The long tradition of spy vs spy in Mexico has the intelligence groups working against each other USA vs Russia, Cuba, China.
It is convenient to remember that in the 70’s Phillip Agee wrote a book on espionage in Latin America where he called the CIA intelligence agency “The Company”, by its acronym read in Spanish. But more than a century before, there was “The Mexican War Spy Company”, (“Compañía de Espionage de la Guerra Mexicana”), which was the intelligence service that armed the United States Army during the invasion of Mexico in 1847-48. Under the orders of Colonel Ethan Allen Hitchcock, the invasion force that landed in Veracruz under the command of General Winfield Scott was formed in Puebla, in preparation for the attack on Mexico City, with the recruitment of the leader of a gang of thieves from roads, Manuel Domínguez, who put at his disposal 100 prisoners who, in exchange for their freedom, would be willing to be United States agents. These inmates were called “Los Poblanos”, who first served as couriers, fought the Mexican resistance guerrillas, and later, disguised as fruit and vegetable vendors, reported on the military defense positions. Hitchcock paid officials from the government of Antonio López de Santa Anna (another president of Mexico with the last name López), and deserters from the Army, who gave him details of the defense plans and troop mobilization, which allowed General Scott an attack on Mexico City fast and effective. It began on August 19 and 20 in Padierna (Contreras), and Churubusco —where the Museum of Interventions is located—, and ended at Chapultepec Castle on September 13, consolidating the US invasion of Mexican territory. This passage, as well as reflecting a long history of traitorous Mexicans and corrupt officials, also shows how what the US intelligence services continue to do today has been recurrent through the centuries. Dominguez, by the way, when his life was in danger, was sent by Hitchcock to New Orleans, with which he was paid for his services. And the story of the “Mexican War Espionage Company” is documented in the Fort Huachuca library in Arizona, where the National Security Agency, which conducts global cyber espionage, listens to Mexico.
The CIA in the 60’s and 70’s, with another Scott, but not Winfield as the colonel, but Winston, built an entire era of US intelligence in Mexico. For just over a decade, Winston Scott, head of the CIA Station in Mexico, directed clandestine operations against communist countries from the fifth floor of the United States Embassy —it was Cold War times—, he had on his payroll three Mexican presidents, and one of them, because it was not about friendship but interests, he tried to destabilize. In the operations against communist countries, it had the direct collaboration of the Mexican government through two legendary figures, such as Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios and Miguel Nazar Haro, considered “active” by the CIA —because of their cooperation—, but of whom it was not known. He knows that “La Compañía” paid them, such as Adolfo López Mateos —who assumed Scott as part of the group of close friends—, Gustavo Díaz Ordaz —of whom he was a confidant—, and Luis Echeverría —who did them great services, such as dismantling the KGB station in Mexico. The collaboration of the former presidents with the CIA has been widely documented in Philip Agee’s book —“Inside the Company”—, but little is known that the most hated of the three by Mexicans, Díaz Ordaz, was the subject of a destabilization operation because during his government a law against multinationals was approved. It was called “Operation Mexico”, and among what was done was the sabotage of Mexican companies —especially in the sugar industry and retail trade— to clear the way for US affiliates, and assassinations that sought to generate diplomatic conflicts with other countries. In those years the CIA infiltrated and destabilized universities, paid union leaders, journalists, politicians and diplomats to safeguard the interests of the United States. Nothing new to what had already happened, and to what was to come.
But as he well points out, the explosions of the communists would come, through Cuba Russia implemented various espionage strategies in Mexico, it even infiltrated the CIA itself and the Mexican government institutions, the Brain was the Cuban Pedro Anibal Riera Escalante, who was interviewed by Jerry Brewer CEO of Criminal Justice International Associates, my boss and who talked about how Cubans operated in those years. Pedro Riera Escalante is attributed to the Castro regime as part of Cuban intelligence for almost 24 years (1969-1993); in Mexico City, under the appearance of a diplomat, from 1986 to 1991. Riera was the Group Leader of the Section Q-1, in charge of operations against Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States.
There they placed him, at the highest level of the government of Fidel Castro, through the head of the General Directorate of Intelligence, or DGI (today Intelligence Directorate, DI), by Division General Luis Barreiro candies; at the proposal of Brigadier General Matos Ezequiel Suarez, 2nd Chief of Intelligence for foreign counterintelligence. Riera told Jerry Brewer in the interview: “I was sent to develop and implement the same methodology that was developed for the recruitment of CIA officers, that had been approved as official doctrine for the Intelligence (Soviet/Cuban)”.
Riera eventually denounced the Fidel Castro dictatorship and was imprisoned. He called for a shift towards respect for human rights and democracy, before, during and after his sentence to prison in Cuba. His revelations of his orders from Cuba, and his actions in the secret war that has pitted Cuba versus the U.S. for decades in intelligence and espionage tradecraft, reveal a continuing process of Cuban subversion in this hemisphere.
From the conversation of that interview was about the following:
Brewer: “What was the mission and importance of the Cuban DGI
intelligence service during the period of your service?”
Pedro Riera Escalante (PRE): “The first priority of the DGI, from 1969
through 1993, was penetration and opposition to the United States
government and the CIA
“In my opinion it continues right now. The United States was always
considered the main enemy, and the policy of Fidel Castro was to
maintain, at all costs, the confrontation and to prevent normalization
of relations, this insofar as having a powerful foreign enemy served
Castro to justify his economic failures and his foreign policy of
supporting guerrilla movements in other countries.
