Prensa Latina Claims Washington Finances Costa Rican Spies; Allegation Follows Recent Outing of Havana’s Ambassador-Spy in San José 1

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Leda Elvira Peña Hernández presenting her credentials as the Cuban Ambassador to Costa Rica.

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Leda Elvira Peña Hernández presenting her credentials as the Cuban Ambassador to Costa Rica.

By Chris Simmons 

Citing a single, anonymous source, Prensa Latina (PRELA) claims the US Embassy “finances operations of the Direction of Intelligence and Security (DIS) in Costa Rica,” which it predictably accuses of corruption, etc.

While PRELA has a long history of collaboration with Cuban intelligence, what’s really interesting about this article is that it follows, by two months, a Cuba Confidential exposé identifying Cuban Ambassador Leda Elvira Peña Hernández as a career Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer. Peña Hernández, the second Cuban Ambassador to Costa Rica, died on June 26. She had served as Ambassador since September 2012.

So after getting caught running a spy-base in San José, Havana is alleging US interference in Costa Rica’s internal affairs? In the immortal words of William Shakespeare, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

 

 

 

Late Cuban Ambassador to Costa Rica Exposed as Career Spy 5

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Leda Elvira Peña Hernández presenting her credentials as the Cuban Ambassador to Costa Rica.

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Leda Elvira Peña Hernández presenting her credentials as the Cuban Ambassador to Costa Rica.

By Chris Simmons

Former Dirección General de Inteligencia (DGI) officer Enrique García Diaz identified Leda Elvira Peña Hernández as a career DGI officer.

Peña Hernández, the second Cuban Ambassador to Costa Rica, died on June 26. She had served as Ambassador since September 2012. A previous “diplomatic-cover” posting included Counselor at the Cuban Embassy in Italy, which began in September 2002. According to Granma, she was born in Villa Clara on September 14, 1949 and held a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Masters in Social Science. She spoke Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

García Diaz first met Peña Hernández (“Elvirita”) in January 1979 in what is now called Department M-II (Latin America) of the Directorate of Intelligence (DI). At that time, she had served as a member of the “Brazil Desk” in Havana for more than six years.

She was married to fellow M-II officer Javier Martinez Buduen (“Miguel Angel”). The couple had two children. In 1983 he was appointed commercial attaché at the Cuban Embassy in Ecuador. She accompanied him and served in the DGI Centro hidden within the Embassy. They returned to Cuba in 1986 and she became a member of the “Ecuador Desk” at DGI headquarters.

García Diaz observed that she held a reputation as a solid professional, while Buduen was respected as a dedicated worker. The husband-wife team joined the DGI in 1974.

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).