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The Real Story Behind the Spy Swap between Cuba and the U.S.

With all the issues surrounding President Barack Obama’s call for normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, the “spy” swap and the “mysteriously” pregnant lady in Cuba, there is a real and disturbing mystery that the American media has shamefully ignored. The item was reported only once and then conveniently ignored and already seemingly forgotten, so as not to interfere with the “historic” main event: the normalization of relations brought about by the amicable cordiality among the tough Cuban dictator, the suave (as well as naive and hoodwinked) American president, and the publicity-seeking Pope Francis.

What does all this mean?

First, given the fact we have a lame-duck American president, a president who wants to remain center-stage in domestic as well as world events following the outstanding drubbing of his political party in the recent congressional elections; a president with a history of affinity for left-wing causes including Marxism; a president who kowtows to world dictators, etc. — it should not be surprising that Obama has made this move at this time.

The possible lifting of the embargo may mean that the U.S. may be exporting goods to Cuba but with very little expectation of payment. It will be the American taxpayer who will be paying the bill when Cuba cannot pay for the goods, defaults (just as the communist island has done on all other loans), and is left shouldering the Castro Brothers’ debts, as has happened to the Canadians, the Spaniards, the Russians, the Argentineans, the British, and the taxpayers of other nations whose governments were foolish enough to lend money to the communist regime.(1)

Second, as to the “spy” swap, let me point out the U.S. released three real, convicted spies, who were traded for one innocent American unjustly incarcerated for seven years for attempting to revive what is left of the Cuban Jewish community on the island. What was Alan Gross really doing in Cuba? He was bringing phones and the internet to the Jewish community. For this alleged “crime,” referred to as “acts against the territorial integrity of the state,” Alan Gross was sentenced for 15 years in communist Cuba. No wonder he was awarded $3.2 million by the U.S. government, even though it should be the Castro Brothers who pay the bill, not  American taxpayers!

The captured members of the Wasp Network, a.k.a. the Red Wasp espionage ring and the “Cuban Five,” are convicted spies, who not only conducted espionage, but their leader, Gerardo Hernández, was also convicted of orchestrating the shooting down of two American planes that were conducting humanitarian missions out of the Florida Keys. The four U.S. citizens, members of the Brothers to the Rescue organization, perished and Hernández was found guilty of murder. For this crime, the leader of the ring received two consecutive life terms. And it is for this unrepentant spy that a respected U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy carried water or rather took semen to Cuba in a “humanitarian mission” of artificial insemination nine months or so ago!

Gerardo Hernandez with his pregnant wife, Adriana. Photo credit: Reuters

With these spermatozoa, the spy’s wife was impregnated, thus solving the “mystery” of the lady who became pregnant by a man far away incarcerated in California in a U.S. prison.(2) What this incident really reveals is how low the Democrats can stoop! The Cubans in Miami, including my 84-year old mother, who I recently visited for the Christmas holidays, is not buying it. The Miami Cuban-American community thinks this is a canard hatched up to protect the reputation of machismo of the Cuban spy. As a member of Cuban intelligence it is not acceptable or pardonable for one of its macho members to have been cuckolded by a lonely and disconsolate wife left behind in Cuba among his brethren.

And the pregnant wife story was not even done primarily for its sensationalism, but to give a new twist to the meaning of “humanitarian missions” and to give a more human face to the normalization of relations, as well as to protect the machismo and reputation of a convicted communist spy.

Third, as juicy as this story of the pregnant wife may be, it does not compare with the more serious, real story the American media should have been pursuing. The real story that should have been followed closely is in fact quite disturbing and may spoil the congratulatory mood of the normalization of relations. Yet it is the one that has been shamefully ignored. It was reported once and only because it was thought it would add to the congratulatory and festive mood. Obama even announced it in a press conference, as another major additional concession gained from Raúl Castro.(3) But that was before the story took a different turn and got murky; then without any further ado and without any apparent further journalistic investigation it was quickly buried!

