Infamous ex-CIA agent Philip Agee resurfaces in Cuba
HAVANA (AP) -- Former CIA agent Philip Agee, a longtime friend of communist
Cuba who exposed purported CIA operatives in his infamous book, has
resurfaced in Havana, where he has launched what he says is the first
independent American business in 40 years.
With European investors and the state-run travel agent as his partner,
opened a travel Web site designed specifically to bring American tourists to the
island -- even if it means violating the U.S. trade embargo.
The site, cubalinda.com, offers package tours within Cuba and other help
Cuban tourism that is largely off limits to Americans because of U.S. law.
"I would like to see people ignore the law," Agee said at a press conference
Thursday. "The idea is to disdain this law to the point that our grandfathers
Agee has long enraged supporters of U.S. sanctions on Cuba by his support
Fidel Castro's revolution and campaign to end the nearly four-decade-old
embargo, which limits American tourists from spending money on the island --
effectively barring them from visiting.
He has also been accused of receiving up to $1 million in payments from
Cuban intelligence service. He has denied the accusations, which were first made
by a high-ranking Cuban intelligence officer and defector in a 1992 Los Angeles
Agee, 65, quit the CIA in 1969 after 12 years with the agency, working
Latin America during the years that leftist movements were gaining prominence
His 1975 book "Inside the Company: CIA Diary" cited alleged CIA misdeeds
against leftists in Latin America that included a 22-page list of purported agency
Barbara Bush, the wife of former president George Bush -- himself a onetime
CIA chief -- in her autobiography accused the book of exposing a CIA station
chief, Richard S. Welch, who was later killed by leftist terrorists in Athens in
1975. Agee, who denied any involvement in the death, sued her for defamation
and she revised the book to settle the case.
Agee's U.S. passport was revoked in 1979. U.S. officials said he had threatened
After years of living in Hamburg, Germany -- occasionally underground,
CIA retribution -- Agee has decided to make Havana his home and the seat of his
American companies have been barred from doing business with Cuba since
embargo was imposed in the 1960s to put pressure on Castro.
"I don't have a license. I don't have permission. I haven't asked and I'm
going to because it's a question of principle," Agee said.
A spokesman at the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington said officials
unaware of Agee's plans and had no comment Thursday.
Agee said he received funding for the tourism project from European investors,
but declined to say how much or even who they are.
"They are not especially interested in advertising the fact that they're
with me here," Agee said, acknowledging his own infamy.
The Web site, which has been partially running since February, on Friday
launch its first major promotion targeted at Americans -- a weeklong tour during
carnival festivities in July and August.
Prices start at around $600 inclusive -- although not including airfare,
must be arranged separately and through a third country unless the visitor
receives a Treasury Department license, he said.
The tours must be pre-paid over the Internet to a European bank account
the company -- a rare concession to U.S. law in that the money isn't directly
deposited in a Cuban account.
Agee said he has received no word from the U.S. government about his dealings.
But he has received threatening e-mails from people he believes are anti-Castro
Cuban-American exiles in Miami, who are opposed to any dealings with Cuba.
"It's always nice to know that your enemy, or that your unfriendly side,
that you're in business," he said.