Counter-intelligence officer Lt. Col. Chris Simmons has prepared the following report on the recently released identities of seven Cuban spies in the U.S. — out of a total of 14 Cuban spies — expelled from the country in 2003 for providing Iraq with intelligence about U.S. troop movements during Operation Iraqi Freedom:
STATE DEPARTMENT BELATEDLY BURNS SEVEN CUBAN SPIES
In May 2003, the U.S. expelled 14 Cuban diplomats for espionage. The action, occurring less than eight weeks after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, punished Cuba for providing Iraqi Intelligence with information on U.S. troop movements and associated military activities. Seven diplomat-spies were based at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations (CMUN) and the other seven at the Interest Section. The identities of the seven CMUN officials were highly publicized, but the names of the Interests Section officers were kept from the American public – until now. Complying with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted in December 2006, the State Department has released the diplomatic cable bearing the names of the Interest Section spies declared Persona Non Grata (see attached). They are:
Fist Secretary (Deputy Chief) Cosme Torres Espinosa
First Secretary Fernando Miguel Garcia Bielsa
First Secretary Jose Anselmo Lopez Perera
Second Secretary Juan Hernandez Acen
Second Secretary Raul Rodriguez Averhoff
Third Secretary Jorge Ernesto Autie Gonzalez
Third Secretary Florentino Batista Gonzalez
Background Information on the Expelled Interest Section Spies & Key Spouses
1). Cosme Torres Espinosa was subsequently appointed Ambassador to Zimbabwe , a position he held until 2009.
2). Canada expelled Raul Rodriguez Averhoff from Cuba ’s Embassy in Ottawa in early 1995. After being thrown out of the U.S. as well, he was posted to Argentina in 2006, where he still serves as the Education Counselor. A career Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer, he appears to have spent most of his service in Department M-I (“U.S. Targets”), although he also has some experience in Department M-II (“Latin America”). His wife, Maria Cristina Delgado Suarez accompanied him to Argentina. She is the Cultural Counselor. Her department affiliation within the DI is unknown.
Already serving in Argentina was (and is) Counselor Oscar Redondo Toledo, who was declared Persona Non Grata in November 2002 in retaliation for the Ana Belen Montes case. Until his expulsion, he served as a First Secretary at the Cuban Interest Section.
3). Senior America Department (DA) officer Fernando Garcia Bielsa arrived in the U.S. in March 2000 to replace expelled spy, Jose Imperatori. The FBI and the late Senator Jesse Helms originally opposed Garcia’s posting, but were overruled by the Clinton administration. According to reports from the Miami Herald and CANF, Garcia’s ties with Puerto Rican terrorists began in the 1970s and continued through at least 1998, when he met with Macheteros leaders in the island Commonwealth. Garcia Bielsa is also one of six Cuban spies Julia Sweig thanks, by name, in her book, Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground. Sweig is a Senior Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations.
Garcia Bielsa later served as the Political Counselor in Santiago , Chile . Given his extensive DA service, long-term ties to terrorist groups and past service in the U.S., Santiago was likely a relatively benign operational area for a “burned” spy to continue to work with leftists groups and American agents.
4). Jose Anselmo Lopez Perera’s wife, Josefina de la C. Vidal, is also a Cuban Intelligence Officer, although her service affiliation remains unclear. For several years, she has served as MINREX’s directors of the office of North American affairs.
5). Before 1999, Juan Hernandez Acen served in Venezuela with DA officer Luis Hernandez Ojeda.
1. The America Department (DA) was the name used by the intelligence wing of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party from 1974 to the late 1980s or early 1990s. The DA actively supported revolutionaries and terrorists, but has since become more focused on political intelligence operations. This service is now called the America Area of the International Department of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC/ID/AA).
2. The best known of Cuba’s five spy services, the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) is the foreign intelligence wing of the Ministry of the Interior. It was known as the Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI) prior to a 1989 restructuring.
A retired spy-catcher, the author played a central role in several of the most successful intelligence operations since World War II and is an internationally known expert on Cuban intelligence.