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Wednesday, November 15, 2006


L.A. Times calls for justice for Posada...sort of

The Los Angeles Times called today for terrorist (and they actually called him a "terrorist," to my great shock!) Luis Posada Carriles to be brought to justice...sort of. Here's the Times editorial, followed by a letter to the editor which I've sent off tonight in response:

Los Angeles Times:

Bring the Cuban terrorist to justice
The U.S. must not release a man accused of blowing up a Cuban jetliner. A third-party country could be the answer.

November 15, 2006

IT IS TIME TO BRING Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to justice. Dithering on the part of the U.S. is leaving the nation open to charges of hypocrisy in the war on terror — specifically, to the charge that some forms of terrorism are more acceptable than others.

The 78-year-old Posada is lionized by hard-line anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Miami. He stands accused of conspiring to blow up a Cuban airliner in 1976, causing 73 deaths. He denies involvement, but newly declassified documents place him at planning sessions for the attack.

Posada has boasted of bombing hotels in Havana that resulted in one death and 11 injuries. In 2000, a Panamanian jury convicted Posada and three other terrorists of plotting to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro, and they were jailed. Outgoing Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso, however, pardoned the four — some believe as a favor to the White House.

A naturalized Venezuelan citizen, Posada was arrested in spring 2005 for entering the U.S. illegally. An immigration judge has since blocked his deportation to stand trial in either Venezuela or Cuba because of concerns about the fairness of any proceeding in those countries. The Bush administration now faces a choice between trying Posada in this country or setting him free in February.

Letting him walk would clearly be an outrage, and trying him in a U.S. courtroom after refusing to hand him over to Venezuela would create a perception problem across Latin America. The State Department has approached a few countries to take Posada, but all have refused.

It isn't clear whether Spain is one of these nations, but the Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero should be encouraged to resolve this impasse. Madrid is a credible interlocutor between Washington and Latin America, and Spanish courts have a recent tradition — thanks in large measure to crusading magistrate Baltasar Garzon, who pursued former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, among others — of aggressively taking on cases of universal jurisdiction.

Washington should broker a deal that allows Posada to be tried in a third country whose principled neutrality is not questioned in this case — even if it means upsetting some Cuban Americans in Miami or putting up with some embarrassing revelations about CIA activity among the exile community.

The alternative is for the U.S. insistence that nations band together to fight the war on terror to sound hypocritically self-serving.
My response:
While the Times' call for Luis Posada Carriles to face long-overdue justice is welcome, real justice calls for him to be tried in Venezuela. It is in Venezuela, not Spain or any other country, in which Posada faces outstanding charges for the murder of 73 people via the mid-air bombing of Cubana Flight 455 in 1976.

The Times errs in claiming that "An immigration judge has since blocked his deportation to stand trial in either Venezuela or Cuba because of concerns about the fairness of any proceeding in those countries." Cuba has not even sought the extradition of Posada, and the refusal to extradite him to Venezuela is not due to any concern for "fairness," but rather to the uncontested testimony at his hearing that he would likely be tortured in Venezuela. And who was it that the U.S. prosecutor allowed to present that uncontested testimony? Joaquin Chaffardet, Posada's lawyer, former boss in the Venezuelan secret police, former business partner at the time of the airline bombing, and someone who was indicted, though not convicted, for organizing the prison break which sprang Posada from a Venezuelan jail in the first place!

Justice in the Posada case not only demands that Posada be tried, but that five men who are now starting their ninth year in U.S. prisons be freed immediately. Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González - collectively known as the Cuban Five - were sent to the U.S. to monitor and disrupt the terrorist plots of Posada, Orlando Bosch, and other right-wing Cuban-Americans in Miami. In return for doing the job that the U.S. government should have been doing, and saving the lives of innocent people, that same U.S. government arrested them, falsely charging and convicting them of conspiracy to commit espionage. The outrageous injustice of their imprisonment cries out to be rectified.

It's long past time not only to try Posada for his crimes, but to free the Five!

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