Jury selection begins in trial of Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles
by Ramon Bracamontes
Jan. 10, 2010
Reprinted from El Paso Times
At 82, Luis Posada Carriles is a frail, elderly man with health problems. He spends most of his time alone at home in Miami, where he tries to avoid public scrutiny by working on his hobby -- painting.
Those paintings -- not worth much to art collectors -- provide the only link that connects the present-day Posada to his storied, secretive and terrorizing past.
Among the anti-Fidel Castro Cuban community in Miami, Posada remains a hero for trying to overthrow Castro. To them, those amateur oil paintings are must-haves. They pay hundreds of dollars for them.
In Cuba, Venezuela and elsewhere, Posada is considered a terrorist along the lines of Osama bin Laden. He is wanted in Venezuela for blowing up an airplane that killed 73 innocent people in 1976. Posada is wanted in Cuba for staging bombings in Havana hotels and restaurants in the 1990s. In 2000, Posada allegedly plotted to assassinate Castro, according to federal court records.
To Posada's detractors, his paintings are trash.
Those detractors are fueled by the allegation that Posada, a former United States CIA operative, is being protected by this country. The fact that the U.S. is finally taking him to court today in El Paso only makes matters worse.
They claim the U.S. is prosecuting him on the wrong charges.
Posada's immigration fraud trial begins with jury selection today in U.S. District Court. He is charged on 11 counts, including perjury, naturalization fraud, obstruction and making false statements during a naturalization proceeding. All charges are tied to Posada's alleged illegal entry into the country from Mexico in 2005.
After trying to enter the country in Miami, Posada was detained and sent to the immigration detention center in El Paso. He spent two years at the center at Montana and Hawkins before being released on bond. He returned to Miami.
He is now back in El Paso.
His trial is expected to last two months. Immigration fraud cases routinely take two hours or less.
University of Miami professor and assistant provost Andy Gomez is well aware of Posada's plight and the different emotions he evokes within Cubans, Cuban-Americans and justice seekers.
"In the early stages, Posada was seen as a hero for his willingness to fight the Castro regime," Gomez said during a telephone interview from his office in Miami. "But if you look at him solely from within the scope of the law, and I hesitate to say this, you can call him a terrorist."
Gomez is a senior fellow at the university's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. Gomez said most of the outrage surrounding Posada can be eased by simply charging him with the crimes he is alleged to have done or plotted.
"Cuban-American politics, particularly in Miami, have gone from the politics of passion to the politics of reason," he said. "Most now just want to let the judicial system do its work. Select a jury of his peers and let them look at him and what he is accused of doing and let them decide if he is guilty or innocent."
Until that type of justice is served, Posada's story will continue to be told and retold, said Gloria La Riva, coordinator for the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. The committee for the Cuban Five was set up after five Cubans who allegedly worked against Posada were tried in U.S. courts and sentenced to prison.
"They are in jail for trying to stop Posada, a terrorist," she said. "Yet he remains free."
La Riva said her committee just wants Posada to answer for his role in the Oct. 6, 1976, bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455, which killed several children. Posada has denied any role in the bombing. La Riva and others want a jury to decide.
"To this day, it is so sad to hear the stories of the people who lost loved ones in that crash," she said from her office in San Francisco.
La Riva said she and others who want Posada extradited to Cuba or Venezuela will be in El Paso for his trial. They will be protesting outside the federal courthouse.
Posada Carriles Trial Begins Today
by Stephanie Valle
Jan. 10, 2010
Reprinted from KVIA Ch. 7
EL PASO, TX -- Cuban exile and self-proclaimed militant Luis Posada Carriles is going before a federal judge in El Paso's Federal Courthouse downtown this morning.
Posada, 82, is linked to several terrorist attacks over the last four decades. He's believed to be the mastermind behind bombings in Cuba in 1997 that killed an Italian tourist, as well as the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 73 people.
But rather than face charges for those attacks, Posada is being tried for naturalization fraud, perjury and obstruction. Authorities said the militant lied about how he entered the U.S. back in 2005, as well as about his involvement in the bombings of Havana tourist spots.
Posada was caught in El Paso in 2005, arrested for allegedly entering the U.S. illegally. U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone threw out the charges in 2007, saying there was a lack of evidence. But a Fifth Circuit Court judge reversed that ruling a year later.
The Cuban militant has been living in Miami with family, according to a report by the New York Times. An immigration judge ordered him deported in 2005, but ruled Posada should not be sent to Venezuela or Cuba, where it's believed he would be tortured.
While waiting for the trial to begin, the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition out of Washington, D.C., held a tribunal for Posada in El Paso over the weekend. The organizer feels the federal government is not using the stacks of evidence against the militant to its fullest potential.
"ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) acknowledged that Posada is a terrorist, and yet he's only charged with lying," exclaimed Brian Becker, national coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition. "Why is that? If the United States wants to pretend to be the champion of the struggle against terrorism, how can you let a man like Posada Carriles walk free?"
Posada will go before Judge Cardone this morning.
Protest Planned Of Ex-CIA Operative's Trial
by Dena Richardson
Jan. 9, 2010
Reprinted from KFOX-14 TV
EL PASO, Texas -- Luis Posada Carriles, an ex-CIA operative, will stand trial in El Paso this week for nearly a dozen charges, including perjury and immigration fraud.
The anti-Castro Cuban militant entered the U.S. illegally in March 2005. In September 2005, Carriles filed an application for naturalization in El Paso.
