DGI officer and Ambassador, René Ceballo Prats
Cubans Involved In Peru-Based Espionage Operations During The 1970s & 1980s
By Chris Simmons
General Juan Velasco Alvarado came to power as part of a junta that overthrew the Peruvian government in October 1968. In July 1973, Velasco’s leftist government established diplomatic relations with Cuba. A declassified Cuban government cable later identified the General as one of its intelligence agents. Velasco remained in power until late August 1975 when he was deposed by General Francisco Morales Bermudez, his prime minister.
Former Dirección General De Inteligencia (DGI) officer Enrique García Diaz served on the “Peru Desk” at DGI headquarters during this period. During an interview, he explained that three other officers also worked the “desk:” Eulalia Sardain (codenamed “Mayra”), René Ceballo Prats (“Ibrahim”) and Ismael Cruz Arce (“Jose Luis”). Two additional DGI officers who worked with García Diaz on Peru issues were Juan Pedro Gonzalez (“Giraldo”) and Jose Francisco Molina Mauri (“Ivan”).
According to media reports, René Ceballo Prats later led Cuba’s Embassy in Nicaragua as chargé d’affaires starting in 2009. He now serves as Cuban Ambassador to Lebanon.
The CIA’s 1983 global directory of Cuban officials provides the names and positions of 21 Cubans posted to Havana’s Embassy in Peru. In a review of these personnel, García Diaz identified the following nine diplomats as Cuban intelligence officers or collaborators.
Counselor Jorge Pollo Garcia (“Osvaldo”). DGI Centro chief. According to Garcia Diaz, Pollo’s espionage career began in 1961 with the Illegal Department. Pollo reportedly served briefly in Japan in 1970 before his reassignment to Chile as the Deputy Centro Chief. Following his subsequent tour in Peru, Pollo became chief of the Southern Cone “desk,” overseeing this region’s spy operations. Several years later, he led the upgrade of Cuban intelligence operations in India from a one-man “pointe” to a full-blown Centro. He may have later served in Bolivia before becoming chief of staff for Jorge Valdés-Saldaña Risquet, a member of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party. Media reports later cited Pollo as a Cuban diplomat in Guatemala in the early 2000s.
Consul General Ricardo Cruz Fernandez. DGI.
1st Secretary Maria Consuelo Ramiriz de Martinez. DGI.
Attaché Angel Moriaga Diaz. DGI Code Clerk.
Commercial Attaché Fidel Diez Tornes. García Diaz characterized this former colleague as the best DGI Case Officer (i.e., spy handler) in Peru.
Prensa Latina (PRELA) Correspondent Ruban Alayon Sanchez (“Lorenzo”). DGI.
Prensa Latina (PRELA) Correspondent Gustavo Carballosa (“Gaston”). DGI. According to García Diaz, Carballosa wrote the daily intelligence report for the Peruvian President.
Prensa Latina (PRELA) Correspondent Manuel Robles Sosa. America Department (DA). Europa Publications’ South America, Central America, and the Caribbean 2003 listed him as the PRELA representative in La Paz, Bolivia. Subsequent PRELA coverage seems to show him active at least through late September 2012.
Prensa Latina (PRELA) Correspondent Gerardo Torres. DGI Collaborator.
García Diaz recalled three additional intelligence officers not on the CIA list. They were:
- Manuel Martinez Galan (“Manolo”), the husband of Maria Consuelo Ramiriz. García Diaz cited Martinez as the first DGI Centro Chief in Lima.
- Eduardo Torres Ravelo. DGI. Open source publications referenced Torres Ravelo as a Cuban diplomat in Chile during the Allende years.
- Prensa Latina (PRELA) Correspondent Sergio Medina (“Sergito”). DGI. García Diaz noted that Medina also served in Colombia at one point. The CIA’s 1983 roster listed Medina as one of several PRELA correspondents in Venezuela.
Enrique García Diaz defected in March 1989 while based in Ecuador. According to a March 2, 1994 feature by the Canadian Press (news agency), García Diaz had served with the DGI since 1978, handling Cuban agents in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. (Note: The Canadian Press article is available via Lexis/Nexis).
An intelligence-affiliated “diplomat” – understandably not identified by García Diaz because he served outside the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) – would be the Cuban Military Attaché, Colonel Manuel Bravo Yanez. While not every military attaché is a Case Officer (i.e., spy-handler), they are – at a minimum – overt intelligence collectors reporting to the Ministry of the Armed Forces (MINFAR).
Author’s Note: Given my knowledge of Mr. García Diaz, I have no reason to doubt the reliability of his information on this topic. In addition:
- The status of DGI code clerk Angel Moriaga Diaz was confirmed by another highly reliable former DGI officer.
- Declassified US government reports substantiated the DGI service of Luis Ismael Cruz Arce. This officer first served at the Cuban Consulate in Mexico City around August 1966 before being transferred to the one-diplomat Consulate in Tampico by 1970.
- A declassified CIA report from Oct 17, 1969 identified Manuel Martinez Galan as a DGI officer. Author Jonathan Haslam also characterized Martinez as DGI, attributing his information to a London-based Cuban defector. In contrast, in 1972, internationally known newspaper columnist Jack Anderson identified Martinez, then a 1st Secretary in Santiago, as head of the DA’s Chile-based operations. A decade later, the CIA listed Martinez as a 1st Secretary at the Cuban Embassy in Moscow.