Manuel Rocha, Former U.S. Ambassador, Accused of Covert Operations for Cuba
Retired ambassador Manuel Rocha was charged with being a "clandestine agent" for Cuba's spy agency, facing up to 10 years in prison.
The Justice Department has made a shocking revelation, unsealing charges against retired ambassador Manuel Rocha, accusing him of being a "clandestine agent" for Cuba's spy agency. This stunning development brings to light a decades-long betrayal of his own country, as Rocha allegedly acted covertly on behalf of Cuba.
The arrest of the 73-year-old former ambassador marks the culmination of an extensive undercover sting operation that lasted over a year. During this time, an FBI agent posing as a Cuban intelligence operative secretly recorded Rocha making incriminating statements about his life of diplomatic deception.
Attorney General Merrick Garland described the Rocha case as one of the most significant and long-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign agent. In the secretly-recorded conversations, Rocha repeatedly referred to the U.S. as "the enemy," showcasing his allegiance to Cuba.
According to court documents filed in Miami, Rocha engaged in various meetings where he discussed his secret work for Cuba. In one instance, he mentioned that the Cuban General Directorate of Intelligence had asked him to lead a normal life. Rocha claimed to have followed these instructions by creating a public persona as a right-wing person, while secretly remaining dedicated to the cause of communist Cuba.
While the details of Rocha's recruitment as a covert agent remain undisclosed, he admitted during a recorded meeting with the undercover agent that his entry into the State Department was a meticulous process, accompanied by the guidance of the Cuban intelligence agency. Rocha, a Colombian-born individual who became a U.S. citizen in 1978, joined the State Department in 1981.
Throughout his career, Rocha held positions in U.S. embassies in various countries, including the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, and Argentina. He eventually rose to more sensitive government posts after serving on the U.S. National Security Council with a focus on Cuba from mid-1994 to mid-1995. From 1999 to 2002, Rocha served as the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, a role that granted him access to classified information.
Authorities allege that Rocha disseminated false and misleading information within the U.S. government while routinely meeting with Cuban intelligence operatives. In the recorded conversations with the FBI agent posing as a Cuban operative, Rocha reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to the communist cause of Cuba.
The charges against Rocha include conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the Justice Department, acting as an agent of a foreign government without such notification, and lying to obtain a passport. If convicted of the most serious charge, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
As this unprecedented case unfolds, it serves as a stark reminder that those granted the privilege of serving in the U.S. government must uphold the trust placed in them by the American people. Betraying that trust by falsely pledging loyalty to the United States while covertly aiding a foreign power is a crime that will be met with the full force of the Justice Department.