New Evidence Links Posada Carriles to Airline Bombing

Declassified CIA and FBI documents provide further evidence linking Cuban exile and naturalized Venezuelan citizen Luis Posada Carriles to the bombing of Cubana Airlines flight 455 in 1976 that killed 73 people.

Caracas, Venezuela, June 14, 2005—Recently declassified CIA, FBI and State Department reports contain new evidence implicating Cuban exiles Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch in the bombing of Cubana Airlines flight 455 in 1976, in which 73 people were killed.  The documents were obtained by the National Security Archive, an independent non-governmental research institute based at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Posada was arrested in Florida on May 17th, and is currently being charged with illegal entry into the United States.  Venezuela has submitted a preventative detention request—a first-step in the extradition process—which was denied by the Department of State on May 27th, allegedly for lack of evidence.  Last Friday, the Venezuelan embassy in the US submitted additional documents that they claim “include ample evidence of probable cause that Luis Clemente Posada Carriles is responsible for the explosion aboard the plane on October 6, 1976.”

Representatives of Venezuela’s National Assembly are traveling to Washington, D.C. today, where they are expected to deliver the full compliment of documentation collected by the Venezuelan government as part of their extradition request for Posada.

In a CIA intelligence report dated October 14, 1976—just a week after the October 6 bombing of flight 455—a CIA informant described as a “former Venezuelan government official who still maintains close relationships with government officials,” reports that Cuban exile leader Orlando Bosch was “in Venezuela under the protection of Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez.  Furthermore, Perez had appointed his security and intelligence adviser Orlando Garcia to protect and assist Bosch during his stay in Venezuela.”

This October 14, 1976 CIA report quotes Posada as saying “We are going to hit a Cuban airplane,” a few months before Cubana Airliner flight 455 exploded over the Bahamas.
Credit: National Security Archive (modified)

Bosch was met at the airport by DISIP-head Garcia and by Posada, both Cuban-born naturalized Venezuelans.  Garcia’s number two at the DISIP—Venezuela’s secret police—was also a Cuban exile living in Venezuela, and Posada himself had previously been a high-ranking official at the DISIP from 1967-74 during which time he was also a CIA informant.

The report notes that shortly after Bosch’s arrival in Venezuela prominent Cuban exile Hildo Folgar held a US$1,100 plate fundraiser at his home for Bosch’s organization, the Coordinadora de Organizaciones Revolucionarias Unidas (Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations—CORU).  At the party, according to the CIA’s “usually reliable source,” Bosch approached an unidentified high-level official from the Ministry of the Interior and proposed that the Venezuelan government make a substantial cash contribution to CORU, in return for which Bosch would guarantee that there would be no Cuban-exile demonstrations during Perez’s planned trip to the US to speak at the United Nations.  The CIA source thought that the Ministry of the Interior official had accepted Bosch’s offer.

At the dinner Bosch told his audience: “Now that our organization has come out of the Letelier job looking good, we are going to try something else.”

Orlando Letelier acted as Ambassador the the US, Foreign Minister, and Minister of Defense to former Chilean President Salvador Allende before a military coup led by Augusto Pinochet overthrew the Allende government.  Letelier was tortured by the Pinochet regime, but eventually released in 1974 when he moved to the US where he became a vocal human-rights activist, deploring the US government’s support for the Chilean dictatorship.  He was assassinated in a car-bombing in Washington, D.C., on 21 September, 1976 in what was apparently an extension of the Southern Cone dictator’s dirty war cooperation, called “Operation Condor.”

A few days after the fundraiser for Bosch’s CORU, Posada was overheard to say, “we are going to hit a Cuban airplane,” and that “Orlando has the details.”

A CIA report dated June 22, 1976 warned that a “Cuban exile extremist group, of which Orlando Bosch is a leader, plans to place a bomb on a Cubana Airline flight traveling between Panama and Havana.”  Yet, according to Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive, there is no evidence that the CIA contacted Cuban authorities to alert them to the plot.  These documents are “part of a trove of intelligence records that provide leads and evidence on major acts of terrorism committed by violent anti-Castro groups,” says Kornbluh, calling on the CIA to fully declassify its voluminous files on Posada “as a concrete contribution to justice for those who have committed acts of terror.”

On the basis of information received from Trinidadian authorities implicating him, Posada was arrested by DISIP authorities on October 12, 1976, but he escaped from a Venezuelan prison while awaiting a third trial in 1985.  A former prison guard who was on-duty at the time of Posada’s escape alleged that the CIA bribed prison officials to facilitate the prison break.

Posada is currently awaiting trial for illegally entering the US.  Demonstrations in a variety of countries including Venezuela, Cuba and Spain have demanded that the US comply with Venezuela’s extradition request.  If they do not, they risk compromising their unflinching position in the War of Terror.