The Latin American Studies Association (LASA) is the largest group of Latin America specialists in the world. One of LASA’s many functions is hosting their Congress every 18 months. At last month’s LASA Congress in San Francisco, Cuban Intelligence associate Milagros Miriam Rodríguez Martínez, a “scholar” from the Universidad de La Habana, chaired the panel discussion New Perspectives on Immigration. For more background, see Cuba Confidential stories, “Declassified FBI Documents Identify Another Cuban Scholar-Spy” (May 23rd) and “Washington Post Clueless Again: Wants Spy Admitted to US” (May 22nd).
Aware of Cuban Intelligence’s long-term interest in LASA Congress’ and the target rich environment it provides, in March 2006, the State Department issued a blanket disapproval of the 58 visa applications to the LASA Congress in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The State Department announced that the presence of the Cubans would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” In September 2004, the State Department denied visas to all 60 Cuban applicants to the LASA Congress in Las Vegas. In March 2003, the US denied visas to 45 Cubans scheduled to attend the LASA Congress in Dallas.
In March 1988, LASA met in New Orleans. Three officers from the America Department (DA), the intelligence wing of the Cuban Communist Party, attended this conference,. The Center for North American Studies (CEA), a DA front organization, sponsored the panel “Cuba and Central America in U.S. Foreign Policy.” Organized by CEA official Juan Valdés Paz, the panel consisted of Valdes and two other CEA members: Julio Carranza Valdés and Rafael Hernández. Valdés presented the paper, “U.S. Strategic Foreign Policy in Central America.” At the time, Hernandez directed the CEA’s US Research Department. Carranza is currently assigned to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Office (UNESCO) in Montevideo.