A former U.S. ambassador faces serious federal charges for allegedly serving as a Cuban spy. Victor Manuel Rocha, 73, former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, was arrested on Friday and is alleged to have been involved in a long-standing espionage relationship with the Caribbean island nation that has been hostile to the U.S. since it was taken over by communist dictator Fidel Castro in 1959.
Rocha, a diplomat with a career spanning several decades, had an illustrious career, including his post as ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002. After he retired from diplomatic relations, Rocha has been involved in various business ventures.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announces the arrest of former U.S. Ambassador to Boliva, Victor Manuel Rocha. He's being charged with acting as a foreign agent for Cuba. pic.twitter.com/VwK6WD266L
— CSPAN (@cspan) December 4, 2023
On Monday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said the charges against Rocha are based on allegations that he worked as a secret agent with Cuba’s General Directorate of Intelligence since at least 1981. That was also the year Rocha was first hired by the U.S. State Department.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “We allege that for over 40 years, Victor Manuel Rocha served as an agent of the Cuban government and sought out and obtained positions within the United States government that would provide him with access to non-public information and the ability to affect U.S. foreign policy.”
The counterintelligence investigation into Rocha revealed his deep connections inside the Cuban intelligence community. Rocha confessed in meetings with an undercover FBI agent that he had been involved in the Cuban spying operation for several decades. Rocha allegedly lavished praise on the Castro regime when speaking to the undercover FBI agent and described the United States as “the enemy.” He noted the dangers he claims to have faced as a spy and bragged of his accomplishments for Cuba as “more than a grand slam.”
On Monday, FBI Director Christopher Wray stated, “The FBI will continue to rigorously defend against foreign governments targeting America, and we will find and hold accountable anyone who violates their oath to the United States, no matter how long it takes.”
In his comments, Garland emphasized the serious nature of the charges and the grave implications for U.S. national security and foreign policy. “To betray that trust by falsely pledging loyalty to the United States while serving a foreign power is a crime that will be met with the full force of the Justice Department,” he said.
As Rocha’s prosecution develops, the case will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications for American foreign policy and the security protocols observed by the State Department.