US spy Rolando Sarraff Trujillo. Photograph: Sarraff family/AP

The story concerns the ominous fate of a Cuban freedom-fighter, operating within Cuba informing the United States of espionage activities in South Florida. This brave man has vanished after supposedly being released from a Cuban prison. He has now been missing for nearly two weeks. Rolando Sarraff Trujillo had been an American agent working inside Cuban intelligence and was supposed to be released in the spy swap, but when the plane took off from Cuba he was nowhere to be found. His parents in Cuba are worried but obviously fearful of the communist government’s retribution.(3)

Trujillo is a 51-year-old man who had risked his life as a defector-in-place for America, was uncovered, arrested by the Cuban secret police and jailed, rotting for nearly 20 years in a Cuban dungeon. Chris Simmons, a former chief of a Cuban counterintelligence unit for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, described Sarraff as a cryptologist in Cuba’s notorious DGI (Directorate of Intelligence), deciphering the communication codes used by Cuban agents abroad to transmit intelligence to their DGI headquarters in Havana.(4)

Ana Belen Montes, former American senior analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency in the United States and a convicted spy serving 25 years at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas

Incidentally, I should also relate that the Cuban Five have not been the only Cuban spies captured in the United States in the last 20 years. In September 2001, ten days after 9-11, a Cuban master spy, Ana Belen Montes, a senior State Department official of Puerto Rican extraction, was captured passing top secret information to Cuban intelligence as well as directing foreign policy favorable to Cuba and detrimental to the United States.(5) The timing of her arrest was related in fact to the 9-11 tragedy, and the fear that her intelligence was being passed from Cuba to Al Qaeda.(5) We don’t know if there was a link between Montes and Trujillo — for example, the latter uncovering the former. If there was and the Cubans knew this, it is unlikely Trujillo would have been available for a swap or that he would even have been kept alive. In this case, Obama would have been hoodwinked by the smarter Raúl from the very beginning!

It was reportedly Trujillo who informed American intelligence of the existence and operation of the Wasp Network in South Florida. Nevertheless, Raúl Castro agreed with the package deal and Trujillo was to have been exchanged along with Alan Gross for the remaining three Cuban spies jailed in the United States. Unfortunately, when the plane landed in the U.S. there was only Gross on board, and no Trujillo.

We can only hope the agent was prudently exfiltrated by the CIA as soon as he was “released.” The operation is reminiscent of when MI-6 exfiltrated the British agent Oleg Gordievsky right from under the nose of KGB surveillance in Moscow back in the mid-1980s. Gordievsky escaped safely, but he was extremely fortunate; most of the courageous Russians, those American agents spying for the West against Moscow’s totalitarianism during the cold war, when captured were summarily executed with a shot to the back of the head. I fear, but hope not, that this is the case with Trujillo, who may have been eliminated and dispatched to oblivion with a gunshot wound to the back of the head, Soviet-style! Unless the silence is broken and the good news reported soon, I fear the fate of this American agent and hero may be a tragic one. Nobody is talking(6), the media shamefully silent, and Obama, who is a main witness in this possible travesty of history, may end up hoodwinked, treacherously and foolishly double-crossed — shamed in the most calculatedly perverse manner.


1. Faria: Opening Trade with Cuba and Letting the US Taxpayers Foot the Bill!, July 8, 2010. Available from:

2. Cuban spy’s ultimate mystery: how he got his wife pregnant from a U.S. prison., December 22, 2014.

3. Spy imprisoned in Cuba missing. WPLG – Miami, December, 19, 2014.

4. The Cuban Spy Freed In US-Cuba Deal is Missing. AP/Business Insider, December 19, 2014.

5. Carmichael SW. True Believer — Inside the Investigation and Capture of Ana Belen Montes, Cuba’s Master Spy. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2007.

6. Kasperowicz P. ‘Everything is confidential’: Obama Stiffs Congress on Details of Cuban Spy Swap. The Blaze, Dec 22, 2014.

Written by Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D. is Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International. He is a former Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery and Adjunct Professor of Medical History. Dr. Faria is the author of Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). He has written numerous articles on the blessings of liberty and the venalities of totalitarianism, collectivism, and communism — all posted at his website:

This article may be cited as: Faria MA. The Real Story Behind the Spy Swap Between Cuba and the U.S., December 31, 2014. Available from:

Shorter and unillustrated versions of this article appeared in on December 29, 2014 and in The Macon Telegraph on January 11, 2015. The photographs used to illustrate this commentary came from two different sources as noted.

Copyright ©2014 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

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2 thoughts on “The Real Story Behind the Spy Swap between Cuba and the U.S.”

