Posada arrives in Miami
by Oscar Corral, Luisa Yanez and Alfonso Chardy
Apr. 19, 2007
Reprinted from The Miami Herald
After a two-year battle with immigration authorities, Cuban exile militant Luis Posada Carriles arrived in Miami shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday after being released on $350,000 bond by a federal court in El Paso, Texas.
Posada's release is sure to unleash a firestorm in Venezuela and Cuba, where leaders accuse Posada of masterminding the bombing of a civilian jetliner that killed 73 people in 1976, among other alleged terrorist acts.
Posada has denied any involvement in the bombing, was cleared by a Venezuelan military court and was awaiting the outcome of a civilian court's ruling when he escaped in 1985.
The Cuban official news agency Prensa Latina reported the news mid-afternoon, headlining the item "Despite worldwide rejection, Posada is released." The report carried no official government reaction.
José Pertierra, a Cuban-American attorney in Washington who represents the Venezuelan government, lashed out at the Bush administration, blaming it for Posada's court-ordered release.
"It is an affront to the memory of the victims of Posada's terrorism, but it speaks volumes about the absence of sincerity in President Bush's so-called war on terror," Pertierra said.
Cuban exiles in Miami were pleased that Posada, a former CIA operative -- and a hero to many -- was returning to Miami, at least temporarily, while he awaits trial.
"That's doing justice. He is not a danger to this community, and people here know he had nothing to do with the blowing up of the airplane, said Jose "Pepin" Pujol, a longtime friend of Posada's who is also under investigation in a case involving Posada."
Santiago Alvarez, a wealthy developer and major Posada benefactor who ran afoul of the law after helping Posada emerge from hiding in Miami in 2005, said through his attorney that he is glad his friend has been released.
"Mr. Alvarez is thrilled that the justice system is working fairly for Luis Posada, and he wishes him the best," said Alvarez's Miami attorney, Ben Kuehne.
Alvarez is serving a three-year sentence at the Miami federal prison. Alvarez and Osvaldo Mitat were accused of conspiring to stash machine guns, firearms, a silencer and a grenade launcher in a Broward apartment complex that belonged to Alvarez.
On Thursday, Posada traveled from El Paso to Miami with his lawyer, Art Hernandez, accompanied by U.S. marshals
"He has made bond, and we expect him to appear for trial on May 11," said Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman. Posada will be fitted with an electronic ankle bracelet for 24-hour monitoring.
In an exclusive interview with Carlos Santana of Radio Mambí 710-AM, Hernandez said as he arrived at the Miami airport that Posada "has been processed criminally and by immigration. So now he's going home, and he will be there until his trial date."
Posada, 79, was wearing a beige and white suit with a maroon shirt and he appeared to be tired, Radio Mambí reported. He will be reunited with his once-estranged wife and two grown children Janet and Jorge.
Posada is facing immigration fraud charges. An immigration judge ruled that he couldn't be deported to those countries because he might be tortured, and no other country has agreed to take him.
Marc Raimondi, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, said Posada also will be required to report to immigration authorities by telephone every two weeks and to continue trying to get a travel document "from any government in the world" so he can be deported at some point.
Raimondi, in a written statement, said Posada also will be required to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in person as soon as "the criminal proceedings against him" end and to "surrender to ICE for removal in the event that he obtains travel documents necessary to relocate outside the U.S."
Posada, a naturalized Venezuelan citizen, was indicted on charges of lying to U.S. immigration authorities about how he entered the country in 2005. An appeals court in New Orleans this week rejected prosecutors' attempts to keep Posada in jail until his trial.
In Cuba, the relatives of the victims of the downing of the Cuban commercial airliner in 1976 reacted with indignation to Posada's release, according to Agence France-Press in Havana.
"We are deeply angered. We didn't expect them to release him because they have sufficient elements to punish him for being a liar and a terrorist. They are protecting the murderer of our parents," said Camilo Rojo, of the Committee of Relatives of the Victims.
Rojo, the son of Jesus Rojo, an official of Cubana de Aviacíon who died in the bombing at age 33, described Posada's release as a "lack of respect for all the victims of terrorism, not only in Cuba but throughout the world."
Miami Herald reporter Jay Weaver and translator Renato Perez contributed to this report.
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