Former U.S. Ambassador Charged In Spy Scheme

The Department of Justice on December 4 charged a former US diplomat with spying on behalf of the Cuban government for more than 40 years, Reuters reported.

The Justice Department charged Victor Manuel Rocha, who briefly served as ambassador to Bolivia in the early 2000s, with multiple federal crimes, including using a fraudulently obtained passport and acting as an illegal foreign agent, in what the DOJ described as one of the longest-lasting and highest-reaching infiltrations by a foreign agent.

In a December 4 news release, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the 73-year-old Rocha served as an agent for Cuba for over 40 years. During that time, Rocha sought and obtained positions within the federal government that would give him access to “non-public information” while allowing him to “affect U.S. foreign policy.”

Rocha was taken into custody and appeared before a federal judge in Miami last week.

In court records filed in the Southern District Court of Florida, the Justice Department accused Rocha of secretly supporting Cuba and its intelligence-gathering efforts in Washington since 1981.

During a series of meetings in 2022 and 2023, Rocha met with an undercover FBI agent posing as a covert representative of the Cuban General Directorate of Intelligence. During those meetings, Rocha admitted that he had been spying for Cuba for decades, according to court documents.

Rocha worked in the US State Department from 1981 until 2002. In addition to serving as Ambassador to Bolivia from 2000-2002, Rocha also worked on the Clinton National Security Council from 1994 to 1995.

From around 2006 to 2012, Rocha was an advisor to the Commander of the US Southern Command which oversees US military operations in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

At a State Department press briefing last week, spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters that the State Department would be working with its partners in the Intel community to “assess” the national security implications of Rocha’s activities.