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Former US ambassador arrested in Florida, accused of serving as an agent of Cuba, AP source says

by Ethan Kim
5 comments
Espionage

The former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Manuel Rocha, aged 73, was apprehended in Miami as part of a lengthy FBI counterintelligence inquiry. He stands accused of clandestinely operating as an agent for the Cuban government, according to an undisclosed source from The Big Big News.

The arrest, which occurred last Friday, was carried out based on a criminal complaint. Further information regarding the case is anticipated to be unveiled during a court appearance scheduled for Monday. Two individuals who conversed with the Associated Press (AP) on the condition of anonymity, citing their lack of authorization to discuss an ongoing federal investigation, disclosed this development.

One of these informants indicated that the Justice Department’s case against Rocha centers on allegations of advancing the interests of the Cuban government. U.S. federal law necessitates individuals engaged in activities promoting foreign governments or entities within the United States to register with the Justice Department. In recent years, the Justice Department has heightened its efforts to criminally prosecute illicit foreign lobbying activities.

At present, the Justice Department has refrained from commenting on the matter. It remains uncertain whether Rocha has secured legal representation, and the law firm where he was previously associated has clarified that they are not representing him. Rocha’s wife abruptly terminated the call when contacted by the AP.

Manuel Rocha’s 25-year diplomatic career spanned Democratic and Republican administrations, predominantly within Latin America during the Cold War era—a period characterized by assertive U.S. political and military policies. His diplomatic assignments included a posting at the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba during a time when full diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Fidel Castro’s communist government were lacking.

Rocha, who was born in Colombia, was raised in a working-class household in New York City. He pursued a series of liberal arts degrees from prestigious institutions, including Yale, Harvard, and Georgetown, before joining the foreign service in 1981.

During his tenure as the top U.S. diplomat in Argentina from 1997 to 2000, Rocha found himself embroiled in a tumultuous period marked by a currency stabilization program backed by Washington that ultimately unraveled due to mounting foreign debt and stagnant growth. This crisis led to a political upheaval in which Bolivia underwent five presidential transitions within a two-week span.

As ambassador to Bolivia, Rocha directly intervened in the 2002 presidential election, cautioning in advance that the U.S. would terminate aid to the South American nation if it were to elect former coca grower Evo Morales. His statement, widely perceived as an attempt to uphold U.S. influence in the region, incited the ire of Bolivians and provided Morales with a last-minute surge in support. When Morales was eventually elected three years later, he expelled Rocha’s successor, accusing him of inciting “civil war.”

Rocha’s diplomatic service extended to Italy, Honduras, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, and he later served as a Latin America expert for the National Security Council.

In response to inquiries, Rocha’s wife, Karla Wittkop Rocha, declined to provide any comments to the AP.

Following his retirement from the State Department, Rocha embarked on a second career in the business world. He assumed the role of president at a gold mine in the Dominican Republic, partially owned by Canada’s Barrick Gold. More recently, he held senior positions at various entities, including XCoal, a Pennsylvania-based coal exporter; Clover Leaf Capital, a firm focused on facilitating mergers in the cannabis industry; law firm Foley & Lardner; and Spanish public relations firms Llorente & Cuenca.

Dario Alvarez, CEO of Llorente & Cuenca’s U.S. operations, stated in an email that their firm is committed to transparency and will cooperate fully with authorities if any information concerning the situation becomes available.

XCoal and Clover Leaf Capital have not yet responded to requests for comments, while Foley & Lardner confirmed that Rocha departed from the law firm in August.

[Note: The original article’s content has been paraphrased and expanded upon while maintaining a formal and serious tone, in accordance with your instructions.]

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Espionage

What are the allegations against Manuel Rocha?

Manuel Rocha is accused of secretly serving as an agent for the Cuban government, involving espionage and promoting Cuban interests within the United States.

What was Rocha’s diplomatic career like?

Rocha had a 25-year diplomatic career, working under both Democratic and Republican administrations. He held diplomatic positions in various Latin American countries during the Cold War era and also served in Cuba when full diplomatic relations were absent.

How did Rocha’s actions in Bolivia create controversy?

During his tenure as U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Rocha directly interfered in the 2002 presidential election by warning of potential aid cutoff if Evo Morales, a former coca grower, was elected. This intervention sparked backlash and contributed to Morales’ eventual rise to power.

What is the legal requirement for individuals promoting foreign interests in the U.S.?

Federal law mandates individuals involved in activities advancing foreign governments or entities within the U.S. to register with the Justice Department, a requirement Rocha is alleged to have violated.

What is Manuel Rocha’s background?

Born in Colombia, Rocha grew up in a working-class home in New York City. He pursued liberal arts degrees from prestigious institutions, including Yale, Harvard, and Georgetown, before joining the foreign service in 1981.

What has Rocha been involved in after retiring from the State Department?

After retiring, Rocha embarked on a second career in business, holding positions in various companies, including a gold mine in the Dominican Republic, coal exporter XCoal, cannabis industry facilitator Clover Leaf Capital, law firm Foley & Lardner, and Spanish PR firms Llorente & Cuenca.

Are there any comments from the involved parties or firms?

The Justice Department declined to comment on the case. Rocha’s wife did not provide any comments to the Associated Press. XCoal and Clover Leaf Capital have not responded to requests for comments, while Foley & Lardner confirmed Rocha’s departure, and Llorente & Cuenca expressed commitment to transparency.

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5 comments

InquisitiveMind December 4, 2023 - 1:05 pm

Comments from parties involved, some mum, some talkin’ ’bout transparency. What’s the whole story, though?

Reply
JohnSmith December 4, 2023 - 6:28 pm

Wow, dis story ’bout da ex-ambassador Rocha is cray! Espionage, Cuba, drama, and all dat. His career, tho, wild ride!

Reply
CuriousCat December 5, 2023 - 4:04 am

Wonder what Rocha’s up to after retire, gold mine, cannabis stuff? Some companies silent on this FBI drama!

Reply
InfoHound December 5, 2023 - 5:33 am

Law says foreign promotin’ needs register, Rocha allegedly broke it. Justice Department, quiet as a mouse on this one.

Reply
SeriousReader December 5, 2023 - 6:23 am

Rocha’s move in Bolivia, messin’ in elections, big controversy. Man had a long journey from Colombia to diplomatic circles!

Reply

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