On Malmierca's Visit: Cuban Spies, Businessmen and 'Useful Idiots'

Wednesday, February 17, 2016
This week, Cuba's Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, is visiting Washington, D.C., where he will discuss business with Obama Administration officials and be fĂȘted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Let's be clear: Malmierca is not "the Cuban people."

This trip is not about doing business with "the Cuban people" or any of the discredited rhetoric of the Obama Administration and its new Chamber friends, led by former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.

During this trip, Malmierca will distribute the Cuban dictatorship's glossy 168-page book of 246 business "opportunities" with Castro's state monopolies, which are run by its military and intelligence services.

But it's also about recruiting "useful idiots" ("poleznye idioty").

You see -- Malmierca is not simply Cuba's Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment (MINCEX, Spanish acronym).

Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz is the son of Isidoro Malmierca Peoli, a historic Castro confidant and founder of Cuba's counter-intelligence and state-security services. In the 1980s, Rodrigo himself entered Cuba's intelligence services (known as "DGI") as an officer in the Q-2 Department, which was tasked with "recruitment" and other operations against Cuban exiles. As a DGI officer, Rodrigo would serve under "diplomatic cover" at Castro's Embassies in Brazil, Belgium and the Cuban Mission to the United Nations in New York. Then, in 2009, he was named Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment.

Rodrigo Malmierca is not the first senior MINCEX official to visit the United States.

In 1995 (that's right 1995), Cuba's Vice-Minister of Foreign Trade, Ismael Sene Alegret, traveled throughout the Midwest as part of a month-long Cuban "trade delegation" in the United States. (Click here to see how familiar this article reads). His goal was to "recruit" allies in the agri-business community.

Like Malmierca, Sene Alegret was a senior DGI officer.

Sene Alegret officially served in Cuba's DGI from 1967-1997. (That's right, he was still a DGI officer while serving at MINCEX). He was a senior Cuban intelligence official in Eastern Europe -- with close KGB ties -- where he headed missions in the former Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

Ironically, in 2011, Sene Alegret was arrested in his apartment near the now-U.S. Embassy in Havana. His crime? He knew too much. But that's for another post.

There's a reason why Cuba's DGI controls its Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment.

It's rather simple. Foreign businessmen (and entities like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) have an exploitable weakness: They easily suspend moral judgment for the sake of a profitable opportunity.

They'll propagate you, fĂȘte you and become pro-bono lobbyists of the regime. And they'll do so, while ingenuously thinking they're "smarter" (also an exploitable weakness).

And that's music to DGI's ears.

(Last week, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recognized Cuba as one of the world's top counterintelligence threats -- and for good reason.)