Ex-Ambassador Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Spying on the US

Ex-Ambassador Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Spying on the US

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
April 15, 2024

Former US Ambassador to Bolivia Victor Manuel Rocha pleaded guilty late last week to covertly working for Cuban intelligence services for decades while also serving in the US’ foreign service.

Ex-Ambassador Rocha’s guilty plea earned him 15 years behind bars.

Rocha had served on the US State Department’s National Security Council from 1994 to 1995 and as U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002. 

Rocha had originally pleaded not guilty but later admitted to secretly supporting the Republic of Cuba and its anti-US clandestine intelligence-gathering mission by serving as a covert agent of Cuba’s General Directorate of Intelligence. 

 Rocha was arrested after an FBI counterintelligence operation gathered substantial evidence pointing to Rocha’s involvement with Cuban intelligence services.  

Rocha climbed through the ranks of the US State Department and held influential roles that privied him to sensitive, nonpublic information and enabled him to influence US foreign policy.

US Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen celebrated the conclusion of Rocha’s case while lamenting his unspeakable deeds. 

“Rocha admitted to acting as an agent of the Cuban government at the same time he held numerous positions of trust in the U.S. government, a staggering betrayal of the American people and an acknowledgement that every oath he took to the United States was a lie," said Olsen. 

Rocha’s downfall began after an FBI report revealed how an undercover FBI agent posing as a Cuban spy obtained self-incriminating information from Rocha when communicating with him. 

Rocha allegedly referred to his work for Cuba as “a grand slam” and praised past Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro as the “Comandante.”

Florida lawmakers condemned Rocha’s actions and welcomed the news of his sentencing. 

US Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) claimed Rocha’s behavior was representative of the Cuban regime’s intention to undermine US interests. 

Representative Diaz-Balart claimed “Manuel Rocha’s betrayal of the American people through espionage underscores the aggressive, anti-American threat posed by the Cuban regime.”

Meanwhile, US Representative Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) asked Rocha be given a longer sentence, stating “15 years in a federal prison will never be enough for the irreparable harm he’s inflicted on our nation.” 

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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