Aide to Cuba’s Ricardo Alarcon Sentenced to 30 Years for Spying 9

By Juan O. Tamayo,

A top aide to one of Cuba’s veteran political figures, Ricardo Alarcón, and the aide’s wife, have been convicted of spying and sentenced to 30 and 15 years in prison, according to persons close to the case.

Miguel Alvarez and Mercedes Arce, both former Cuban intelligence analysts in their 50s, were tried and convicted in December, the persons said, 22 months after they were detained in Havana for interrogation on March 3, 2012.

Alvarez was sentenced to 30 years on charges that he leaked secret information to Arce, according to the sources. Arce got the lesser sentence for allegedly using the information to write analytical reports on Cuba that she sold to private companies in Mexico.

Alvarez is the most senior Cuban official known to have been convicted of spying against the communist government in decades. At least three other Cubans are imprisoned on the island for spying, including two former Interior Ministry officials.

The Cuban government has repeatedly offered to swap U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, imprisoned in Havana since 2009, for four Havana spies held in U.S. prisons since 1998. But it has made no mention of the spies held in Cuban prisons.

The island’s state-controlled news media, which almost never reports on politically sensitive crimes, has published nothing on the Alvarez-Arce case. Relatives also have not commented publicly, hoping their silence will lead to better treatment for the couple.

There has been no indication of the seriousness of the breach of security allegedly created by Alvarez and Arce, but the Cuban government jealously guards even routine information such as sugar harvest figures and Fidel Castro’s home address.

Alvarez was a senior advisor to Alarcón on international and political affairs when Alarcón served as president of the legislative National Assembly of People’s Power, sitting in on many of his meetings with foreign dignitaries and journalists.

Alarcón, 77, a veteran specialist on U.S. relations, headed the National Assembly for 20 years but was replaced in February of last year, 11 months after the Alvarez and Arce arrests.

He is believed to remain a member of the powerful Political Bureau of the Communist Party. Alarcón is seen in public now mostly pushing the government campaign to free the four Cuban spies in U.S. prisons.

Former Florida International University professor Carlos Alvarez (no relation to the Alarcón aide), who was convicted of spying for Havana, described Arce in his confession as one of his Cuban intelligence handlers. He and his wife, Elsa Prieto, were sentenced in 2007 to five and three years in prison, respectively.

Read more here:
Aide to Cuba’s Ricardo Alarcon Sentenced to 30 Years for Spying


Respected Cuba Expert Takes on the Miami Herald 3

[Email from Dr. Tony de la Cova to Miami Herald journalist Juan Tamayo]

Sent: Thursday, June 7, 2012 1:49 AM
Subject: Mercedes Arce

Juan Tamayo

Miami Herald

Good morning Juan,

          I noticed that in your article in today’s Herald ( 2836372/cuban-police-arrest-top-aide-to.html) you indicate that Mercedes Arce “was mentioned in Florida International University professor Carlos Alvarez’s confession that he worked for Cuban intelligence.”  I brought that to your attention in the exchange of emails on October-November 2009 that I sent you, Miami Herald Ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos and Herald Editorial Page Editor Myriam Marquez, that I copied other Herald editors and posted on my academic website at

          In those emails I stated that “Herald editors and reporters demonstrate naiveté when asking [Marifeli] Pérez-Stable to admit to the same espionage criminal activities for which her friend and colleague Professor Carlos Alvarez was sent to prison. Your article omits that it was Alvarez, during his FBI interrogation, who admitted that Mercedes Arce was his intelligence handler (p. 80-82) and linked her (p. 489) to Pérez-Stable.

          My email on November 5, 2009, to Ms. Marquez concluded by indicating: “Hopefully, what people will remember is that Perez-Stable and her intimate friend Mercedes Arce are spies and the Herald suppressed the truth.”

