OAS debates U.S. handling of Posada case
by Pablo Bachelet
May 23, 2007
Reprinted from McClatchy News Service
WASHINGTON - Venezuela is pushing the Organization of American States to condemn the United States for Washington's alleged reluctance to punish or extradite anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles.
The Venezuelan draft resolution drew a strong rebuke from the United States, which argued the 34-member OAS had no business getting involved in a bilateral problem with Caracas.
"It is worrisome that U.S. authorities pretend to protect this well-known terrorist Posada Carriles," said Venezuela's envoy before the OAS, Jorge Valero.
Posada Carriles is accused of masterminding a 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner that killed 73 persons, and Venezuela is demanding his extradition. A U.S. judge has refused, saying he could be tortured in Caracas. Cuba and Venezuela say the apparent U.S. reluctance to go after Posada Carriles shows the United States has a double standard in its public discourse on terrorism.
Valero said suggestions that Posada Carriles could be harmed in Venezuela were a "fallacy."
Countries were divided over the Venezuelan proposal. Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador - all governed by left-wing governments that criticize U.S. positions - backed the Venezuelan draft proposal, which said the U.S. delay in jailing or extraditing Posada could "debilitate" international efforts against terrorism.
Canada and Panama supported the U.S. stance. Robert Manzanares, the acting U.S. ambassador to the OAS, said "a show of hands" could help settle the issue, but diplomats instead decided to set up an informal group to try and reach an agreement on an issue that threatens to spill over into the upcoming General Assembly of the OAS, where foreign ministers are to discuss renewable energy issues.
Manzanares said the judicial process was still underway and Posada was under investigation for past activities. "The United States also notes that this is a bilateral issue between two OAS member states, not a multilateral issue."