Supporters seek money to defend Luis Posada Carriles
by Alfonso Chardy
May 4, 2008
Reprinted from Miami Herald
Terrorist Luis Posada Carriles enjoying freedom in the United States
One reason several traditional Cuban exile groups organized a tribute dinner to Luis Posada Carriles, the Cuban exile militant, emerged during the Friday night event (photo above) when one of his closest supporters rose to introduce the guest of honor.
Nelly Rojas, a longtime Posada friend, told the packed banquet hall at the Big Five Club in west Miami-Dade, that supporters will soon be asked to contribute money for the Cuban militant’s legal defense fund.
Rojas said the Luis Posada Carriles Support Group was being “reactivated’’ and that soon it will stage a series of events aimed at raising funds to pay for Posada’s legal expenses.
Rojas said money was needed to cover anticipated “considerable’’ expenses associated with Posada’s pending criminal case stemming from an indictment in El Paso, Texas. The indictment accused him of lying to immigration officials about how he sneaked into the United States in March 2005.
Though a federal judge tossed out the indictment last year, the Justice Department appealed and a federal appeals court has scheduled a hearing in the case in June in New Orleans, Rojas told dinner guests. Separately, a grand jury in New Jersey continues to investigate allegations Posada was implicated in a series of bombings of tourist sites in Cuba in 1997.
“Personally and on behalf of the group, I ask all of you to actively or in whatever way you can join us so we can raise these funds and obtain his definitive freedom,’’ Rojas said, as she introduced Posada to dinner guests.
Posada’s speech was brief, but fiery.
Though he didn’t say anything related to his legal case, Posada predicted a quick end to the government in Cuba and urged God to “sharpen our machetes’’ to hasten the end of the regime.
He started by thanking dinner guests for the tribute.
“These moments for me are undeserved but unforgettable,’’ he said, adding: “I am profoundly moved.’’
Then Posada indirectly alluded to Fidel Castro’s resignation and replacement by younger brother Raul.
“We are at the threshold of history,’’ he said. “We are coming to the end of a terrible stage…The end of our struggle is near…In these times, we must be more firm. We have to have more faith in ourselves and in God above all. God is on our side.
“We must not wait for Fidel Castro to die…for Raul to make mistakes. We must recall the words of [Cuba independence hero] General Antonio Maceo ‘liberty is not something we must beg for. It is conquered with the sharp edge of the machete.' We ask God to sharpen our machetes because difficult times are arriving.’’
The event was organized by Municipalities of Cuba in Exile and supported by several traditional anti-Castro exile organizations such as Alpha 66 and Vigilia Mambisa.
Militant Cuban exile honored
by Alfonso Chardy
May 3, 2008
Reprinted from Miami Herald
A beaming Luis Posada Carriles hugged and shook hands with hundreds of supporters late Friday as he arrived at a club in west Miami-Dade for a dinner in his honor.
"I want to give you a kiss," said a woman who was among the first to greet Posada as he arrived at the Big Five Club, near the corner of Southwest Eighth Street and 92nd Avenue in West Miami-Dade.
Organizers expected more than 500 guests at the sprawling banquet hall where tables were decked in white linens and red and blue napkins. A band played old Cuban standards, as Posada -- dressed in a dark blue suit -- went from table to table shaking hands and embracing supporters.
Many were former political prisoners and former members of Brigade 2506.
Among the prominent Cuban exiles on hand: former guerrilla commander and political prisoner Huber Matos, who broke with Fidel Castro early in the revolution and Ernesto Diaz, leader of the anti-Castro militant group Alpha 66.
The dinner amounted to a "coming-out party" for Posada.
The tribute drew criticism from Venezuelan officials who want Posada in connection with a 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger plane.
The 80-year-old Cuban exile has largely kept a low profile since a federal judge in Texas tossed out a grand jury indictment against him a year ago. The prosecution had alleged that Posada lied to immigration officials about how he sneaked into the United States in March 2005.
Although Posada has been spotted at several public events in South Florida in the last few weeks, Friday night's dinner marked the first time he appeared at a specific event as a guest of honor.
The dinner was organized by Posada supporters and the Cuban-American group Municipios de Cuba en el Exilio, or Municipalities of Cuba in Exile, an organization whose members are former residents of the various municipalities on the island.
Pedro Peñaranda, the group's leader from Holguín municipality, told The Miami Herald that the dinner was to "recognize Posada as a great Cuban, a man of dignity and decency and as a great patriot who has suffered a lot."
After arriving in the United States, Posada was discovered and detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who put him in deportation proceedings at a detention facility in El Paso, Texas.
An immigration judge there prohibited Posada's deportation to his native Cuba and also to Venezuela, where he became a naturalized citizen -- but allowed removal to any other country willing to take him. So far no other country has offered to take him.
Posada was released after the judge threw out the indictment in May 2007.
Venezuela has demanded Posada's extradition over allegations he was implicated in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger jet -- an attack that killed 73 people. Posada has denied he was involved.
Bernardo Alvarez, the Venezuelan ambassador to the United States, deplored Posada's dinner event.
"We asked for this individual's extradition to Venezuela awhile back, and the United States, instead of complying with its treaty obligations, has provided protection for him," Alvarez told The Miami Herald.
Meanwhile, a federal grand jury in New Jersey continues to weigh an indictment against Posada in connection with the bombing of Cuba tourist sites in Cuba in 1997.
Posada initially acknowledged to The New York Times that he was involved in the Cuba attacks. But during his deportation proceedings, he recanted that statement, saying his English was poor and he was misunderstood.
José Pertierra, an attorney who represents the Venezuelan government in the extradition case, called the tribute to Posada "outrageous," adding: "It would be like Osama bin Laden being honored by the Arab-American community."