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Terrorist granted bail

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Last Friday, US District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone of the El Paso Federal Court in the state of Texas (yes, George Bush’s Texas), made a ruling granting bail to a Cuban-born citizen of Venezuela, Luis Posada Carriles. He has been in US custody since April 15th, 2005, ostensibly on charges of having entered that country illegally, via the Florida Coast on board the “Satrina,” a school-ship licensed in the United States.

Who is this Luis Posada Carriles? Why should his fate concern us? {{more}}

Posada Carriles, an ageing Venezuelan national of Cuban origin, is quite some figure in the murky world of terrorism, in which he has been involved for more than forty years. He could teach al Qaeda a thing or two. He has a long documented history, in the intelligence records of the US, Cuba, Venezuela, El Salvador, Panama and Guatemala and has not been afraid to publicly boast about his “exploits.” Beginning as an operative of the notorious American CIA in the sixties, he was trained to become part of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 and participated in “Operation 40,” a CIA anti-Cuban subversive programme in the sixties.

Carriles relocated to Venezuela in 1968 where he met and joined forces with another CIA operative of Cuban stock, Orlando Bosch. This partnership was later to take terrorism on a higher plane, literally speaking. Posada Carriles became chief of Operations of Venezuelan Intelligence, DISIP. During his time there are allegations of his involvement in cocaine trafficking and even in a plot to assassinate noted US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, for apparently trying to advocate a softening of US-Cuba relations.

It was from Venezuela that Carriles and Bosch masterminded their most deadly single act – the blowing up of a Cubana aircraft, Flight #455 just after taking off from Grantley Adams airport in Barbados in October 1976. Two Venezuelans who were on the flight but got off before it resumed its flight, Freddy Lugo and Hernan Ricardo Lozano, were arrested and confessed to the crime, naming Carriles and Bosch as the masterminds. Both were arrested in Venezuela. Even US National Security archives are reported as having information that Posada had warned the CIA in advance of the bombing.

The 1976 Cubana bombing had the effect in the Caribbean at the time tantamount to the 9/11 bombings in 2001. Innocent students, athletes and passengers, Cubans and other Caribbean citizens, 73 in number, lost their lives. More than any single act, that bombing wrecked what was proving to be a valuable connecting service between Cuba and the English-speaking Caribbean. It was then the only airline to fly the Guyana-Trinidad-Barbados-Jamaica-Cuba route.

In 1977 Carriles and Freddy Lugo escaped to Chile but were extradited to Venezuela, from where Carriles, not a man without friends in high places, escaped after 8 years to El Salvador. Those were the days when Central America was awash with military dictators and right-wing death squads. They were the days when the CIA literally terrorised the people of Nicaragua who had overthrown the US-backed murderous dictator General Somoza, replacing him with the Sandinista government. For those who remember, they were the days of the infamous Colonel Oliver North who achieved notoriety in the US with his guns for drugs Contra war-Carriles was part of that, working with North and the man who had overseen the capture and execution of the legendary Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Bolivia in 1967, Felix Rodriquez.

A history like that would make most modern-day terrorist blush but Carriles has more. In 1997 he organized a bombing campaign against hotels in Havana to try and destroy the burgeoning Cuban tourism industry. One Italian businessman was killed and 11 other persons injured in one such explosion. Then Carriles and his explosives, all 200 lbs. of it when he was caught, headed for Panama in 2000 in yet another vain attempt to assassinate visiting Cuban President Fidel Castro. He was convicted and jailed for this crime but four years later he was pardoned by the Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso, who was reported to be close to US President George Bush.

He went to Honduras and ended up in the USA in 2005 where in spite of efforts by Venezuela and Cuba to have him extradited for murder, he is being held on minor charges of illegal entry into the USA. “Illegal entry” as though Carriles were just another person trying to reside in the USA. This is a country which is bent on forcing the rest of the world to make terrorism the No.1 priority, which has hundreds of the world’s citizens in incarceration at Guantanamo in Cuba, refusing the even try them for their alleged sins, so motivated it is its “war against terrorism.” So why then is Carriles being sheltered, a known and even self-confessed terrorist with blood on his hands? How can we remain silent in the face of all this? The hypocrisy stinks!

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