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Posted February 10, 2011 by publisher in Cuban History

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Peter Kornbluh | The Nation

El Paso, Texas, the perjury trial of the infamous violent Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles took a historic turn today. For the first time in a long dramatic history dominated by hostility and aggression, US government prosecutors formally presented evidence of terrorism committed against Cuba in a court of law—against one of its own former CIA operatives. Even more extraordinary, the evidence comes in the form of a Cuban Ministry of Interior investigator explaining photographs and police reports to the jury relating to a series of explosions in Havana hotels, including the Hotel Copacabana which killed a young Italian businessman Fabio Di Celmo on September 4, 1997. “Cuba Cooperating in US case against ex-CIA agent,” reads tomorrow’s news headlines.

The godfather of anti-Castro Cuban violence over the last four decades, Posada is being prosecuted for immigration fraud relating to how he illegally entered the United States in March 2005. But the Obama Justice Department added three counts of perjury relating to a far more important crime: Posada’s role in a series of seven bombings that rocked Havana hotels and other tourist sites between April and September 1997.  “The defendant is alleged to have lied about his involvement in planning the bombings in Havana,” state court filings by the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Division. “The United States intends to prove that the bombings in Cuba actually occurred.”

This week marks the first time that concrete evidence is being presented to the jury on how those bombings took place and the damage they wrought.  The jury has been shown photographs taken by Cuban authorities of the bloodstained floor of the hotel.  Portions of a Cuban investigative study, known as the “Volcan report,” which discusses the cause of, and circumstances surrounding Fabio Di Celmo’s death, are due to be introduced as evidence during the testimony of Major Roberto Hernandez Caballero—he was Cuba’s lead detective on the hotel bombing investigation—who took the stand today.

The importance of this moment in US-Cuban relations cannot be overstated. Posada was originally trained in demolitions by the US military and put on the CIA payroll in 1965 to train and supervise other exile groups in sabotage, explosives and violent operations.  Declassified CIA and FBI intelligence reports, posted on the website of the National Security Archive, identify him as a mastermind of a mid-air bombing of a Cuban jetliner that took the lives of all 73 men, women and children on board in October 1976. Most recently, Posada was arrested in Panama with a carload of C-4 and dynamite in what he admitted to U.S. officials was a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro at the Ibero-American summit in November 2000.  By prosecuting him on charges related to his acts of terrorism, even if they are only perjury charges, the United States is effectively repudiating a dark past that its own Cold War officials and covert operatives set in motion.   

For Cuba, where Posada is public enemy number one, having its day in court is also a turning point in a longstanding effort to collaborate with US officials to put Posada behind bars. Cuban authorities have been forced to set aside their understandable suspicion that the trial is for all for show, not for justice.  (After all, how can the United States, which purports to be the leader in the campaign to fight international terrorism, prosecute one of the world’s most infamous terrorists only on perjury charges?) Since Posada popped up in Miami some six years ago, Cuban authorities have repeatedly welcomed teams of FBI investigators and Justice Department lawyers to Havana. They turned over almost 1,500 pages of investigative records for use in the trial and made Posada’s accomplices, now in prison in Cuba, available for interrogation.  And they have sent three witnesses to El Paso—another police investigator and a forensic doctor to present the autopsy of the murdered Italian to the jury—who have been waiting for over a week to testify.

If this unprecedented level of Cuban judicial support helps convict the 82-year old Posada and he spends the rest of his natural life behind bars, the United States and Cuba will have arrived at a new level of cooperation and collaboration on fighting terrorism.  More importantly, together Washington and Havana will have turned a page on the dark history of US-sponsored violence against the Cuban revolution and Washington can begin what President Obama refers to as “a new chapter” in US relations with Cuba.

Radio Cadena Agramonte

Cuban Expert Testifies in Trial against Terrorist Luis Posada Carriles

In Lt. Col. Roberto Hernandez Caballero, of the Cuban Interior Ministry, testified on Wednesday in the ongoing trial against international and self-confessed terrorist Luis Posada Carriles in El Paso, Texas.

The Cuban military officer, who was in charge of a task force that investigated a series of bomb attacks against tourist facilities in Havana and Varadero in 1997, presented evidence of the damages caused by the bombings, including a photo of the blood-stained lobby of Havana’s Copacabana Hotel after a bomb exploded killing Italian tourist Fabio Di Celmo.

Hernandez described how that bomb destroyed a crystal ashtray sending shards of glass flying that killed Di Celmo. “You could see a lot of destruction and the shrapnel from the ashtray,” he said.

In reference to other 1997 attacks, the witness described how a bomb exploded in a bathroom sink inside the discotheque of the Melia Cohiba Hotel, which was at that time the most-popular among tourists visiting Havana. He also explained how an explosion rocked the lobby of Havana’s Hotel Capri on July 12, and how, only a few minutes later, a bomb destroyed a bank of phone booths at the Hotel National. He also mentioned the August 22 bombing of the hallway linking the rooms and lobby in the Sol Palmeras Hotel in Varadero and another that blew up that same month near the reception desk of the Melia Cohiba.

Posada Carriles is being tried only for lying during citizenship hearings in El Paso about how he sneaked into the US in March 2005, and of failing to acknowledge planning the bombings of the Cuban hotels and a restaurant in 1997.

