Cuban Propaganda Effort Suffers Another Self-Inflicted Wound; Health Minister Decries Alleged US Use of “Medical Cover” For Spying 2

Minister of Public Health, Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda

Minister of Public Health, Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda

By Chris Simmons

In yet another indicator of the slow, inevitable decline of the Castro regime’s once-vaunted propaganda machine, CubaSi reported that Minister of Public Health, Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda, condemned the United States because the “Associated Press revealed this week details of a program of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that used young people from Costa Rica, Peru and Venezuela to travel to the island and obtain intelligence information on the workshops against HIV.”

It would be far too easy to mock the Castro brothers for their sustained use of the discredited AP story, so we won’t go there. Instead, we’ll simply suggest that next time the spinmeisters use a Ministry that doesn’t have an established history as an intelligence front.

For example, Lexis/Nexis has a great BBC story from August 14, 2005 noting that Paraguay was investigating a large influx of Cubans. Asuncion officials suspected Cuban intelligence officers were entering the country in the guise of medical staff or tourists. Officials reported that several foreign nations provided the information which led to the investigation. At the time, roughly 200 Cubans were entering the nation monthly. The Police and Prosecutor’s Office seemed most concerned about the Cuban medical brigades in Paraguay’s interior, which operated free of any oversight.

Two months later, on the other side of the world, Gustavo Ricardo Machin Gomez, a member of Havana’s primary foreign intelligence service, the elite Directorate of Intelligence (DI), arrived in Pakistan. There he reportedly supervised the 2500 medical personnel Cuba sent to conduct humanitarian missions after the devastating October 2005 earthquake. The medical personnel served in Pakistan’s northern region, adjacent to Afghanistan, for roughly seven months. During this period, Havana established 32 field hospitals and two relief camps. Immediately thereafter, Cuba re-established its Embassy in Pakistan and promoted Machin to Ambassador.

The career spy previously served in the US from the summer of 1998 through early November 2002, when Washington declared him Persona Non Grata, along with three other spies under diplomatic cover. He was a First Secretary at the Cuban Interests Section when expelled. The PNG action against Machin and another Interests Section officer reportedly retaliated for the 16-year career of Cuban spy Ana Montes, who was sentenced in October 2002.

We could go on, but that would be overkill……..

Expelled Spy Feigns Outrage at Claims of Alleged US Operations Against Havana 1

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Officer Josefina Vidal

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) Officer Josefina Vidal

By Chris Simmons

Josefina de la C. Vidal, director for North America within the Cuban Foreign Ministry, yesterday denounced allegations of low-level intelligence operations by Washington.

Vidal’s criticism followed recent Associated Press claims that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) sent Latin American youth to assist on-island dissidents. “These facts confirm that the U.S. government has not ceased its hostile and meddling plans against Cuba,” stated Vidal.

The AP assertions have already been discredited by USAID as “sensational” and “wrong,” as well as by Cuban dissidents cited in the AP story. Nonetheless, Vidal continued her laughable outrage, claiming “The U.S. government should end once and for all its subversive, illegal and undercover actions against Cuba, which violate our sovereignty and the will expressed by the Cuban people to perfect our economic and social model and to consolidate our democracy.”

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Vidal departed Washington in May 2003 after the US declared her husband — First Secretary Jose Anselmo Lopez Perera — and 13 other Cuban spy-diplomats Persona Non Grata. First Secretary Vidal, also known to the US as a intelligence officer, “voluntarily” returned to Cuba. The husband-wife spy team was chosen for expulsion, in part, because Washington knew Havana historically withdraws the spouse of any expelled spy.

Sen. Robert Menendez Seeks Probe of Alleged Cuban Plot to Smear Him Reply

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

By Manuel Roig-Franzia and Carol D. Leonnig

Sen. Robert Menendez is asking the Justice Department to pursue evidence obtained by U.S. investigators that the Cuban government concocted an elaborate plot to smear him with allegations that he cavorted with underage prostitutes, according to people familiar with the discussions.

In a letter sent to Justice Department officials, the senator’s attorney asserts that the plot was timed to derail the ­political rise of Menendez (D-N.J.), one of Washington’s most ardent critics of the Castro regime. At the time, Menendez was running for reelection and was preparing to assume the powerful chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

According to a former U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of government intelligence, the CIA had obtained credible evidence, including Internet protocol addresses, linking Cuban agents to the prostitution claims and to efforts to plant the story in U.S. and Latin American media.

The alleged Cuba connection was laid out in an intelligence report provided last year to U.S. government officials and sent by secure cable to the FBI’s counterintelligence division, according to the former official and a second person with close ties to Menendez who had been briefed on the matter.

