Miami Herald
March 11, 1996

Spy bashes exiles, talks of uncertain future in Cuba


HAVANA - If Juan Pablo Roque was a paid Cuban agent, he was apparently hired on the cheap, or told to exist on his wits and muscle. He arrived in Miami with a notion that "you stomp the ground and dollars spring up," but landed a string of menial jobs.

In an interview with The Herald last week, he voiced bitterness at being refused a home delivery manager's job at The Herald, and claimed he received no money from his memoirs, published by the Cuban American National Foundation.

He voiced distaste for Cuban cultural and economic influence in Miami, decrying an exile disdain for punctuality and efficiency. He even compared the relative merits of supermarkets, claiming that a well-known Hispanic-owned chain was too disorganized and sloppy.

"Every time I had anything to do with Hispanics, it was a disaster," he said. "I come from a very solid military discipline."

Roque said he has "nothing against American society" and holds U.S. achievements in science and technology in esteem. "I always felt gratified when I saw the big American companies at work," he said.

He had fond memories of a trip to Walt Disney World.

But his life in the "belly of the beast" - as he has called exile Miami - was hardscrabble and filled with intrigue, he said.

Roque's most explosive assertion: that the FBI knew Cuban authorities would down the Brothers' planes and had warned him not to fly.

Rogue also asserted that his sudden appearance in Havana at the time of the shootdown was `coincidental.'

Three days before the incident, Roque charged, he phoned Oscar Montoto, his contact in Miami's FBI office, to collect a payment of $1,500.

"Montoto told me not to fly," Roque said. "He said that things were abnormal, and that it wouldn't have a happy end. He warned me that [exile incursions) were going to be answered by Cuba."

Roque also asserted that his sudden appearance in Havana at the time of the incident was "coincidental."

He claims he returned to the island on Feb. 24, the day the Brothers' planes were shot down. "Like-minded Cubans" helped arrange his flight from Miami, Roque said, declining to elaborate.

However, Western diplomats here said Roque arrived one day before the incident, aboard a Cubana Airlines plane.

Roque, who claims all he ever wanted to do was fly planes, asserts he is now facing an uncertain future in Cuba.

He is waiting, he says, for Cuban authorities to grant him permanent resident status so he can find a job.

"They haven't told me how I'm going to work yet," he said. But he added: "They have told me there's no chance I can return to my life as an aviator."