Latin America is mobilizing to support the extradition request against Luis Posada Carriles, currently sheltered in Miami and protected by the Bush Administration. The Cuban-born terrorist has become a symbol of the US methods of hemispheric domination and its double standard: on the one hand, they declare a global war on terrorism and, on the other, they use it. This case is even more outrageous considering that, four years ago, protected by his impunity, Posada Carriles revealed all the truth to the New York Times.
On July 12 and 13, 1998, the New York Times Published a series of long articles based on interviews with Cuban-born terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, which caused different reactions in the United States and abroad.
In his statements to the American news daily, Posada Carriles openly acknowledged, with complete cynicism, his participation in terrorist activities and the financial support he received from the Cuban American National Foundation. The activities include sabotage, assassination attempts, and other similar actions against Cuba like the sabotage against a Cubana airliner off the coast of Barbados in 1976 that killed 73 innocent people, including the Cuban national junior fencing team. Those revelations explain the current lack of action by US authorities in regards to the extradition request.
In the first of those articles, the newspaper read:
“A Cuban exile, who has waged a campaign of bombings and assassination attempts aimed at toppling Fidel Castro, says that his efforts were supported financially for more than a decade by the Cuban-American leaders of one of America’s most influential lobbying groups.
“The exile, Luis Posada Carriles, said he organized a wave of bombings in Cuba at hotels, restaurants and dance clubs, killing an Italian tourist and alarming the Cuban Government. Posada Carriles was trained in guerrilla warfare by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1960’s.
“In a series of taped interviews at a walled Caribbean compound, Posada Carriles said the hotel bombings (in Havana) and other operations had been approved by leaders of the Cuban-American National Foundation. Its founder and leader, Jorge Mas Canosa, who recently died, was embraced at the White House by Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton.”
The article in the New York Times continued as follows:
Although the tax-exempt foundation has declared that it seeks to bring down Cuba’s communist government solely through peaceful means, Posada Carriles said leaders of the foundation discreetly financed his operations. Mas Canosa personally supervised the flow of money and logistical support, he said.
“Jorge controlled everything,” Posada said. “Whenever I needed money, I said: give me $5,000, give me $10,000, give me $15,000, and they sent it to me.”
Posada Carriles estimated that over the years Mas Canosa sent him more than $200,000."He never said, ’This is from the foundation,’” Posada Carriles recalled. Rather, he said with a chuckle, the money arrived with the message, "This is for the church."”
According to the authors of the articles, “for the first time Posada Carriles described the role that he himself played in some of the most important episodes of the Cold War, in which Cuban exiles were key players. He was trained for the Bay of Pigs at a camp in Guatemala, but did not participate in the landing on Cuban beaches (...) Cuban exiles like Posada Carriles were recruited by the CIA for subsequent attempts on Fidel Castro’s life.”
“Jailed for one of the most infamous anti-Cuban attacks - the 1976 bombing of a civilian Cubana airliner - he escaped from a Venezuelan prison to join the centerpiece of the Reagan White House’s anti-Communist crusade in the “Western Hemisphere”: Lieut. Col. Oliver North’s clandestine effort to supply arms to Nicaraguan contras.”
The New York Times went on:
“Some of what he said about his past can be easily verified through recently declassified government documents, as well as interviews with former foundation members and American officials.”
The newspaper highlighted a statement made by Posada Carriles, who noted that “American law enforcement authorities maintained an attitude of benign neglect toward him for most of his career, allowing him to remain free and active.”
The New York Times noted that: “The exiles’ foundation, created in 1981, sought to portray itself as the responsible voice of the Cuban exile community, dedicated to weakening the Castro regime through politics rather than force. Thanks to that approach and millions in campaign donations, the foundation became one of Washington’s most effective lobbying organizations and a principal architect of American policy toward Cuba.”
“Any evidence that the foundation and its leaders were dispensing money to Republicans and Democrats while they supported sabotage and bombings could weaken the group’s claim to legitimacy.”
The newspaper then stressed that “Posada Carriles’ remarks hinted that the foundation’s public advocacy of purely non-violent opposition to Castro was a carefully crafted fiction (...)”
In his interviews and in his autobiography, “The Roads of the Warrior,” Posada Carriles said he had received financial support from Mas Canosa and Feliciano Foyo, treasurer of the group, as well as Alberto Hernández, who succeeded Mas as chairman.
In his autobiography, Posada Carriles said foundation leaders helped pay his medical and living expenses and paid for his transportation from Venezuela to Central America after his 1985 jailbreak.
“At times—Posada Carriles said—cash was delivered from Miami by other exiles, like Gaspar Jiménez, who was jailed in Mexico in the 1976 killing of a Cuban diplomat there. Jiménez is now an employee of the medical clinic that Dr. Hernández operates in Miami, according to employees at the office.”
The authors of the article recalled that:
When the bombs began exploding at Cuban hotels, the government there asserted that the attacks had been organized and paid for by exiles operating from Miami, a claim it bolstered with the videotape of an operative confessing to have carried out some of the bombings.
More recently, reports in The Miami Herald and the state-controlled Cuban press tied the operation to Posada Carriles. However, the New York Times said that American authorities had made no effort to question him about the case. Posada Carriles attributed that lack of action in part to his longstanding relationship with the CIA and American law enforcement agencies.
