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.

 

 

 

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Pro-Castro Group From New York Awards “Nelson Mandela Prize” to Convicted Cuban Spies 1

Sandra Levinson, Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies

Sandra Levinson, Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies

By Chris Simmons

Philadelphia’s Geller Foundation granted its newly established Nelson Mandela prize to the Cuban Five – the former leaders of Cuba’s failed Wasp spy network.

In reality, the Geller Foundation is actually led by members of the New York City entity – the Center for Cuban Studies. Sandra Levinson, the Center’s Executive Director, presented the prize to released spies Rene and Fernando Gonzalez and the relatives of the still-incarcerated members of the Cuban Five. The ceremony was held last week at the headquarters of the Cuban Institute of Friendship With The Peoples (ICAP).

Former Directorate of Intelligence Officer Juan Reyes Alonso said ICAP is not a DI entity per se, but that it is overwhelmingly influenced by the intelligence service. Reyes Alonso claimed ICAP is penetrated by a small cadre of bona fide DI officers who are aided by a large staff of agents (i.e., collaborators). As a result, roughly 90% of ICAP is thought to be DI-affiliated. Similarly, the New York Times has reported on ICAP’s intelligence ties as far back as 1983.

As background, the Center for Cuban Studies hosted the first National Conference on Cuba from November 2-4, 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 intelligence officers Alfredo García Almeida and Ramón Sánchez-Parodi Montoto.

Two years earlier, columnist Jack Anderson had identified Cuban Mission to the United Nations (CMUN) “diplomat” Julian Enrique Torres Rizo as the chief of Havana’s US-based intelligence operations. The Center for Cuban Studies allowed Torres Rizo, a senior America Department (DA) officer, to have an office in its facility.

The America Department 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).

A Castro Groupie’s Strategy to Reduce Violence 2

By Humberto Fontova in FrontPage Mag

This month the Council on Foreign Relations released a “Policy Innovation Memorandum” titled “A Strategy to Reduce Gun Trafficking and Violence in the Americas.” The memo was authored by the CFR’s “Senior Fellow for Latin American Studies,” Julia F. Sweig.

According to Ms. Sweig, the “policy” that needs “innovation” is U.S. gun laws.

Why?

In brief: because too many people are shooting each other in Latin America. “The flow of high-powered weaponry from the United States to Latin America and the Caribbean exacerbates soaring rates of gun-related violence in the region,” asserts her memo.

“[R]ecent federal gun control measures have run aground on congressional opposition,” laments Ms Sweig.

“[T]hough the Senate rejected measures to expand background checks on firearms sales, reinstate a federal assault-weapons ban, and make straw purchasing a federal crime, the Obama administration can still take executive action to reduce the availability and trafficking of assault weapons and ammunition in the Americas[.]“

In brief: to foil Latin American criminals (many of whom cross the southern U.S. border essentially at will) the CFR urges the U.S. president to use every ounce of his executive power and privilege to further gut the constitutional self-defense rights of U.S. citizens. Our President needs to roll up his sleeves, spit on his hands, and ram through regulations that have been repeatedly thwarted by the elected law-makers of the American people.

“The White House should back state and local legislation, in Maryland and Connecticut, which ban the sale of assault rifles (actually: semi-automatic deer-hunting rifles) and high-capacity magazines, broaden existing background check requirements for firearms purchases, and modernize gun-owner registries by requiring, among others, that buyers submit their fingerprints when applying for a gun license.”

All of the above to show our “Latino” neighbors “that United States can be a legitimate partner in “combating transnational crime” and to “fulfill our shared responsibility for regional security.”

As seen, Senior Fellow Julia Sweig professes great concern for curbing “transnational crime” and enhancing “regional security.” But much of her career consists of lobbying for the interests of Castro’s Cuba, historically (and still) the top benefactor of Latin America’s most murderous gun-runners, drug-gangs and terrorists, not to mention the regime that came closest to igniting a worldwide nuclear war.

“Thanks to Fidel Castro, we are now a powerful army, not a hit and run band,” boasted Tiro-Fijo, the late commander of FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.) The FARC’s 50 year murder toll, by the way, far surpasses that of Hezbollah, the Taliban and Al Qaeda combined.

When Julia Sweig visited Cuba in 2010, accompanied by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, something caught Goldberg’s eye: “We shook hands,” he writes about the meeting with Fidel Castro. “Then he greeted Julia warmly. They (Castro and Sweig) have known each other for more than twenty years.”

