Cuba and its Ongoing Engagement in Espionage in 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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a
global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His
website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/.