The intelligence information indicated that operatives from Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence helped create a fake tipster using the name “Pete Williams,” according to the former official. The tipster told FBI agents and others he had information about Menendez participating in poolside sex parties with underage prostitutes while vacationing at the Dominican Republic home of Salomon Melgen, a wealthy eye doctor, donor and friend of the senator.

Read more here:  Alleged Cuban Plot

 

 

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Obama May Free Cuban Spies And Terrorists 3

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC

By Cliff Kincaid, NewsWithViews.com

Just a few blocks from the White House, in the basement of a black Baptist church, the chief of the Cuban Interests Section plotted with former terrorists and members of the communist Workers World Party this past week to convince President Obama to release communist spies and terrorists from American prisons.

Coming in the wake of freed U.S. Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, in a trade for terrorists arranged by the Obama administration, these possible developments cannot be dismissed out of hand.

The conference dramatized how the far-left “progressives,” operating under the direction of Cuba, have calculated that Obama’s last two or so years in office represent the perfect opportunity for their comrades to leave prison with presidential pardons, clemencies, or commutations, and then return to the “struggle,” or “resistance,” in the streets.

The two-day event, the main focus of the “Five Days for the Cuban Five” campaign, was open to the press, enabling this columnist to attend and film the activities of the hard left as they operated under the watchful eyes of José Ramón Cabañas, Chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., and his agents. About 150 people attended the event.

The Cuban Interests Section functions as Castro’s embassy, in the absence of formal diplomatic relations, and operates as a front for the Cuban intelligence service, the DGI.

Even the Obama administration has conceded that the “Cuban Five” were members of a Castro spy network.

Before being appointed to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan was Obama’s solicitor general and submitted a legal brief in the case. She noted in the brief that members of the “Cuban five” were affiliated with the Cuban intelligence service and the “Wasp Network,” whose purpose included penetrating U.S. military facilities and transmitting information about the facilities’ operations and layout to Cuba, and infiltrating Cuban-American groups.

The brief noted that three Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR) planes made a scheduled flight over the Florida Straits to search for rafters, and that the flight plans were transmitted to Cuba. “When the planes passed the boundary between Miami and Havana air traffic control, which lies in international airspace, they identified themselves to Havana,” it said. “Within minutes, Cuban fighter jets pursued two of the BTTR planes. The Cuban fighters shot down both planes, killing all four men aboard, three of whom were U.S. citizens. Both planes were in international airspace, heading away from Cuba, when they were shot down. Neither plane had entered Cuban airspace.”

Featured speakers at the “Free the Cuban Five” conference included:

  • Linda Evans, a Weather Underground terrorist pardoned by President Clinton. Rafael Cancel Miranda, a Puerto Rican terrorist who opened fire on the House of Representatives in 1954, and was pardoned by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Cindy Sheehan, the former anti-Iraq War activist who just ran unsuccessfully for California governor on the “Peace and Freedom” party ticket.

Feature continues here:  Obana to Free Spies?

Extract From Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 2/21/2014 1

Q: This is about Cuban American prisoners that I emailed you about. Our National Press Club group had a session at the Cuban Interest Section the other night, on the 19th. I ask (sic) the chief or the ambassador, José Cabañas, what it would take to free Alan Gross from a Cuban prison. Whether he is guilty or innocent, that’s irrelevant. Later he said to me, what about the three remaining prisoners in U.S. jails? Now, he said, he’d like to talk to somebody in the White House about this situation. He calls it a human rights situation. He doesn’t want to call it a prisoner swap or a prisoner exchange. He doesn’t appear to want to go through the Swiss. So my question is, are there any direct talks going on to try to resolve this human rights situation? Would the U.S. be willing to have —

MR. CARNEY: Well, we are very concerned about Alan Gross. We’ve expressed very clearly that he ought to be released immediately and we’ve made that view clear to the Cuban government. And we work on this issue all the time. I don’t have any conversations to read out to you, but it remains a concern of ours that we are focused on.

Q: But will the U.S. change policy and talk directly to Cuba about this?

MR. CARNEY: Again, we have conversations all the time that make very clear our views on this matter and I don’t think it is a mystery at all to the Cubans that we believe he ought to be released immediately.

Q: What about releasing Cuban prisoners?

MR. CARNEY: I’m not going to get involved in a negotiation with another country from the podium. What I can tell you is our view is unequivocal.

Courtesy: NewsRoomAmerica.com

Ex-Gov. George Ryan Seeks Release of American Held in Cuba 2

By Michael Sneed, Chicago Sun-Times.com

Our man in Havana?

Former U.S. government contractor Alan Gross, who fears his government has ignored his plea to be freed from a tortuous four-year stint in a Cuban jail cell, has a new champion.

