The '90s kind of guy turned out to be a '90s kind of spy. Roque was a Castro agent, and his marriage to Martinez was simply a page from his espionage manual. On Feb. 23, 1996, Roque left Martinez, and three days later he surfaced in Cuba. That was right after Castro's air force, using intelligence gathered in part by Roque, shot down two small unarmed planes off Havana, killing four anti-Castro Cuban-exile activists (from the group Brothers to the Rescue) who were piloting them. Watching TV, Martinez was stunned to see Roque tell a reporter that what he missed most back in the U.S. was "my Jeep Cherokee."
That remark could cost Castro almost $30 million. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned--or raped, as Martinez claimed in the suit she filed two years ago. It charged not only Roque but also the Cuban government with committing sexual battery against her each time she and Roque had intercourse. The suit was widely regarded as a symbolic gesture--until a Miami circuit-court judge this year awarded Martinez $27.2 million, to be garnished from Cuban assets frozen in the U.S. under the rules of the economic embargo. Locating and collecting that dough will be hard and may require an O.K. from the White House. But Martinez's lawyers were confident enough last week to begin pushing banks like J.P. Morgan Chase to cough it up. The banks have yet to reply.
Martinez's award would mark another counterattack by foes of Castro, who fear that U.S. public opinion has turned against the embargo and are finding new ways to attack him. The families of the Brothers to the Rescue victims, for example, have won and collected almost $100 million in frozen Cuban assets. "Where else but the U.S. should we be able to vindicate the rights of individuals wronged by the governments of other nations?" asks Fernando Zulueta, a Martinez attorney.
Aside from the Cuban government, few dispute that Roque did Martinez wrong. In 1992, after apparently swimming to the U.S. naval base on Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, Roque, then 35, moved to Miami. He infiltrated Brothers to the Rescue, which Castro considers a threatening paramilitary cell, and, as part of his front, sought a spouse. He chose Martinez, whom he met in a Bible-study group at his aunt's Baptist church. Says Martinez: "I was perfect for him because I was politically naive." Roque started an ardent courtship and, say court documents, in his secret communiques to Havana referred to Martinez as "the Merry Widow."
During their four years together, Martinez insists, she had no inkling of Roque's deception. In fact, Roque, who could not be reached for this story, had a history of breaking hearts. While training in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, he wooed and married the daughter of a Soviet air force officer, then dumped her when he tired of life in Russia. Later he jettisoned a Cuban wife with whom he had had two children. His communiques reveal that Roque grew impatient with his Miami mission because he missed a girlfriend back in Cuba. That, says Martinez, explains why, shortly before he disappeared, he got a deluxe haircut and bought a stereo, expensive suits and a Rolex watch. Both Roque and the Cuban government refused legal representation during the Martinez trial, so the award won't be appealed. Luis Fernandez, spokesman for the Cuban government in Washington, dismisses Martinez's claim as a "crank legal action." Martinez, an executive secretary, has published a book, Estrecho de Traicion (Strait of Betrayal) and has had her marriage to Roque annulled. "I'm smarter today," she says. "I've learned to use the same sixth sense about people that he used as a spy." And she may soon be able to buy more Rolexes than any spy could ever carry back to Cuba.