- Manuel Rocha, 73, was arrested in Miami on Friday for allegedly serving as an agent of Cuba
- More details of the allegations are expected to come out in court on Monday
- The former ambassador to Bolivia spent much of his career in Latin America
The United States’ former ambassador to Bolivia has been arrested on suspicion of being a Cuban spy in a long-running FBI counterintelligence investigation.
Manuel Rocha, 73, was arrested in Miami Friday, according to the Associated Press. More details of the allegations against him will be outlined when he appears in court Monday.
Insiders said the Justice Department has accused Rocha of working to promote the Cuban government’s interests.
He served under both Democratic and Republican administrations during his 25-year diplomatic career.
Much of his career was spent in Latin America during the Cold War, which included a stint at the US Interests Section in Cuba.
The United States’ former ambassador to Bolivia Manuel Rocha, 73, was arrested on suspicion of being a Cuban spy
Much of his 25-year long career was spent in Latin America during the Cold War, which included a stint at the US Interests Section in Cuba
Rocha’s wife, Karla Wittkop Rocha, would not comment when contacted by the AP. ‘I don’t need to talk to you,’ she said before hanging up.
He was the top US diplomat in Argentina between 1997 and 2000 as a decade-long currency stabilization program backed by Washington was unraveling under the weight of huge foreign debt and stagnant growth.
As ambassador to Bolivia, he intervened directly into the 2002 presidential race, warning weeks ahead of the vote that the U.S. would cut off assistance to the poor South American country if it were to elect former coca grower Evo Morales.
He also served in Italy, Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and worked as a Latin America expert for the National Security Council.
Born in Colombia, Rocha was raised in a working-class home in New York City and went on to obtain a succession of liberal arts degrees from Yale, Harvard and Georgetown before joining the foreign service in 1981.
Following his retirement from the State Department, Rocha began a second career in business.
As ambassador to Bolivia, Rocha (right) intervened directly into the 2002 presidential race
Rocha’s wife, Karla Wittkop Rocha (left), would not comment when contacted by the AP. ‘I don’t need to talk to you,’ she said before hanging up
He has held senior roles at XCoal, a Pennsylvania-based coal exporter; Clover Leaf Capital, a company formed to facilitate mergers in the cannabis industry; law firm Foley & Lardner and 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, said in an email.
In recent years the Justice Department has stepped up its criminal enforcement of illicit foreign lobbying.
Federal law requires people doing the political bidding of a foreign government or entity inside the U.S. to register with the Justice Department.
Developing story, check back for updates…