September 1982: Osvaldo Cardenas Junquera was assigned as the first resident Cuban ambassador to the South American nation of Suriname. Cardenas, previously an America Department (DA) regional Section Chief, was an accomplished intelligence officer. Well-connected in the Cuban Communist Party, he was also one of the few black Cubans in a senior position. Some in Washington felt that his race was an asset with members of the largely black leadership of Dési” Bouterse’s military dictatorship. For many years during Havana’s involvement in Africa, Cardenas – who freely moved back and forth among spy services — had been in charge of West Africa operations for the General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI).
Cuba’s diplomatic mission was upgraded to an Embassy the following month. Cardenas’ wife, Ida Borja Paz Escalante de Gomez, was also an Intelligence Officer. By January 1983, the Cuban diplomatic presence had grown to 10 personnel. Cuba’s diplomatic presence eclipsed that of the US and continued to grow. Cardenas’ posting to Suriname and the mission’s rapid expansion was solid evidence of the importance that Cuba attached to Suriname.
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).
General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI): The name previously used by the foreign intelligence wing of the Ministry of the Interior. Following a 1989 “scandal” and reorganization, this service was reorganized and given a new name – the Directorate of Intelligence (DI).