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Ex-US ambassador who allegedly spied for Cuba for decades will plead guilty
Former U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia Manuel Rocha (Raul Rubiera/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Ex-US ambassador who allegedly spied for Cuba for decades will plead guilty

A former United States ambassador to Bolivia who was accused of spying on behalf of Cuba for more than four decades will plead guilty, the New York Post reported Friday.

Manuel Rocha, 73, was charged with "committing multiple federal crimes by secretly acting for decades as an agent of the government of the Republic of Cuba," according to a Department of Justice press release from December.

On Thursday, Rocha informed United States District Court Judge Beth Bloom that he would plead guilty, the Post reported. As part of the plea deal presented by federal prosecutors, 13 criminal counts against him will be dropped. Rocha will no longer face charges of wire fraud and making false statements in exchange for pleading guilty to two counts, including conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government. Prosecutors and Rocha have already agreed to a sentence, but the details have not been disclosed, the news outlet stated.

Rocha is scheduled to plead guilty and receive his sentencing on April 12.

According to the DOJ, Rocha worked as a secret agent for Cuba when he started his employment with the United States Department of State in 1981. He later served on the National Security Council from 1994 to 1995 before becoming U.S. ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002. Rocha had access to nonpublic and classified information during his federal employment, the DOJ stated. He also had "the ability to affect U.S. foreign policy."

It is unclear how exactly Rocha may have influenced foreign policy to benefit Cuba or what confidential information he disclosed to foreign adversary officials.

Prosecutors claimed that Rocha maintained his cover by pretending to be against Cuba's communist regime. During a series of meetings with undercover FBI agents posing as Cuban agents, Rocha referred to the U.S. as "the enemy" and "praised Fidel Castro as the 'Comandante,'" the DOJ claimed.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland called Rocha's espionage "one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign agent."

Carlos Trujillo, an attorney and former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States during the Trump administration, told the Associated Press, "Any sentence that allows him to see the light of day again would not be justice."

"He's a spy for a foreign adversary who put American lives at risk," he added.

United States Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.) posted on X in response to the pending guilty plea, "Once again, the aggressive, anti-American activities of the Cuban regime underscore the pervasive threat posed to U.S. national security interests. Manuel Rocha's betrayal of the American people through espionage may have tragically contributed to the death of Cuba's pro-democracy activist, as alleged by the widow of murdered activist Oswaldo Payá in a new lawsuit."

Oswaldo Payá, a Cuban dissident, died in 2012 when his vehicle crashed into a tree. Cuba ruled the deadly crash an accident, but a survivor claimed that a vehicle with government plates caused the collision when it rammed into the back of Payá's car. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also found evidence that the government had been involved in the activist's death.

Payá's wife, Ofelia, filed a lawsuit in Miami Thursday against Rocha, accusing him of being an "accomplice" in her husband's alleged "assassination," the AP reported.

Rocha's attorney did not respond to a request for comment from the news outlet.

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Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →