He is not only a former US ambassador to Bolivia, but also a former member of the US National Security Council. Manuel Rocha has worked at the State Department since 1981. Now he has been accused of spying for Cuba.
These were groundbreaking events in the history of US-Cuban relations. After more than fifty years, thanks to the great effort of diplomats, bilateral relations were unfreezed, the American embassy reopened in Havana, and in March 2016, US President Barack Obama visited Cuba.
However, questions arise as to whether this new opening would be possible if the Americans were aware that the Cubans were still conducting very hostile actions towards them. When Barack Obama was president, Manuel Rocha – a very experienced, high-ranking American diplomat – was supposed to be the Cuban agent.
– This is one of the longest-lasting and deepest infiltrations of the American government by a foreign agent. The indictment shows that Rocha sought employment in public administration to have access to classified information and to influence American foreign policy, said Merrick Garland, Attorney General of the United States.
Manuel Rocha is 73 years old today. He spent most of his professional life in the State Department and gradually climbed the career ladder. He worked in facilities in the Dominican Republic, Italy, Mexico and Argentina. He was ambassador to Bolivia and sat on the National Security Council. He had access to a lot of very sensitive data. At the same time, all this time, for over 40 years, he worked for the communist Cuban intelligence service.
It was only last year that he was tracked down by the FBI. Federal agents contacted him posing as Cuban. In a text message, they wrote that they had important news from friends in Havana. Rocha agreed to an interview. – In 2022, the FBI received a tip that Rocha was working as a foreign agent. One of the FBI employees, posing as a representative of Cuban intelligence, contacted Rocha and arranged three meetings. During these meetings, Rocha called the United States an “enemy” and praised Cuban leader Fidel Castro. According to investigators, he recruited people employed in the US government to help steal intelligence data, reports Evan Perez, CNN correspondent.
He has had his first court hearing
The Americans do not reveal what information he stole and passed on to the Cubans. It is also unknown whether it had a real impact on the international situation. Manuel Rocha himself assured of the great importance of his actions. – He boasted many times about the importance of his actions. He said, for example: “what I did greatly strengthened the revolution,” Merrick Garland points out.
Rocha was arrested and charged with espionage. He has had his first court hearing in Miami. Cuban intelligence is considered one of the most efficient in the world. For decades, Havana’s main goal was to infiltrate the American administration. It is known that Cuba shared the information obtained with, among others, Russia.
– We are satisfied with the work of the services in this case. From the work of the Department of Justice, the Department of State and the FBI. In the coming days, weeks and months, we will assess the impact of this matter on our security, said US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.
So far, the most famous Cuban agent was Ana Montes – an analyst employed at the Intelligence Agency of the Department of Defense. For 20 years, she stole data and transmitted it to the Cubans using short radio waves. She was released this year after serving a 25-year prison sentence.
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Main photo source: Reuters