HAVANA TIMES — Starting 1998, the Cuban government provided the United States with intelligence to help it track down US citizens who had disappeared in the field during the Cold War, a former CIA agent revealed.
Chip Beck, a retired CIA agent and former Department of State official, revealed that, between 1998 and 2001, he traveled to Cuba officially on five separate occasions to look for information on US citizens who had disappeared during missions in Indochina, Africa and Central America during the years of confrontation between the West and the communist bloc headed by the Soviet Union.
During a Q & A session held through the social network Wikistrat, a well-known geopolitics and intelligence strategy consulting site, Dr. Beck described how, in his trips to the island, he met with representatives of Cuba’s Intelligence Department (DI) and had access to extensive documentations related to his investigative interests.
According to Beck, Cuba’s DI knew he had been a navy commander and CIA agent, but felt he had treated Cuban soldiers and agents properly during his missions in Indochina and in African and Central American countries.
Beck made it clear he had absolutely no intentions of spying or deserting and that he was merely interested in accessing classified information, in order to shed light into the situation of American citizens who had disappeared abroad as a result of Cold War operations, without undermining Cuba’s intelligence interests.
The DI asked Beck what Cuba stood to gain from its cooperation and Beck replied that only the fact he would mention they had aided in his investigation in the journalistic pieces.
Beck acknowledges he received more help than he expected, as he was able to read original documents and even interview DI agents and operates who agreed to be taped and filmed.
Beck also conversed with Cuban government officials, during which time Cuba-US relations were inevitably addressed.
An Unnecessary Relic
The US-Cuba conflict came to the fore during the Wikistrat session, where Beck expressed support for the normalization of relations between the two countries: “The status quo is not working for either side; it is an unnecessary relic of the Cold War that should (…) be scrapped.”
Beck’s central argument is that the current conflict with Havana is senseless, since Washington maintains diplomatic relations with Moscow, Peking and Hanoi.
“Washington insiders would swoon if Pyongyang would only offer them the same openings that Havana suggested during my trips a little over a decade ago,” remarked Beck, who believes it is misguided to wait for Fidel and Raul Castro to die to impel a new stage in bilateral relations.
“That is like telling someone you can’t be their friend until their mother and father dies. The time to mend fences is now, not some ill-defined “later”,” affirmed the analyst, who retired from the CIA in 1993.
At Havana’s Seaside Drive
Beck supported his arguments with two anecdotes.
While gazing at the Havana bay, a Cuban navy officer said to him: “What are you guys waiting for? Let’s be friends and come back.” A university graduate then said to him: “If you tell a Cuban what to do, he will do the opposite just to spite you. If you [Americans] stop telling us what to do, things will work out exactly like you want.”
In 2010, after working as the coordinator for the Africa Counterintelligence Operations Task Assistance (ACOTA) at the US State Department for five years, Beck retired from government service.
He is considered a top-level expert on counterinsurgency, international terrorism, drug trafficking, counterintelligence and national security. In addition, Beck is a well-known editor, writer and photographer. He speaks Spanish, French and Portuguese fluently and masters Swahili, Arabic, Laotian, Thai, Russian and Japanese.