Pro-Castro Group From New York Awards “Nelson Mandela Prize” to Convicted Cuban Spies 1

Sandra Levinson, Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies

Sandra Levinson, Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies

By Chris Simmons

Philadelphia’s Geller Foundation granted its newly established Nelson Mandela prize to the Cuban Five – the former leaders of Cuba’s failed Wasp spy network.

In reality, the Geller Foundation is actually led by members of the New York City entity – the Center for Cuban Studies. Sandra Levinson, the Center’s Executive Director, presented the prize to released spies Rene and Fernando Gonzalez and the relatives of the still-incarcerated members of the Cuban Five. The ceremony was held last week at the headquarters of the Cuban Institute of Friendship With The Peoples (ICAP).

Former Directorate of Intelligence Officer Juan Reyes Alonso said ICAP is not a DI entity per se, but that it is overwhelmingly influenced by the intelligence service. Reyes Alonso claimed ICAP is penetrated by a small cadre of bona fide DI officers who are aided by a large staff of agents (i.e., collaborators). As a result, roughly 90% of ICAP is thought to be DI-affiliated. Similarly, the New York Times has reported on ICAP’s intelligence ties as far back as 1983.

As background, the Center for Cuban Studies hosted the first National Conference on Cuba from November 2-4, 1979. US participants included Congressman Ron Dellums, the Puerto Rican socialist party, union representatives, legal scholars, and innumerable academics. Havana sent 15 participants, to include intelligence officers Alfredo García Almeida and Ramón Sánchez-Parodi Montoto.

Two years earlier, columnist Jack Anderson had identified Cuban Mission to the United Nations (CMUN) “diplomat” Julian Enrique Torres Rizo as the chief of Havana’s US-based intelligence operations. The Center for Cuban Studies allowed Torres Rizo, a senior America Department (DA) officer, to have an office in its facility.

The America Department 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).

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Today in History: Career Spy Posted as Ambassador to Nicaragua Reply

March 20, 2007: The Cuban Intelligence presence in Managua grew when Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega accepted the diplomatic credentials of America Area officer Luis Hernandez Ojeda as Ambassador. The Ambassador’s arrival marked the resumption of full diplomatic relations between Cuba and Nicaragua. Previous Nicaraguan governments had suspended relations for 16 years. Hernandez had served as Chargé d’Affaires in Nicaragua during the early 1980s.

Editor’s Note: The America Area of the International Department of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC/ID/AA) is the intelligence wing of the party’s Central Committee. It is now predominantly focused on political intelligence operations. Previously known as the America Department (DA), the spy service was heavily involved in supporting revolutionaries and terrorists throughout the Cold War.

Today in History: Terrorist-Supporting Spy Lectured at Loyola University Law School 1

March 2, 2001: America Area officer Fernando Miguel Garcia Bielsa, a First Secretary at the Cuban Interests Section, guest lectured at Loyola University Law School. Invited by the Los Angeles Coalition in Solidarity with Cuba, Garcia spoke on the Cuban economy and the domestic situation on the island. In 2002, he was publicly thanked – along with five other Intelligence Officers – by Council on Foreign Relations staffer Julia E. Sweig in her book, Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground. Thrown out of the US during the massive May 2003 expulsions, Fernando Garcia Bielsa had worked closely with the two major Puerto Rican terrorist groups of the 1970s. He subsequently served as a First Secretary at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations in the 1980s.

Editor’s Note: The America Area of the International Department of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC/ID/AA) was previously known as the America Department (DA). This service remains the intelligence wing of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party. As the “DA,” the spy service was heavily involved in supporting revolutionaries and terrorists. It has since become more focused on political intelligence operations.

Today in History: Grenada Destroyed Cuba’s On-Island Spy Operations 2

Following the October 1983 US invasion, Paul Scoon, Grenada’s Governor General expelled Havana’s Ambassador, the Embassy’s communications officer, and most of its diplomatic staff.  Scoon directed that Havana keep no more than one diplomat on the island. The Cuban Embassy originally rejected the expulsion order and said its staff would remain until all Cuban prisoners were return to Cuba.

Shortly afterwards, Cuba relented and chose America Department (DA) officer Gaston Diaz to remain as its Charge d’Affaires.  However, the Scoon government and its US allies made it politically and operationally difficult for Havana to host a viable Embassy. On November 23, 1983, Diaz received orders from Grenadian/US authorities that directed the immediate departure of the Cuban Embassy’s communications technician and all communications equipment. This order eviscerated Diaz’ ability to conduct intelligence operations. Thereafter, his job was reduced to recovering Cuban equipment seized by US forces and selling off Embassy property prior to closing the Embassy.

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).