Víctor Manuel Rocha, former United States ambassador to Bolivia, was sentenced this Friday to 15 years in prison for acting as Cuba’s undercover agent for four decadesin a hearing held in a federal court in Miami (Florida).

“The court is going to sentence him to the maximum punishment allowed by law,” declared Judge Beth Bloom, before announcing the prison sentence to which he added the payment of $500,000 fine.

Rocha, 73, appeared on the afternoon of this Friday, April 12, 2024, before Judge Beth Bloom in a hearing that lasted three and a half hours.

The former diplomat, who reached a collaboration agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office, declared himself first Guilty of having collected US intelligence information for the communist government of Cuba since around 1981. After he admitted those facts, Judge Bloom sentenced him.

US police arrested Rocha in Miami in December and accused him of acting as an agent of a foreign government without the prior consent of his administration.

In his years as a mole, He held important positions in the State Departmentfrom where he was able to access high-level confidential information and influence American foreign policy.

Greater infiltration

This Friday’s hearing was extended after the judge cast several doubts about the plea agreement signed by Rocha.

Bloom rejected the prosecution’s claim that the only victim in the case was the United States. For this reason he requested that the document include the possibility of the defendant paying compensation in the future to others affected by his actions.

The judge had a long tug-of-war with the Prosecutor’s Office and was willing to postpone the hearing, before the parties agreed to modify the agreement.

This country put its trust in you and you turned your back on the country.“Bloom told Rocha before announcing the sentence.

Born in Colombia and naturalized American, Rocha carried out “one of the longest-reaching and longest-running infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign agent“Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in December.

Between 1999 and mid-2002, he was ambassador in La Paz, where he caused great controversy by threatening to withdraw US aid to the Bolivian war on drugs if the leftist and former coca grower unionist Evo Morales won the elections.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Rocha continued spying for Havana after leaving the State Department in 2002, when he became an advisor to the United States Southern Command, the body that coordinates the armed forces of the North American country in Latin America, including Cuba.

“Radical eyes”

The former diplomat admitted having worked for Cuba for “40 years” in meetings held in 2022 and 2023 with an undercover FBI agent, who was posing as a representative of the island’s General Directorate of Intelligence.

During these meetings, Rocha celebrated his activity as a Cuban intelligence agent, which he described as “meticulous” and “very disciplined,” and he referred again and again to the United States as “the enemy” and to his Cuban contacts as “comrades.” .

Rocha spoke before learning his sentence to ask for forgiveness. “Today I no longer see the world through the radical eyes of my youth“he declared from the stand.

Numerous cases of espionage have tarnished relations between the United States and Cuba, enemies since the island’s communist revolution in 1959, in the midst of the Cold War.

In 2001, Ana Belén Montes, a military intelligence analyst, was arrested for espionage after admitting that she had been collecting information for Cuba for almost a decade.

The CIA, the American secret service, made numerous attempts to assassinate Cuban leaders after the failed landing at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

Relations between Washington and the communist island, subject to a US embargo since 1962, remain tense.

Source: https://www.noticiascaracol.com/mundo/victor-manuel-rocha-exdiplomatico-de-ee-uu-nacido-en-colombia-fue-condenado-por-espionaje-cb20

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