A former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia has been charged with being a secret agent serving the government of Cuba.
Manual Rocha, 73, was arrested in Miami on Friday and is due in court on Monday, two people told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The bust is part of a longtime FBI counterintelligence probe.
According to one of the sources, Rocha worked to promote Cuban government interests but failed to register with the U.S. Department of justice as federal law requires. Neither he nor the Justice Department would comment on Sunday.
Rocha worked in the foreign service for 25 years, spanning Democratic and Republican administrations. A good portion of his service took place in Latin America during the Cold War, including at the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba, during the years of partial diplomatic relations with that country’s communist government.
The diplomat notoriously intervened in Bolivia’s 2002 presidential election by threatening a cutoff of U.S. aid if Evo Morales, a former coca grower, won.
“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 at the time.
The tactic backfired, since Morales won and became the country’s first-ever indigenous leader.
More details of Rocha’s arrest and charges were scheduled to be made public at a court hearing on Monday.
With News Wire Services