Published Tuesday, August 3, 1999, in the Miami Herald

Infiltrator's ex-wife sues Cuba for rape

Marriage a fraud, Miami woman says

By GAIL EPSTEIN NIEVES
Herald Staff Writer

A man gets married, has sexual relations with his wife for 11 months, then disappears. It turns out he has returned to his homeland, Cuba, for whose government he worked as a spy.

Did he -- and by extension the Cuban government -- rape the wife every time the couple had sexual intercourse?

That's the novel allegation put forth Monday by Ana Margarita Martinez, former wife of Cuban infiltrator and double defector Juan Pablo Roque. She made the claim in a personal injury lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. The sole defendant: the Republic of Cuba.

Cuba also was sued by the families of Brothers to the Rescue volunteers who were shot down by Fidel Castro's air force in 1996. A federal judge in Miami awarded the families more than $187.6 million in damages. They're going after frozen Cuban assets for the money.

For Martinez -- who now believes Roque married her merely to establish ''cover'' as a family man -- the lawsuit represents her best chance for public retribution against the regime that caused her so much pain and humiliation.

''This is an opportunity to fight back,'' Martinez said. ''The moral victory is really what I'm focused on. If there were a monetary victory, which is not something I'm counting on, that would be an additional blessing.''

In 1992, Roque swam to the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay and requested political asylum, saying he was a disenchanted Cuban air force major who had resigned from the military. He met Martinez at a Miami church that same year, and they married in 1995.

On Feb. 23, 1996, Roque vanished from the Kendall home that he shared with Martinez and her two children. The next day, two Cessnas flown by Brothers to the Rescue were shot down over the Florida Straits by Cuban warplanes. Four civilian crewmen died.

Days later, Roque appeared on Cuban television accusing Brothers to the Rescue -- which he had joined in 1994 -- of being a terrorist organization actively planning acts of sabotage on the island.

Martinez's lawsuit, filed by lawyers Fernando Zulueta and Scott Leeds, asserts that she never would have married or had sex with Roque had she known that ''Roque was using his marriage to her as a mere pretext to carry out his spy mission for a terrorist state.''

Roque's deception -- allegedly under orders from Havana -- means every time the couple had intercourse, it constituted sexual battery, says the suit, which seeks unspecified damages from Roque's employer: the Cuban government.

''He was interviewed when he returned to Cuba, and when asked what he missed most about Miami, he said his Jeep Cherokee,'' attorney Zulueta said. ''It proves he really didn't have much interest in this marriage.''

Martinez has had the couple's 11-month marriage annulled.

Roque is also named in a federal indictment accusing him and 13 other people with participating in a spy ring that worked to destabilize Miami's Cuban exile community. The alleged ring leader is charged with conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the Brothers shoot-down.

According to the indictment, one week before the downing of planes, two alleged ring members were warned by their Cuban intelligence contacts that no agent who had infiltrated the Brothers was to fly aboard any of the group's planes between Feb. 24 and 27, 1996.

The indictment charges Roque with acting as a foreign agent without registering with the U.S. attorney general. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Copyright 1999 Miami Herald