop acting with impunity," Paya's widow Ofelia Acevedo said in a statement.


Source: TRT