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Former US ambassador, Cuban spy blames decision to betray country on Yale's radical politics in 60s, 70s

PoliticsFormer US ambassador, Cuban spy blames decision to betray country on Yale's radical politics in 60s, 70s

A former National Security Council member and U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, who admitted to secretly acting as an agent for the government of the Republic of Cuba, blames the radical politics pushed on him during his formative college years for turning on his country.

A federal judge sentenced 73-year-old Victor Manuel Rocha of Miami to 15 years in prison last week for working against the U.S. government for decades for communist Cuba in “clandestine intelligence-gathering missions.”

Before the judge handed down the sentence, Rocha issued a statement on his guilty plea, which was shared by Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., on X.

“I am a 73-year-old man. During my formative years in college, I was heavily influenced by the radical politics of the day,” Rocha said. “My deep commitment at that time to radical social change in the region led me to the eventual betrayal of my oath of loyalty to the United States during my two decades in the State Department.”

FORMER US AMBASSADOR, NSC OFFICIAL ADMITS TO ACTING AS SECRET AGENT FOR CUBA, LEARNS FATE: DOJ

Fidel Castro, left, and Manuel Rocha

Manuel Rocha, right, 73, a former American diplomat who served as a U.S. ambassador to Bolivia was arrested and accused of secretly serving as an agent of Cuba’s government, according to The Associated Press. Left, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. (Getty Images)

Rocha graduated from Yale University in 1973 before going on to earn his master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University in 1976, then a master’s degree in international relations from Georgetown University in 1978, according to the State Department’s website archives.

Fox News Digital reached out to Yale for a comment regarding Rocha’s statement. The university declined to comment.

Rocha was a former U.S. Department of State employee who served on the National Security Council from 1994 to 1995, and as U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002.

FORMER US AMBASSADOR, NSC MEMBER CHARGED WITH ACTING AS SECRET AGENT FOR COMMUNIST CUBA FOR DECADES: DOJ

Victor Manuel Rocha sitting at a desk

Victor Manuel Rocha is seen posing for a photo at a Miami office in January 2003. The former U.S. ambassador said Thursday he will plead guilty to charges of serving as a secret agent for communist Cuba going back decades. (Raul Rubiera/Miami Herald/The Associated Press)

According to a criminal complaint from the DOJ, Rocha used his employment in the State Department between 1981 and 2002 to obtain classified information and affect U.S. foreign policy.

Following his employment at the State Department, Rocha transferred in 2006 as an advisor to the Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, a joint command of the U.S. military whose area of responsibility includes Cuba.

The DOJ said that Rocha provided false and misleading information to the U.S. to maintain his secret status, traveled outside the U.S. to meet with Cuban intelligence operatives and made false and misleading statements to obtain travel documents.

FORMER US AMBASSADOR ACCUSED OF SECRETLY WORKING FOR CUBA PLEADS NOT GUILTY

Bolivian President Hugo Banzer shakes hands with Victor Manuel Rocha

Bolivian President Hugo Banzer shakes hands with Victor Manuel Rocha, the new U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia, during a ceremony in the Goverment Palace in La Paz, August 3, 2000.  (Reuters / DM/JP/HB)

After serving the foreign service, he settled in Miami as a businessman in the private sector.

“Today, I no longer see the world through the radical eyes of my youth,” Rocha said in his statement. “I left the Government 22 years ago, moved to this great city, and dedicated the rest of my life to my family and the education of my children. My long and successful transition to the private sector culminated in my becoming a top international executive in the mining sector for well over a decade.

“The latter, however, cannot erase the damage done during my earlier career working for the Government,” he added.

Rocha told the judge he takes full responsibility for his actions and accepts the penalty he has to pay.

FORMER US AMBASSADOR CALLED CASTRO THE ‘COMANDANTE,’ LABELED US ‘THE ENEMY’: DOJ

Victor Rocha meeting with an undercover FBI agent

This image provided by the Justice Department and contained in the affidavit in support of a criminal complaint shows Victor Manuel Rocha during a meeting with an FBI undercover employee. (Department of Justice via AP)

“Importantly, I am making, and will continue to make as required, significant amends through my unconditional collaboration to those I have betrayed,” the former ambassador said. “I know that my actions have caused great pain to my family, former colleagues, and the closest of friends. I ask them all for their understanding and their forgiveness.”

The judge accepted Rocha’s guilty plea to counts 1 and 2 of the indictment, which charged him with conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government and conspiring to defraud the U.S. and acting as an agent of a foreign government without notice as required by law.

He was then sentenced to the statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a $500,000 fine, three years of supervised release and a special assessment. 

FORMER US AMBASSADOR ARRESTED, ACCUSED OF SECRETLY SERVING AS AGENT TO CUBA: REPORT

“Convicted spy Victor Manuel Rocha worked as a spy for Communist #Cuba, while he served as a United States Ambassador,” Gimenez said in a post on X in which he shared Rocha’s statement. “He is a traitor to our nation [and] must face the MAXIMUM sentence. No one believes his bogus Statement of Allocution!”

Under the terms of the parties’ plea agreement, Rocha must cooperate with the U.S., including assisting with any damage assessment related to his work on behalf of the Republic of Cuba. Rocha must relinquish all future retirement benefits, including pension payments, owed to him by the U.S. based upon his former State Department employment. 

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He must also assign to the U.S. any profits that he may be entitled to receive in connection with any publication relating to his criminal conduct or his U.S. government service.

Fox News Digital’s Sarah Rumpf-Whitten, Danielle Wallace and Stepheny Price contributed to this report.

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