To wit: Former Gov. George Ryan, who was the first U.S. governor in 40 years to lead a trade delegation to Cuba and was promised a Cuban memorial by then-Cuban leader Fidel Castro for doing so, is now petitioning for the release of Gross.

Sneed has learned that Ryan, who was released earlier this year after serving more than five years in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., after a conviction on corruption charges, met recently with Rodney A. Gonzalez Maestrey, a member of the Cuban Interests Section of the U.S. State Department, to petition for the release of Gross.

“Gross is elderly and sick, his mother and daughter now have cancer, and I agree with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, the man’s release is a matter of grave urgency,” said Ryan, who lost his wife, Lura Lynn, to cancer while he was in prison. Ryan claims he met Maestrey (sic) over lunch recently at the Union League Club to discuss Gross, who was charged with selling contraband satellite equipment to Cuban dissidents.

Gross reportedly was working on a U.S. government-funded project setting up Internet connections in Cuba. His family claims he was working to help Jewish groups set up Web access. Just recently, Gross, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison, sent a personal letter to President Barack Obama on the fourth anniversary of his incarceration, expressing fear that his government had “abandoned” him.

Ryan said he took advantage of an invitation to lunch “with the Cuban ambassador” while he was in town on tourism business “with men who had helped us in Cuba.”

Ryan dined with Fidel Castro twice in the past. “It was Castro who set up my subsequent meeting with Nelson Mandela when I led a trade mission to South Africa in 2000,” Ryan said. “I just thought maybe I could help in some way by getting a message to the Castro government somehow.”

Ryan now joins a bipartisan group of 66 U.S. senators seeking the release of Gross.

Durbin weighed in on the Gross case on the Senate floor last December, after a visit with the government contractor. “This man is not a threat to the sovereignty of the Cuban government, as they claim,” Durbin said then. “He’s a good man with good intentions, an honest man who just wants to come home to his family . . . Holding Alan Gross as a political hostage is the wrong way to solve any problem between our two countries.”

Stay tuned.

Editor’s Note: Rodney Amaury González Maestrey is a Third Secretary at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC.

New York Daily News Uses “Former” Cuban Spies as Unattributed Sources in “Handshake” Coverage 1

The recent article by Albor Ruiz “Obama-Castro Handshake More Than Just a Gesture” used former Cuban Intelligence Officers Jesús Arboleya and Arturo López-Levy as central sources in the feature. However, Ruiz failed to identify either man as a former spy, instead referencing Arboleya as a “Cuban writer and political analyst” and López-Levy as a “Cuba expert and Political Science professor at the University of Denver.”

Editor’s Note: Colonel Jesus Arboleya Cervera was identified by intelligence service defector Jesus Perez Mendez in 1983. Years later, Arboleya’s intelligence service was further corroborated by convicted spy Carlos Alvarez.

Arboleya served as a Second Secretary at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations in New York City before transferring to the Washington-based Cuban Interests Section. During his US tour, Arboleya was the architect of the 1970’s US-Cuba normalization drive, which almost succeeded in 1977 following the formation of a group of prominent Cuban-Americans who called themselves the Committee of 75. Although headed by respectable Cuban-Americans, including two clerics and several businessmen, the Committee was inspired by the DGI, (then) Cuba’s primary foreign intelligence service. According to Senate testimony of March 12, 1982, at the time, Arboleya may have been the longest serving DGI officer in the United States.

Arturo Lopez-Levy is a self-professed “former” Intelligence Officer in Havana’s dreaded Ministry of the Interior (MININT). He is also a relative of MININT Col. Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas, Raul Castro’s son-in-law and head of GAESA, the regime’s business monopoly.

Cuba Indefinitely Suspends Consular Services in U.S. 1

By Alfonso Chardy, Chardy@elNuevoHerald.com

In a startling move, the Cuban government’s diplomatic mission in Washington announced Tuesday that it was suspending consular services until further notice — in effect no longer issuing passports or visas for travel to Cuba.

The decision will upend the thriving travel business to Cuba that has seen hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans and Cubans who live in the United States taking frequent trips to the island to visit relatives. In addition, almost 100,000 other U.S. citizens have traveled to Cuba on so-called “people-to-people” trips under rules relaxed by the Obama administration.

Among the three million visitors to the island in 2012, about 476,000 were Cuban Americans and Cuban residents of the United States who said they were visiting relatives. Another 98,000 were registered as members of people-to-people programs in which travelers engage in specific educational or cultural activities that cannot involve tourism. Tourist travel to Cuba remains prohibited.

The State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

But an executive of one of the oldest Cuba travel companies in Miami, Marazul Charters, said the decision constitutes a ”crisis” in the industry because it comes as travel agencies geared up for the heavy year-end travel season.

