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Ex-US ambassador apprehended in Florida, charged with acting as a Cuban operative

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Former ⁣U.S. Ambassador Arrested for Alleged Cuban Espionage

MIAMI — A ⁤former American diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Bolivia‌ has been arrested in​ a long-running FBI counterintelligence investigation, accused of secretly serving as an agent of Cuba’s government, the Associated​ Press has learned.

Manuel Rocha, 73, was arrested in Miami on‌ Friday on a criminal ⁣complaint and more details about the case are expected to‌ be made public at a court appearance Monday, said two people who spoke to the⁢ Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss ‌an ongoing federal investigation.

One of the people⁢ said the Justice Department case accuses Rocha of working‍ to promote ⁤the Cuban government’s interests. Federal law requires people doing ‍the ​political bidding of a foreign ‌government ⁢or entity inside the U.S. to register‌ with the⁣ Justice Department,⁤ which in recent years has stepped up its criminal enforcement of illicit foreign ‌lobbying.

The Justice Department declined to comment. It was not immediately clear if Rocha had a lawyer and a law firm where he previously worked said it was not representing him. His wife hung up when contacted by the Associated Press.

Background and Career

Rocha’s 25-year diplomatic career was spent⁣ under both Democratic and Republican administrations, much of it in Latin America⁣ during the Cold War, a period of sometimes heavy-handed U.S. political​ and military policies. His diplomatic postings included a stint at the U.S. Interests Section in⁢ Cuba​ during a time when the U.S. lacked full diplomatic relations with ⁣Fidel Castro’s communist government.

Born in Colombia, Rocha was raised in a working-class home in New York City and went on to obtain a succession of liberal arts degrees from Yale, Harvard and Georgetown before joining⁢ the foreign service in ‍1981.

Controversial​ Interventions

At his next post as ambassador to Bolivia, he intervened directly into the 2002 presidential race, warning ⁢weeks ahead of the vote that​ the U.S. ‍would cut off assistance to the poor South American country if it were to elect ​former coca grower‌ Evo Morales.

“I want to remind the Bolivian electorate⁢ that if they vote for those who want Bolivia to return to exporting cocaine, that will seriously jeopardize any future aid to⁢ Bolivia from the United States,″ Rocha said in a speech that was widely interpreted as an ‌attempt to ‌sustain U.S. dominance in the region.

The gambit ​angered Bolivians and gave Morales a last-minute boost. ​When he was finally elected three years ‍later, ‌the leftist leader ‌expelled Rocha’s successor as chief of the diplomatic mission for inciting “civil war.”

Post-Retirement Career

Following his retirement from the State Department, Rocha began a second career in business, serving as the president of a gold mine in the Dominican Republic partly owned by Canada’s Barrick Gold.

More recently, he’s held senior roles at XCoal, a Pennsylvania-based coal exporter; Clover Leaf Capital, a​ company formed to facilitate ⁢mergers in the cannabis industry; law firm Foley & Lardner and Spanish⁢ public relations firms Llorente & Cuenca.

“Our firm remains committed to transparency and will closely monitor the situation, cooperating fully with the authorities if any information becomes available to us,” Dario ⁤Alvarez, CEO of Llorente & Cuenca’s U.S.​ operations, said in an email.

XCoal and Clover Leaf Capital did not​ immediately respond to a request for comment. Foley & Lardner said Rocha left ⁣the law firm in​ August.

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Truth Media Network
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3 COMMENTS

  1. Disagree: This news is truly shocking. It’s hard to accept that a former US ambassador would be involved in such illicit activities.

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