|Luis Posada Carriles is wanted in Venezuela and Cuba for his involvement in a 1976 bombing that killed 73 people.|
Posada is wanted by both Venezuela and Cuba states for masterminding the mid-flight explosion of Cubana Airlines flight 455 in 1976, killing all 73 people on board. Recent declassified documents show that Posada acted as a CIA operative for several years, organization that supported his efforts to destabilize the Cuban government.
Venezuela issued a detention request on may 13, after it became know that Posada entered U.S. territory.
The suspect illegally entered the United States via the Mexican border in March. After two months of being “unable to confirm his whereabouts,” the US was finally able to track the former CIA agent down after he gave a televised press conference. Posada is currently under arrest on immigration charges, and will face a hearing on June 13.
According to the Venezuelan Embassy in the United States, which today received a diplomatic note from the U.S. State Department denying the request, the detention request is a necessary step for extradition.
“The request for Mr. Posada’s arrest was of a preventative nature, made while the Government of Venezuela compiled the necessary documentary and legal documentation necessary for a formal extradition request.”
Venezuela still can issue the extradition request. According to the note sent by the U.S. State Department to the Embassy of Venezuela, the denial of the request for preventative detention does not prevent Venezuela from formally requesting extradition of Mr. Posada, a Venezuela citizen, pursuant to the Extradition Treaty in force between the two countries.
“Venezuela wishes to express its belief in the importance of communication and cooperation of the United States on this matter, and reiterates that it will present the needed documents to request Mr. Posada’s extradition,” read a press release issued by the Venezuelan Embassy.
The presence of Posada in U.S. territory poses a challenge for the Bush administration, given it´s tough stand on terrorism after the September 11 attacks and its friendliness towards the powerful Cuban anti-Castro movement. Critics of the United States government suggest that there is a double standard on terrorism, and that the Bush administration is willing to turn a blind eye on terrorists that target countries not friendly to U.S. government interests.
Pressure on the U.S. government to extradite Posada is growing. Last week, U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich and a group of nineteen other legislators sent a letter to President Bush recommending that international laws be followed and Posada be turned over to Venezuela.
Venezuelan Vice-president Jose Vicente Rangel, said last week that the Bush administration has “a hot potato in its hands.”