Former U.S. Ambassador pleads guilty to acting as Cuban spy

By Esther Muhozi
On 1 March 2024 at 08:38

Manuel Rocha, a retired United States (U.S.) ambassador, has confessed to acting as a clandestine operative for Cuba’s intelligence agency. This admission comes as a significant blow to the U.S. government, marking one of the most critical security breaches in its history. At the age of 73, Rocha has plead guilty to the charges of conspiring to serve as an agent of a foreign government, as reported by the Associated Press.

The legal proceedings saw a significant turn when prosecutors decided to drop 13 other charges against Rocha, which included wire fraud and making false statements.

While the court has been informed of a mutually agreed sentence between the parties, the specifics remain undisclosed. Rocha’s return to court is scheduled for April 12, where the ramifications of his espionage activities will further unfold.

Rocha’s espionage saga began in 1981, following his naturalization as a U.S. citizen in 1978. Born in Colombia, he embarked on a covert mission to infiltrate the U.S. State Department, climbing its ranks to further the interests of Cuba’s spy agencies.

His roles within the State Department granted him access to sensitive information, spanning various capacities across U.S. embassies in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Argentina, and Mexico.

Notably, his tenure as director of inter-American affairs on the National Security Council from 1994 to 1995 placed him in a pivotal position overseeing Cuban affairs. Rocha’s career as a U.S. ambassador to Bolivia between 2000 and 2002 marked the zenith of his diplomatic journey, further facilitating his espionage endeavors.

Following his departure from the State Department, Rocha continued to serve as an adviser to the head of U.S. Southern Command until 2012. This role, overseeing military operations in a region inclusive of Cuba, underscored his persistent involvement in espionage activities.

His arrest was the culmination of a year-long sting operation by the FBI, during which Rocha confessed to his decades-long allegiance to Cuba, labeling the United States as “the enemy.”

This confession sheds light on the pervasive threats of espionage that continue to challenge national security.

Rocha’s case, emblematic of the complex dynamics of international relations and espionage, serves as a stark reminder of the continual vigilance required to safeguard against the clandestine activities of foreign agents within the U.S. government.

As the legal process unfolds, further insights into the extent of Rocha’s espionage activities and their impact on U.S. national security are anticipated.