Caracas, Venezuela, May 29, 2005—Despite the fact that Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles illegally entered the US via the Mexican border in March, Mexico is not interested in prosecuting him for what Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez referred to as a relatively minor offense in a statement last week. In the event that the US would deport Posada to Mexico, Mexico would turn the former CIA agent over to the Venezuelan authorities. "We would be practically obliged to do this," stated Derbez, explaining that, "[w]e have an extradition treaty with Venezuela." Derbez went on to clarify that "[P]osada would have to go to Venezuela because the Venezuelan case is very clear, there is a crime, which is compounded by his escape from prison."
|Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez said his country will honor their extradition treaty with Venezuela.
Venezuela submitted an extradition request for Posada on May 13th, almost two months after he illegally entered the US through Mexico. The CIA trained explosives expert is wanted both by Venezuela and Cuba for orchestrating a terrorist attack on a Cuban civilian airplane in 1976 that killed 73 people. Posada and fellow Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch hired two Venezuelan mercenaries to plant the bomb in the plane, both of whom served 20 year terms in a Venezuelan penitentiary. Posada spent 9 years in a Venezuelan prison as well, until CIA agents bribed prison guards to facilitate his escape. Posada has since blown up several tourist destinations in Cuba and planned to kill Cuban President Fidel Castro in Panama in 2000.
US immigration authorities arrested Posada on May 17th, but have only charged him with illegal entry. Mexico's statements affirm Posada's illegal entry in Mexico, but coincide with Venezuela's position, prioritizing terrorism over an immigration violation. "Posada is a terrorist and has to receive the treatment of a terrorist," the Mexican Foreign Minister firmly stated.
Notwithstanding Mexico's support for Venezuela's predicament, the country questions why Cuba did not warn Mexican officials of Posada's presence in the country. According to Derbez, Cuban officials "let Posada pass [into Mexico], although they knew where he was." In hindsight, Derbez assured, had Mexico known of Posada's presence in the country, he would have been immediately extradited to Venezuela.
On Saturday, supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez marched to demand Posada’s extradition. Estimates of the march ranged from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.
Luis bin Posada or Osama Posada
During a two-day visit to Caracas, President of the Cuban National Assembly Ricardo Alarcón recognized that under the international legal parameters of the Montreal Convention on international airline liability, Washington is obligated to extradite Posada to Venezuela or try him in a US court. "There can't be impunity or no trial for destroying an aircraft in mid-flight, it's as simple as that," he affirmed, adding that "they must turn him over…enough talking about bringing him to trial in a Central American nation or in the United States."
Alarcón reiterated support for Venezuela's extradition request and its quest to see justice done. However, he stated that in the case that the US invents some extraneous legal maneuver "then no excuses, they will have to try him themselves, but as if the victims were Americans and the aircraft American," Ricardo Alarcón called on the US to "judge [Posada] and punish him with the same severity that they impose on people with Arab names or who are Muslims. Imagine we are talking about Luis bin Posada or Osama Posada.”
He clarified that he was certainly "not suggesting that he be tried in the US," because "I don't want to have the nightmare of imagining those who are going to try him will be precisely those who protected him for 30 years."
Land of Freedom or Land of Terrorists?
Two weeks ago Fidel Castro challenged Bush II to make good on his "those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves," rhetoric and not only extradite Posada but also apply the same treatment to his accomplice, Orlando Bosch. Like Posada, Bosch has justified terrorists' acts against anything and everything Cuban as part of a strategy of violence designed to undermine Castro. At the time of the 1976 bombing, Bosch was also working as the head of the Coordinator of United Revolutionary Organizations, a CIA commissioned entity intended to bring about the downfall of the Cuban Revolution.
After serving 12 years in a Venezuelan prison, then-US Ambassador to Venezuela Otto Reich secured his release. Like Posada, Bosch illegally entered the US, and after an initial arrest, was pardoned by then-President George Bush.
Castro also called upon Bush to begin an investigation of the assassination of former Chilean Foreign Minister Orland Letelier as well as the members of the CIA who were connected to the Iran-Contra scandal.