Three Cuban Diplomats Ordered Out of U.S. for Alleged Espionage
By John M. Goshko
Washington Post Staff Writer
UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 23—The United States today ordered three
diplomats from Cuba's U.N. mission to leave the country because of
involvement with an alleged Cuban spy ring in the Miami area that was
broken up last September.
In ordering the expulsions, the White House and State Department said
only that the three had been involved in "activities incompatible with their
status as members of the U.N. mission." Sources familiar with the situation
said the three had ties -- apparently in relaying orders and acting as
paymasters and couriers -- to the 10 people arrested in southern Florida
on Sept. 13 on charges of spying on U.S. military installations and seeking
to infiltrate Cuban exile groups opposed to President Fidel Castro's
"This action was taken as the result of evidence developed during an
exhaustive investigation by the FBI," State Department spokesman James
P. Rubin said.
The crackdown in Florida, involving eight men and two women, including
two married couples, was the largest roundup of alleged Cuban agents
since Castro came to power in 1959.
The diplomats being expelled are Eduardo Martinez Borbonet, a first
secretary; Roberto Azanza Paez, a third secretary, and Gonzalo Fernandez
Garay, an attache. U.N. officials said the U.S. government gave them until
Monday to be out of the country. U.S. officials said two other, unidentified
members of the Cuban U.N. delegation would have been expelled, but left
the United States weeks ago.
The chain of events began Monday evening when the United States
informed the Cuban mission and Secretary General Kofi Annan that it
intended to expel the three but would give Cuba 24 hours to respond to
the charges and argue why that should not be done. The sources said the
24-hour deadline passed without a response from the Cubans, and the
decision to go ahead with the expulsion was made by the White House and
State Department late Tuesday.
Neither the Cuban mission here nor the Foreign Ministry in Havana
commented on the expulsions. They bring to 12 the number of Cuban
diplomats at the United Nations ordered to leave since 1982.
Although the stated reason always has been for activities "incompatible"
with their U.N. duties, that is the common diplomatic euphemism for
espionage. The last expulsion here was in 1995, when three members of
the Cuban mission were ordered to leave after getting into a fight with
police and exile protesters at an anti-Castro rally.
Cuba expelled a U.S. diplomat from Havana in 1996 after charging her
with improper activities. The United States retaliated by expelling a
member of the Cuban interests section in Washington.
Since the United States and Cuba do not have formal diplomatic relations,
each country's diplomats in the other's capital work out of interest sections
that technically are a part of a third-country embassy. Cuba is allowed to
maintain a diplomatic mission at the United Nations under the world body's
headquarters agreement with the United States, although its diplomats here
are subject to restriction on their movements and activities.