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Montevideo, March 2nd 2024 - 01:12 UTC



Former top US diplomat arrested for working for Cuban gov't

Monday, December 4th 2023 - 10:32 UTC
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Rocha played key roles in Buenos Aires and La Paz Rocha played key roles in Buenos Aires and La Paz

The Colombian-born Manuel Rocha, a 73-year-old former diplomat who served as US Ambassador to Bolivia and was also in charge of the Embassy in Buenos Aires between 1997 and 2000, has been arrested in Miami for allegedly working to promote the interests of the Cuban government, it was reported.

The measure was taken following an extensive FBI counterintelligence investigation. More details about the case are scheduled to be made public after his court plea Monday, according to the Associated Press.

The US Justice Department, which in recent years stepped up its criminal crackdown on illegal foreign lobbyists, has declined to comment on this case. Federal law requires people doing the political bidding of a foreign government or entity inside the US to register with the Justice Department.

Much of Rocha's 25-year diplomatic career under both Democratic and Republican administrations was based in Latin America during the Cold War. His diplomatic posts included a stint in the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba, at a time when Washington lacked full diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro's Communist government.

Rocha grew up in a working-class home in New York and earned a series of fine arts degrees at Yale, Harvard, and Georgetown before joining the Foreign Service in 1981.

During the 2002 presidential campaign in Bolivia, Rocha warned his country would react adversely if former coca grower Evo Morales was elected. “I want to remind the Bolivian electorate that if they vote for those who want Bolivia to go back to exporting cocaine, that will seriously jeopardize any future aid to Bolivia from the United States,” he said in a speech. Morales said several times that Rocha deserved to be declared “his campaign manager” because his statement helped him increase his support at the polls. Three years later he was elected.

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

After he retired from the State Department, Rocha began a business career, serving as president of a gold mine in the Dominican Republic owned in part by the Canadian company Barrick Gold.

More recently, he held senior positions with XCoal, a Pennsylvania-based coal exporter; Clover Leaf Capital, a firm formed to facilitate mergers in the cannabis industry; the law firm Foley & Lardner; and the 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, told AP in an email.

Tags: Cuba, Manuel Rocha.

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