June 25, 1992: Lieutenant Colonel Renan Montero Corrales [aka Andres Barahona Lopez], a member of the America Department (DA), left Nicaragua on the last “official” Cubana Airlines flight out of Nicaragua.
Montero was posted to Nicaragua in 1979 to lead the Fifth Directorate (aka Directorate V or VDIR) of the Sandinista’s General Directorate of State Security (DGSE). Under Montero, the VDIR conducted Nicaragua’s foreign intelligence activities, influence operations, and monitored Managua’s overseas diplomats. It had a staff of approximately 300-400 personnel.
Interior Minister Tomas Borge and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega both acknowledged that Montero headed the VDIR and worked under the direction of Borge and his deputy, Lenin Cerna. In addition to his foreign intelligence responsibilities, a Spanish newspaper cited Montero as the Cuban ‘in charge of organizing the Sandinistas’ counterespionage unit.” A declassified US intelligence report characterized him as “a legend among Cubans and Nicaraguans for his intelligence exploits.”
For his participation in the Nicaraguan Revolution, the Sandinistas awarded Montero the rank of Comandante in 1980. It is not clear whether this award was for his service from 1979-1980 or for some unidentified earlier period. Promoted to brigade commander in 1985, he fell ill three years later and was replaced by Comandante Jacinto Suarez-Espinosa. In 1989, Montero became the assistant to Defense Minister Humberto Ortega.
According to Sandinista defector Miguel Bolanos, Montero began working with the Sandinistas in the late 1960s.
Montero served as a consular officer in San Jose during the 1970s. One of his duties was liaison with Sandinista military forces operating out of northern Costa Rica
During the mid-1960s, Montero operated in Bolivia, where he supported members of Che Guevara’s guerrilla column as they arrived. There he served as the liaison between Havana and Guevara.
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).