Today in History: Cuba Established Spy Center in Washington, DC Reply

September 1, 1977:  The US and Cuba re-established diplomatic missions in Havana and Washington, DC.  The first chief of the Cuban Interests Section was Ramon Sanchez-Parodi.  This career intelligence officer subsequently served in Washington for 12 consecutive years Experts remain undecided as to whether he belonged to the General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) or the America Department (DA).  Also serving at the new Interest Section was Teofilo Acosta, whom the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) immediately identified as a senior Cuban Intelligence Officer.

In testimony before the US Senate, Dr Daniel James charged Sanchez-Parodi with targeting the Congressional Black Caucus to foment  opposition to existing US policies towards Cuba. According to the New York Times, Sanchez-Parodi was extremely well connected to the US academic, civic, cultural, and business communities.  He was promoted to Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs immediately following his US tour.  His portfolio was the Western Hemisphere.

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).

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This Date in History: Senior Spy Appointed Ambassador to Venezuela 2

August 12, 1994:  America Department (DA) officer German Sanchez Otero, who had been serving undercover as a sociologist at the University of Havana, was appointed ambassador to Venezuela.  His arrival followed the March 1994 release of Hugo Chavez, who had been imprisoned for his role in a 1992 coup attempt.  Sanchez remained Havana’s Ambassador until August 2009.

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).

This Month in History: Brazil Rebuffed Diplomatic Posting of Murderous Spy 1

August 1986:  Brazil rejected Havana’s assignment of senior intelligence officer, Colonel René Rodríguez Cruz, after a damaging O Estado de Sao Paulo story.  The newspaper ran a photograph of Rodríguez with pistol in hand, standing over the body of a just-executed male. The paper also reported that Rodríguez had served as director of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), an intelligence assignment.  Furthermore, according to the newspaper’s source, Brazil ranked second only to Mexico as the most important country for Cuban intelligence operations.

On two months earlier – in June – a year after the end of the military dictatorship, Brazil had re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba.  America Department (DA) officer Julio Sergio Cervantes Padilla, Havana’s Political Counselor to Brazil, had engaged in extensive lobbying of Brazilian government officials to facilitate the renewed ties.

Editor’s Note: 

For more on ICAP, see the July 5th posting, “Spy Surrogate to Host “Free the Five” Symposium, https://cubaconfidential.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/spy-surrogate-to-host-free-the-five-symposium/

For additional background on the America Department, see the August 6th article, “Cuban Role Demands More Scrutiny As Brazil Investigates Military Dictatorship’s Abuses,” https://cubaconfidential.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/cuban-role-demands-more-scrutiny-as-brazil-investigates-military-dictatorships-abuses/

Cuban Role Demands More Scrutiny As Brazil Investigates Military Dictatorship’s Abuses 2

Yesterday, the New York Times’ published a great story on human rights abuses during the 1960s-1970s by Brazil’s military junta  The Time’s Brazil Bureau chief, Simon Romero,  authored the feature, which can be found here:  (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/05/world/americas/president-rousseffs-decades-old-torture-detailed.html?pagewanted=all).  Omitted from this piece, however, is the extensive role Havana played in subverting the Brazilian nation, in part, serving as a catalyst for the military dictatorship.  While not excusing military abuses by any means, context provides clarity and as such, Cuba’s hidden hand must also be examined.  My modest contribution to shedding light on these ties follows.

DGI officer Jorge Timossi Corbani, a founding member of Cuba’s Prensa Latina news agency, served in Brazil from 1959-1960. In late 1961, Havana assigned Ramiro Rodriguez Gomez as 1st Secretary and chief of the DGI Centro in Rio de Janeiro, which was then Brazil’s capital.  Fellow DGI officer and newly assigned Cultural Attaché, Miguel Brugueras del Valle joined Rodriguez shortly thereafter.  A third Intelligence Officer in the 12-member diplomatic staff was Guillermo Rivas Porta.

From 1961-1963, Cuban Intelligence provided financial aid to Brazilian revolutionaries who sought to create guerilla training camps in the state of Goias.  Additionally, peasant leader Francisco Juliao and Governor Leonel Brizola received DGI financial support.  In April 1963, Raul Roa Kouri became Havana’s Ambassador to Brazil.  Following his appointment, he became the conduit for Cuban funds and direction to its Brazilian allies.  Ambassador Roa, son of Cuba’s Foreign Minister, assessed Governor Brizola as the Brazilian revolutionary with the greatest potential for success. Two DGI couriers were enroute to Brazil with money for Brizola when President Joao Goulart was overthrown on March 31, 1964.  In total, the DGI had made $10 million available to Govenor Brizola.

Havana withdrew most of its embassy staff shortly after the military revolt. Rodriguez remained the Centro Chief until Brazil severed ties with Cuba on May 13, 1964. Only two Cuban officials served in Brazil when relations were severed.  Cuba’s continued support for Brazilian leftists was largely responsible for Brazil ending diplomatic ties.  That year, spymaster Manuel Pineiro assigned Ulises Estrada to oversee and participate in guerilla warfare training for a group of former Brazilian soldiers who fled to Cuba following a failed coup attempt. Throughout the remainder of the 1960s, Cuban support to Brazilian revolutionaries appears centered around training guerrillas and serving as the preferred safe haven for Brazil’s terrorists and revolutionaries. During this decade, Cuba trained at least 150 Brazilians (and perhaps over 200) in guerrilla warfare. During the latter half of the 1960s, the main faction trained was the National Liberating Action (ALN). ALN founder Carlos Marighella had extensive ties with Havana and its Latin American Solidarity Organization (LASO).  Killed by police in 1969, Marighella achieved immortality when LASO’s flagship publication, Tricontinental, published his book, the Mini-Manual of the Urban Guerrilla in 1970. Subsequently, Cuba translated Marighella’s book into several languages and distributed it worldwide.

