Caracas, January 24, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Medea Benjamin, spokesperson for CODEPINK: Women for Peace, a well known anti-war group in the US, and Jesús Marrero from the Committee for the Extradition of Posada Carriles in Venezuela, held a joint press conference in Caracas today to demand the arrest and extradition to Venezuela of former CIA operative and international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.
Described by Venezuela's Ambassador to the U.S., Bernardo Alvarez, as the "Bin Laden of Latin America," Posada, a Cuban-born Venezuelan citizen, is wanted in Venezuela on 73 counts of first degree murder in connection to the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976. Posada was charged over the bombing of the Cuban airliner in Venezuela, but escaped from prison in 1985 before going to trial. In an interview with the New York Times Posada has also freely admitted his involvement in numerous other terrorist attacks, including a string of hotel bombings in Cuba, which killed an Italian tourist in 1997.
Venezuela has sought the extradition of Posada since 2005, however the U.S. Department of Homeland Security initially decided to try Posada on the charge of illegal entry into the U.S. rather than to process the Venezuelan request for his extradition. Posada was freed from a U.S. jail in El Paso, in May last year after a federal judge dismissed the charges against him for illegally entering the U.S. and U.S. courts have ruled that he cannot be extradited to Venezuela on the grounds that he may be subjected to torture – a claim which the Venezuelan government says is baseless.
Since then he has been living freely in Miami where he spends his time at the Versailles Restaurant or the Big Five social club lounging by the pool, according to Benjamin. "He is even hosting an art exhibition because now he is an ‘artist'," she added.
"George Bush claims nations that ‘harbor terrorists…are just as guilty as the terrorists and will be held to account,' therefore our government should be held to account for supporting terrorism, because we have Luis Posada Carriles who is living in the United States," Benjamin said.
CODEPINK recently initiated a campaign to include Posada on the FBI's 20 "Most Wanted" terrorists and is demanding his immediate arrest. However, Benjamin explained that when they attempted to peacefully collect signatures for the arrest of Posada at the Versailles Restaurant in Miami on January 12 their car was attacked by a violent mob of Posada's supporters from the Cuban exile community who threw bottles and eggs. The FBI and Miami-Dade police, "did nothing" to guarantee our security she said.
Benajmin also pointed to the close links between the Bush family, Posada Carriles and Cuban exile community in Miami as an explanation for the reticence of the US government to act on the Posada Carriles case. "George Bush senior was chief of the CIA and knows well the movements of Posada when he was acting as an as an agent of the US government in Latin America. Jeb Bush was supported as governor of Florida by the same group of anti-Castro Cuban exiles that are now attempting to prevent actions agianst Posada."
The failure of the Bush administration to arrest and extradite Posada Carriles makes an absolute mockery of the so-called "war on terror," Benjamin added.
Marrero, himself a torture victim of operations directed by Posada in 1973 when he was Chief of Operations of Venezuelan Intelligence, the DISIP, detailed a series of abuses which he said occurred under Posada's command, including a massacre of 40 people.
He also said the Committee for the Extradition of Posada Carriles would continue the campaign to bring him to justice and has collected thousands of signatures in Venezuela demanding his extradition, which will be handed over to U.S Ambassador to Venezuela, Patrick Duddy.
Benjamin assured that the document with 35,000 signatures would be delivered to the U.S. Justice Department, as well as several U.S. congressmen, including William Delahunt when she returns to the U.S.
CODEPINK will be relaunching their campaign again at the Versailles Restaurant on February 9. They will also be asking the FBI and Miami-Dade Police to guarantee their right to free speech and free assembly.