CUBA: Terrorists' extradition demanded

November 29, 2000


The governments of Cuba and Venezuela are seeking the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, a notorious Cuban terrorist with a long record of attacks against the Cuban Revolution. Posada has close ties with the US Central Intelligence Agency.

Posada and three others were intercepted on November 17 soon after they entered Panama with false or irregular passports. Cuban President Fidel Castro, in Panama to attend the November 18-19 Ibero-American Summit, had alerted the Panamanian government that the terrorists were planning to assassinate him.

The Cuban government has requested Posada and his accomplices' extradition. Venezuelan officials also plan to request the extradition of Posada, who escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 1985 while waiting trial on charges for the bombing of a Cuban passenger jet in 1976. Should the men be extradited to Venezuela, it is likely President Hugo Chavez will send them on to Cuba.

Castro also suggested that an international tribunal should be formed to try the men for crimes committed in numerous countries.

As well as the downing of the Cuban jet, in which 73 people died, Posada is accused of many attacks on Cuban offices throughout Latin America in the mid-1970s.

Posada admitted arranging in 1997 a dozen bombings of hotels in Havana, the Cuban capital. A Salvadoran man was condemned to death for killing an Italian tourist in one of those attacks.

Two of the men detained with Posada — Pedro Remon and Guillermo Novo — were members of the Miami-based terrorist group Omega 7. In February 1986, Remon pleaded guilty to participating in a 1979 bombing at Cuba's United Nations mission and of attempting to kill the Cuban ambassador in 1980. He was sentenced to 10 years' jail in a US federal prison. In testimony in a 1984 murder trial of another Omega 7 member, Remon was identified as the murderer a Cuban UN diplomat

Novo was convicted of 1976 murder of former Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C. However, ths conviction was overturned on a legal technicality and he was acquitted in a second trial. He was also arrested in a 1964 bazooka attack on the UN during a speech by Che Guevara, but the charges were later dropped.

Posada fled Cuba after the 1959 revolution and was involved in US-backed attempts to overthrow Castro's revolutionary government. He worked for the CIA and became director of operations for that Venezuela's intelligence agency. He also worked for the viciously anti-communist government of Guatemala. After his escape from jail in Venezuela, he became a key figure in the operation directed by former White House aide Oliver North to supply US-backed Contras fighting the revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

During the Ibero-American Summit, Castro was the only leader to abstain from a resolution proposed by El Salvador to condemn "acts of terrorism" conducted against the government of Spain by the Basque ETA. The resolution was passed by all remaining countries without any mention of the brutal repression conducted by Spain against the Basque national movement. The heads of state did not offer to introduce a proposal to condemn the many acts of terrorism conducted against Cuba from the US, nor express opposition to the US blockade of Cuba.

Castro criticised El Salvador President Francisco Flores' "anti-terrorist" proposal and revealed that El Salvador had been harbouring Posada. The El Salvador government of Flores' National Republican Alliance, a party linked to right-wing death squads during the 1980s' civil war, continues to insist that it did not know that Posada was in its country. An article was published in the Miami Herald in 1998 that exposed Posada's close ties to military figures in El Salvador and his residence there.

On November 22, the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples issued a call for all Cuba solidarity organisations and the "many millions of friends of the Cuban Revolution" to mobilise to bring the captured terrorists to justice.

"A person [Posada] with such a horrific history of criminality and terrorism cannot go unpunished. The time has come for him to be tried and sentenced. He must not be allowed to escape justice once more ...

"Luis Posada Carriles and his accomplices must be extradited to Cuba. Cuban justice has the right to judge his crimes because they were committed against the Cuban people and the majority of his victims were Cubans.

"We give an absolute guarantee that a fair trial will take place and agree to the participation of an international tribunal, so that his repugnant genocidal crimes can be judged.

"We call for a mobilisation of public opinion. The united force of our peoples must not allow complicit decisions to be made over these crimes."

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