Senior Spy Specializing in Targeting Americans Assigned as Cuban Ambassador to Canada; Deputy Spy-Master Assigned as Spain’s Ambassador 2

Editor’s Note: Josefina Vidal, suspected of being a “US Targets” officer in the Director of Intelligence (DI), was expelled from the US in 2003 along with 15 other Cuban spy-diplomats. Her Deputy in the Foreign Ministry was Gustavo Machin, also a suspected US Targets officer. Machin was thrown out of the US in retaliation for the Ana Montes spy case. He later served as Cuban Ambassador to Pakistan where he is believed to have overseen Havana’s targeting of US counterterrorism operations in the region. He has now been selected to serve in Madrid as Cuba’s Ambassador. Historically, Mexico, Canada and Spain host the largest Cuban spy centers in the world (outside their three bases in the United States).  “Officially,” DI officers resign from the spy service when they become ambassadors. However, we can expect these two “retired” US Targets officers to have significant and adverse influence over the activities in their host nations. 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

Cuban Propaganda Effort Suffers Another Self-Inflicted Wound; Health Minister Decries Alleged US Use of “Medical Cover” For Spying 2

Minister of Public Health, Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda

Minister of Public Health, Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda

By Chris Simmons

In yet another indicator of the slow, inevitable decline of the Castro regime’s once-vaunted propaganda machine, CubaSi reported that Minister of Public Health, Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda, condemned the United States because the “Associated Press revealed this week details of a program of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that used young people from Costa Rica, Peru and Venezuela to travel to the island and obtain intelligence information on the workshops against HIV.”

It would be far too easy to mock the Castro brothers for their sustained use of the discredited AP story, so we won’t go there. Instead, we’ll simply suggest that next time the spinmeisters use a Ministry that doesn’t have an established history as an intelligence front.

For example, Lexis/Nexis has a great BBC story from August 14, 2005 noting that Paraguay was investigating a large influx of Cubans. Asuncion officials suspected Cuban intelligence officers were entering the country in the guise of medical staff or tourists. Officials reported that several foreign nations provided the information which led to the investigation. At the time, roughly 200 Cubans were entering the nation monthly. The Police and Prosecutor’s Office seemed most concerned about the Cuban medical brigades in Paraguay’s interior, which operated free of any oversight.

Two months later, on the other side of the world, Gustavo Ricardo Machin Gomez, a member of Havana’s primary foreign intelligence service, the elite Directorate of Intelligence (DI), arrived in Pakistan. There he reportedly supervised the 2500 medical personnel Cuba sent to conduct humanitarian missions after the devastating October 2005 earthquake. The medical personnel served in Pakistan’s northern region, adjacent to Afghanistan, for roughly seven months. During this period, Havana established 32 field hospitals and two relief camps. Immediately thereafter, Cuba re-established its Embassy in Pakistan and promoted Machin to Ambassador.

The career spy previously served in the US from the summer of 1998 through early November 2002, when Washington declared him Persona Non Grata, along with three other spies under diplomatic cover. He was a First Secretary at the Cuban Interests Section when expelled. The PNG action against Machin and another Interests Section officer reportedly retaliated for the 16-year career of Cuban spy Ana Montes, who was sentenced in October 2002.

We could go on, but that would be overkill……..

Senior Spy “Spinning” Death of Cuban Dissident Oswaldo Paya [Updated] 2

Gustavo Machin Gomez, a seasoned spy expelled from the US for espionage, continues to spin news coverage of the recent death of Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya, a winner of the Sakharov human rights prize.  Machin currently serves under cover as director of Cuba’s International Press Center.

According to the Washington Times, “Mr. Paya earned international attention in 2002 when, on the eve of the arrival of a visit by former President Jimmy Carter, he presented parliament with more than 11,000 signatures of support for the Varela Project, an initiative calling for change in Cuba, then run by Fidel Castro.”

One example of Machin’s use of his position to conduct Influence Operations is seen in the article, “Jens Aron Modig confirmed Cuba’s version of the accident and acknowledged that he gave money to Payá.” (http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs3500.html)  This article discusses the International Press Center’s new conference starring Jens Aron Modig, the Swedish politician who was with Paya during the vehicle accident that took his life.  It reads, in part, “Modig was presented to the press by Gustavo Machin, director of the International Press Center, attached to the Cuban Foreign Ministry, and was in good physical condition despite being slightly injured in the accident. At the time of writing this information Jens Aron Modig appeared before the accredited foreign journalists in Cuba.”[emphasis added]

According to the Communist Party newspaper Granma, Modig was subsequently allowed to return to Sweden “in spite of the illegal activities he carried out,” during which he “got involved in clearly political activities contrary to the constitutional order.”  Meanwhile, Spaniard Angel Carromero – who was driving the car carrying Paya when it crashed – “has been accused of the charge of homicide while driving a vehicle on public roads.”

Less than 10 years ago, First Secretaries Gustavo Machin Gomez and Oscar Redondo Toledo were declared Persona Non Grata and expelled from the United States.  At the time,both spies had been serving under diplomatic cover at the Cuban Interests Section. According to the Washington Post, the expulsion retaliated for the 16-year career of Cuban spy Ana Montes, who was sentenced in October 2002.  Machin was then promoted to Ambassador to Pakistan, where he is believed to have targeted US counterterrorism operations in the region.

See related stores on Intelligence Officer Gustavo Machin:

Written Testimony of Christopher Scott Simmons Before a Hearing of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/112/HHRG-112-FA07-WState-SimmonsC-20120517.pdf

Cuba Likely Targeting US Counterterrorism Operations, http://babalublog.com/2011/12/cuba-likely-targeting-us-counterterrorism-operations/

Cuba Is Expanding Its Overseas Spy Network, Top Intelligence Expert Says, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,327462,00.html