Clinton's Ambassador to Bolivia, Victor Manuel Rocha, to plead guilty in deal with prosecutors to serving as secret spy for Cuba

 March 2, 2024

A former top U.S. diplomat was charged late last year with secretly serving for decades as an undercover agent and spy for the communist regime in Cuba.

Victor Manuel Rocha, 73, who was named Ambassador to Bolivia under former President Bill Clinton, revealed in federal court on Thursday that he intended to plead guilty to a charge of conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, the New York Post reported.

That development comes as part of an alleged plea deal with federal prosecutors that will see them drop more than a dozen more serious charges, including making false statements and alleged wire fraud, and could land him behind bars for up to five to ten years.

Held prominent diplomatic positions throughout Central and South America while spying for Cuba

According to a Dec. 4, 2023, Justice Department press release, Rocha was charged with several serious federal crimes related to his alleged clandestine service for decades as an agent of the communist Cuban government while officially serving in a variety of influential diplomatic and advisory positions.

In fact, his decades of work for the U.S. government were from the very start solely intended and used to provide him with cover and access to sensitive non-public and even classified information that he shared with his handlers in Cuba's intelligence service.

Per the DOJ release, Rocha was first employed with the U.S. State Department in 1981 and began to climb the ranks of the diplomatic service, reaching several prominent positions during the Clinton administration in the 1990s, including in Mexico from 1989-1991, the Dominican Republic from 1991-1994, on the National Security Council from 1994-1995, in Cuba from 1995-1997, in Argentina from 1997-1999, and finally as Ambassador to Bolivia from 1999-2002.

He also served as an outside advisor to the Defense Department's U.S. Central Command based in Florida from 2006-2012, and at all times throughout those decades of service openly portrayed himself as a patriotic naturalized American citizen originally from Columbia with a hardline stance against the communists in Cuba, when, in fact, he was the exact opposite.

Caught by an undercover FBI agent posing as Cuban intelligence agent

The DOJ press release went on to outline how Rocha's ruse was revealed in 2022-2023 when he was contacted by an undercover FBI agent who portrayed themself as the former ambassador's new handler from the Cuban intelligence service.

Rocha was reportedly receptive to the undercover agent's overtures and bragged about the roughly "40 years" he'd spent secretly serving the Cuban government, even going so far as to describe the U.S. as the shared "enemy" and other Cuban agents as his "comrades" while praising the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

"This action exposes one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign agent," Attorney General Merrick Garland said at the time. "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."

"Like all federal officials, U.S. diplomats swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Acting as an agent for Cuba -- a hostile foreign power -- is a blatant violation of that oath and betrays the trust of the American people," FBI Director Christopher Wray also said at the time. "The FBI will continue to rigorously defend against foreign governments targeting America, and we will find and hold accountable anyone who violates their oath to the United States, no matter how long it takes."

Expected to help expose Cuban infiltration in exchange for plea deal

The Associated Press reported that Rocha appeared in federal court on Thursday and confirmed that he had accepted a plea deal with prosecutors in which he would plead guilty to conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government in exchange for the dropping of more than a dozen other charges against him -- a deal that will reportedly be finalized during an April 12 court hearing.

Though the details of the plea deal have not been publicly released, it is expected that Rocha will cooperate with investigators to help expose the full extent of Cuba's clandestine intelligence-gathering operations inside the U.S. in exchange for leniency at sentencing.

Of course, not everyone is pleased that Rocha will likely not face the full severity of punishment for his acknowledged spying on behalf of a hostile foreign government, as Carlos Trujillo, an attorney in Miami who served as Ambassador to the Organization of American States under former President Donald Trump told the AP of Rocha, "Any sentence that allows him to see the light of day again would not be justice," and added, "He’s a spy for a foreign adversary who put American lives at risk."

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