Victor Manuel Rocha, a retired U.S. Department of State employee with a notable career including roles on the National Security Council and as an ambassador, has been arrested under charges of acting as an agent for the Cuban regime for several decades.
The Justice Department has charged 73-year-old Rocha, a Miami, Florida resident, with three primary federal offenses.
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Charges against foreign agent: Significant infiltration of U.S. government
These include conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification to the Attorney General, acting as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification, and using a passport obtained by false statement.
He faced these charges in a Miami federal court on Dec. 4.
Attorney General Merrick Garland described the case as one of the most significant and prolonged infiltrations of the U.S. government by a foreign agent in history.
Allegations against Rocha: Decades-long Cuban covert agent
Garland stated, “We allege that for over 40 years, Victor Manuel Rocha served as an agent of the Cuban government and sought out and obtained positions within the United States government that would provide him with access to non-public information and the ability to affect U.S. foreign policy.”
This case was investigated by the FBI Miami Field Office, with contributions from the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service and the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
According to a criminal complaint filed on Dec. 1, Rocha, originally from Colombia and a naturalized U.S. citizen since 1978, allegedly began acting as a covert agent for Cuba’s General Directorate of Intelligence in 1981.
Alleged espionage: Rocha’s actions inside and outside State Dept.
During his tenure at the U.S. Department of State (1981-2002), he reportedly accessed classified information, which he used to further the interests of Cuban intelligence.
The Justice Department also claims Rocha continued his clandestine activities after leaving the State Department.
From around 2006 to 2012, while serving as an advisor to the Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, he allegedly supported Cuba’s intelligence services. His area of responsibility notably included Cuba.
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Rocha’s arrest draws attention in Bolivia
Rocha’s arrest has drawn particular attention in Bolivia, where he is remembered for a controversial comment made four days before the 2002 general election, which significantly impacted the political trajectory of Evo Morales, then a lesser-known socialist leader and coca growers’ union head.
Morales would later become President in 2005, a position he held until 2019.
The criminal complaint alleges Rocha worked to keep his Cuban agent status secret to protect himself and facilitate further clandestine activities.
Double life unveiled: Rocha’s deceptive actions, confessions
He reportedly provided false information to the U.S., met with Cuban intelligence operatives, and made misleading statements to obtain travel documents.
His alleged double life was uncovered during meetings in 2022 and 2023 with an FBI agent posing as a Cuban intelligence representative, during which Rocha supposedly admitted to over 40 years of service for Cuba.
Legal process, presumption of innocence for Rocha
Per the U.S. justice system’s principles, the criminal complaint constitutes merely an allegation.
Rocha is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.