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Posted March 31, 2005 by mattlawrence in Castro's Cuba

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BY ELAINE DE VALLE AND ALFONSO CHARDY | Miami Herald

Luis Posada Carriles, the legendary Cuban exile operative accused of blowing up a Cuban airliner in 1976 and trying to kill Fidel Castro in 2000, is believed to have secretly slipped into South Florida after years of hiding abroad, a federal source said Wednesday.

The source said he understands that Posada, 77, has been in the area for about a week and has made contact with government authorities.

The source said he may be trying to retain a local attorney, but didn’t explain why. One possibility might be to help ensure Posada wouldn’t be extradited to Venezuela, where he escaped from prison in 1985 while facing charges related to the airliner bombing.

The Cuban-born militant, however, does not face any charges in the United States.

Santiago Alvarez, a Miami developer who is a close friend and financial backer of Posada, said he talked to three attorneys on Wednesday in case his friend decides to come forward and seek asylum. Alvarez, however, said he would neither confirm nor deny Posada is in the area.

‘‘I cannot tell you if I have seen him or have not seen him, if he is here or is not here,’’ Alvarez said. “What I can tell you is that I am signing a contract with a lawyer to represent him in case it is true that he is here and that he will present himself to immigration.’‘

Were Posada to emerge publicly in Miami, his presence could pose an embarrassing foreign-relations dilemma for the Bush administration. Amid the U.S. war on global terrorism, Posada’s alleged involvement in hotel bombings and assassination plots could leave the nation open to criticism, especially by Cuba and Venezuela, whose governments are antagonistic toward American policies.

AGREEMENT CITED

In Washington, Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez Herrera stopped short of saying his country would seek the extradition of Posada.

‘‘If the presence of this person on U.S. soil is confirmed, the Venezuelan government has a cooperation agreement [with the United States] regarding judicial matters and there is also an extradition treaty,’’ Alvarez said.

‘‘We have already asked for extradition of this person [from Panama in 2001],’’ he added. ‘‘He is a person who has a judicial proceeding pending in Venezuela,’’ where Posada and others allegedly hatched the plot to bomb a Cubana airliner off the coast of Barbados.

Though virtually any Cuban who reaches U.S. soil would be entitled to stay under current immigration policy, Posada is no ordinary Cuban refugee.

He is a highly controversial figure who was a Bay of Pigs veteran with ties to the CIA dating back to the 1960s. An icon to some in the exile community, Posada has been linked to assassination and sabotage operations against Castro and his government, including a string of bombings against Havana tourist spots in 1997.

A federal official said Posada’s name has been on an immigration watch list for years in case he should try to enter the country through an airport, seaport or border crossing.

But Santiago Alvarez, the longtime friend and benefactor, said that if Posada were here he would likely have sneaked across the border.

‘‘He has family—a son, a daughter and a wife—here [in Miami],’’ Alvarez said. “If he wants to come to immigration, we are ready to represent his case. Whenever he decides what he wants to do, we’ll help him.’‘

Alvarez said Posada, who once was a permanent resident in the United States, gave up that status years ago when he moved to Latin America to pursue anti-Castro operations.

He worked for the Venezuelan secret police for several years. Then, in 1976, he and Miami pediatrician Orlando Bosch were arrested following the midair bombing of a Cubana airliner that killed all 73 people aboard.

Both were acquitted twice at trial, but were not immediately released pending an appeal by prosecutors. Bosch served 11 years behind bars and was released.

ESCAPE FROM PRISON

But in 1985, Posada escaped from prison. He turned up a year later in El Salvador, where he worked for an unauthorized Nicaraguan contra resupply network overseen by then-National Security Council staffer Oliver North.

In 1997, he first admitted and then denied masterminding the bombing attacks on several Havana hotels and restaurants that catered to foreign tourists, who provided needed currency to cash-strapped Cuba.

Three years later, Posada and three Miami exiles were arrested in Panama after Castro, visiting for a heads-of-state summit, alleged at a news conference that they were plotting to kill him. The four claimed they were trying to help a Cuban general defect.

