US Cuba
Representative Images of US-Cuba flags. Image/

A former US ambassador has pleaded guilty to spying for communist Cuba for more than 40 years. Victor Manuel Rocha, 73, was arrested last year in December by the FBI at his Miami home. Rocha, who is due to be sentenced on April 12, was charged with the crime of acting as a foreign agent, committing wire fraud and using a fraudulently obtained passport.

Rocha was recorded praising the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro and branding the United States an "enemy" during an investigation by US federal agencies. "What we have done ... it's enormous ... more than a grand slam," he was quoted as saying in one such conversation with an undercover FBI agent.

The undercover agent first reached out to Rocha in November 2022 through WhatsApp, claiming to be a representative of Cuban intelligence services. He sent a message saying: "Your friends from Havana." Rocha then agreed to meet the agent several times. The two of them held meetings on three occasions, during which he gave out details about his time as a secret agent for the Cuban government.

The agent even asked the former ambassador: "Are you still with us?" Rocha reportedly became angry over the fact that his loyalty was being questioned. "It's like questioning my manhood," he said, according to a BBC report.

The investigating agencies have yet to disclose more specific details on what Rocha did to help Cuba during his tenure in the US Foreign Service.

Rocha worked for the State Department and served on the White House's National Security Council. He was also posted as US Ambassador to Bolivia from 1999 to 2002. He was placed in Argentina, Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic in various capacities.

He continued working as a special advisor to the US Southern Command even after his retirement. The US Southern Command is a part of the US military that oversees operations and cooperation in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

Another infamous spy:

Previously, Ana Belen Montes, a former senior analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after she was found guilty of spying on Cuba. However, she was released early on account of good conduct.

Montes managed to spy for Cuba for 17 years before she was finally caught in 2001. She was recruited by Cuba in 1984 when she was doing a clerical job in the Department of Justice in Washington.

According to the FBI, Montes became a spy for Cuba because she did not agree with US foreign policy.

She was "one of the most damaging spies the United States has ever found," Michelle Van Cleave, head of US counterintelligence under President George W. Bush, told CBS News in 2012.

"She compromised everything — virtually everything — that we knew about Cuba and how we operated in Cuba and against Cuba".

"In addition, she was able to influence estimates about Cuba in her conversations with colleagues and she also found an opportunity to provide information that she acquired to other powers," he further stated.

US-Cuba relations:

The United States and Cuba have re-established embassies in each other's capitals and formally restored diplomatic ties. An agreement between the two nations to resume normal ties came into force on July 20, 2015, and the diplomatic missions of each country were upgraded from interest sections to embassies.

The opening of the embassies was seen as a milestone in easing diplomatic relations between the two countries. The old Cold War enemies have since been able to normalise relations between the two nations to some extent.