Today in History: The Curious Defection of Orlando Brito Pestana 1

March 27, 2002: Orlando Brito Pestana asked Panamanian security to help him, his wife and two daughters defect to the US. At the time of his defection, Brito had been Havana’s Commercial Attaché for a year. Former Cuban Intelligence Officer Enrique Garcia Diaz claimed Brito was a Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer who earlier served in the (then) DGI element known as K-1 (Political/Economic Intelligence Division). While Brito’s motive remains unclear, a Panamanian official suggested he defected because of a scandal involving Sunset Group International. Since the mid-1990s, this firm subsidized Cuba’s sugar harvest and operated a car dealership in Havana. However, allegations arose regarding the bribery of Panamanian officials, as well as reports that Havana was investigating corruption among Sunset’s Cuban associates. As the Commercial Attaché, Brito would certainly have come under scrutiny. Meanwhile, in Washington, an FBI official familiar with Cuban intelligence operations took the unprecedented move of a public warning that Brito could be a provocation. Other senior officials concurred, suggesting that Brito’s “defection” was a Cuban ploy to develop information on how the US detected Ana Montes – arrested just six months earlier.

One comment

  1. I NEVER BE INVOLVING SUNSET GROUP INTERN. IN PANAMA. MY DEFECTION WAS NOT ” A CUBAN PLOY TO DEVELOP INFORMATION ON HOW THE U.S DETECTED ANA MONTES. “

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