February 8, 2023

By Owei Lakemfa

ANA Belen Montes returned. Captured spies are usually killed, imprisoned for life without the possibility of parole, or used in prisoner exchanges. But the 65-year-old American super spy who worked for free in Cuba by her principles has returned to resettle in American society.

But this was not due to the generosity of the US establishment, which wanted the death penalty, but rather to Montes’ incredible negotiating skills, as she did not panic despite her arrest and correctly assessed the situation.

She knew that the case against her was circumstantial and that without her cooperation the government might not be able to secure a conviction or a long prison sentence. So she entered a plea bargain that left the death penalty off the table, and she got no more than 25 years in prison despite her pretty devastating 17 years of prowling for the Cubans while the US government collected her bills.

Despite being held in a special 20-room prison with those considered the worst female inmates, in which the inmates are given the impression that they need mental help, Montes kept her calm and worked towards release after 20 years for good behaviour.

I had read about Montes in a book I bought in Uyo on October 4, 2012. It’s titled: Enemies: How America’s Enemies Are Stealing Our Vital Secrets — And How We’re Making It Happen. by Bill Gertz. She was considered such an efficient and useful spy that the Americans gave her 10 special awards. Montes was so cunning that in 1993 the US government paid for her visit to Cuba, where she met her Cuban escorts.

As her due release date of January 8, 2023 approached, I dedicated my December 16, 2022 column to her in a piece entitled, “Ana Montes: An American Super Spy Who Worked for Cuba.” I did not expect the deluge of reactions that followed, with many, including Americans, expressing surprise at the existence of such a superspy.

Perhaps the most surprising response was a message I received on January 2, 2023 from an American radio program “Voices With Vision”. broadcasts in Washington on Tuesday morning. I appeared on the program the next morning to speak about Montes, arguing for her release as planned and for arrangements to be made not only to receive her, but also to ensure that she had shelter and some maintenance to make it easy for her. her return to society.

As it turned out, prison officials released her two days early, perhaps to prevent large crowds from gathering at the facility. Montes flew to her native Puerto Rico, an area that has been forcibly occupied by America since July 25, 1898, 124 years ago. She will be the second highest ranking Puerto Rican political dissident to return home.

The first was a 79-year-old liberation fighter, Oscar Lopez Rivera, who had been imprisoned for 38 years before his release in May 2017. I had written about him on December 3, 2021 in my column titled, “Rivera: Thirty-Eight Years in U.S. Prison for Freedom.” Later that year, I had the privilege of having an electronic discussion with Rivera from his Puerto Rican home in which he accepted my invitation to visit Nigeria.

When Montes arrived in Puerto Rico, she released a statement saying in part, “After two rather grueling decades and having to make a living again, I would like to pursue a quiet and private existence. Therefore, I will not participate in media activities. I encourage those who want to focus on me to focus instead on important issues, such as the serious problems facing the Puerto Rican people or the US economic embargo against Cuba… The urgent need for global cooperation to also stop and reverse our destruction of our environment deserves attention. I as a person am irrelevant. I have no interest…”

Spies intrigue me. Being embedded in places, instances, or situations, or pretending to be someone you’re not, can be difficult, if not terrifying. Each spy is potentially a hero or villain, depending on the analyst.

People find spies attractive. This could explain why Ian Fleming’s fictional character James Bond 007, a Secret Service intelligence officer, appears in over 25 films.

One of the most intriguing spies is a 12th century African woman, Moremi Ajasoro from Offa, Kwara state. She lived in ancient Ile-Ife at a time when the city was constantly invaded by strange figures, the Ugbo. The Ifes assumed that the invaders, who were covered from head to toe in raffia leaves, were ghosts, fleeing from the invaders, who took captives and looted.

Moremi decided to infiltrate the invading army by being captured. The ruler of Ugbo, unable to resist her beauty, married Moremi. She seemed like a model woman and no one suspected she was collecting intelligence. She learned that the invaders were human and could be easily defeated if the Ifes used fire torches to set them on fire.

She later escaped and revealed the secret of the invaders, who were defeated when they next invaded Ife. Biblically, espionage is one of the oldest professions. In Numbers 13, the Lord commanded Moses to send out men to spy on the land of Canaan. A dozen spies were sent, and two, Joshua and Caleb, returned with positive reports that “it flows with milk and honey,” that its security could be breached, and that the Israelites could conquer and possess it with God’s help can take.

To me, the most successful spy in contemporary history was Harold Adrian Russell “Kim” Philby, leader of the Cambridge Five, a spy ring that included Sir Anthony Frederick Blunt, Queen Elizabeth II’s art curator.

Philby was a senior British intelligence officer and a double agent for the Soviet Union who was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, OBE, in 1946. He was so self-assured, credible and successful that four years after two of his fellow spies, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess, had been exposed and fled to Moscow, and Philby had been publicly accused in parliament of being a double agent, the British government publicly acquitted him. It was not until January 1961 that he defected to Moscow and it became known that he was a colonel in the KGB.

In the 1930s, Philby, then a Soviet agent working as a journalist, was so successful in getting through to the fascist regime of Spanish General Francisco Franco that he personally awarded him the Red Cross of Military Merit on March 2, 1938. Three years later, he joined the British intelligence service M16. With Montes, I now wonder: who, between her and Kim Philby, is the greatest of all time and the most successful spy in history?

The post The Return of Heroic Ana Montes appeared first on Vanguard News.

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