Armando García, president of Marazul Charters, said, however, that the crisis may be a temporary problem — but only if the issue is resolved. The Cuban Interests Section in Washington blamed the problem on a decision by the bank that managed its accounts to stop providing the service and the diplomatic mission’s inability to find a replacement bank.

Garcia also noted that travelers who already have valid passports and visas will have no trouble traveling to Cuba. But he added that he had no way of knowing how many people ultimately will be unable to secure travel documents.

A longtime Cuba expert in Miami said the suspension of consular services likely will reduce not only trips to Cuba, but also revenue the Cuban government derives from travelers.

“This will reduce travel to Cuba,” said Jaime Suchlicki, director of the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. “It will also reduce income for the Cuban government and make some people happy and other people unhappy.”

Suchlicki was referring to the divided opinions among Cuban-Americans and others. Many Cuban-Americans favor travel to Cuba to see family members, but others oppose it. They argue that the more travel the more income the Cuban government earns, eroding the goals of the trade embargo. There are also groups that seek an end to the tourist travel prohibition.

The surprise announcement comes just weeks before travel to the island was expected to pick up for the year-end holidays and only days after two officials from the Cuban Interests Section in Washington traveled to Miami to meet quietly with companies that handle travel between the island and the United States.

In a two-page statement, the Cuban Interests Section in Washington blamed ……

Read more here: Cuba Indefinitely Suspends Consular Services in U.S.

Media Adds New Details to Cuba’s Targeting of Terry McAuliffe 2

Analyst: Terry McAuliffe Likely Spied Upon During Cuban Visit

VA Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Traveled to Cuba in 2010

By Lachian Markay, Washington Free Beacon

A former U.S. counterintelligence officer claims Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, was likely spied on by Cuban intelligence services during a 2010 visit to Havana.

McAuliffe visited Cuba to promote Virginia’s agricultural exports. He convinced the regime to allow imports of Virginia apples, poultry, soybeans, and wine, the Washington Post reported.

McAuliffe met with Jorge Bolaños, a retired Cuban spy who now heads the Cuban Interests Section in the United States, ahead of the trip. The bureau is the communist nation’s diplomatic outpost in Washington, D.C. and experts believe it houses members of the nation’s clandestine services.

McAuliffe would later attend a party hosted by Bolaños at the Cuban Interests Section.

His meeting with Bolaños prior to the Havana junket likely triggered increased attention from the Directorate of Intelligence, Cuba’s spy agency, during the trip, according to Chris Simmons, a former top U.S. Army counterintelligence official specializing in Cuba.

“Given the Directorate’s intimate understanding of the American political arena, it undoubtedly awarded McAuliffe a level of attention fair beyond normal business travelers since his return to politics was virtually assured,” Simmons wrote last week.

Bolaños is officially “retired,” Simmons noted, but he reportedly “maintained close ties with staff members of two of Cuba’s five spy services as well as the Superior Institute of Intelligence (ISI), where the regime’s civilian intelligence officers are trained.”

Simmons boasts in his online bio that he was “deeply involved with the majority of U.S. Counterintelligence successes against Cuba” from 1996 to 2004.

“You can take what he says to the bank,” Humberto Fontova, a Cuban-American author who is critical of the Castro regime, said of Simmons’ analysis.

“This is old hat,” Fontova told the Washington Free Beacon in an email, noting that he documented instances of Cuban espionage involving high-profile American officials in his book, The Longest Romance: The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro.

Fontova pointed specifically to quotes from Cuban intelligence officers who say they were tasked with eavesdropping on famous Americans.

“My job was to bug visiting American’s hotel rooms […] with both cameras and listening devices. And famous Americans are the priority objectives of Castro’s intelligence,” Cuban intelligence defector Delfin Fernandez told Fontova.

Story continues here: Analyst: Terry McAuliffe Likely Spied Upon During Cuban Visit

Cuba Swaps Out Spy-Counselors in Argentina 1

Expelled from the US in November 2002 for espionage, Intelligence Officer Carlos Augusto Suanes Flexas is in Buenos Aires as the Counselor Officer. He can be reached at consejero@ar.embacuba.cu. Cuba’s MINREX lists no direct phone number for this particular “official.” He replaced Intelligence Officer Oscar Redondo Toledo, who had been declared Persona Non Grata by the US in November 2002 in retaliation for the Ana Montes case. He had been a First Secretary at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington at the time.

After his forced departure from his posting as a Second Secretary at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations, Suanes Flexas was assigned as 1st Secretary at Cuba’s (then) eight-man Embassy in Nicaragua. He appears to have arrived in the spring of 2006.