This Month in History: Senior Spy Appointed Ambassador to Manley’s Jamaica 2

July 1979:  Havana rewarded the success of career spy Armando Ulises Estrada Fernandez with  an appointment as Ambassador to Jamaica.  For the previous several years, Estrada, a Deputy Director in the America Department (DA) and one of Cuba’s best Central America specialists, had worked extensively to lead Havana’s Nicaraguan allies, the Sandinistas, into power.

Unfortunately for Estrada, Castro supporter Michael Manley lost Jamaica’s 1980 presidential elections in a landslide.  This shift in the political environment ultimately led to the two nations ending relations in late 1981.  Estrada was then reassigned as Cuba’s ambassador to South Yemen.

Editor’s Note:  The America Department (DA) was the name used by the intelligence wing of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party from 1974 to the late 1980s or early 1990s.  The DA was heavily involved in supporting revolutionaries and terrorists, but has since become more focused on political intelligence operations. This service is now called the America Area of the International Department of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC/ID/AA).


  1. Edward Seaga, who defeated Manley, ran on a platform that included expelling the Cubans if elected. Estrada, an Afro-Cuban who blended into the island’s population, used Jamaica as a way point for Latin American guerrillas going to Cuba’s training camps.

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