Manuel Rocha
He was arrested in Florida La Razon Bolivia

A former top U.S. diplomat agreed on Thursday to plead guilty to a formal accusation of having spied for Cuba for decades, one of the most significant intelligence breaches in the country's history.

The Associated Press reported that Manuel Rocha told a federal judge he would admit to the main charges leveled against him: conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government. Prosecutors and Rocha's lawyer have agreed upon a sentence, the latter said.

Although the length has not been disclosed, Rocha, 73, could spend several years behind bars as a result of his actions. If he continued seeking to be found innocent and not reached an agreement, he could have faced up to 60 years in prison.

"I am in agreement," Rocha said when asked by U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom if he wished to change his initial plea to guilty, AP reported. Other charges against him include making false statements in a passport request and using a passport obtained through false statements.

Rocha was initially indicted by a federal grand jury in December. Attorney General Merrick Garland described the case as "one of the highest-reaching and longest standing infiltrations of the U.S. government by a foreign agent."

Born in Colombia, Rocha moved at age 10 with his widowed mother and two siblings to New York City. They lived for a while in Harlem while his mother worked in a sweatshop and got by with the help of food stamps.

He went to The Taft School, an elite boarding school in Connecticut, on a scholarship for minorities. There, he often mentioned suffering from discrimination— including a classmate who refused to room with him— given the fact that he was one of only a few minorities at the school.

Once he finished his studies, Rocha would go into public service, where he built an extensive resume with the American government. Rocha was the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia in 2002 and and Deputy Mission Chief to Argentina between 1997 and 2000. He also held positions at the embassies to Honduras, Mexico and the Dominican Republic during his stint at the State Department, which began in 1981.

It is still unclear when the Cuban government may have recruited Rocha. But prosecutors say it must've been sometime in the 1970s when he was still in college campuses, which at the time had plenty of people sympathetic of leftist causes.

Rocha was arrested in Miami in December after discussing his actions with an undercover FBI agent who pretended to be a Cuban intelligence office called Miguel. The recorded meetings, which took place between 2022 and 2023, show Rocha describing the U.S. as "the enemy" and saying his greatest goal when working for the State Department for almost 40 years was "strengthening the Cuban revolution."

"I have to protect what we did because what we did...(it's) the cement that has strengthened the last 40 years," Rocha allegedly told the undercover agent during one of their meeting. "What we have done ... it's enormous. ... More than a grand slam," he said.

As part of his employment at the State Department, prosecutors said Rocha had periodic high-level security clearances and gained access to top secret information. He also held different positions at the National Security Council and at the U.S. Southern Command, giving him access to highly sensitive information and the ability to shape U.S. policy towards Cuba and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean.

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