Former U.S. Ambassador Allegedly Acted as an Agent for Cuba



Manuel Rocha, a former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, has been arrested in an FBI counterintelligence investigation, with allegations connecting him with secretly serving as an agent for the Cuban government. No further details about Rocha’s case have been revealed, but more information is expected to be disclosed following the unsealing of a criminal complaint. Rocha spent his 25-year career in diplomacy under both Democratic and Republican administrations, predominantly in Latin America during the Cold War era.

Manuel Rocha, a former U.S. diplomat and ambassador to Bolivia, has been arrested under suspicion of secretly serving as a Cuban government agent in an ongoing FBI counterintelligence investigation, according to The Associated Press.

Key Points

  • Rocha, a former American diplomat to Bolivia, is arrested for alleged secret involvement as a Cuban government agent, discovered in an extended FBI counterintelligence investigation.
  • Rocha was apprehended in Miami with more information about the case due to be disclosed on Monday with the unsealing of a criminal complaint.
  • His wife declined any comment when approached by a journalist.

Rocha, 73, was detained on Friday on a criminal complaint with further details expected to become public on Monday, sources who wished to remain anonymous informed the AP.

Rocha is accused of advocating the interests of the Cuban government under the Justice Department case. Federal law necessitates people promoting a foreign government’s political interests within the U.S. to register with the Justice Department, which has increased its criminal enforcement of illicit foreign lobbying in recent years.

The Justice Department refrained from commenting. Rocha’s representation is unclear and a law firm where he previously worked confirmed it was not representing him. His wife declined to comment when contacted by the AP.

Rocha’s diplomatic career spans 25 years serving under both Democratic and Republican administrations, primarily in Latin America during the Cold War. His diplomatic postings included a period at the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba during a time of strained U.S-Cuba relations.

Rocha, who was born in Colombia and raised in a working-class New York City home, earned liberal arts degrees from Yale, Harvard, and Georgetown before joining the foreign service in 1981.

Rocha served as the top U.S. diplomat in Argentina between 1997 and 2000 during a financial crisis that resulted in a political turnover of five presidents in two weeks.

In Bolivia, Rocha intervened in the 2002 presidential race, warning that U.S. aid would be cut if Evo Morales was elected. This move was seen as an attempt to maintain U.S. dominance in the region and reportedly aided Morales’s later election.

Rocha also served in Italy, Honduras, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, and worked as a Latin America expert for the National Security Council.

Post-retirement, Rocha pursued a career in business, holding senior roles at XCoal, Clover Leaf Capital, law firm Foley & Lardner, and Spanish PR firms Llorente & Cuenca. He also served as the president of a gold mine in the Dominican Republic.

Dario Alvarez, CEO of Llorente & Cuenca’s U.S. operations, pledged full cooperation with authorities. XCoal, Clover Leaf Capital, and Foley & Lardner did not immediately comment.

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