Former diplomat Víctor Manuel Rocha sentenced to 15 years in prison for spying for Cuba

The former US ambassador to Bolivia was an undercover agent for four decades.

Victor Manuel Rocha, former United States ambassador to Bolivia, was sentenced this Friday to 15 years in prison for acting as an undercover agent for Cuba for four decades. His hearing was held in a federal court in Miami (Florida).

"The court is going to sentence him to the maximum punishment allowed by law," declared Judge Beth Bloom, before announcing the prison sentence. She also added a $500,000 fine.

Rocha, 73, appeared in the afternoon before Judge Beth Bloom in a hearing that lasted three and a half hours.

The former diplomat, who reached a plea deal with the prosecutor's office, first pleaded guilty to having collected U.S. intelligence information for the communist government of Cuba since around 1981.

After he acknowledged those facts, Judge Bloom sentenced him.

American police arrested Rocha in Miami in December and accused him of acting as a covert agent for a foreign government. In his years as a spy, he held important positions in the State Department. He had access to highly confidential information and was able to influence American foreign policy.

This Friday's hearing was extended after the judge expressed concern about the plea agreement signed by Rocha. Judge Bloom rejected the prosecution's claim that the only victim in the case was the United States. For this reason, she requested that he pay compensation to those affected by his actions.

After a long game of tug-of-war with the prosecutor's office, the judge agreed to postpone the hearing. Both parties agreed to modify the agreement.

"This country put its trust in you and you turned your back on the country," Bloom told Rocha before announcing the sentence in statements collected by AFP.