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Inside Politics

Cuban spy's ex-wife to get nearly $200,000

Espionage and Intelligence
Ana Margarita Martinez
Juan Pablo Roque

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush ordered the Treasury Department to pay nearly $200,000 in frozen Cuban government assets Friday to the unwitting former wife of a Cuban double agent.

The $198,000 will be the first installment Ana Margarita Martinez will have received since winning a $27.1 million judgment in 2001 against Fidel Castro's government and her ex-husband, Juan Pablo Roque. She had accused them of using her as a political pawn.

Roque is accused of playing a role in the 1996 shootdown of two civilian planes flown by members of a Miami-based Cuban exile group.

In an interview Friday with CNN, Martinez referred to Roque as "the spy who loved me -- or actually didn't." Their marriage was annulled in October 1996.

"He preferred Fidel over me," she said. "He's the fool. He's the one who actually lost the most."

Martinez met Roque in 1992 after he claimed to have swam from Cuba to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba -- part of his ruse as a double agent to infiltrate anti-Castro groups in the United States. The two wed in 1995.

Roque worked closely with Brothers to the Rescue and other exile groups but was actually spying on them, according to a 2003 government indictment.

Four members of Brothers to the Rescue were killed when a Cuban MiG shot down their unarmed, single-engine Cessnas over the international waters of the Florida Straits on February 24, 1996.

A day before the shootdown, Roque left the United States for Cuba. Before leaving, he told the FBI that Brothers to the Rescue had no plans to fly the weekend of February 24, according to the indictment.

'From victim to having a victory'

In 2001 a court awarded Martinez more than $7.1 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages. She said she has since waived her right to the $20 million award on the advice of her lawyers in hopes of speeding up the payment process.

The lawsuit, she said, was her way of going "from being a victim to having a victory." But, she added, "I don't think justice will ever be done."

She said she had learned of Bush's order from the media, not the government.

Martinez fled Cuba with her mother and grandmother when she was 6 years old, and she has remained active in the Miami community to support exiles.

Most recently she has been instrumental in the development of the Cuban Monument to Freedom, which features a Russian Antonov-2 Colt airplane that brought a family from Cuba to the United States.

The plane has been artistically painted to represent freedom, and the exhibit includes "letters from exiles describing what they left behind in Cuba and what they found when they arrived here," according to the monument's Web site.

Bush's order is not the first time monetary awards have been paid as a result of the 1996 shootdown.

Three of the four victims' families won a $187 million judgment in December 1997. The fourth victim was not a U.S. citizen, and his family was unable to sue Cuba.

In 2001 the families of the three U.S. citizens were paid $58 million in compensatory damages -- money that came from frozen U.S. bank accounts belonging to the Cuban government.

They agreed to give the fourth victim's family $3 million of the money awarded to them.

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