Cubans protest bombing suspect's release in U.S.
Apr. 20, 2007
Reprinted from Associated Press
Students hold pictures of victims from a 1976 Cuban airliner bombing Thursday outside the U.S. mission in Havana.
HAVANA, Cuban (AP) -- Hundreds of Cubans chanted "Justice! Justice!" outside the American mission in Havana as protests erupted across the island after an anti-Castro exile wanted in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner was released from federal prison in New Mexico.
Luis Posada Carriles' release on bail also angered Venezuela, which accused the Bush administration of hypocrisy in its policy on terrorism and vowed a diplomatic offensive to put him on trial for the bombing that killed 73 people.
"George Bush's government is an accomplice of this terrorist," Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said. "It has protected him and today it has guaranteed his freedom, striking a blow against and mocking international law."
Earlier Thursday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez demanded that the United States extradite the Cuban-born Posada, an ex-CIA agent who is a longtime opponent of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Posada, 79, is accused of plotting the Cubana Airlines bombing while living in Caracas. He escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 1985 and was detained in Florida in May 2005 for entering the United States illegally.
Posada posted bail totaling $350,000 Thursday to get out of a federal prison in New Mexico. He flew to Miami, Florida, where he was placed under house arrest at his wife's home pending his May 11 trial on immigration fraud charges.
In Washington, Dagoberto Rodriguez Barrera, chief of the Cuban Interests Section, said his country "energetically condemns this decision and holds the United States government responsible."
More than 100,000 Cubans protest Posada's release in Bayamo.
Yellow school buses brought about 600 youngsters to a plaza outside the U.S. mission in Havana, where they waved plastic Cuban flags and demanded justice.
"It's an insult for all Cubans and a tragedy for the families of his victims," said Ereslandi Rodriguez, a 22-year-old university student. He held a sign showing a cartoon of Posada's head, with bloodstained fangs, on a canine body. "The Dog is Loose," it read.
Communist youth leader Silviano Merced recalled that President Bush has said anyone who harbors or supports terrorists is as guilty as the terrorists themselves.
"For that reason, Mr. Bush," Merced cried, "You are as much of a terrorist as Posada Carriles and his accomplices."
The United States and Cuba do not have diplomatic relations, and maintain interest sections in each other's territory rather than embassies.
Across the capital, Cubans were visibly angry.
"This is one of the most barbarous things the United States has done," said Havana resident Rolando Hernandez. "It has betrayed its people and has betrayed the people of other countries."
Rallies were hastily organized across Cuba, including two large demonstrations in the eastern cities of Bayamo and Granma.
"They let the executioner out!" was the lead headline on the island's nightly newscast.
Castro had predicted Posada would be freed from jail, issuing a statement last week that accused the U.S. government of deciding "the liberation of the monster beforehand."
In a speech Thursday, his ally Chavez demanded the U.S. hand over Posada to stand trial in Venezuela for the bombing.
"All of Venezuela lifts its indignant voice over the protection that the imperialist government of the United States continues to give to the father of all terrorists of all time in the American continent -- the murderer Luis Posada Carriles," Chavez said.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Cuba lashes White House over Posada release
by Frances Robles
Apr. 20, 2007
Reprinted from The Miami Herald
Cuban students protest the release of Luis Posada Carriles Thursday in front of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. (Javier Galeano/AP)
The Cuban government Friday condemned Luis Posada Carriles' release on bail, saying in a statement that the Bush administration could have used the Patriot Act or other tools to keep "the most notorious terrorist who ever existed in this hemisphere" behind bars.
The statement published in the Granma newspaper called Posada's release on bail Thursday an insult to the Cuban people and to the 73 people who died in the October 1976 bombing of a Cubana de Aviación flight.
It directly blamed the Bush administration for the release while awaiting a trial in Texas, saying the White House is afraid Posada will spill secrets about CIA campaigns against Cuba.
Posada was acquitted in a Venezuelan military court of the airline bombing, but escaped while pending a civilian court ruling. The U.S. attorney's office has charged him with immigration violations.
"With this decision, the Cuban government has ignored the clamor heard throughout the world, including inside the United States territory, against impunity and the political manipulation this act signals."
Friday's Granma, run by the Cuban Communist Party, reported that 50,000 people protested Thursday in Bayamo, a city in the eastern Granma province. Another 5,000 young communists rallied in front of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana Thursday night.
The Cuban government said the case smacked of a double standard, because Posada was released on bail while five Cuban spies convicted in Miami -- Havana says they were only monitoring exile "terrorist groups" -- are serving long prison sentences.
"There's a great sense of outrage that this has taken place," Gloria La Riva, who heads Free the Five, an organization that lobbies for the Cuban agents' release, said Thursday night by phone from San Francisco. "The Cuban five, men who never had a weapon, who were never accused of having a weapon, the ones who monitored these terrorists, are in prison serving life."
The Cuban government's statement Friday posed a series of questions, based on its own version of Posada's case -- and supplied its own response:
"Why did the United States government let him enter its territory with impunity despite the warning calls by President Fidel Castro?
"Why did the North American government protect him for months while he stayed in the United States illegally? Why, having all the elements, did the government limit itself on Jan. 11 to accusing him of minor crimes of an immigration nature and not for what he really is: an assassin?"
The Cubans' theory: 'The release of the terrorist was done by the White House as compensation so that Posada Carriles doesn't divulge what he knows, so he doesn't talk about his endless secrets he holds about his prolonged period as an agent of the United States' special services -- that he acted in operation Condor, in the dirty war against Cuba, against Nicaragua and other people of the world."
© 2007 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.