Questions Arise Over State Department Missing Cuban Spy 'Red Flags'

Questions Arise Over State Department Missing Cuban Spy 'Red Flags'

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
April 16, 2024

US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has published a letter pressing US State Department Secretary Antony Blinken on how his agency missed internal and external warnings of being spied on by a covert Cuban agent. 

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

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 afforded him access to sensitive, nonpublic information and enabled him to influence US foreign policy.

However, Senator Rubio has claimed earlier signs should have been sufficient to investigate Rocha and prevent his nefarious intelligence-gathering activities. 

Rubio’s letter claims despite repeated warnings by federal officials of Rocha’s Cuba ties, the State Department continued allowing him access to sensitive national security information. 

Among such warnings were being labeled a ‘super mole’ by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); identification as a spy in 2006 by a defected Cuban Army lieutenant colonel; and inclusion on an FBI shortlist of possible Cuban spies in 2010.

Additionally, Rubio asserts Rocha’s travels to visit Cuban-backed socialist Chilean government officials, authorship of anti-Cuban sanctions papers, and attempts to purchase Cuban regime outstanding property claims should have sufficed for an evaluation of Rocha. 

Rocha ultimately pleaded guilty to secretly supporting the Republic of Cuba and its intelligence-gathering mission against the US, earning him 15 years behind bars. 

That Rocha successfully spied on the US for as long as he did “indicates a systemic failure of the State Department’s counterintelligence mitigations that urgently need to be addressed,” said Rubio. 

Rubio has asked the State Department to respond by identifying and plugging the intelligence gaps that permitted Rocha’s covert intelligence operations. Moreover, Rubio seeks to know why the State Department, FBI, and CIA failed to cooperate in sharing critical information about Rocha’s doings. 

The State Department has neither responded to Rubio’s letter nor commented on Rocha’s conviction.

This is a developing story. 

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

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

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