A former US diplomat, Victor Manuel Rocha, who served as ambassador to Bolivia, has been charged with acting as an agent for the Cuban government for over four decades. The 73-year-old is accused of aiding Cuba in gathering intelligence against the United States since 1981, referring to the US as “the enemy” and asserting that his clandestine work “strengthened the Revolution,” according to court documents.
Arrested in Miami last Friday after a year-long undercover operation, Rocha’s case is described by Attorney General Merrick Garland as “one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations” of the US government by a foreign agent. Born in Colombia and raised in New York City, Rocha, who served as ambassador to Bolivia from 1999 to 2002, has degrees from Yale, Harvard, and Georgetown. He held various government positions, including at the National Security Council, during a 25-year career in public service.
The US and Cuba, with a tumultuous relationship since Fidel Castro’s overthrow of a US-backed government over 60 years ago, have faced political challenges. Rocha’s alleged actions occurred amid changing dynamics, including the US trade embargo against Cuba in the 1960s and later efforts by Barack Obama and Raul Castro to normalize relations in 2015.
Court documents reveal that Rocha made multiple trips to Cuba, allegedly advancing Cuban officials’ interests from 1981 to the present. The charges outline an undercover FBI operation, initiated when an agent contacted Rocha via WhatsApp in November 2022, posing as a representative of Cuban Intelligence Services.
During three meetings, Rocha purportedly shared details about his covert activities, expressing pride in his role as a Cuban agent. He used the term “we” to describe Cuba and himself, displaying strong loyalty. Rocha also allegedly referenced being “in charge” during the shooting down of two unarmed planes by Cuba’s intelligence agency in 1996, resulting in four deaths. The former diplomat is additionally accused of providing false information to the US government and making false statements to obtain travel documents.
The US State Department has pledged to collaborate with intelligence agencies to assess any potential long-term national security implications arising from the alleged security breach.