U.S. & CUBA
Names of 7 expelled Cuban spies revealed
The U.S. had kept secret the names of seven alleged Cuban spies who were
expelled in 2003.
By Juan O. Tamayo
The State Department's letter to the Cuban diplomatic mission in
Washington in 2003 complained that it was tired of the "numerous
examples of Cuban espionage against the United States" and was expelling
seven mission officials.
What it didn't say was that the U.S. intelligence community was irate
that Havana's spies had been stealing U.S. secrets on the preparations
for the invasion of Iraq and passing them to Saddam Hussein's government.
The note gave the seven Cuban diplomats 10 days to leave the country.
Another seven working at the Cuban mission to the United Nations also
were ordered out. Together they represented the largest expulsion of
Cuban diplomats in memory.
The identities of the seven expelled from the U.N. mission were
published at the time, but the names of those in Washington declared
"persona non grata" were never made public.
A State Department note dated May 13, 2003 contained those names. It was
declassified Tuesday under a Freedom of Information Act request by Chris
Simmons, a retired U.S. Department of Defense expert on Cuban spying.
He played a key role in the case of Ana Belen Montes, a Cuban agent in
the Pentagon who is now serving a 25-year prison sentence.
"The Department of State reminds the Cuban Interests Section … that it
has informed the Cuban government repeatedly that inappropriate and
unacceptable activities against the United States … will not be
tolerated," the note says.
The Cuban Interests Section in Washington and the U.S. Interests section
in Havana are not embassies because the two countries do not have full
diplomatic relations. The list identified two of the Cubans expelled as
Raúl Rodriguez Averhoff, who had been expelled from Canada in 1995 for
spying, and Fernando García Bielsa, who had contacts with Puerto Rican
pro-independence terrorists before his arrival in Washington. Rodriguez
Averhoff had served as a second secretary at the Cuban Interests Section
and García was a first secretary.
Also on the declassified list were: Deputy Chief of Mission Cosme
Torres; First Secretary Jose Anselmo Lopez Perera; Second Secretary Juan
Hernandez Acen, the press spokesman; Third Secretary Florentino Batista,
and Third Secretary Jorge Ernesto Autie Gonzalez.
Averhoff is now assigned to the Cuban embassy in Buenos Aires, according
to Simmons. García-Bielsa was later assigned to the embassy in Chile.
The note's declassification also pointed to several little-known aspects
of Cuban and U.S. intelligence operations, according to U.S. government
and intelligence community experts on Cuba who asked for anonymity to
speak openly about the issues.
The 14 expulsions were ordered just eight weeks into Operation Iraqi
Freedom to send a message to Havana that "it would pay a severe price"
for giving Hussein and others U.S. secrets that could get American
soldiers killed, according to one expert.