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Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI)

The principal intelligence collection arms of the Cuban government are the Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI) of Ministry of the Interior, and the Military Counterintelligence Department of the Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces. Both have been closely associated with the Soviet and Russian intelligence services. The relationship between these services is likely to continue based upon the June 14, 1993 agreement on military cooperation between Russia and Cuba.

The key organization responsible for Cuba's foreign intelligence is the Intelligence Directorate (Direccion de Inteligencia). Before its name was changed in 1989, this body was long known as the General Intelligence Directorate (Direccion General de Inteligencia - DGI). Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the DGI was closely aligned with and organized along the lines of the former Soviet Union's KGB, from which it also received training. During the Soviet era, foreign intelligence gained by either organization was occasionally shared.

The General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) was established under the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) in late 1961. The new agency included three Liberation Committees - for the Caribbean, Central America, and South America - collectively known as the Liberation Directorate (DL). In the early 1960's, the DL also was responsible for supporting liberation movements in Africa, including those who overthrew the government of Zanzibar in 1963. However Soviet economic pressure on Cuba in 1967-68 forced Castro to develope a more selective revolutionary strategy, and subordinate the DGI to the KGB. The KGB compelled Castro to replace its chief, Manuel Piñeiro, with José Méndez Cominches in 1969. The DGI thereafter focused its efforts on collecting military, political and economic intelligence, with responsibility for supporting national liberation movements shifting to the new National Liberation Directorate (DLN), which was independent of the MININT. The DLN was subsequently reorganized into the America Department (DA).

The DGI is responsible for foreign intelligence collection. The DGI has six divisions divided into two categories of roughly equal size: the Operational Divisions and the Support Divisions.

The operational divisions include the Political/Economic Intelligence Division, the External Counterintelligence Division, and the Military Intelligence Division. The Political Economic Intelligence Division consists of four sections: Eastern Europe, North America, Western Europe, and Africa-Asia-Latin America. The External Counterintelligence Division is responsible for penetrating foreign intelligence services and the surveillance of exiles.

The support divisions include the Technical Support Division, the Information Division, and the Preparation Division. The Technical Support Division is responsible for production of false documents, communications systems supporting clandestine operations, and development of clandestine message capabilities. The Information and Preparation Divisions are responsible for intelligence analysis functions.

On November 15, 1982, four close aides to Castro were convicted on charges of smuggling drugs into the United States. The four included René Rodríguez-Cruz, a senior official of the DGI (Cuban Intelligence Service). On February 7, 1983, a former member of the DGI testified in the District Court for the Southern District of Florida, that Cuban involvement in international drug operations was a multifaceted, methodical campaign aimed at undermining the United States and its international stature. And in 1988 testimony from José Blandón Castillo, a former intelligence aid to Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, provided further evidence concerning Cuba's role in the drug flow of the United States.

The Cuban mission to the United Nations is the third largest UN delegation, and it has been alleged that almost half the personnel assigned to the mission are DGI officers. The DGI actively recruits within the Cuban emigre community and has used refugee flows into the United States to place agents. The DGI collects political, economic, and military information within the United States. More recently, the DGI has started to conduct operations to gain access to technologies required to improve the Cuban economy. Cuba is considered by the United States to be a sponsor of international terrorism and has worked closely with Puerto Rican separatist and Latin American terrorist groups. Much of this activity has been handled through the DGI.

The United States and the resident Cuban exile community in this country have been the two principal foci of the Intelligence Directorate's collection and analytical efforts. The collection activities include the infiltration of exile organizations, an effort that is relatively easy given the common language and culture and the large numbers of exiles resident in the United States. Following the February 1996 downing of two aircraft piloted by members of the exile organization Brothers to the Rescue, it became known that one of the group's pilots who did not fly that day,Juan Pablo Roque, had infiltrated the organization on behalf of the Cuban government. Shortly after the aircraft were shot down, Roque disappeared from his home in Florida and resurfaced in Havana. Other United States-based groups and paramilitary organizations reportedly targeted by the Intelligence Directorate include the Democracy Movement, the Alpha 66, the Democratic National Unity Party (Partido de Unidad Nacional Democratico-PUND), and even the Latin American Chamber of Commerce.

Cuban intelligence operatives are believed to have been somewhat less successful in other United States penetration efforts. On various occasions, members of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., have been identified as intelligence agents, declared persona non grata, and sent home. In September 1998, an extensive effort to penetrate the United States government was revealed, when ten Cubans residing in Florida were arrested for espionage. Related to these arrests, in December 1998, three Cuban diplomats from Cuba's United Nations mission were ordered to leave the United States because of their ties to the ten individuals. The Miami spy ring was the largest single group of Cubans charged with spying by the United States since the Castro government came to power. According to the United States Federal Bureau ofInvestigation (FBI), the ten arrested were tasked with spying on military installations in Florida, including the Boca Chica Naval Air Station, the United States Southern Command, and MacDill Air Force Base.

With respect to the Intelligence Directorate's interests, this shift to military targets was deemed by some observers to reflect a new Cuban intelligence concern, namely its interest in regaining access to the kind of strategic information on the United States military that had once been provided by the Soviet Union. However, the directorate is also active elsewhere in the world, where its operatives are often tasked to collect intelligence related to investments in the island or other business-related endeavors. Still, even beyond North America, the Cubans have demonstrated a continuing interest in militaryrelated targets, as was suggested by the revelation in early 1999 that the directorate had infiltrated Spanish military intelligence. At the time, Intelligence Directorate agents were thought to be seeking details regarding Spain's participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as information pertaining to investments in Cuba's tourism industry. Spain's capital, Madrid, is believed to serve as the "home base" for the directorate's agents assigned to Europe.

By the end of the 1990s, the Intelligence Directorate appeared to be stepping up its overseas activities, apparently having recovered from the shake-up in 1989, when, as occurred in the other bureaucratic entities under the Ministry of Interior's authority, a large number of the directorate's long-time personnel were fired or retired, and were replaced with military personnel. This extensive changeover in personnel was believed to have negatively affected Cuban intelligence during most of the 1990s, given that scores of operatives with many years of experience were peremptorily dismissed. During the mid-1990s, in an effort to recoup its capabilities, the directorate was reported to have asked some of these career intelligence officers to return to active service. The directorate remained dominated by military personnel, however.

In the late 1990s, the Intelligence Directorate reportedly had six divisions, or bureaus, which were divided into two categories of roughly equal size, consisting of operational divisions and support divisions. The operational divisions include the Political-Economic Intelligence Division, which is subdivided into regional sections, including a separate one for North America; the Military Intelligence Division, and the External Counterintelligence Division, which is tasked with penetrating foreign intelligence services and the surveillance of exiles. The support divisions include the Technical Division, the Information Division, and the Preparation Division. The first is responsible for the production of false documents, maintenance of the communications systems that support clandestine operations, and the development ofclandestine message capabilities. The Ministry of Interior's Intelligence Directorate maintains a radio listening and transmitting post on the island that is used primarily to maintain contact with its operatives abroad. The information and preparation divisions assist in matters related to intelligence analysis. During the 1970s and 1980s, the operatives of the America Department (Departamento America DA), an entity formally under the PCC's jurisdiction, worked closely with the DGI (as the Intelligence Directorate was then known) in managing covert activities and support for national liberation movements throughout the world.

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Page last modified: 03-04-2013 19:36:23 ZULU