Respected Defector Exposes Cuba’s Intelligence Presence in Cold War Ecuador 4

Legendary Cuban Spy-Master, Manuel Pineiro Losada

Legendary Cuban Spy-Master, Manuel Pineiro Losada

By Chris Simmons

Former Dirección General De Inteligencia (DGI) officer Enrique García Diaz reports that prior to the 1979 re-establishment of diplomatic ties, Cuban intelligence maintained three positions in Quito. DGI officer Boris Castillo Barroso held a position in the Latin America Energy Organization (OLADE), while Luis Enrique Benites Montero “Enrique” and Javier Buduen Martinez “Miguel Angel” served undercover with the Centro Internacional de Estudios Superiores de Comunicación para América Latina (CIESPAL).

When official ties between the two nations warmed, the Cuban Embassy was allowed to re-open on August 24, 1979. Thereafter, Castillo established the DGI Centro within the safety of Havana’s diplomatic facility. He would later be assisted by Commercial Attaché and fellow DGI officer Roberto Oliva, whom the CIA took note of in December 1981.

Oliva is a likely match for Roberto Oliva Ibarra, a Cuban official assigned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) who served as a representative to the United Nation’s Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) during the latter half of the 1970s.

García Diaz said another spy assigned to the very small Embassy was Prensa Latina Correspondent and Departamento America (DA) asset Oscar Perdomo Marin, first posted to Ecuador in June 1974. Perdomo’s DA affiliation meant he worked targets and responsibilities outside the control of the DGI Centro. The Venezuelan asset was a friend of legendary Cuban spymaster Manuel Piñeiro Losada. During the early 1980s, Perdomo’s boss in Havana was the DA’s South America Section Chief, Jose Miguel Guerra Diaz, who also personally directed DA operations in Ecuador.

Relations between Quito and Havana were downgraded to a Chargé d’affaires in April 1981. A Chargé is the lowest rank of diplomatic representative recognized under international law. José Francisco Ross Paz arrived that July as the Chargé, only to be identified by the Washington Times as a DA officer on August 25, 1983.

The second DGI Centro Chief in Ecuador was Hermes Cachon Gacita noted García Diaz. He reportedly arrived in Quito in 1983 for a three year posting using a non-traditional cover assignment. Roughly concurrent with the change in Centro Chiefs was the return of Javier Buduen Martinez, this time as Commercial Attaché. Other newcomers included Buduen’s wife “Elvirita” and Luis Enrique Benites Montero, who took Castillo’s former position in OLADE.

Ambassadorial-level relations were re-established on January 24, 1984 and DGI Officer Carlos Rafael Zamora Rodriguez was immediately assigned as ambassador.  He was accompanied by his spy-wife, Maura Juan Perez. Shortly thereafter, Guerra Diaz, the former DA Section Chief for South America, arrived in Ecuador as the new First Secretary. Two years later, the DGI Centro welcomed Nelson Quesada (Carlos Alfonso) and Ricardo Cruz Fernandez (Max).

Ambassador Zamora and his wife remained in Ecuador until 1989. Public records show by the year 2000, he was Havana’s Ambassador to Panama and several years later became the regime’s Ambassador to Brazil, a position he held until 2013.

Wiesenthal Center Officials Ask Ecuador to Intercede for Alan Gross Reply

(JTA) — Officials of the Simon Wiesenthal Center met with Ecuadorian authorities to seek their support in asking Cuba to release American prisoner Alan Gross. The meetings came on the sidelines of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Latin American gathering of Jewish communities in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Sergio Widder, the Wiesenthal Center’s Latin American director, and Dr. Shimon Samuels, its director of international relations, in separate meetings with Ecuador’s deputy justice minister, Carmen Simone Lasso, and the Justice Ministry’s legal adviser, Marco Prado, requested “the humanitarian intervention of Ecuador — in view of its close bilateral relations — to urge the Cuban authorities for an early release of U.S. citizen Alan Gross.”

