American University professor, Dr. William M. Leogrande
By Chris Simmons
Today in Havana, the new book by William M. Leogrande and Peter Komubluh, ¨Back Channel to Cuba. The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana,¨ will be presented at the Villena room of the Cuban Association of Writers and Artists (UNEAC). Also being discussed is the expanded second edition of a book on Cuba-US relations by a pair of Cuban authors. According to Cubarte, the session is being moderated by Ramón Sánchez Parodi.
Ramón Sánchez Parodi Montoto was the first chief at the Cuban Interests Section when Washington and Havana re-established diplomatic mission on September 1, 1977. This career spy served in Washington for 12 consecutive years. During this assignment, Sánchez Parodi was exposed as an intelligence officer during the Senate testimony of Dr Daniel James of the Congressional Research Service. James said Sánchez Parodi, whom he cited as either Directorate of Intelligence (DI) or America Department (DA), targeted the Congressional Black Caucus to foment opposition to existing US policies towards Cuba. According to the New York Times, Sánchez Parodi was extremely well connected to the US academic, civic, cultural, and business communities. He was promoted to Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs immediately following his US tour. His portfolio was the Western Hemisphere.
During the latter half of the 1990s, Sánchez Parodi was Cuba’s Ambassador to Brazil. Following this tour, he returned to Havana to head the Department of International Relations for Cuban Customs.
The New York City-based Center for Cuban Studies hosted the first National Conference on Cuba from November 2nd-4th, 1979. US participants included Congressman Ron Dellums, the Puerto Rican socialist party, union representatives, legal scholars, and innumerable academics. Havana sent 15 participants, to include at least two intelligence officers: Alfredo García Almeida and Ramón Sánchez-Parodi Montoto.
An America Department (DA) officer, Alfredo Garcia Almeida found himself back in New York within two years — assigned to the Cuban Mission to the United Nations (CMUN) as a representative of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). According to former DI officer Juan Manuel Reyes Alonso, ICAP was penetrated by a small cadre of bona fide DI officers, aided by a large staff of agents (i.e., collaborators). As a result, roughly 90% of ICAP was thought to be DI-affiliated.
Following his posting as the first chief of the Cuban Interests Section in September 1977, Ramón Sánchez-Parodi Montoto, served in the US for 12 consecutive years. Experts remain undecided as to whether he is DGI or DA.
Editor’s Note: The General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) was the name previously used by the foreign intelligence wing of the Ministry of the Interior. Following a 1989 “scandal” and reorganization, this service was reorganized and given a new name – the Directorate of Intelligence (DI).
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).