Former US Diplomat Arrested For Working With Cuban Government

A former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia was recently arrested for allegedly working as a spy for the communist government of Cuba, an FBI counterintelligence investigation reported.

U.S. authorities recently arrested 73-year-old Manuel Rocha in Miami, Florida. Rocha is expected to appear before a federal judge on Dec. 4, 2023, to answer allegations surrounding his involvement with the Cuban government over 40 years, according to Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is accusing Rocha of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act by not informing the U.S. government of his alleged relationship with the Cuban government.

The department says that Rocha “secretly supported the Republic of Cuba and its clandestine intelligence-gathering mission against the United States by serving as a covert agent of Cuba’s intelligence services.”

In 1981, Rocha joined the State Department and later served as U.S. ambassador to Bolivia from 2001-2002 under the Bush administration. Rocha’s time in Bolivia was influential, considering that he threatened to cut off U.S. assistance to the country in 2002 if it elected former cocaine grower Evo Morales to the presidency.

“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 2002 speech.

Upon retiring from the State Department, Rocha began working with a mining business, a public relations law firm, and a merger company dealing with cannabis.

After being contacted by the wire service in response to Rocha’s arrest, the former U.S. diplomat’s wife, Karla Wittkop Rocha, said, “I don’t need to talk to you.”

“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,” the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Christopher Wray, said in a statement following Rocha’s arrest.

Rocha’s diplomatic career spanned 25 years. The former U.S. official served in Italy, Honduras, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic while working as a Latin American expert for the National Security Council.