This Month in History: Cuban Spies Proposed Intelligence Exchange With Dade County Sheriff Reply

September 1959:  Comandante Abelardo Colome Ibarra and another officer traveled to Miami and offered to initiate an intelligence exchange with the Dade County Sheriff’s Department. Colome openly declared his intelligence affiliation and offered information on US organized crime operations in Cuba in exchange for material on Cuban exiles in the US.  The Intelligence Department of the Sheriff’s Office rebuffed the Cubans.  Law enforcement authorities suspected Colome’s real purpose was to establish a legal intelligence presence to further enhance the growing operations then underway by “Illegal” officers.

Editor’s Note:  An “Illegal” is a highly trained intelligence officer assigned abroad who operates with no overt contact with his government.  Since an Illegal is not protected by diplomatic immunity, he/she generally serves under a false identity with the appropriate supporting documents. 

Yoani Sanchez files demand against Cuban Interior Minister Reply

Blogger Yoani Sanchez filed the demand to know why she’s banned from leaving Cuba

By Juan O. Tamayo

            Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez has filed a notice with the Interior Ministry demanding to know why she’s not allowed to travel abroad, the latest in a string of daring legal challenges to the communist government.

Sánchez said the notice filed Wednesday asks Interior Minister Abelardo Colomé Ibarra to explain why the ministry office that is in charge of exit permits never answered her Nov. 18, 2010 request for the reasons behind the refusals.  Read more here:

Cuba Confidential’s supplemental holdings on Interior Minister Abelardo Colomé Ibarra:
During the Revolution, Colomé served in the Eastern Second Front’s “Frank Pais.”  He fought at Guantanamo and Sagua de Tanamo in the rank of Captain.  He was later promoted to Commander (Major).  Since the beginning, Colomé was closely associated with the leaders of Rebel Army intelligence. As a result, in early 1959 he began his first operation under direct orders from intelligence chieftains Manuel Pineiro and Ramiro Valdes.  He became close friends with Raul Castro and Ramiro Valdes, and as a result rose rapidly within the MININT.

In 1959, he replaced Rene de losSantosas Chief of the Rebel Army Office of Investigation (DIER).  Then, in July of 1961, he became Chief of the Motorcycle Police and subsequently Chief of the National Revolutionary Police before returning to the DGI.  Che Guevara’s political philosophy has been a major influence on Colomé’s world view.  By 1965, Colomé had conducted intelligence operations in Mexico, Venezuela, and Ecuador.  He had also traveled to Czechoslovakia, apparently for training.  Naturally, he was a member of the PCC’s Central Committee.  He was a key leader within the DGI’s Liberation Department/Directorate, which later evolved into the America Department.  Past aliases include “Captain Fury” and Rigoberto Ibarra Ortega.

By 1975, Colomé served as the first Deputy Minister of Ministry of the Armed Forces (MINFAR).  In approximately November 1975, Colomé headed the Cuban Military Mission in Angola.  There he played a major role in Cuba’s success, for which he was selected to the Council of State a year after the Angola mission.  He was appointed as one of the first general officers in Castro’s Cuba.   In 1986, the Cuban leadership selected him over more senior division generals to a position in the Cuban Communist Party’s Political Bureau.

By the late 1980s, Colomé was the defacto chief of Military Counterintelligence, although General Fernandez Gondin was the titular head.  This, according to Brigadier General Rafael del Pino – Bay of Pigs hero and veteran of the war in Angola—and one of the highest ranking Cuban military officers ever to defect from the Castro regime.  Colomé became Minister of the Interior in 1989.  Since at least 2003, he has served as a Vice President on the Council of State.