Widder told JTA that Lasso did not comment on future steps regarding the Gross case. Lasso expressed her support for Holocaust education in Ecuador, he said. Gross, 63, of Potomac, Md., was sentenced last year to 15 years in prison for “crimes against the state.” He was arrested in 2009 for allegedly bringing satellite phones and computer equipment to members of Cuba’s Jewish community while working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency on International Development.

“We believe that President Rafael Correa Delgado is best-placed to convince Havana to make a humanitarian gesture,” Samuels and Widder told Ecuadorian officials. On Sunday, more than 500 rabbis urged the release of Alan Gross, citing the possibility that he has a cancerous growth, based on a recent assessment of his medical records by a U.S. radiologist.

Also, the Wiesenthal Center expressed its concern at the growing influence of Iran in Ecuador and its ALBA bloc partners of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua. “This represents a potential danger of Iranian-supported Hezbollah terrorist networks abusing Ecuador’s hospitality as a springboard for expansion throughout South America,” Samuels said. ALBA is an international organization based on the idea of social, political and economic cooperation among Latin American and the Caribbean countries.

President Correa Criticizes Sentence to Cuban Five in OAS 1

Cochabamba, Bolivia on June 4 (Prensa Latina) Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, criticized today before the 42nd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), the sentence to five Cubans suffering imprisonment in U.S. jails.  Correa denounced the double standard existing in the continent at the time of establishing justice and cited the unfair sanctions to which were convicted Cubans Gerardo Hernandez, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez, for defending their country from terrorism.  Correa mentioned their names and referred to the silence that media kept on their situation, despite the international outcry for freedom.  The Cuban Five were sentenced to long prison sentences, which included life sentences, in a rigged trial in Miami in 2001.  At the same time, Correa criticized the unjust economic, financial and commercial U.S blockade against Cuba for over 50 years keeps and regretted the position of the mainstream media that silence what our peoples do.

Editor’s Note:  Prensa Latina (PRELA) is a Cuban news agency long known for its collaboration with the regime’s intelligence services.

Ecuadorian Legislators in Solidarity with Cuba Reply

Quito, Jun 7 (Prensa Latina) The Parliamentary Group of Friendship Ecuador-Cuba ratified today its backing of Cuba, in the presence of Aleida Guevara March, a daughter of Argentine-Cuban guerrilla fighter Che Guevara.More images in: PhotosPL

Copies of agreements reached in Parliament for this purpose were given to a Cuban delegation in the plenary of the legislative body, including the demand to end the US blockade against Cuba and for the release of five Cuban heroes unfairly held in the United States for over 13 years.

Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez, also known as The Cuban Five, were given harsh sentences for monitoring and thwart the plans of Florida-based anti-Cuban terrorist groups.

Rene Gonzalez, who served his sentence already, was given an additional three-year supervised release punishment while Gerardo Hernandez has been repeatedly denied the right to be visited by his wife.

The undersigning legislators proposed to address the resolutions agreed in the Ecuadorian Parliament to different regional and international bodies, to the US ambassador to Quito and to US President Barack Obama to give due legal course to their petitions.

Guevara March and Cuban Ambassador to Quito Jorge Rodriguez attended the Parliament hearing accompanied by Vice President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples Elio Gomez.

Also present were Odalys Perez, the daughter of the captain of a Cuban plane blew up in mid flight in 1976 by Miami-based anti-Cuban groups, and Maria Eugenia Guerrero, the sister of Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban Five.

Speaking to the plenary, Guevara highlighted the longstanding friendly links between the peoples of Cuba and Ecuador.

She appreciated the legislators support and urged them “to continue fighting until victory, when all Latin Americans have the right to live in dignity.”

Ecuadorian legislator Silvia Delgado told Prensa Latina that Cuba is an example of dignity and “from this country we can do nothing but to support these two fundamental causes of the Cuban people today.”

Editor’s Note:  Prensa Latina (PRELA) is a Cuban news agency long known for its collaboration with the regime’s intelligence services.

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.