|Luis Posada Carriles|
Credit: RNV archive
Caracas, Venezuela, April 27, 2005—According to retired Venezuelan National Guard member Nelson Díaz, the CIA financed the escape of Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles from a Venezuelan penitentiary in 1985. During a telephone interview yesterday with the daily morning program En Confianza, on Venezuela’s state television channel,Nelson, who worked in the prison where Posada was in prison for the bombing of a Cuban airliner, spoke of $20,000 dollar bribes that he and several of his co-workers were offered in 1983 to facilitate Posada's escape.
According to Venezuelan officials, Posada hired two Venezuelan mercenaries, along with his partner-in-crime, Orlando Bosch, to plant a bomb in a civilian Cuban airplane in 1976, causing it to explode near Barbados. The tragedy resulted in the deaths of 73 people of various nationalities.
Although both ex-Cuban nationals were convicted and served part of their sentences in Venezuela, Otto Reich, former Special Advisor to George W. Bush on Latin American Affairs and former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, arranged that Bosch was released. Dressed as a priest, Posada escaped from prison in 1985 and fled to Panama where he was convicted and then pardoned for attempting to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro. He has spent the past month in the US, seeking asylum. Two weeks ago, the Venezuelan government demanded that he be extradited, a request that has yet to be granted or denied.
Nelson Díaz, currently retired and residing in the Venezuelan state of Barinas, explained that while he was employed as a prison guard both Posada and Bosch were frequently visited by CIA agents and politicians of the Venezuelan political party Acción Democratica (Democratic Action) and they enjoyed special privileges in the prison.
The ex-national guard member recounted that a Lieutenant Colonel working in the penitentiary informed the Venezuelan guards that many of these visitors were CIA agents and ordered them to "keep alert" because one previous escape attempt had already been detected. He went on to explain that in 1983 he and a group of guards were taken from the prison to a nearby building where they were offered $20,000 to let Posada escape.
Alicia Herrera, a Venezuelan journalist and author of the book We Put the Bomb So What?, which includes the testimonies of several authors of the terrorist act also appeared on En Confianza as a special guest. During the television show, a taped interview with Bosch was shown in which he defended the sabotage of the Cuban civilian airplane and tried to portray the tragedy as a "patriotic act."
In her book Herrera writes that the victims of the terrorist act include a Cuban youth fencing team that had just emerged undefeated in a tournament in Caracas as well as students from Guyana that were traveling to Cuba to take advantage of a scholarship to study medicine.
According to Herrera, the most honorable thing for the US to do in this situation is grant Venezuela's extradition request. The author also feels that Bosch, who was exonerated in Venezuela by a penal tribunal due to manipulation of evidence and misplaced evidence should be brought to justice.