“As you can see,” said Posada Carriles, “the FBI and the CIA don’t bother me, and I am neutral with them. Whenever I can help them, I do.”
The newspaper indicated that Posada Carriles gave conflicting accounts of his contacts with American authorities. Initially he spoke of enduring ties with United States intelligence agencies and of close friendship with at least two current FBI officials, including an important official in the Washington office. “I know a very high-up person there,” he said.
The newspaper noted that Posada Carriles immediately asked that those comments be omitted from any article and said it had been years since he had had these close dealings.
“An American government official said the CIA has not had a relationship with Posada Carriles "in decades," and the FBI also denied his assertions. "The FBI does not have nor has it ever had a longstanding relationship with Posada."”
Declassified documents published in Washington by the National Security Archives support Posada Carriles’ suggestion that the FBI and the CIA had detailed knowledge of his operations against Cuba from the early 1960’s to the mid-1970’s.
G. Robert Blakey, chief counsel to the 1978 House Select Committee on Assassinations, said he had reviewed many of the FBI’s classified files about anti-Castro Cubans from 1978 and had noted many instances in which the bureau turned a blind eye to possible violations of the law. As he put it, "When I read some of those things, and I’m an old Federal prosecutor, I thought, ’Why isn’t someone being indicted for this?’ "
“Posada was direct and unrepentant as to one issue: he still intends to try to kill Castro, and he believes violence is the best method for ending Communism in Cuba.”
About this topic, the New York Times indicated that “Posada Carriles proudly admitted authorship of the hotel bomb attacks (in Havana) last year,” actions that he described as “acts of war” intended to deprive Cuba of foreign tourism and investment. He added that the bombs also aimed at “sowing doubts abroad about the stability of the regime, to make Cuba think he had operatives in the military and to encourage internal opposition.”
As to the death of the Italian tourist, Posada described it as a “freak accident”. He said: “That the Italian man was sitting in the wrong place at the wrong time.” And added that “he had a clear conscience” and quoted him saying “I sleep like a baby.”
Posada Carriles described Raul Ernesto Cruz Leon, the Salvadoran whom Cuban authorities arrested and accused of carrying out several of the bomb attacks, as a “mercenary” and added that Cruz Leon “worked for him like maybe a dozen others who were still free.”
Posada Carriles declared that “the hotel bombings were organized from El Salvador and Guatemala. Explosives were obtained through his contacts there, and subordinates in turn recruited couriers like Cruz Leon to take the explosives into Cuba and detonate them against carefully selected targets.”
The New York Times also reported the following events:
“Posada Carriles said Mas Canosa was very much aware that he was behind the hotel bombing campaign last year.”
Posada Carriles acknowledged that he has at least four passports, all in different names and nationalities. He also admitted to having an American passport but he would not discuss how he had obtained it or disclose the name in it, saying only that he occasionally uses it to visit the United States "unofficially."
In a second article published in the same July 12 edition, the New York Times quotes a Cuban-born businessman called Antonio Jorge Alvarez, living in Guatemala, who had watched with growing concern as two of his partners - working with a man who turn out to be Posada Carriles - acquired explosives and detonators, congratulating each other on a job well done every time a bomb went off in Cuba. He even overheard the men talk of assassinating Fidel Castro at a conference of Latin American heads of state to be held in Margarita Island, Venezuela.
Alvarez told the newspaper that, alarmed, he went to Guatemalan security officials. When they did not respond, he wrote a letter that eventually found its way into the hands of officials of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The letter elicited what Alvarez described as an “indifferent response.”
About this topic, the newspaper indicated, Posada Carriles expressed confidence that the FBI was not examining his operations in Guatemala, because "the first person they would want to talk to is me."
The article made reference to Alvarez’s unease. “I think they are all in cahoots, Posada and the FBI (...) I risked my life and my business, and they did nothing.”
Finally, in an article published on July 13, the New York Times published a detailed report of the anti-Cuban activities of Luis Posada Carriles: member of a second wave of landings during the Bay of Pigs invasion that never landed; trained in “demolition” techniques, propaganda and intelligence at a CIA training camp in Fort Benning; he also participated in clandestine actions against Cuba, organized from the United States and other countries of the hemisphere, and in the sabotage against the Cubana airliner in Barbados; in addition, he worked with another Cuban-born CIA agent, Felix Rodriguez, in a secret operation to provide Nicaraguan “contras” with weapons and other equipment; he also participated in the organization - from Central America - of anti-Cuba operations in the late 1980s, among other dirty-war actions against Cuba.
The newspaper again quoted Posada Carriles:
“The C.I.A. taught us many things, explosives and their use, how to kill, bombs, and sabotage. When the Cubans were working for the CIA they were called patriots.”
Many media outlets, in the United States and abroad, echoed the articles of the New York Times and commented those revelations. The Cuban American National Foundation denied the accusations and Posada Carriles tried to take back what he had said.
However, the New York Times confirmed the veracity of its articles. As a spokesman of the newspaper said, the interviews recorded with Posada Carriles exist and the newspaper has the tapes.