Judge Orders Cuba To Pay Ex-CIA Expat $2.8 Billion

Attorney confident most of settlement can be recovered through frozen Cuban assets

By Sharon Lawson and Janie Campbell
|  Thursday, Aug 25, 2011  |  Updated 12:58 AM EDT
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A Miami judge has ordered Cuba to pay a $2.8 billion judgement to a former CIA operative credited with helping hunt down Che Guevara -- and whose own father was forced to commit suicide by the Castro regime.

A Miami judge has ordered Cuba to pay a $2.8 billion judgement to a former CIA operative credited with helping hunt down Che Guevara -- and whose own father was forced to commit suicide by the Castro regime.

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Cuban exile pilots supplied by the CIA battled against Communist forces in a war in the Congo, a former Belgian colony.
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A Miami judge has ordered Cuba to pay a $2.8 billion settlement to a former CIA operative whose father was forced to commit suicide in exchange for his family's safety.

Gustavo Villoldo, 75, was without words when he learned of the ruling. It was a measure of vindication for the son who saw his father given an unthinkable ultimatum -- and was set on a life's path of justice.

"I failed him," testified Villoldo, who fled to the United States a month after his family lost all of their property and belongings upon his father's death.

"I could not save his life...I carry that burden in my heart."

Villoldo shortly became involved in the Bay of Pigs and flew combat missions with the CIA in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

One of his most notorious assignments was to help track down, capture, and kill Fidel Castro's ally Che Guevara in Bolivia.

His actions put Villoldo and his family on Castro's most wanted list, suffering repeated death threats from the late '50s through 2003.

"That's the level of threat Gus has been living with," said his attorney, Andrew Hall. "Gustavo filed because he's a courageous man and he's been fighting for the vindication of the rights of Cuban people ever since the revolution."

Hall is confident his client will recover most of the $2.8 billion through frozen Cuban assets and by pursuing Cuban corporations that currently do business across the globe.

The Cuban government refuses to acknowledge the case, but for Villoldo, who was unable to comment due to health issues, it is a victory.

"For 52 years he has been engaged with an ongoing battle to do the right thing, particularly focused on Cuba," said Hall. "That's a hero."

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