          Two-and-a-half years later, the Miami Herald now acknowledges that Mercedes Arce worked for Cuban intelligence but selectively omits and continues to suppress the link between her and Miami Herald Board of Contributors member and FIU professor Marifeli Perez-Stable. The Alvarez deposition revealed that Arce stayed in the residence of Perez-Stable when she visited Miami.


Antonio de la Cova, Ph.D.

Cuban police arrest top aide to parliament speaker Alarcón Reply

A senior aide to Ricardo Alarcón, Cuba’s long-serving parliament president, was arrested along with his wife, a former intelligence agent

By Juan O. Tamayo

The top aide to the president of Cuba’s parliament, Ricardo Alarcón, and his wife — both former intelligence agents — have been in police custody for two months in a case that might well be aimed at ousting Alarcón, according to a Havana colleague.

Miguel Alvarez and Mercedes Arce, in their mid-50s, were detained on March 3 in Havana and remained in custody as of Monday for investigation on alleged corruption charges, the colleague added.

Alvarez was long known as Alarcón’s right-hand man in his job as senior advisor on international and political affairs, and he sat in on many of Alarcón’s meetings with visiting dignitaries and journalists.

Read more here:

Also see the Cuba Confidential story of May 22nd, “Washington Post Clueless Again: Wants Spy Admitted to US”


Washington Post Clueless Again: Wants Spy Admitted to US 4

          On Monday, the Washington Post ran an opinion piece titled “Cuba’s 11 Refusniks.”  This OPED condemned the State Department for preventing 11 Cuban officials from attending the 30th Conference of the Latin American Studies Association, to be held this week in San Francisco.  Sixty representatives of the Castro regime have already been approved and another six are pending. 

          The Post bemoaned the 11 denied officials, claiming “the rejections are mysterious and mystifying. Of the 11, many are well known and internationally respected academics with long-standing ties to top American scholars.”  Continuing, the commentary asked “Does the United States feel threatened by Milagros Martinez, vice rector of the University of Havana, who has relentlessly pushed scholarly exchanges with American universities?” 

          Well, since they asked, yes — we do feel threatened.  The declassified June 2005 FBI interrogation of convicted Cuban spy, Carlos Alvarez  cited Milagros Martinez as his counterpart at the University of Havana’s Center for the Study of Alternative Policies (CEAP).  Alvarez worked with her extensively and told the FBI she worked for Cuban Intelligence.  He also told the FBI his spy handler once brought Rafael de la Guardia to one of their meetings. De la Guardia is the husband of Milagros Martinez.  According to Alvarez, she knew of her husband’s intelligence ties and told Alvarez “talk to them,” meaning her husband and his colleagues.

          Amplifying information is found in the book, In the Land of Mirrors: Cuban Exile Politics in the United States, where author Maria de la Angeles Torres, stated:  “In 1989 the center at the University of Havana that studied U.S.-Cuban relations spawned another office called the Centro de Estudios de Alternativas Politicos (CEAP, Center for the Study of Alternative Policies, and Arce became its head.”  [emphasis added]

          “Arce” refers to Mercedes Arce, a staff psychologist assigned to the Cuban Mission to the United Nations.  Alvarez was told that Arce could arrange a visit to the University of Havana for him. He subsequently met with Arce repeatedly in New York.  During his interrogation, the FBI confirmed for Alvarez that Arce was a Cuban agent. 

          The final piece of this puzzle comes together with the revelation that the parent organization mentioned above by Angeles Torres is The Center for North American Studies (CEA).  Library of Congress Scholar Rex Hudson long ago identified the CEA as a front organization for the intelligence wing of the Cuban Communist Party.  Hudson’s research found that this intelligence services used this “front” to conceal and facilitate its activities in the academic and diplomatic fields.  [For additional details, see Rex A. Hudson, Castro’s America Department: Coordinating Cuba’s Support for Marxist-Leninist Violence in the Americas].  

          A link to the syndicated copy of the Washington Post feature follows: