The story of the Queen of Cuba, the spy that Fidel Castro infiltrated the Pentagon for 17 years

admirable person.”

Fidel Castro was always intrigued by the words of his idol José Martí: “I lived in the monster and I know its insides. And my sling is David’s.” Martí was tormented by the idea that the United States, the “monster” in which he had lived, would extend its influence to the Antilles. After Washington’s multiple attempts to destabilize the Cuban Revolution due to its alliance with the Soviet Union, Fidel decided to confront Goliath with a peculiar slingshot: the infiltration of secret agents into its entrails. Ana Montes was the most effective of these informants, a shrewd Pentagon Intelligence analyst by day and a conspicuous Havana collaborator by night. According to the FBI, the Queen of Cuba became one of the most damaging spies for US security. Discovered in 2001, she was sentenced to 25 years in prison, but has recently been paroled at the age of 65.

Ana Belén Montes was born in 1957 on a US military base in Germany. She was a diligent student and was drawn to politics during a trip to Spain in 1977. Back in the United States, she got a job as a typist at the Department of Justice and enrolled at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. It was there that Fidel Castro’s secret services contacted her, as she met their criteria of being bilingual and having participated in demonstrations against the Ronald Reagan Administration’s intervention in Nicaragua. A year later, Montes achieved a position in the DIA, attached to the Pentagon. She first worked as an analyst on Nicaragua and El Salvador and soon took care of everything related to the Fidel Castro regime in both political and military matters.

Montes used Cold War techniques to pass information to Havana, memorizing classified documents in the office and transcribing them onto a Toshiba computer and storing them on encrypted diskettes. She also listened to a shortwave station on a radio and transcribed the numbers she heard into text with a program provided by the Cubans. She would meet her contacts in cheap restaurants to pass them the floppy disks and use telephone booths to transmit encrypted messages. She traveled to Cuba on several occasions to attend meetings with the heads of the United States Interests Section in Havana.

Despite her efforts to obtain sensitive information, Montes went unnoticed for 17 years and even received various official recognitions. However, her double life ended on September 21, 2001, when she was arrested for conspiracy to commit espionage. She was among the top spies the US government has arrested since World War II and one of the most damaging spies in the modern history of the country. She had disclosed data related to a relevant satellite program of the National Reconnaissance Office and informed the Cubans of the identity of four US agents working on the island.

Fidel Castro praised Ana Montes as “a noble and good American person who is against an injustice, against a blockade of more than 40 years, against all the terrorist acts that were committed against Cuba, and is capable of reacting in this way”.