Republic of CUBA
CRIMINAL JUSTICE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATES
United States of America
Assessing Cuba’s Current Espionage Role within the Americas
By: Jerry Brewer
Despite many pro-Cuba chants for economic aid and the lifting of the 50 year old Cuban Embargo placed via President John F. Kennedy’s Proclamation 3447, there appears to be no shortage of funding by Cuba for that nation’s energetic spy apparatchik.
The original U.S. Cuba manifesto, in 1962, expressed the necessity for the embargo until such time that Cuba would demonstrate respect for human rights and liberty. And today, there certainly cannot be much of an argument that the continuing Castro regime has complied with any aspect of that mandate. In fact, Castro’s revolution has arrogantly continued to force horrific sacrifices on Cubans in their homeland, as well as the suffering by those that fled the murdering regime over the decades and left families behind.
Neither of the Castro brothers ever, even remotely, disguised their venomous hatred for the U.S., democracy, or the U.S. way of life – even prior to the embargo. Their anti-U.S. rhetoric echoes loudly throughout the world. And they continue to extol radical leftist and communist governments.
As simply partial evidence of continuing human rights abuses, and as recent as last month, the independent Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation said that the government was “using temporary detentions to disrupt events organized by the opposition.” The Cuban regime made “brief arrests of 631 opponents in January” alone.
Cuba’s security officials also continue to deny the holding of political prisoners, while saying that “Cuban dissidents are tools of the United States.”
Do not underestimate Cuba’s vast intelligence and espionage network. Their security and intelligence apparatus are on a scale perceived to be “many times larger than that of the United States.” And even with Cuba’s poverty, depressed economic situation and weak prognosis for future windfalls, their clandestine operational acts continue and extend throughout the Americas and the world.
The Cuban espionage budget is not generally known outside of most major competent intelligence services globally. However, much of their modus operandi is. Essentially the DI (Dirección de Inteligencia) never had to be reinvented, other than by moniker, from the former DGI (Dirección General de Inteligencia) with original training by the former Soviet KGB.
Cuba maintains one of its largest intelligence networks within Venezuela, with President Hugo Chavez preferring direct access to the service, as indicated by cables unscrupulously released and sent from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas to the State Department. This cozy relationship, between Cuba and Venezuela, reeks of potential massive funding hidden by obscure secret decrees.
Cuba’s intelligence network has long been focused on the U.S. as its primary adversary. As the U.S. is perceived to be the number one threat to the Castro and Chavez regimes, intelligence acquisition is a high priority to the dictatorial-like leftist regimes throughout Latin America. It seems as though every calamity from weather, cancer or related maladies are blamed on the U.S. and the CIA.
Hugo Chavez has used this hysteria of convenience in his attempt to justify to a savvy Venezuelan people the need for the massive purchasing of military armaments, and to amass Cuban intelligence experts on Venezuelan soil thought to be in excess of 3,000 people.
Chavez has been accused by neighboring nation’s officials of spreading instability within the region. In a memo released from the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, in February 2008, Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim “all but acknowledged the presence of the FARC guerrillas in Venezuela.” Other released U.S. intelligence documents also cited “leftist rebels in Cuba belonging to the FARC.”
Using diplomatic cover to disguise intelligence operational acts in Panama, Peru, Mexico City, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and other Central American areas, Cuba has historically spread insurgence. Operatives supervised the airlift of an estimated 30 planeloads of Cuban arms to Nicaragua’s Sandinistas during their revolution in 1978-79.
Former Cuban official Pedro Riera Escalante, who was summarily deported by Mexico and who served undercover as a Cuban consul in Mexico City from 1986 through 1991, has described Cuban espionage operations against the CIA station in Mexico City and other operations he ran in Europe and Africa.
Cuba has reluctantly acknowledged that in the case of the infamous Cuban Five spies, from 1998, that the five men were intelligence agents, but says “they were spying on Miami’s Cuban exile community, not the U.S. government.”
In the case of Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes (a former senior analyst at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency), she was arrested on September 21, 2001, pleaded guilty to spying, and was eventually sentenced to a 25-year prison term.
Cuba continues to maintain a large intelligence-gathering hub in Mexico City.
With Castro and Chavez’s close relationship to Iran, and the history of hostile Cuban espionage throughout the hemisphere, it is important not to assume that “poverty-driven” Cuba is sleeping.
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