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Cuban Intel Chief Leads Brawl against Dissidents in Panama

By: Rebeca Morla - @RebecaMorla - Apr 12, 2015, 6:18 pm
Alexis Frutos Weeden, head of Cuban intelligence services in Venezuela, while assaulting Orlando Gutiérrez, National Secretary of the Cuban Democratic Directorate.  (Cuba al Descubierto)
Alexis Frutos Weeden, chief of Cuba’s intelligence services in Venezuela, seen assaulting Orlando Gutiérrez, national secretary of the Cuban Democratic Directorate. (Cuba al Descubierto)

EspañolClashes and violence between pro-Castro Cubans and dissidents in Panama City have marred the Summit of the Americas, which concluded on Saturday, April 11. Photo and video evidence, however, reveal that one of the regime defenders was far from an ordinary citizen, in what appears to have been a planned provocation.

An attacker in the April 8 confrontation — which led to police intervention and arrests — has been identified as Colonel Alexis Frutos Weeden, head of Cuban intelligence in Venezuela. The revelation came via the portal Cuba al Descubierto (Cuba Exposed), which reports that despite his official position as ministry counselor at the Embassy of Cuba in Caracas, Frutos actually serves as the chief of Cuban espionage in the South American nation.

Old-Timer of Cuban Intelligence

Colonel Frutos, one of the highest-ranking officials of Cuban intelligence, has a history of representing the Castro regime in various countries in the region, dating back to the 1980s. Cuba al Descubierto reports that between 1989 and 1995, for example, he was in charge of Cuban espionage in Mexico.

Subsequently, Frutos was allegedly transferred to Cuba’s MII department, responsible for the island’s intelligence work in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In 1999, he became the head of Cuban intelligence in Panama, where in theory he served as a press counselor at the Cuban Embassy. During this period, he assisted with the corruption case against Panamanian businessman Alejandro Abood, who was arrested in Havana in 2001.

Col. Frutos sitting next to the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, at the ceremony commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Martí Mission, in May 2013. (MultimedioVTV)
Colonel Frutos sitting next to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, at the ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Martí Mission in May 2013. (MultimedioVTV)

Abood was accused of being a CIA agent who bribed Castriost officials to obtain information and send it to the United States. In 2003, however, he was released from prison given his poor health, and expelled from the island.

That same year, Colonel Frutos went to Caracas, not only as chief of intelligence but also to monitor the health of then-President Hugo Chávez.

Furthermore, Frutos was in charge of controlling the Martí Mission in Venezuela. This has been a cooperation agreement between Cuba and the oil-producing nation in the field of health — one reason why many doctors from the island began arriving in 2003.

Enrique García, a former Cuban-intelligence official, told El Nuevo Herald that Frutos’s involvement means the attacks against dissidents were performed by “Cuban paramilitaries.” He believes the event “cannot be interpreted as fortuitous.”

“It demonstrates the importance that the intimidation of exile groups found in Panama during the Summit [of the Americas] had for the Cuban dictatorship,” García added. “That was not a [casual] excess; that was a cold, calculated operation.”


“Chief of Cuban espionage participated in pro-Castro mob in Panama.”

Edited by Fergus Hodgson.

Rebeca Morla Rebeca Morla

Based in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Rebeca Morla works as an editorial assistant with the PanAm Post. She is a political scientist and an Executive Board member of EsLibertad. Follow @RebecaMorla.