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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 08:27 GMT
Cuban dancers in Nazi spy plot
Havana
The spies were to target officers relaxing in Havana
By Iain Haddow in Miami

Details have emerged of a bizarre plot by the Nazis to recruit a Cuban dancer to spy on American and British troops during World War II.

Classified wartime documents released by the UK intelligence service, MI5, show that the dancer, Jose Pacheco, and his wife, Viviana Diaz, were captured before they were able to do any damage.

In the years before the war, Pacheco and Diaz were a successful act who made their living touring Europe, performing in London and even making an appearance on British television.

But when war broke out in 1939, they found themselves in Nazi Germany and later moved to occupied territory in Brussels.

Invisible ink

It was then, according to documents just released by MI5, that they were approached by the Germans to carry out a spying mission back in their native Cuba.

Details of the plot read like a script for a Hollywood film.

According to MI5, Pacheco was coached by Nazi military instructors on how to write messages with invisible ink, using matches specially treated with chemicals.

The documents allege that the dancers were instructed to gather information on Allied naval and military movements from off-duty officers in Havana's cafes and dance halls.

Amateurs

But MI5 were tipped off about the plan, and arrested the pair before they even arrived.

They were detained for the rest of the war in Britain.

The newly-released documents also reveal that the dancers were scorned by MI5 as amateurs.

After they were caught, agents concluded that Mr Pacheco's spying career had come to an end and he should be deported to Cuba after the war.

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17 Sep 99 | UK
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