An American diplomat was arrested: he is suspected of spying for Cuba - ForumDaily
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American diplomat arrested: suspected of spying for Cuba

A former U.S. diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Bolivia was arrested as part of a long-running FBI counterintelligence investigation on charges of secretly serving as an agent of the Cuban government. The publication told in more detail ABC News.

Photo: IStock

Manuel Rocha, 73, was arrested in Miami, Florida, on December 2 in connection with the criminal case, and more details about the case are expected to be released at a December 4 court hearing. This was reported by two sources who spoke with journalists on condition of anonymity.

The Justice Department case accuses Rocha of working to advance the interests of the Cuban government, one of them said.

Federal law requires people who engage in political activity for a foreign government or organization on U.S. soil to register with the Justice Department, which has stepped up prosecutions of illegal foreign lobbying in recent years.

On the subject:

The Justice Department declined to comment. It is not clear whether Rocha has an attorney, and the law firm he previously worked for said it does not represent him. His wife hung up when reporters contacted her.

Rocha's 25-year diplomatic career spanned both Democratic and Republican administrations, much of it in Cold War-era Latin America, a period when the United States pursued sometimes harsh political and military policies. His diplomatic assignments included working for the US Interests Section in Cuba during a period when the US did not have full diplomatic relations with the communist government of Fidel Castro.

Rocha was born in Colombia, grew up in a working-class family in New York City, and earned a series of liberal arts degrees from Yale, Harvard and Georgetown before joining the Foreign Service in 1981.

He was the top U.S. diplomat in Argentina from 1997 to 2000, when a decade-long currency stabilization program backed by Washington was crumbling under the weight of massive foreign debt and stagnant growth, triggering a political crisis that saw the South American country go through five presidents in two weeks.

In his next post as ambassador to Bolivia, he intervened directly in the 2002 presidential race, warning weeks before the vote that the United States would cut off aid to the poor South American country if it elected former cocaine addict Evo Morales.

“I want to remind Bolivian voters that if they vote for those who want Bolivia to return to exporting cocaine, it will seriously jeopardize any future assistance to Bolivia from the United States,” Rocha said in a speech widely interpreted as an attempt to maintain the dominant position of the United States in the region.

The gambit angered Bolivians and gave Morales a boost. When he was finally elected three years later, the leftist leader expelled Rocha's successor as head of the diplomatic mission for inciting a "civil war."

Rocha also served in Italy, Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic and served as a Latin America expert on the National Security Council.

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After retiring from the State Department, Rocha began a second career in business, becoming president of a gold mine in the Dominican Republic partly owned by the Canadian company Barrick Gold.

He most recently held senior management positions at XCoal, a Pennsylvania-based coal exporter; Clover Leaf Capital, a company formed to facilitate mergers in the cannabis industry; law firm Foley & Lardner and Spanish public relations firm Llorente & Cuenca.

“Our company remains committed to transparency and will closely monitor the situation, fully cooperating with authorities if any information becomes available to us,” Dario Alvarez, CEO of Llorente & Cuenca's U.S. unit, said in an email.

XCoal and Clover Leaf Capital did not respond to requests for comment. Foley & Lardner said Rocha left the law firm in August.

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