US Ex-diplomat Sentenced to 15 Years for Spying for Cuba

People gather in front of the James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building where the trial of the former US diplomat who served as US ambassador to Bolivia, Victor Manuel Rocha, is being held, in Miami, Florida, USA, 12 April 2024. EPA/CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH
People gather in front of the James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building where the trial of the former US diplomat who served as US ambassador to Bolivia, Victor Manuel Rocha, is being held, in Miami, Florida, USA, 12 April 2024. EPA/CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH
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US Ex-diplomat Sentenced to 15 Years for Spying for Cuba

People gather in front of the James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building where the trial of the former US diplomat who served as US ambassador to Bolivia, Victor Manuel Rocha, is being held, in Miami, Florida, USA, 12 April 2024. EPA/CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH
People gather in front of the James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building where the trial of the former US diplomat who served as US ambassador to Bolivia, Victor Manuel Rocha, is being held, in Miami, Florida, USA, 12 April 2024. EPA/CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH

A former US diplomat was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Friday after admitting to acting as an agent of Cuba in what the Justice Department has called one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the US government.

Victor Manuel Rocha, who served as US ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002, pleaded guilty to two charges including acting as an illegal foreign agent. He was initially charged in December.

Rocha, 73, secretly supported Cuba’s ruling Communist Party and aided the country’s intelligence gathering against Washington for more than four decades, including during a 20-year career in the State Department, according to US prosecutors.
"Today's plea brings an end to more than four decades of betrayal and deceit by Mr. Rocha," David Newman, a senior national security official at the US Justice Department said during a press conference in Miami. "For most of his life, Mr. Rocha lived a lie."

Rocha admitted his decades of work for Cuba and boasted about his ability to avoid detection in a series of meetings in 2022 and 2023 with an undercover FBI agent who posed as a representative of Cuba’s foreign intelligence service, according to a criminal complaint filed in Miami federal court.

“What we have done...it’s enormous. More than a grand slam,” Rocha told the undercover agent, according to the complaint.

A lawyer for Rocha did not respond to requests for comment. Rocha agreed to plead guilty as part of a deal with federal prosecutors that requires him to divulge details of his interactions with Cuban intelligence.
But US officials said they may never know the full extent of Rocha's cooperation with Havana.

Rocha sought out positions that would give him access to sensitive information and influence over US foreign policy, according to prosecutors.



California Academic Workers Strike in Support of Pro-Palestinian Protests

Students protesting at an encampment supporting Palestinians on the California University campus (EPA)
Students protesting at an encampment supporting Palestinians on the California University campus (EPA)
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California Academic Workers Strike in Support of Pro-Palestinian Protests

Students protesting at an encampment supporting Palestinians on the California University campus (EPA)
Students protesting at an encampment supporting Palestinians on the California University campus (EPA)

Discord from last month's mob attack on pro-Palestinian student activists encamped at the University of California, Los Angeles, flared again on Tuesday as academic workers staged a strike on campus protesting UCLA's response to the violence, Reuters said.
Unionized academic researchers, graduate teaching assistants and post-doctoral scholars at UCLA walked off the job over what they regard as unfair labor practices in the university's handling of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in recent weeks, organizers said.
They were joined by fellow academic workers at two other University of California campuses - UC Davis near Sacramento, and UC Santa Cruz, where the protest strike began on May 20.
The strikers are demanding amnesty for grad students and other academic workers who were arrested or face discipline for their involvement in the protests, which union leaders say were peaceful except when counter-demonstrators and other instigators were allowed to provoke unrest.
The state Public Employee Relations Board ordered the University of California and the strikers to take part in mediated talks. A representative for the strikers said the parties met once over the weekend.
The strike was organized by the United Auto Workers union Local 4811, which represents some 48,000 non-tenured academic employees total across 10 University of California campuses and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The UAW local includes about 6,400 academic workers at UCLA, 5,700 at Davis and about 2,000 at Santa Cruz. A union representative said thousands were withholding their work as of Monday. Several hundred attended a march and midday rally on the UCLA campus on Tuesday.
The expanding work stoppage marks the first union-backed protest in solidarity with the recent wave of student-led demonstrations on dozens of US campuses against Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Union leaders said a major impetus for the strike was the arrest of 210 people, including campus-employed grad students, at the scene of a Palestinian solidarity protest camp torn down by police at UCLA on May 2.
About 24 hours earlier, on the night of April 30-May 1, masked assailants armed with sticks and clubs attacked the encampment and its occupants, sparking a bloody clash that went on for at least three hours before police moved in.
The university has since reassigned the chief of the campus police department and opened an investigation into law enforcement's reaction to the violence.
Last week, three weeks after the melee, campus police announced their first, and so far only, arrest of someone accused of taking part in the attack - a man they say was seen in video footage beating victims with a wooden pole.
Separately on Tuesday in Detroit, Wayne State University suspended in-person classes and directed staff to work remotely to avoid any disruptions that might be posed by a pro-Palestinian encampment there.
US Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat of Palestinian descent, joined those protests on Monday and Tuesday.