- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2008

MIAMI - Cuba will maintain its extensive spy network under new President Raul Castro, a U.S. authority on Cuban espionage and a former Cuban intelligence official said.

Chris Simmons, a former Cuba analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency, said Havana likely will increase efforts through the November elections aimed at discerning the politics, policies and military strategies of the next U.S. president.

Cuban spies are suspected to be continuing surveillance of Capitol Hill, military bases and the Cuban exile community, particularly in South Florida.

Juan Manuel Reyes-Alonso, a former Cuban intelligence officer living in the U.S., said that during the latter years of Fidel Castro’s presidency, Cuba would place at least one intelligence officer at its Washington and U.N. missions.

Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a Latin-America-focused think tank in Washington, denounced the notion, saying Cuba’s diplomatic personnel don’t go “spooking around” on behalf of Cuban intelligence.

Cuban officials at the United Nations would not comment and their counterparts at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington could not be reached.

Meanwhile, South Florida, particularly the Miami area, also is considered a valuable resource for Cuban spies seeking information on the exile community.

“Cuban intelligence is still very active in South Florida,” said Frank Mora, a professor of National Security Strategy at the National War College. “The United States is still very much the enemy of the [Castro] regime.”

Intelligence analysts agree that the Southern Command, just outside Miami, has long been the focus of Cuban spies, as any invasion would be orchestrated there.

Southcom officials would not comment on Cuban intelligence operations aimed at infiltrating the command.

South Florida has been a main focus for Cuban intelligence, said Mr. Reyes-Alonso, who estimated that Cuban intelligence ranks in the area to be in the hundreds.

“They always wanted to know about those that dictated U.S. policy on Cuba,” he said.

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