Caracas, Venezuela, September 28, 2005—Venezuela’s Ambassador to the U.S., Bernardo Alvarez, called Luis Posada Carriles, the anti-Castro militant who is wanted for 73 counts of murder in Venezuela, “the Osama Bin Laden of Latin America.” He also said that the Bush administration is exercising “a cynical double-standard” and is “fighting an ‘a la carte’ war on terror,” because of its refusal to act on the Venezuelan request for the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles.
Alvarez made the comments during a press conference today, in which he laid out in detail why Venezuela believes that the Bush administration is being hypocritical in its war on terror. “Rather than to respect the extradition treaties [the U.S.] has signed over the years, the United States chose to treat Posada Carriles’ case as a mere immigration matter and charged him only with illegal entry into the country,” said Alvarez.
On Monday, a Texas judge ruled that Luis Posada Carriles, a Venezuelan citizen, could not be deported to Venezuela, despite having violated U.S. immigration law when he entered the U.S. this past March. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security decided to try Posada on the charge of illegal entry into the U.S. rather than to process a Venezuelan request for his extradition.
Luis Posada Carriles is wanted in Venezuela for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner and murder of all 73 passengers en route from Venezuela to Cuba. Venezuelan authorities filed a preliminary detention and extradition request with the U.S. government in May of this year. Alvarez explained that Posada is one of Latin America’s most ruthless criminals, who has been involved in the assassination of the Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier, with terrorist activity in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.
Alvarez said the U.S. Department of Justice tabled Venezuela’s extradition request and has yet to act on it. “The United States presents itself as a leader against terrorism, invades countries, restricts the civil rights of Americans in order to fight terrorism, but when it is about its own terrorists, it denies that they be tried,” said Alvarez.
Venezuela’s attorney on the case, José Pertierra, added that the U.S. is obliged to extradite Posada not only as a consequence of its extradition treaty with the U.S., but also under the Convention on Safety in Civil Aviation, because Posada is accused of bombing an airliner. “It would be very dangerous if the United States does not comply with the Convention on Safety in Civil Aviation. This treaty should be sacrosanct, especially after September 11th, 2001,” said Pertierra.
The Judge who decided that Posada could not be deported to the U.S. based his decision on the possibility that Posada might be tortured in Venezuela and, according to the Convention Against Torture, the U.S. may not extradite prisoners to such countries.
In response to this, Alvarez said, “There isn’t a shred of evidence that Posada would be tortured in Venezuela.” He added that Venezuela’s foreign minister had said that Venezuela would provide Posada with a “gold cage and feed him caviar every day,” if this would assure his extradition to Venezuela.
Alvarez explained that the evidence that Posada might face torture in Venezuela was based solely on testimony from an old friend of Posada’s, who is no expert and did not have to face any cross-examination in court. Rather, “if we examine our respective records on torture, a prisoner is more likely to be tortured in the custody of the U.S. government than in the custody of Venezuelan officials,” concluded Alvarez, mentioning reports of torture at the U.S. prison facility in Guantanamo Bay.
Venezuela’s Vice-President, José Vicente Rangel, also weighed-in on the matter, saying, “I believe that when they refer to the existence of torture in Cuba they must be referring to their base in Guantanamo and the torture that North American troops apply in Iraq’s prison. Here in Venezuela there is no torture.”