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Former US diplomat pleads guilty to spying for Cuba for more than 40 years

A former career US diplomat who had served as the US ambassador to Bolivia has pleaded guilty to working as an agent of Cuba for more than 40 years.

Victor Manuel Rocha, 73, was charged with secretly passing information to the communist-run Cuban government since 1981 while working for the US state department.

On Thursday, he changed his initial not guilty plea in a court in Miami.

He is due to be sentenced at a hearing on 12 April.

The move brings one of the highest profile espionage cases between Cuba and the US to an unexpectedly rapid conclusion.

  • The Cuban spying case that has shocked the US government

Thursday’s court hearing was supposed to be about how to handle classified documents involved in the case, according to the Miami Herald.

But instead, Mr Rocha, his lawyers, and prosecutors acknowledged that a plea deal had been struck.

When Judge Beth Bloom asked him if he wished to change his plea to guilty, he responded: “Your honour, I am in agreement.”

He is charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act by acting as a foreign agent, wire fraud and making false statements to obtain a US passport.

The evidence collected by investigators includes covert recordings of Mr Rocha admitting to working for Cuba for decades, praising the late Cuban leader, Fidel Castro as “Commandante”, and calling the United States “the enemy”.

He and his legal team now appear to have reached a similar conclusion, calculating that a guilty plea was his wisest option.

The BBC has contacted his lawyer for comment.

In effect, Mr Rocha must now accept the US government’s accusation that he spent nearly his entire professional career working for the Cuban Revolution in US outposts in Havana and Buenos Aires while simultaneously rising in the US diplomatic service.

There’s been no discussion in court as yet of Mr Rocha’s sentence or whether he accepted a plea bargain in exchange for his co-operation.

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