Saturday, October 07, 2006


Pressure succeeds; Posada Carriles to remain in jail

Two weeks ago, I was heavily involved as part of a team from the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five which travelled to Washington, D.C. to organize and pull off a demonstration which had two demands: Free the Cuban Five, and Extradite Luis Posada Carriles. There were only 600 people at that demonstration, tiny by the standards of national demonstrations. Shortly before that, tens of thousands of people (a big success, but still hardly enormous numbers) sent automated emails to the Bush Administration and Congress in a campaign organized by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition demanding that the U.S. extradite Posada and not release him, as all signs indicated they were preparing to do. Before that, the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five organized some demonstrations of several dozen people outside the El Paso hearings where the release of Posada was being considered. Once again, successes from our point of view, but most people would have considered them minuscule and insignificant, had they even known about them. Of course there have been other activities as well, not just in the U.S. but all over the world.

But lo and behold, guess what? Those demonstrations succeeded, at least in part, and the U.S. government has been forced to declare that they will not release Posada as they were planning to do. Is it because they were worried about losing the votes of the 0.01% of the U.S. population who even knows who Luis Posada Carriles is? Of course not; there probably aren't any of those people who vote for Republicans, and precious few who even vote for Democrats (not that the Democrats have been on the right side of this issue; only the tiniest handful of Democrats, and certainly none of the leadership, has even voiced an opinion on the situation). Was it because, as the U.S. government claims in explaining this decision, that "his release may have serious adverse foreign policy consequences in the United States"? I seriously doubt it. As far as I know, the only countries to object to the release of Posada have been Cuba and Venezuela, and I doubt the U.S. cares a fig about what they think. It suffices to note that for years, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, the U.S. government has been ignoring not just Cuba's opinion, but that of virtually the entire world, as the U.N. votes year after year in lopsided votes like 182-4 to demand the end to the U.S. blockade of Cuba.

No, in my opinion, the only explanation for this sudden shift is that they realized that some Americans, even if only a few, were watching what they were doing and were screaming bloody hell about it, and that even they couldn't pull off such an outrageous act as releasing the most notorious terrorist in the Western Hemisphere. Do you really think that if no one were objecting, that they would have hesitated for a second to release him (not to mention even arresting him in the first place)? I don't. But when we (those who were paying attention and screaming) entered the kitchen and turned the light on the situation, the cockroaches had to scurry for safety, no longer free to carry on what they would have gladly continued to do if left in the dark.

Is this now the "right" decision? Certainly not. The U.S. government must extradite Posada to stand trial for his heinous crimes. I strongly recommend to readers the speech given by Jose Pertierra, the lawyer for the Venezuelan government in this case, to the forum we organized after the Sept. 23 demonstration at the White House. Among other things, he explains that, under international law, the U.S. actually can refuse to extradite Posada, but only if they try him themselves for his crimes. They have done neither, placing them (for the umpteenth time) in clear violation of international law. Not that we want them to try Posada. Their performance at the immigration hearings is indicative of what such a trial might consist of; the U.S. didn't present a single witness on their "own" behalf, and allowed Posada's former partner (!) to offer unrebutted testimony about how he would be tortured if sent to Venezuela. So the demand will continue - Extradite Posada to Venezuela! But for now, a small success in the effort.

Why stop here? There's more...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com High Class Blogs: News and Media