Julia E. Sweig is the Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies and Director for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is author of Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground.
Dr. Sweig writes a bi-weekly column for Folha de São Paulo, Brazil's leading newspaper. She is the author of Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2009, 2013) and Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century (Public Affairs, 2006), as well as numerous publications on Latin America and American foreign policy. Dr. Sweig's Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground (Harvard University Press, 2002) received the American Historical Association's Herbert Feis Award for best book of the year by an independent scholar.
Dr. Sweig serves on the international advisory board of the Brazilian Center for International Relations (CEBRI). She was the Sol M. Linowitz professor of international relations, Hamilton College in 2011, and, from 1999 to 2008, served as a consultant on Latin American affairs for the Aspen Institute's Congressional Program.
She holds a BA from the University of California and an MA and PhD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
"Agent of influence" accusation
When Julia Sweig visited Cuba in 2010, accompanied by The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, something caught Goldberg’s eye: “We shook hands,” he writes about the meeting with Fidel Castro. “Then he greeted Julia warmly. They (Castro and Sweig) have known each other for more than twenty years.”
Sweig’s promotional services for the Castro regime reached a level where the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency top Cuba spycatcher, Chris Simmons (now retired), named her a Cuban “Agent of Influence.” Some background:
In 25 years as a U.S. Military Counterintelligence officer, Lieut. Col. Simmons helped end the operations of 80 enemy agents, some are today behind bars. One of these had managed the deepest penetration of the U.S. Department of Defense in U.S. history. The spy’s name is Ana Montes, known as “Castro’s Queen Jewel” in the intelligence community. “Montes passed some of our most sensitive information about Cuba back to Havana” said then-Undersecretary for International Security, John Bolton.
Today she serves a 25-year sentence in Federal prison. She was convicted of “Conspiracy to Commit Espionage,” the same charge against Ethel and Julius Rosenberg carrying the same potential death sentence for what is widely considered the most damaging espionage case since the “end” of the Cold War. Two years later, in 2003, Chris Simmons helped root out 14 Cuban spies who were promptly booted from the U.S.
Ms. Sweig indeed holds preeminence in one field. No “scholars” in modern American history thanks the “warm friendship” and “support” of six different communist spies and terrorists in the acknowledgments of their book, three of whom were expelled from the U.S. for terrorism and/or espionage, two for a bombing plot whose death toll would have dwarfed 9/11. Some background:
On Nov. 17, 1962, the FBI cracked a plot by Cuban agents that targeted Macy’s, Gimbel’s, Bloomingdale’s and Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal with a dozen incendiary devices and 500 kilos of TNT. The massive attack was set for the following week, the day after Thanksgiving. Macy’s get’s 50,000 shoppers that one day. Had those detonators gone off, 9/11’s death toll would have almost certainly taken second.
Now here’s an excerpt from the acknowledgements in Julia Sweig’s book Inside the Cuban Revolution, written in collaboration with the Castro-regime: “In Cuba many people spent long hours with me, helped open doors I could not have pushed through myself, and offered friendship and warmth to myself during research trips to the island…Elsa Montero and Jose Gomez Abad championed this project.”
In addition to these two KGB-trained terrorists, the CFR’s Julia Sweig thanks the “warm friendship and championship of” of Ramon Sanchez Parodi, Jose Antonio Arbesu, Fernando Miguel Garcia, Hugo Ernesto Yedra and Josefina Vidal for their “warmth, their friendship and their kindness in opening Cuban doors.”
All the above have been identified by Lieut. Col Chris Simmons as veteran officers in Castro’s KGB-trained intelligence services.
October 2008 / Miami, FL) – Christopher S. Simmons, one of America’s foremost authorities on Cuban Intelligence, a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army and a career counterintelligence officer identified more Cuban spies and their operations in the U.S.
During recent television and radio interviews Simmons spoke about the troublesome impact on the DI becoming the DGI (Directorate General of Intelligence) once again – a term used until the Ochoa trial in the late 1980’s. Simmons also added additional names to the list of Cuban spies operating in the U.S.:
Julia E. Sweig: Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies and Director for Latin American Studies with the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations. She may be one of two very unique categories of agents – an Agent of Influence or a "Persona de Confianza," – another DI intelligence category. She has directed numerous Council-sponsored Task Forces on Latin America, currently serves on the Board of Directors for Foreign Affairs en Español; consultant on Latin American affairs, Congressional Program, The Aspen Institute (1999-present); Project Director, Center for Preventive Action Commission, Andes 2020: A New Strategy for the Challenges of Colombia and the Region (2004); Director, Independent Task Force, U.S.-Cuban Relations in the 21st Century, A Follow-On Chairman’s Report (2001). Wrote OPED pieces re Elian scenario and “Cuban terrorists” in the U.S.