He went before an immigration judge, and a federal indictment alleges he lied while under oath about his involvement in bombings in Cuba.
Dozens of people have planned to gather outside the federal courthouse Monday morning in protest, saying Carriles is a terrorist and responsible for the killings of 73 people aboard a Cuban jet in 1976. They believe he should be extradited to Venezuela to face terrorism charges.
"Unfortunately, that trial is something of a sham because Posada has committed terrorist actions," said Brian Becker, national coordinator of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition based in Washington D.C. "He knows it. He's admitted it. The U.S. government knows it. The ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, acknowledged Posada as a terrorist. And yet he's only charged with lying. Why is that?“
Becker organized a people's tribunal on Sunday to discuss crimes committed over more than four decades that he and others believe Posada should be held accountable for.
"I think they're trying to shield Posada-Carriles," said Becker. "They want to say we did something against him, this internationally recognized terrorist, but not have a trial about terrorism. I think Posada-Carriles would point the finger to who his real bosses were.”
Jury selection in the Luis Posada Carriles trial is scheduled to begin at 8:30 Monday morning, with the trial beginning on Tuesday.
'Chocan' afuera de Corte grupos opuestos por Posada Carriles
by Julio Antonio Molinet
Jan. 10, 2010
Reprinted from El Diario de El Paso
El Paso— Veintidós exiliados cubanos de posición anti castrista manifestaron su apoyo incondicional a Luis Posada Carriles desde horas tempranas de este lunes, ante la Corte Federal de El Paso mientras se seleccionaba el jurado que decidirá sobre el caso del cubano-venezolano.
Los manifestantes, en su mayoría integrantes de una organización denominada Junta Patriótica Cubana, con sede en el estado de California, llegaron alrededor de las 3:00 a.m., a bordo de un autobús, procedentes de la ciudad de Los Ángeles y asentamientos vecinos.
"Vinimos para defender la inocencia de Posada Carriles", dijo Yoel Borges, presidente de la iniciativa. Y agregó: "Es increíble que un exiliado cubano haya realizado un hecho de esa naturaleza pues en nada nos beneficia".
Según Borges, el atentado terrorista perpetrado en 1976 a una aeronave de Cubana de Aviación en costas de Barbados, donde murieron 73 personas "fue hecho por Fidel Castro y sus asalariados para desacreditar al exilio cubano".
La comitiva isleña "anticubana" se posicionó en uno de los laterales del edificio federal ubicado en el número 525 de la calle Magoffing, en el centro de El Paso, a escasos metros de los opositores al cubano-venezolano.
El grupo pro-Castro _mayor en cantidad de personas_ estaba integrado por miembros de la Coalición ANSWER, el Comité Nacional para la Liberación de los Cinco Cubanos, la Comunidad Universalista Unitaria de El Paso, la Red Nacional sobre Cuba, y otras organizaciones.
Dentro de ellos se encontraba el ex Fiscal de los Estados Unidos Ramsey Clark, quien, en entrevista con este rotativo expresó: "Posada Carriles debe estar preso, los estadounidenses deberíamos ponernos de acuerdo y pelear por las cosas justas". Y, posteriormente explicó: "los cinco cubanos deben ser liberados, merecen estar afuera, ellos vinieron a prevenir el terrorismo contra su país, porque quieren la paz para su gente".
Clark refirió que los aquí apresados, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, René González Sehwerert, Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar y Fernando González Llort, que enfrentan condenas de 15 años y hasta cadenas perpetuas "no mataron a nadie, al contrario, evitaron hechos terroristas".
Las protestas de los dos grupos _opuestos en principios y posiciones políticas_ acrecentó sus diferencias cuando la estadounidense Suzanne Thompson, integrante del Comité Internacional por la Liberación de los Cinco (cubanos) le gritara "asesino" a Posada Carriles mientras se tropezó con él en el lobby del hotel Camino Real, donde ambos se hospedan.
"Sí, ese privilegio fue mío, de nadie más… el de llamarle asesino", dijo, Thompson, en exclusiva para El Diario de El Paso. Y argumentó: "Desde que llegué a El Paso me estuve preguntando cuál sería mi reacción si me lo encontraba frente a frente".
La mujer narró que Posada Carriles "se puso las dos manos en la nariz _como una trompeta_ y se mofó de lo que le dije".
Posteriormente los guardaespalada del cubano-venezolano la interrumpieron y condujeron al protegido hasta el elevador. Este versión fue confirmada por los opositores a Castro.
"Esta mañana tuvimos ese inconveniente cuando Posada se retiraba de desayunar para hablar con su abogado", confesó, Borges, de Junta Patriótica Cubana.
Y fundamentó: "empezaron a ofender verbalmente a Posada y quisieron entrar al elevador para hacerle no sé que cosa, quizá agredirlo físicamente, pero por fortuna la seguridad del hotel nos ayudó a ponerlo a salvo y que no lograran su objetivo".
Borges insistió en que el acusado de terrorismo "es un patriota cubano".
Ambos grupos esperan un dictamen acorde a sus intereses, _unos confían en la extradición, otros en la libertad sin cargos_ lo cual se dará a conocer después que concluya la selección de los doce miembros del jurado y la jueza Kathleen Cardone, escuche y delibere en el caso.
Luego de varios años de espera, finalmente, Luís Faustino Clemente Posada Carriles regresa a El Paso, Texas, para enfrentar un proceso, pero no por los cargos de asesinato que muchos le imputan sino violaciones en materia migratoria y otros delitos menores.