Manuel Rocha worked for several decades as a U.S. diplomat. He served as the deputy director of the United States Interests Section in Cuba and eventually became the ambassador of the United States to Bolivia. During his time as ambassador in Bolivia, he was suspected of having ties to the Cuban government, leading to accusations of espionage and collaboration with the communist regime.

Rocha was arrested in 2023 in Miami and charged by the U.S. government with having spent over 40 years as an agent and spy for the Cuban regime. Evidence recorded by an undercover FBI agent posing as a Cuban government contact appears to show him describing the U.S. as the “enemy” and praising the late Fidel Castro, boasting of having successfully maintained his dual identity for decades.

Manuel Rocha espía Cuba
Manuel Rocha worked for several decades as a U.S. diplomat.

Given his activities as an agent and considering the dates he operated, there is suspicion that he may have been complicit in and involved in the assassination of opposition leaders Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero in 2012.

That’s why, Ofelia Acevedo, Oswaldo Payá’s widow, filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade County, Florida, against Víctor Manuel Rocha, the former U.S. diplomat, for his alleged responsibility in the murder of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero on July 22, 2012.

Former U.S. Diplomat who Collaborated with Cuban Regime Faces Lawsuit by Widow of Slain Dissident.

Miami, Florida – February 29, 2024

Today, Ofelia Acevedo, the widow of the late Cuban human rights defender Oswaldo Payá, filed a lawsuit in Dade County, Florida, against Victor Manuel Rocha, a former U.S. diplomat, whose four-decade-long collaboration with the Cuban regime was recently exposed by the U.S. Attorney General as one of the most profound penetrations of the U.S. government by a foreign agent. Payá was assassinated by the Castro regime in 2012, a period during which Rocha was collaborating with Cuba while advising U.S. national security officials and accessing America’s most sensitive intelligence.

“I seek what I have sought all along: for the truth, for justice, and for the regime and its accomplices of to stop acting with impunity,” said Acevedo.

Oswaldo Payá, a renowned advocate for the Cuban people’s right to hold free elections and a peaceful government transition, was murdered in 2012. Despite the regime’s persistent denials, in a historic verdict in 2023, the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights found that the Cuban government was responsible for Payá’s murder.

His daughter, Rosa María Payá, founder of Cuba Decide, a citizen initiative created to continue Oswaldo’s work on behalf of democracy in Cuba, emphasized the broader implications of Rocha’s collaboration: “Rocha was instrumental in perpetuating a terrorist regime that undermines America’s national security interests, oppresses the Cuban people, and threatens peace in the region.”

Oswaldo Payá legacy is underscored by his international recognition, including the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Human Rights awarded by the European Parliament. 

“My father would have celebrated his 72nd birthday tomorrow, on February 29,” his daughter remarked. “We remain steadfast in carrying on the work he initiated until the Cuban people achieve the freedom unjustly withheld from them by the regime and its accomplices.”

The lawsuit, filed in Miami Dade County, where Rocha had retired, marks a pivotal moment in the pursuit of accountability for those complicit in human rights abuses in Cuba. The Payá family is represented by Continental, a law firm based in Florida.

This lawsuit is a new chapter in Rosa Maria’s international struggle for justice for her father, who was a recognized opposition leader to the communist regime in Cuba and a defender of human rights. He founded the Christian Liberation Movement and was a prominent activist in promoting democratic reforms on the island. Following his assassination, his daughter continued his legacy in seeking change in the island’s political and economic system by founding Cuba Decide, a platform advocating for democratic change in Cuba through a binding plebiscite. Cuba Decide has become an important voice in the fight for freedom and democracy in Cuba, working to empower the Cuban people and promote a future of peaceful and democratic change.

Embajador Manuel Rocha
Rocha was arrested in 2023 and charged with having spent over 40 years as an agent and spy for the Cuban regime  

In June 2023, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a verdict regarding the assassination of Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero, highlighting the Cuban government’s responsibility in this event. The report recognizes the human rights violations perpetrated by the Cuban regime and underscores the need for accountability for these heinous crimes. It is an important step towards justice and truth for Oswaldo Payá and his family, as well as for the defense of fundamental rights in Cuba.

Rosa María Payá has led the search for justice for her father. As a human rights defender and political activist, she has worked to expose the truth behind her father’s death and to hold the Cuban regime accountable for this crime. Her courage and determination in the fight for justice have inspired many and have been instrumental in advancing accountability in Cuba.

We demand justice for Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero, who were murdered in 2012. Clarifying this case is essential to ensure the truth and accountability of the Cuban Communist Regime. #JusticeForOswaldo