In 2002, Sweig published her book, Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground. Among those she thanks in her acknowledgements are six Cuban Intelligence Officers; Jose Antonmio Arbesu, Ramon Sanchez Parodi, Fernando Garcia Bielsa, Hugo Yedra, Jose Gomez Abad and Josefina Vidal. Not surprisingly, Sweig does not acknowledge that the six are career Intelligence Officers. The six Cuban spies she thanks are:
- Ramon Sanchez Parodi Montoto became the first Chief of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, D.C. on September 1, 1977 when the U.S. and Cuba re-established diplomatic missions. This career spy served in Washington until 1989 -- 12 consecutive years. Experts remain undecided as to whether he is DGI or from the infamous America Department (DA). In testimony before the U.S. Senate, Dr. Daniel James charged Sanchez-Parodi with targeting the Congressional Black Caucus to foment opposition to existing U.S. policies toward Cuba. According to the New York Times, Sanchez-Parodi was extremely well connected to the U.S. academic, civic, cultural, and business communities. He was promoted to Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs immediately following his U.S. tour. In the U.S., his position would have been called “Deputy Foreign Minister”. The May 14, 2007 issue of The Nation featured an article on Cuba titled “The Changing of the Guard.” Among the six co-authors were Ramon Sanchez-Parodi and Cuban agent Dr. Alberto Coll. In this article, Sanchez-Parodi used the opportunity to favorably portray Raul Castro’s institutional support and his efforts to enhance the performance of these institutions.
- Jose Antonio Arbesu Fraga: Director of the America Area (formerly the DA) of the International Department of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC/ID). Following the 1992 resignation of legendary Cuban Intelligence officer Manuel Pineiro, Jose Antonio Arbesu Fraga, one of the DA’s Vice Directors, was selected as his replacement. In May 2004, Mexico forbade future visits by Cuban officials Arbesú and Pedro Miguel Lobaina-Jimenez de Castro. Mexico stated that its actions responded to acts by Arbesu and others were “unacceptable activities (in Mexico...) outside of the institutional context and procedures established in existing agreements and treaties between the two countries.”
- Fernando Miguel Garcia Bielsa: As a 1st Secretary at the Cuban Interests Section, he was one 14 spy-diplomats expelled in May 2003. Earlier this year, Garcia Bielsa served as the Political Counselor in Santiago. Normally, Garcia’s extensive DA service, long-term ties to US terrorist groups (i.e., Puerto Rican extremists), and past service in the US would make his Santiago posting an anomaly. However, Santiago is likely a relatively benign operational area for a “burned” spy to continue to work with leftists groups and American agents.
- Josefina de la C. Vidal Ferreiro: First Secretary at the Cuban Interests Section. One of 14 expelled in May 2003.
- Hugo Ernesto Yedra Diaz: DI officer Hugo Ernesto Yedra Diaz was the featured speaker at a party commemorating the 42nd anniversary of the “start” of the Cuban Revolution on July 26, 1995. Sponsored by the district’s “Hands Off Cuba Coalition,” the event was held at Washington Peace Center. Yedra discussed the attack on the Moncada Barracks before transitioning to a call for Americans to oppose Helms-Burton. At the time, Yedra was assigned to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington D.C. Yedra attracted considerable attention on November 22, 1977 when his briefcase exploded in the lobby of an Upper East Side apartment building. Yedra had set the case down to call for an elevator and apparently failed to activate the safety device on the case’s self-destruct device. Yedra lived in the building, but gathered his documents and fled the scene before police could arrive to investigate.
- Jose Gomez Abad: A central figure in an attempted terrorist effort known as the “Black Friday Attack” on November 17, 1962, just weeks after the Cuban Missile Crisis. The FBI detained three Cuban Diplomats from its UN Mission and seized a cache of explosive and incendiary devices. Washington detained the Cubans on espionage-related charges and stockpiling munitions for use against US installations. Cuba’s targets included the Statue of Liberty; retail giants Macy’s, Gimbels, and Bloomingdale’s; the main bus terminal on 42nd Street; Manhattan’s busiest subway stations – including Grand Central Station, and several oil refineries along the New Jersey riverbank. Twelve detonators, several incendiary devices, grenades, and 500 kilos of TNT were to be used on Black Friday – the busiest shopping day in the US.
Institute for Policy Studies
“What Would Nixon Do on Cuba?”
In July 2008 the Nixon Center in Washington convened a forum entitled “What Would Nixon Do on Cuba?”
Panelists included Nixon Center President Dimitri Simes, Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Julia Sweig, former Bush administration senior National Security Council official Flynt Leverett, and former Colin Powell aide Lawrence Wilkerson. Steve Clemon was also involved.
- CFR bio, accessed November 2013
- HuffPo, bio accessed Nov. 2013
- Cuba Confidential, Tag Archives: Julia Sweig, September 2, 2013, A Castro Groupie’s Strategy to Reduce Violence
- [http://cubaconfidential.wordpress.com/tag/julia-sweig/, Cuba Confidential, Tag Archives: Julia Sweig, September 2, 2013 A Castro Groupie’s Strategy to Reduce Violence]
- CUBAN INTELLIGENCE EXPERT IDENTIFIES MORE CUBAN SPIES
- Institute for Policy Studies 30th Anniversary brochure
- Washington Note, Steve Clemon Time to Change the Course of US-Cuba Relations Steve Clemons - September 26, 2008