The (Real) Hidden History of "Back Channel to Cuba"

Monday, October 13, 2014
We've previously posted about the new book by William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh, "Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana."

Namely, about how 50 years of ingenuous attempts to negotiate with Castro's dictatorship have backfired and failed.

But there's clearly much more to the motives behind this book (and its authors).

Just follow this chronological timeline:

- The authors feed it to the media through a sensationalist article in The New York Times about Kissinger-Castro.

- The authors fret in The Atlantic about President Obama's limited Cuba policy options (without Congress' approval).

- The authors begin a marketing campaign: that now is the time to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba's dictatorship -- one of Obama's few unilateral options.

- The New York Times writes a shallow and ill-informed editorial echoing this message -- lobbying the Obama Administration to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba.

- The authors officially unveil their book today at a presentation in Havana -- at the UNEAC's headquarters (Castro's official censorship bureau).

- A Cuban counterpart of the book is simultaneously unveiled in Havana by two official Cuban "academics," Elier Ramirez and Esteban Morales.

(Note that Esteban Morales has been previously denied a U.S. visa by the Obama Administration on suspicion he's a Cuban intelligence officer.)

And now, we find out that the Havana presentation was "moderated" by another well-known Cuban intelligence official.

Quite the coincidences -- or not.

Suddenly, the timeliness of last month's FBI advisory makes a lot of sense.

According to U.S. counter-intelligence official, Chris Simmons, in Cuba Confidential:

Today in Havana: Career Spy to Moderate Discussion of Professor LeoGrande’s New Book, “Back Channel to Cuba” 

Today in Havana, the new book by William M. Leogrande and Peter Kornbluh, "Back Channel to Cuba. The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana," will be presented at the Villena room of the Cuban Association of Writers and Artists (UNEAC). Also being discussed is the expanded second edition of a book on Cuba-US relations by a pair of Cuban authors. According to Cubarte, the session is being moderated by Ramón Sánchez Parodi.

Ramón Sánchez Parodi Montoto was the first chief at the Cuban Interests Section when Washington and Havana re-established diplomatic mission on September 1, 1977. This career spy served in Washington for 12 consecutive years. During this assignment, Sánchez Parodi was exposed as an intelligence officer during the Senate testimony of Dr. Daniel James of the Congressional Research Service. James said Sánchez Parodi, whom he cited as either Directorate of Intelligence (DI) or America Department (DA), targeted the Congressional Black Caucus to foment opposition to existing US policies towards Cuba. According to the New York Times, Sánchez Parodi was extremely well connected to the US academic, civic, cultural, and business communities. He was promoted to Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs immediately following his US tour. His portfolio was the Western Hemisphere.

During the latter half of the 1990s, Sánchez Parodi was Cuba’s Ambassador to Brazil. Following this tour, he returned to Havana to head the Department of International Relations for Cuban Customs.

Here's LeoGrande and Kornbluh in Havana today -- courtesy of Castro's state media: