Thursday, July 1, 2010

Could He Be Cuban?

I'm sure you've seen the developments over the past few days about the 11 persons who were arrested earlier this week, accused of living in deep cover in the U.S. for years working for the Russian intelligence services.

The following two articles give details on the case.  From today's New York Times.  And from Yahoo news.

Among those arrested were two Yonkers residents, a college professor named "Juan Jose Lazaro" and his wife, Vicky Pelaez, a fairly well-known leftist journalist. 

Interestingly, some of Pelaez's work has been republished on the Cuban government website Cuba Debate (see the link for a full list).

Even more interestingly, it turns out that Juan Lazaro was my colleague here at Baruch College, where he taught Latin American Politics as an adjunct professor a few semesters ago. He seems to have also been reprimanded for his in-class preaching, or at least he pissed a few students off with his rigid leftist rants in class about American imperialism. (I myself try not to be so rigid or rant so much when I discuss Tio Sam and his illustrious history of meddling in the internal affairs of our "Good Neighbors" down "South of the Border").

It also turns out that he is not really named Juan Jose Lazaro, nor was he born in Uruguay as he has long claimed.

His wife is Peruvian. It is possible that he too is Peruvian, or maybe given the similarity in accents he is Argentine?

But could he be Cuban? We know there is a long history of Cuban agents working undercover in the U.S. For now he has said a number of interesting things, but won't give his real name nor say where he is actually from.

According to the Times,
"Mr. Lazaro, a former professor at Baruch College who has a 17-year-old son with Ms. Pelaez, told the authorities that although he 'loved his son, he would not violate his loyalty to the service even for his son'."

Check out the two links above for the latest on the still developing case. Here's an excerpt from the Times article:
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan seeking to oppose bail for four suspected Russian agents revealed new evidence on Thursday, including a confession from one of the defendants that he worked for Russia’s intelligence service.

The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan revealed in court documents that one suspect, Juan Lazaro, after waiving his Miranda rights, admitted that he worked for the “Service,” a reference to the Russian S.V.R., the successor agency to the Soviet K.G.B.

In a long statement given to investigators after his arrest, Mr. Lazaro admitted “Lazaro” was not his true name, and that the Yonkers house where he and another of the suspects lives, was paid for by the “Service,” a reference to the S.V.R. in Moscow.

Mr. Lazaro also said that his wife, Vicky Pelaez, a journalist for a Spanish-language newspaper in New York who was also charged in the case, “had delivered letters to the service on his behalf,” prosecutors said.

Mr. Lazaro, a former professor at Baruch College who has a 17-year-old son with Ms. Pelaez, told the authorities that although he “loved his son, he would not violate his loyalty to the service even for his son.”

Mr. Lazaro also “refused to provide his true name,” prosecutors added.

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