Classified government documents released by Wikileaks reveal that in 2009, three Cuban spies – two of whom were expelled from the US — met with officials from the US Interests Section in Havana for discussions on imprisoned US citizen, Alan Gross. After some initial stonewalling, the diplomat-spies eventually agreed to allow U.S. officials to visit Gross, who was arrested in early December and was being held at the infamous Villa Marista state security prison.
The three Cuban spies, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, Johana Tablada de la Torre, and Eduardo Martinez Borbonet, served in the North America Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX). Their assignments, respectively, were Division Director, Division Deputy Director, and Counselor. Given the diplomatic posting, all three may have continued involvement in the handling of Alan Gross for an extended period. One — Josefina Vidal – remains Havana’s lead official regarding U.S.-Cuban relations and is highly visible on this issue.
Background on the three spies
Little is publicly known about Josefina Vidal. In May 2003, the US expelled 14 Cuban diplomats for espionage. Seven diplomats were based at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations and seven at the Interests Section. Among the seven Washington-based spies declared Persona Non Grata was First Secretary Jose Anselmo Lopez Perera. His wife, First Secretary Josefina de la C. Vidal, also known to the US as a Cuban Intelligence Officer, voluntarily accompanied her expelled spouse back to Cuba. Her affiliation among Havana’s five intelligence services remains unclear.
Vidal’s single identified success is her support to the influential Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); in particular, Julia E. Sweig, a CFR Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Latin America Program. In her book, Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground , Sweig profusely thanked six Cuban spies for assisting her with her research. The six Intelligence Officers were Jose Antonmio Arbesu, Ramon Sanchez Parodi, Fernando Garcia Bielsa, Hugo Yedra, Jose Gomez Abad and Josefina Vidal.
In contrast, reporting on Johanna Tablada is so extensive it is attached here as a separate file: Activities of Cuban Spy Johanna Tablada.
Martinez Borbonet’s history is covered in detail below in the Cuba Confidential story, Expelled Spies Lead Cuban Embassy in Nicaragua, published on May 4, 2012.