By late 1971, the Brazilian regime’s aggressive effort to eliminate the guerrillas, coupled with their own internal dissention, led to the disorganization and demoralization of the revolutionaries. Many guerrillas and their supporters were killed or captured, their supplies destroyed, and their documents seized and exploited.  America Department officer Manuel Basabe was allegedly arrested in Brazil in the early 1970s for weapons smuggling.  By the mid-1970s, Brazilian police and military had broken up the Cuba-encouraged guerrilla groups.

Editor’s Notes: 

America Department (DA):  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).

Directorate General 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).        

This Date in History: First US Government Official Convicted of Spying for Cuba 1

June 29, 2001:  Mariano M. Faget (pronounced fah-HAY) received a sentence of five years on espionage-related charges.  Originally arrested on February 17, 2000, Faget was one of the most senior Cuban-American officials in the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).  A 34-year federal employee, the FBI caught him in a sting operation codenamed FALSE BLUE.

Faget was the number three man in the INS’ Miami office and a supervisory district adjudication officer.  As such, he oversaw requests for political asylum and other naturalization decisions.  This allowed him to determine the fate of thousands of Cubans who escaped Cuba and applied for refuge in the US.  In addition, Faget had access to the immigration paroles of foreign citizens used as government informants. Ironically, he was just a few months from his Federal retirement when arrested.  US prosecutor Richard Gregorie said Faget was motivated by “money, information and access.”

In the course of its 15-month investigation, the FBI secretly surveilled Faget meeting with Cuban Intelligence Officers Luis Molina and later, Jose Imperatori.  An FBI Agent testified that Molina and Imperatori were “known Cuban intelligence officers. Two days after Faget’s arrest, the State Department ordered Imperatori’s expulsion.  In less than two weeks, senior America Department (DA) officer Fernando Garcia Bielsa arrived in Washington as Imperatori’s replacement.  The FBI and Senator Jesse Helms had originally opposed Garcia’s posting to the US, but were overruled by the Clinton administration.  According to the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), Garcia’s long-standing ties with Puerto Rican terrorists continued through at least 1998 when he met with Macheteros leaders in the island Commonwealth.

Released early, Faget left prison in September 2003.

Editor’s Note:  The America Department (DA) is 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).

This Date in History: Legendary Cuban Spy Departs Nicaragua Reply

June 25, 1992:  Lieutenant Colonel Renan Montero Corrales [aka Andres Barahona Lopez], a member of the America Department (DA), left Nicaragua on the last “official” Cubana Airlines flight out of Nicaragua.

Montero was posted to Nicaragua in 1979 to lead the Fifth Directorate (aka Directorate V or VDIR) of the Sandinista’s General Directorate of State Security (DGSE).  Under Montero, the VDIR conducted Nicaragua’s foreign intelligence activities, influence operations, and monitored Managua’s overseas diplomats.  It had a staff of approximately 300-400 personnel.

Interior Minister Tomas Borge and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega both acknowledged that Montero headed the VDIR and worked under the direction of Borge and his deputy, Lenin Cerna.  In addition to his foreign intelligence responsibilities, a Spanish newspaper cited Montero as the Cuban ‘in charge of organizing the Sandinistas’ counterespionage unit.”  A declassified US intelligence report characterized him as “a legend among Cubans and Nicaraguans for his intelligence exploits.”

For his participation in the Nicaraguan Revolution, the Sandinistas awarded Montero the rank of Comandante in 1980. It is not clear whether this award was for his service from 1979-1980 or for some unidentified earlier period. Promoted to brigade commander in 1985, he fell ill three years later and was replaced by Comandante Jacinto Suarez-Espinosa. In 1989, Montero became the assistant to Defense Minister Humberto Ortega.

According to Sandinista defector Miguel Bolanos, Montero began working with the Sandinistas in the late 1960s.

Montero served as a consular officer in San Jose during the 1970s.  One of his duties was liaison with Sandinista military forces operating out of northern Costa Rica

During the mid-1960s, Montero operated in Bolivia, where he supported members of Che Guevara’s guerrilla column as they arrived.  There he served as the liaison between Havana and Guevara.

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).

From Spy to Ambassador: The Evolution of Juan Carretero Ibanez 2

  • Director of the Cuban Communist Party’s Center for Asia-Pacific Studies since 2008.
  • Ambassador to India from 2003-2008.
  • Prior to his ambassadorial posting, served as Secretary-General of the Organization of Solidarity of the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAAL).
  • In the early 1970s, Carretero led insurgent support from the huge Cuban Embassy established in Santiago during Salvador Allende’s administration.
  • Chief of the Latin America Departments of the Interior Ministry’s Technical Vice Ministry during the early 1960s and subsequently for the America Department during the mid-1960s-1970s.
  • Case Officer for Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider (more commonly known simply as “Tania”), who supported Che Guevara’s mission in Bolivia (mid-1960s).

Note:  The America Department (DA) is 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).

An Overview of Espionage Operations Based Out of the Cuban Interests Section 1

A Short History of 35 Years of Espionage

State Department Belatedly Burns Seven Cuban Spies

Since the US and Cuba do not have diplomatic relations, this facility is the conduit for contact with the Cuban government.  Politically, an “Interests Section” ranks one step below an Embassy.  The Cuban Interests Section is hosted by  Switzerland, which also hosts the US Interests Section in Havana.   One of only two Cuban diplomatic facilities in the US, it is the base for a considerable number of intelligence personnel and missions.