They were cleared of the assassination and explosives charges, but were convicted of endangering the public safety and given sentences of up to eight years in prison.

Last year, then-Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso issued a controversial pardon to the four, prompting Cuba to break off diplomatic relations with Panama. The three Miamians returned home, but Posada remained in Central America.

He was last seen publicly in August in Honduras. The Cuban government formally requested his capture and extradition—to face a firing squad. But Posada managed to disappear again.

The first hint Posada might be in the Miami area came Tuesday night, when Spanish-language television station Channel 41 quoted three unidentified sources as saying he was here and planning “to present himself to North American authorities.’‘

On Wednesday, El Nuevo Herald, also citing unidentified sources, reported Posada was in Miami ‘‘to negotiate his surrender’’ to U.S. authorities.

FBI STATEMENT

Judy Orihuela, spokeswoman for the FBI, said Posada has not contacted the agency. Carlos B. Castillo, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, said prosecutors also have not heard from Posada.

A Department of Homeland Security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said only that the agency is “working closely with our law enforcement partners and we’re looking into the matter.’‘

Herald staff writers Nancy San Martin and Jack Dolan contributed to this report.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on April 02, 2005 by YoungCuban with 409 total posts

    Hmmmmm I wonder if the US would hand over Mr. Posada to Venezuela or Cuba for his “Terrorist acts”?

    Should me interesting to see what happens if Mr. Posada does surface in Miami.

    You cannot preach war on terrorism only to harbor a terrorist!


  2. Follow up post #2 added on April 02, 2005 by PABLOPUEBLO with 86 total posts

    Indeed.This is a Test to the validity of the american policy
    over Terrorism.If they give papers to PosaDA Carriles,then is
    past of my imagination the commiments of Bush stewardship over
    The War on Terror.I want to stop talking about this topic,because I need to say that is about to its End the Life of
    Karol Woitila,THE Polish Pope.his 26 years of Pontificate has
    been Plenty in good things,He has been always in the side of
    the slums,in the side of the poor people,in the side,definetely,of the Peace,Against Wars and his own life,he is
    an example of the measure of the hu,man courage.-


  3. Follow up post #3 added on April 03, 2005 by waldo with 264 total posts

    And what is even more terrifying, grotesque or diabolico is what could legaly be given to Posada accorting to the Cuban Adjustment Act which provides inmediate help, benefits and a working permit to any Cuban that stepd on US teritory. And, after a year in US territory, he would get a green card. What a hot potatoe has the CANF and its Miami gang dropped into the hands of Washington!


  4. Follow up post #4 added on April 07, 2005 by PABLOPUEBLO with 86 total posts


    As I said earlier,Posada affairs is a Testing time for the
    legitimacy of USA War on Terror,because it is past of my -
    imagination that the USA stewardships taints the Code of the
    War against Terrorism,giving Posada a Safehaven,other cubans
    could apply for the Adjustment Bill,but NOT Posadas,who is—
    convicted of the murderer terrorist actions,At least Posada
    Carriles has to be jailed by this administration,there is not
    reason whatsoever to give him other treatment.He didn’t any
    chance to the innocent people,who were on board of the Plane,
    that he whacked,that was a coward and murderer action,so the
    Usa government has not options,but put him behind bars to the
    very end of his %&#! life.


  5. Follow up post #5 added on April 08, 2005 by waldo with 264 total posts

    Time will tell, and I also hope he goes to jail for the rest of his murdering F life. But, many in Miami(CANF, RECE, Alpha 66, Hermanos, Radio M, ect.) call him a heroe and they have lots of money and political pull in Washington and there is no telling what would happen. Perhaps all this fbi talk and media coverage is just a feeder to see what the reaction in the US is and to prepara the way for Posada’ easy sailing. The Miami gang could easily get false papers, identity, etc. and with all the money they would give the terrorist, he could live in the US like a king and keep on planning more of his horror doings.


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