Sweig’s promotional services for the Castro regime reached a level where the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency top Cuba spycatcher, Chris Simmons (now retired), named her a Cuban “Agent of Influence.” Some background:

In 25 years as a U.S. Military Counterintelligence officer, Lieut. Col. Simmons helped end the operations of 80 enemy agents, some are today behind bars. One of these had managed the deepest penetration of the U.S. Department of Defense in U.S. history. The spy’s name is Ana Montes, known as “Castro’s Queen Jewel” in the intelligence community. “Montes passed some of our most sensitive information about Cuba back to Havana” said then-Undersecretary for International Security, John Bolton.

Today she serves a 25-year sentence in Federal prison. She was convicted of “Conspiracy to Commit Espionage,” the same charge against Ethel and Julius Rosenberg carrying the same potential death sentence for what is widely considered the most damaging espionage case since the “end” of the Cold War. Two years later, in 2003, Chris Simmons helped root out 14 Cuban spies who were promptly booted from the U.S.

In brief, retired Lieut. Col. Chris Simmons knows what he’s talking about.

Ms. Sweig indeed holds preeminence in one field. No “scholars” in modern American history thanks the “warm friendship” and “support” of six different communist spies and terrorists in the acknowledgments of their book, three of whom were expelled from the U.S. for terrorism and/or espionage, two for a bombing plot whose death toll would have dwarfed 9/11. Some background:

On Nov. 17, 1962, the FBI cracked a plot by Cuban agents that targeted Macy’s, Gimbel’s, Bloomingdale’s and Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal with a dozen incendiary devices and 500 kilos of TNT. The massive attack was set for the following week, the day after Thanksgiving. Macy’s get’s 50,000 shoppers that one day. Had those detonators gone off, 9/11’s death toll would have almost certainly taken second.

Here are pictures of some of the Cuban terrorists upon arrest. Note the names: Elsa Montero and Jose Gomez Abad.

Now here’s an excerpt from the acknowledgements in Julia Sweig’s book Inside the Cuban Revolution, written in collaboration with the Castro-regime: “In Cuba many people spent long hours with me, helped open doors I could not have pushed through myself, and offered friendship and warmth to myself during research trips to the island…Elsa Montero and Jose Gomez Abad championed this project.”

In addition to these two KGB-trained terrorists, the CFR’s Julia Sweig thanks the “warm friendship and championship of” of Ramon Sanchez Parodi, Jose Antonio Arbesu, Fernando Miguel Garcia, Hugo Ernesto Yedra and Josefina Vidal for their “warmth, their friendship and their kindness in opening Cuban doors.”

All the above have been identified by Lieut. Col Chris Simmons as veteran officers in Castro’s KGB-trained intelligence services.

Today in History: Cuba Established Spy Center in Washington, DC Reply

September 1, 1977:  The US and Cuba re-established diplomatic missions in Havana and Washington, DC.  The first chief of the Cuban Interests Section was Ramon Sanchez-Parodi.  This career intelligence officer subsequently served in Washington for 12 consecutive years Experts remain undecided as to whether he belonged to the General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) or the America Department (DA).  Also serving at the new Interest Section was Teofilo Acosta, whom the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) immediately identified as a senior Cuban Intelligence Officer.

In testimony before the US Senate, Dr Daniel James charged Sanchez-Parodi with targeting the Congressional Black Caucus to foment  opposition to existing US policies towards Cuba. According to the New York Times, Sanchez-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.

Editor’s Note: 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).

General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI):  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).

Today in History: Cuban Influence Operation 1

May 14, 2007:  The weekly magazine, The Nation, featured an article on Cuba titled “The Changing of the Guard.”  Among the six co-authors were Intelligence Officer Ramon Sanchez-Parodi and former Cuban agent, Alberto Coll.  Sanchez-Parodi used the opportunity to favorably portray Raul Castro’s institutional support and his efforts to enhance the performance of these institutions.   Lesser issues addressed included the “Cuban 5” and alleged opportunities for bilateral cooperation.

Prior to his felony conviction, Dr. Coll served as Chair of the Strategic Research Department at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.  He had earlier served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict from 1990-1993.

Coll‘s previous work as a cooperating Navy intelligence source made the government’s espionage case problematic.  The two sides subsequently negotiated a plea agreement in  which the government revoked Coll’s security clearance, sentenced him to one-year probation, fined him 5000 dollars, and sealed his confession.  Prior to her death in a tragic car accident in 2003, Coll‘s daughter was far along with plans to attend the University of Havana; an amazing event given the sensitivity of Coll’s position.