EXCLUSIVE: Senior Cuban Spies Leading “Normalization” Talks With US 12

Josefina Vidal

Josefina Vidal

Gustavo Machin

Gustavo Machin

Josefina Vidal Expected Choice as Cuban Ambassador to US

By Chris Simmons

Two career Cuban spies, Josefina Vidal Ferreiro and Gustavo Machin Gomez, will lead this week’s migration and normalization discussions with the United States. The pair are members of Cuba’s primary foreign intelligence service – the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), and serve as Director and Deputy Director, respectively, of the North American Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX).  This is Machin’s second time in the Division, having served as Deputy Chief in 2003 and Division Chief from 2004-2005.

As Havana’s lead “diplomats” on U.S.-Cuban relations, they handled the Alan Gross negations, the return of three of Havana’s jailed spies, and the artificial insemination of DI officer Adriana Perez O’Connor (wife of freed spy Gerardo Hernandez). Perez herself was a member of the Wasp Network – the largest Cuban spy ring ever known to operate in the US. Incidentally, when details are eventually released regarding the Obama administration’s secret talks to restore US-Cuba relations, Vidal and Machin will undoubtedly be at the center of events.

From the DI’s perspective, MINREX’s North America Division is now seen as a de facto wing of the spy service. This assignment is so important that three former members were appointed to ambassadorships. Now we are witnessing the unprecedented return of Ambassador Gustavo Machin to serve as Josefina Vidal’s deputy. Given this pattern of events, I think it’s fairly safe to say Vidal is Raul Castro’s choice to be the first Cuban Ambassador to the United States.

Espionage Backgrounds

Little is publicly known about Vidal’s espionage career.  In May 2003, the US expelled 14 Cuban diplomats for espionage. Seven diplomats were based at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations and seven at the Interests Section. Among the seven Washington-based spies declared Persona Non Grata was First Secretary Jose Anselmo Lopez PereraHis wife, First Secretary Josefina Vidal, also known to the US as a Cuban Intelligence Officer, voluntarily accompanied her expelled spouse back to Cuba.

Previously, Vidal’s lone known success was her support to the influential Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); in particular, Julia E. Sweig, a CFR Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Latin America Program. In her book, Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground, Sweig profusely thanked six Cuban spies for assisting her with her research. The six intelligence officers were Jose Antonio Arbesu, Ramon Sanchez Parodi, Fernando Garcia Bielsa, Hugo Yedra, Jose Gomez Abad and Josefina Vidal.

The son of a revolutionary hero, Gustavo Machin Gomez, was expelled in November 2002 in retaliation for the Ana Belen Montes case. In 2003, he was Deputy Director of MINREX’s North America Division and Chief the following year. In 2006, he was appointed Cuba’s first ambassador to Pakistan, where he is believed to have targeted US counterterrorism operations in the region. He then returned home to head the International Press Center before his current assignment.

DI officer Johanna Tablada preceded Machin in his second tour as Deputy Division Chief before her appointment as ambassador to Portugal.  She was suspected of being assigned to Department M-I, the elite element focused on targeting the US intelligence community, universities, and Congress.

Eduardo Martinez Borbonet previously assisted Vidal as a Counselor in the North America Division.  In November 2011, two weeks after a landslide victory propelled longtime Havana-ally Daniel Ortega into a controversial third term, he became Havana’s ambassador to Nicaragua.

In late December 1998, First Secretary Martinez Borbonet was expelled for his involvement in the South Florida based Wasp Network.  The diplomat-spy served at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations (CMUN), the traditional hub for Havana’s US-based espionage operations. He had arrived approximately eight years earlier as a lowly Third Secretary.




Ambassador-Spy Condemns US Embargo 3

Managua, Nov 14 (Prensa Latina) The United Nations, as a court of conscience of the peoples, offered US President Barack Obama the chance to rectify a criminal policy against Cuba, said Cuban Ambassador to Nicaragua, Eduardo Martinez Borbonet. With a record voting, the UN General Assembly approved yesterday a resolution demanding the end of the US economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on the Cuban people for over fifty years.  In remarks to local and foreign journalists here, Martinez said that very few topics arouse so much unity and consensus as the blockade within the UN. This time, the 21th, a total of 188 countries demand its cessation, he noted.

The voting at the UN, a week after Obama’s re-election, can be understood as a chance for him to score merits and really deserve the Nobel Peace Prize that he was undeservedly awarded, said the Cuban diplomat, who appreciated Nicaragu’s vertical (sic), firm, brave stand in its condemnation of the blockade, and noted that the US president also failed to keep his promise to change the policy towards Latin America. Martinez said that Obama also has the historic opportunity to rectify the illegal harsh sentences given to The Cuban Five –five anti-terrorist Cuban fighters in the United States for monitoring Miami-based terrorist anti-Cuban groups.  Twenty consecutive UN resolutions would suffice to convince anyone that the blockade is a failed policy, but the Empire is stubborn; hence the peoples’ latest reminder, said Martinez.

Ambassador-Spy Oversees Outreach to Nicaraguan Religious Leaders Reply

Source:  Havana Times

Last week, the president of the Council of Churches of Cuba, Joel Ortega, participated in a dialogue with religious leaders, academics and social activists at Nicaragua’s Universidad Evangelica Martin Luther King, reported the Prensa Latina news agency.

Cuban Ambassador Eduardo Martinez Borbonet described the Nicaraguan evangelical churches as playing an “active” role in the solidarity movement with the island.  The meeting was also attended by Nicaraguan pastor Sixto Ulloa, who is the human rights ombudsman; and Freddy Franco, the national coordinator of the solidarity with Cuba movement there.

Editor’s Note:  In December 1998, First Secretary Eduardo Martinez Borbonet,  Third Secretary Roberto Azanza Paez and Attaché Gonzalo Fernandez Garay were expelled from the United States for their role as “Wasp Network” Case Officers.   All three Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officers had been serving under diplomatic cover at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations (CMUN).