US Diplomat Admits To Spying For Cuba For Decades

The former U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia, who was indicted in December of last year for decades of spying for Cuba, pled guilty to his charges on Thursday.

Victor Manuel Rocha, 73, has been a career diplomat, working in various positions for the U.S. government. He was recruited by Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence in 1973, He obtained citizenship in 1978 and gained a position with the State Department in 1981.

Attorney General Merrick Garland stated the Rocha sought out positions that “would provide him with access to non-public information and the ability to affect U.S. foreign policy.” and called this case “one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the U.S. government by a foreign agent.”

The government had allegedly already received at least one tip about Rocha that it chose not to pursue at the time.

Eventually, Rocha was contacted by an undercover FBI agent referring to himself as “Miguel” and claiming to bear news from “friends in Havana.” This agent set up multiple meetings with Rocha, who, according to the criminal complaint, referred to the U.S. as “the enemy” and said “what we have done” was “enormous” and “more than a grand slam.”

“My number one concern; my number one priority was … any action on the part of Washington that would endanger the life of the leadership, or the revolution itself,” Rocha allegedly told the undercover agent.

Prosecutors agreed to drop over a dozen charges in exchange for a guilty plea to two charges of conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government. The maximum sentence for these charges is two to five years in prison, a staggeringly small sentence compared to similar cases in exchange for cooperation with the government.

The U.S. has had historically rocky relations with its closest communist neighbor. Rocha is now part of an infamous legacy of intense intelligence operations between the two countries.

Rocha’s career in the U.S. government overlaps with that of another well-known spy for Cuba, Ana Montes, who was released from a lengthy prison sentence last year.

It’s unclear exactly what information Rocha was sharing with Cuba and what effects it may have had, but he seems willing to cooperate with the government for now. He will likely officially make his guilty plea on April 12th.