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Former U.S. Ambassador and National Security Council Official Pleads Guilty to Secretly Acting as a Cuban Agent, Sentenced by DOJ

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), a former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia and a National Security Council member have admitted to covertly serving as agents for the government of the Republic of Cuba for many years.

Victor Manuel Rocha, a 73-year-old resident of Miami, has been sentenced by a federal judge to 15 years in prison.

Rocha was found guilty of engaging in covert intelligence operations on behalf of communist Cuba, which involved working against the interests of the United States government for many years.

Manuel Rocha, 73 - Former U.S. Ambassador and National Security Council Official Pleads Guilty to Secretly Acting as a Cuban Agent, Sentenced by DOJ - The Hard News Daily
An ex-diplomat from the United States has been apprehended in Florida on allegations of acting as a representative for Cuba, according to a source from the Associated Press. A photograph by GONZALO ESPINOZA/AFP via Getty Images accompanies the report.

“The defendant’s plea and sentencing today mark the conclusion of over four decades of betrayal and deceit,” stated Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.

“Rocha confessed to serving as a representative of the Cuban government while simultaneously occupying various positions of responsibility within the U.S. government.

This constitutes a shocking act of disloyalty towards the American people and an admission that every pledge he made to the United States was deceitful.”

The Associated Press reported that prosecutors agreed to drop more than a dozen additional charges in exchange for his admission of guilt.

Rocha, a former employee of the U.S. Department of State, held positions on the National Security Council from 1994 to 1995 and served as the U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002.

Victor Manuel Rocha clandestinely operated as a covert operative for numerous years on behalf of an antagonistic foreign entity.

He believed that the account of his clandestine operation on behalf of Cuba would remain untold due to his astuteness, expertise, and self-control, which prevented him from being discovered.

“Rocha failed to fully appreciate the abilities of the prosecutors and law enforcement agents who diligently worked to hold him accountable for betraying his commitment to this nation,” stated U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida.

According to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, “this action reveals one of the most extensive and enduring instances of a foreign agent infiltrating the United States government.”

Highest possible punishment

Judge Beth Bloom of the U.S. District Court acknowledged Rocha’s admission of guilt for counts 1 and 2 of the indictment.

These charges include conspiring to serve as a representative of a foreign government, conspiring to deceive the United States, and acting as a representative of a foreign government without fulfilling the legal requirement of providing notice.

Rocha was subsequently given the maximum legal punishment by the court for his charges: a 15-year jail sentence, a $500,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and a special assessment.

Victor Manuel Rocha - Former U.S. Ambassador and National Security Council Official Pleads Guilty to Secretly Acting as a Cuban Agent, Sentenced by DOJ - The Hard News Daily
In January 2003, Victor Manuel Rocha was photographed posing in a Miami office. (Raul Rubiera/Associated Press/Miami Herald)

Rocha was subjected to substantial limitations by the court.

According to the provisions of the plea bargain between the parties, Rocha is obligated to collaborate with the United States, which includes providing assistance in evaluating any harm caused by his actions on behalf of the Republic of Cuba.

Rocha is required to surrender any forthcoming retirement benefits, such as pension payments, that he is entitled to receive from the United States due to his previous employment with the State Department.

In addition, he is required to transfer to the United States any earnings that he may have the right to receive from any publication related to his illegal activities or his service to the U.S. government.

Executive Assistant Director Larissa L. Knapp of the FBI’s National Security Branch stated that Rocha, although taking an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States, betrayed the country by covertly serving as a Cuban agent for many years.

“Following a prolonged period of deceit and putting both national security and American citizens at risk, he ultimately acknowledged accountability for his behavior and was sentenced to the highest possible term of imprisonment.”

This statement is intended to inform our opponents that the FBI will make relentless efforts to prevent foreign intelligence services and their collaborators from acting against the interests of the United States.

“We will take legal action against them to the maximum extent permitted by law.”

As to a criminal complaint filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Rocha utilized his position at the State Department from 1981 to 2002 to acquire secret information and influence the foreign policy of the United States.

Rocha transitioned to the role of advisor to the Commander of the U.S. Southern Command in 2006 after working at the State Department.

The U.S. Southern Command is a joint command of the U.S. military that is responsible for overseeing operations in Cuba and other areas.

Victor Manuel Rocha, the former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002, is seen in an interview with an undercover FBI employee in Miami on February 17, 2023.

Former U.S. Ambassador and National Security Council Official Pleads Guilty to Secretly Acting as a Cuban Agent, Sentenced by DOJ - The Hard News Daily
On February 17, 2023, in Miami, Victor Manuel Rocha, the American ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002, makes an appearance in an interview with an FBI undercover agent. (Southern District of Florida/U.S. District Court/Handout via REUTERS)

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has stated that Rocha deliberately submitted inaccurate and deceptive information to the United States in order to preserve his covert status.

Additionally, he flew abroad to meet with Cuban intelligence agents and made false and deceptive statements in order to acquire travel documents.

Commended Castro

As per the complaint, Rocha confessed multiple times on recorded conversations with an undercover FBI agent.

The agent pretended to be a Cuban intelligence operative and contacted Rocha on WhatsApp, claiming to have a message “from your friends in Havana.”

Former U.S. Ambassador and National Security Council Official Pleads Guilty to Secretly Acting as a Cuban Agent, Sentenced by DOJ - The Hard News Daily
Hugo Banzer, the president of Bolivia, left, shakes hands with Victor Manuel Rocha, the American ambassador to Bolivia at the time, Aug. 3, 2000, at a ceremony held in the Government Palace in La Paz. (Reuters / JP/HB / DM)

Rocha expressed admiration for the deceased communist leader Fidel Castro, referring to him as “comandante,” labeled the United States as the “enemy,” and boasted about his four-decade-long role as a Cuban spy among influential U.S. foreign policy circles.

According to Garland, he also purportedly informed the undercover agent that his attempts to penetrate the U.S. government were characterized by careful attention to detail and strict adherence to a set of rules.

He frequently boasted about the importance of his actions, claiming that they had greatly bolstered the revolution.

Rocha’s diplomatic career spanned 25 years and was divided between Democratic and Republican administrations. The majority of his work was focused on Latin America during the Cold War.

(The headline and the story has not been edited by THND staff and is published from a syndicated feed. However there can be minor changes from the original source article.)

Further Reading :

  1. https://www.foxnews.com/us/former-us-ambassador-nsc-official-admits-acting-secret-agent-cuba-learns-fate-doj
  2. https://www.foxnews.com/world/former-cuban-leader-fidel-castro-dies-at-age-90
  3. https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl/pr/former-us-ambassador-and-national-security-council-official-admits-secretly-acting#:~:text=MIAMI%20%E2%80%93%20Victor%20Manuel%20Rocha%2C%2073,of%20the%20Republic%20of%20Cuba.
  4. https://www.aol.com/news/ecuador-ex-vp-glas-must-212036116.html
  5. https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/ex-us-diplomat-who-spied-for-cuba-for-decades-gets-15-years-in-prison-2526664-2024-04-13
  6. https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/former-us-ambassador-sentenced-15-years-prison-serving-109178473
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