Manuel Rocha to Plead Guilty for Spying

( – Former US Ambassador to Bolivia Manuel Rocha will soon be pleading guilty to spying against his own country. He’s agreed to take a plea deal, which will drop 13 of 15 counts against him. Prosecutors allege that the former ambassador began working as a double agent around 1981.

The Department of Justice issued a press release in December 2023, alleging that Rocha secretly worked for the Cuban government for decades. Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that the 73-year-old former Department of State employee had conducted one of the “longest lasting infiltrations” from a foreign agent against the US. For over 40 years, Rocha allegedly worked to access government positions that would give him non-public information, some of it classified, as well as the ability to affect the country’s foreign policies.

Prosecutors claim Rocha pursued specific government jobs solely to support Cuban interests, taking positions in the State Department between 1981 and 2002.

  • He served as the First Secretary at the US Embassy in Mexico City between February 1989 and November 1991.
  • He became the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from November 1991 to July 1994.
  • He was director of inter-American affairs on the US National Security Council between July 1994 and July 1995.
  • He moved on to the position of deputy principal officer at the US Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, starting in July 1995 and ending in July 1997.
  • He became deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina in July 1997, and stayed until November 1999.
  • He worked as ambassador to Bolivia at the US Embassy in La Paz between November 1999 and August 2002.

From there, between 2006 and 2012, Rocha moved on to the role of advisor to the Commander of the US Southern Command, which gave him influence over the US military overseeing Cuba. He allegedly lied to and misled the US government, traveled outside the country to meet with members of Cuban intelligence, and provided false information when applying for travel documents as part of his work for the island nation.

Rocha’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 12.

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