“At one of the previous times, when they were close to the resumption of
relations with Cuba, during the administration of Gerald Ford, Castro in
late 1975 broke off [talks] due to the Cuban military intervention in
Angola. In 1977, with the entry of Cuban troops in Ethiopia, again the
process that was developing with Jimmy Carter ground to a halt. During
the Reagan administration Cuba’s military expansion accelerated in
Angola, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.
“The facts prove that during most of the years since 1959 the policy of
Cuban military intervention in different parts of the world has been the
principal obstacle for the normalization of relations between the two
“In all those years the mission of the DGI, until 1968, was to train
[and] support guerrillas and urban guerrilla movements materially and
politically in most countries where they existed.
“From 1968 to 1975, the Department of National Liberation was separated
from the DGI [and] charged with support to guerrillas in different parts
of the world, under the command of Comandante Manuel Piñeiro.
“The missions of the DGI, with respect to the United States from 1969 to
1989, were developed by three sub-leaderships … and military
intelligence, they being charged with penetrating the United States
government, first the State Department, embassies, universities, media,
[and] diplomatic mediums in Washington and New York. In 1985, it may
have been (Cuba’s military intelligence) that recruited the U.S. Defense
Intelligence Agency official, Ana Belen Montes.
“[Two DGI] sectional departments, Q-1 and Q-2, [were] in charge of work
against the CIA. The first with three directorates, subdivided into
sections: penetration of CIA headquarters by infiltration or the
introduction of agents recruited at universities and directed to join
the CIA; penetration in third countries; [and] harassment operations
dedicated to propaganda and psychological war against the CIA, therein a
fundamental pillar was the former CIA officer and Cuban intelligence
agent Philip Agee, who died in 2008.
“There were also other former officers, like John Stockwell, the
ex-chief of station of the CIA in Angola during the war; [and] Phil
Roettinger, a CIA officer who played an important role in Guatemala in
1954, who died in 2002.
“Following instructions from Cuba’s leadership, I contacted Phil
Roettinger during my time in Mexico approximately between the years
1988-1990, and traveled to the city of San Miguel de Allende and visited
him at home in order to coordinate his activities and a trip to Cuba
with a group of senior officials of the CIA and the armed forces,
supporters of improving relations with Cuba.
Since the 80s the DGI had two important programs to influence government
policy of the United States towards Cuba. (…) The Section responsible
for the United States was directed to contact, recruit and use State
Department officials, journalists and prominent personalities in
different mediums in order to exert influence actions on the United
States government in favor of improving relations with Cuba.
“Moreover, Section Q-1 was in charge of harassment [and] directed to
denounce CIA plans and reveal the identity of CIA officers through the
actions of Philip Agee and his publication Covert Action and a group of
disgruntled CIA officers who travelled to Cuba and took action or did
publications favorable to the interests of Cuban Intelligence.
“[Several] wrote books revealing information, means and methods of the
CIA, violating their contracts with the CIA, which were used in some
manner by Philip Agee or the DGI, directly or indirectly, consciously or
“I attended to Philip Agee in Cuba during the years 1974 and 1975, to
advise and support him in developing his book ‘Inside the Company: CIA
Diary,’ and later I contacted him in late 1989 when his book became the
centerpiece of the ‘Moncada’ operation, aimed at recruiting the
secretary of the CIA’s deputy chief of station [in Mexico City].
[Information from that first contact] revealed data on the most
important counterintelligence operation carried out by the Station in
order to recruit a Cuban intelligence officer; the facts I knew
subsequently allowed me to verify that the information was true and the
operation continued, and finally allowed intelligence heads to take
preventive measures with the implicated Cuban intelligence officers.
“Double agent Donato Poveda located in the Office of Merchant Marines in
Tokyo in 1974-1976 provide misinformation to the CIA on troops and
military equipment being transported on Cuban civilian ships into battle
in the war in Angola.”
BREWER: “How much of this was the doctrine of Russia and their
PRE: “They developed and initiated special espionage tradecraft and
operations for Cuban officials with access to information from interests
of the CIA located in Cuban missions abroad that were directed so that
the CIA would recruit [them] to misinform, know their means and methods,
and study and engage officers that they attended in order to recruit
them. In early 1976 I received the task to draft the first tradecraft
methodology for the DGI, for which I was provided records of all
tradecraft developed empirically or with basic past concepts; advice
from the KGB was an important leg-up in the work, we considered Soviet
Intelligence our teachers.
“Colonel Victor, Section Chief of tradecraft of the KGB, along with
Colonel Pavel Yatzcov, lectured me several times on Soviet methodology….
From the notes I took during these conferences, and analyses of the
four most important [operations] developed to that date by Cuban
intelligence, in Japan, Spain and Mexico. I compiled the first
methodology. “The first two successes of the new methodology were the
projections and recruiting so that the CIA would recruit [two] agents.
The CIA harassment work developed with Philip Agee was prepared in
coordination and with the support of the KGB.”
It is true that in the government of López Obrador, they should not be scandalized because a new, close and strengthened institutional, legal, legitimate and agreed intelligence collaboration between Mexico and the United States is promoted, which must be reciprocal and respected. The United States will watch over its national interests at all costs, the same will be done by Russia, Cuba, and China. But Mexico must be strengthened by joining its main economic, strategic and partner, simply because of geopolitical strategy and because external threats affect Mexico and the United States.
The tribulations of a former Cuban intelligence officer
CIA operations against the Mexican guerrilla
The CIA reported to Cuba from Mexico
Cuban intelligence tried to prevent Pinochet’s coup in Chile
Inteligencia cubana intentó evitar golpe de Estado de Pinochet en Chile