  1. AP Newsbreak: U.S. Hero Sarraff is safe!
    Submitted by admin on January 13, 2015 – 9:43am.
    APNewsBreak: Sister: Cuban spy hailed by Obama fine, in US
    The Associated Press – By By JORGE SAINZ – Associated Press
    MADRID (AP) — The Cuban spy traded to the U.S. for jailed Cuban intelligence agents but out of contact with his family for nearly a month is in the U.S. and is doing fine, his sister told The Associated Press in a brief interview Tuesday.
    Vilma Sarraff, who lives in Spain, said her 51-year-old brother Rolando called her for the first time since his Dec. 17 release amid a big thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations. The brother told her he is “free and doing fine.”
    She declined to say anything else about her brother, a former cryptologist in Cuba’s Directorate of Intelligence who helped the U.S. crack a Cuban spy network in Florida.
    Rolando Sarraff was identified in December by a former U.S. official as the released spy who President Barack Obama hailed as one of Washington’s most valuable assets when he announced the thaw in relations. But U.S. and Cuban officials never disclosed where he went after his release to Vilma Sarraff or her parents, who live in Havana.
    Vilma Sarraff spoke a day after the U.S. confirmed that Cuba had freed 53 political prisoners promised their liberty as part of the historic accord between Obama’s administration and the Cuban government.
    Before his downfall, Rolando Sarraff helped the U.S. crack the “Wasp Network,” a Florida-based Cuban spy ring that included members of the Cuban Five, the last three of whom were released in exchange for him.
    The Cuban Five were convicted in 2001 of being unregistered foreign agents, and three also were found guilty of espionage conspiracy for failed efforts to obtain military secrets from the U.S. Southern Command headquarters.
    His father, also Rolando Sarraff, is a retired lieutenant colonel in Cuba’s armed forces and a former journalist with the state news agency Prensa Latina. He and his wife claimed ignorance of the details of their son’s work, and only knew that he had been convicted of being a CIA spy nearly 20 years ago. The younger Sarraff was arrested by state security agents in 1995. — The Associated Press

    U.S.-Cuba Normalization!— Submitted by admin on January 1, 2015
    “ ‘President Obama’s decision on Wednesday to radically shift United States policy toward Cuba is the latest and most striking example of a president unleashed from the hesitancy that characterized much of his first six years in office,’ reported The New York Times last week. They did mention his past promise to promote normalization only ‘if Cuba took steps toward democracy and released all political prisoners.’ In fact there have been no such steps taken, and “According to the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation,’ reported USA Today, ‘the number of political prisoners detained in Cuba has risen from 2,074 in 2010 to 6,424 in 2013. Through the first 11 months of 2014, that number is at 8,410.” Mark that as yet another broken promise by President Obama in the vein of, ‘If you like your doctor…’ ”

    “With the notion that Obama is ‘unleashed from the hesitancy,’ the Times, in essence, dismisses the controversial legacy of President Obama’s far-from-hesitant nor un-noteworthy six years, such as:
    • the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservatives applying for non-profit status;
    • the deceitful packaging and passage of Obamacare;
    • the manufactured border crisis;
    • the death of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 and the ensuing administration cover-up;
    • the trade of five Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo for one apparent deserter, Bowe Bergdahl;
    • the war on journalists;
    • the overall decline in transparency;
    • the embrace of the race-baiting huckster, Al Sharpton, and the Department of Justice’s ‘civil rights’ investigations in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York;
    • shutting down the World War II Memorial and national parks; and more…”—- Media Celebrate Obama’s ‘Audacity’ By Roger Aronoff, GOPUSA, December 29, 2014

    And the Catholic Church under publicity-hound Pope Francis, like the Russian Orthodox Church in the days of the Soviet Union, now gets rewarded for cooperating with the oppressive communist regime in Cuba. Since media-hound Pope Francis was instrumental in the one-sided accord that brought about “normalization” of U.S.-Cuba relations, the Catholic Church will be getting back most of its property in Cuba — dilapidated, run down, desecrated as they may be.(1) In other words, Faustian bargains still get their rewards when tempted or cowed subjects cooperate with evil! But the Vatican under Pope Francis better stay in line, and when high Catholic dignitaries visit Cuba, they better look the other way as it regards human right abuses, censorship, arrests of dissidents (already taking place this weekend despite “normalization”), etc. What the communist government gives, it can and will also take away.— Dr. Miguel A. Faria
    1. Devuelve el regimen en Cuba propiedades a la Iglesia Católica. LA HABANA, 28 de Diciembre de 2014.

  2. In September 2001, ten days after 9-11, a Cuban master spy, Ana Belen Montes, a senior State Department official of Puerto Rican extraction, was captured passing top secret information to Cuban intelligence as well as directing foreign policy favorable to Cuba and detrimental to the United States. The timing of her arrest was related in fact to the 9-11 tragedy, and the fear that her intelligence was being passed from Cuba to Al Qaeda. We don’t know if there was a link between Montes and Trujillo — for example, the latter uncovering the former. If there was and the Cubans knew this, it is unlikely Trujillo would have been available for a swap or that he would even have been kept alive. In this case, Obama would have been hoodwinked by the smarter Raúl from the very beginning!… Ana Belen Montes was released from prison January 2023.

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