In 1998, during an interview with journalist Ann Louise Bardach published by the New York Times, Posada Carriles admitted that he was behind the bombings, which he said were meant to hurt Cuban tourism.

Two other Cuban experts, medical examiner Ilena Vizcaino who examined Di Celmo’s corpse and Major Misael Fonte with Havana’s Central Crime Lab, are ready to testify.

—————————————- Havana Journal Comments—————————————-

Never forget the shameful comments by right wing Cuban American fanatic Ileana Ros-Lehtinen made in 2007 condemning the FBI for going to Cuba to gather evidence against Posada.

Now she is the chairperson of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee. And you wonder why Cuba complains about US aggression towards Cuba?

  1. Follow up post #1 added on February 15, 2011 by Richard Gonzalez

    Posada Carril lo unico malo que hiso, es no poder matar al CRIMINAL Y DICATADOR DE EL DIABOLICO DE FIDEL CASTRO a la hermana RAULITA CASTRO Y SUS DIABLITOS.

    {y el govierno americano no se a dado cuenta de que el DIABOLICO DE FIDEL le una bomba idiologica aqui en los estados unidos y los americanos todabia no,

    han visto ni han hoido la esplocion.
    estan en un lorgo sueno de la droga.]

    cuando despierten ba hacer tarde.

  2. Follow up post #2 added on February 19, 2011 by Dana Garrett

    Justice for this murderous thug is long overdue. It’s a pity that the USA government officials that aided him in his crimes are not on trial with him.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on February 22, 2011 by ghirald

    Which mind can believe all this tricks that this slavery and murderer castro goverment appears to be like the most innocent and human one.The moment is not far that all this conspiracy fell down.And the church askind forguiveness for their relations with the biggesst murderer FIDEL CASTRO,and even many northamericans,yes,northamericans who have hold the criminal comunist sistem in spite of the suffered and exiled cuban people.Sons and daughters of the real and great fathers of the american independency,and all those who have sacrified their lives for the real values of this
    wonderful country dont allow be fooled for this bloody tirany and his lovers.Remember all of you;
    we never,yes,the suffered free cubans;never,well forget,any actions against us,neither the smallest things,no matter will be or who be.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on February 23, 2011 by Bill

    What ghirald wrote…was not a comment on the Posada trial. Instead, he expresses, in a somewhat-difficult-to-understand language…, his hate of Fidel, completely out of context.
    Posada’s 50 year terrorist career against Cuba is well documented and he is clearly guilty on many counts. Just read the 1st paragraph of the present article…..”For the first time in a long dramatic history dominated by hostility and aggression, US government prosecutors formally presented evidence of terrorism committed against Cuba in a court of law—against one of its own former CIA operatives”.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on February 25, 2011 by eduardo hunt

    the ends never justify the means- if they do, then you get alot of posada’s-and who’s cause makes it ok to kill innocent civilians? the guy should be deported to mexico or the country in which he plotted with other terrorists to kill 73 people. is it true he’s a hero down in little havana?

  6. Follow up post #6 added on March 12, 2011 by Rich Haney

    In his books, essays and as the chief Cuban expert on the U. S. National Archives website, Peter Kornbluh has always told and posted the truth about Cuban-U. S. relations. That’s probably one reason he and other such true Cuban experts (like Wayne S. Smith) are seldom, if ever, seen on cable’s so-called “news” networks or even on the NBC, ABC, and CBS news programs. It’s safer, easier, and much more politically correct in the U. S. to project a distorted portrait of U. S. - Cuban relations. The comment above from Dana Garrett is amazingly accurate: “Justice for this murderous thug is long overdue. It’s a pity that the USA government officials that aided him in his crimes are not on trial with him.” As biographer of Celia Sanchez, as a researcher on Cuba day and night for 20+ years including a research mission to Cuba), I have discovered (as anyone readily can) that among the most egregious American officials that have mightily “aided” Carriles (to reference Garrett) are: Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Oliver North, etc., etc., and, of course, the generally unchallenged Cuban exiles in Congress led by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Diaz-Balart brothers Lincoln and Maria, Bob Menendez, Marco Rubio, etc., etc. They, and many others, have mightily sponsored, trained, financed, and/or protected some of the worst terrorists on the planet for over a half century in the name of regaining control of Cuba from Castro…enriching and empowering themselves while always remembering to use tax dollars and not their own. (The great columnist Jim DeFede explained exactly that in one of his (of course) last columns in the Miami Herald). The Cuban Revolution is fascinating—the first popular revolution to overthrow a U. S. - backed dictatorship; the first overthrown dictatorship to quickly reinstall that dictatorship on U. S. soil (namely South Florida and Union City, NJ); the first failed U. S. attack on another country (the Bay of Pigs); the first time the U. S. knowingly engaged in repeated assassination attempts of foreign leaders; the first time a U. S. military base (Fort Benning in Georgia) began to spend millions lavishly training foreign mililtants (including Carriles, Bosch, and many other infamous Cuban exiles)before sending them out to defend brutal U. S. - backed dictators in places as disparate as Cuba, Chile, Egypt, etc., etc. (That Fort Benning base was famously called The Army of the Americas until the name was changed during the Clinton administration when declassified data revealed what it was all about). If the killing of a wildly popular and democratically elected leader (such as in Chile to install the murderous Pinochet) was beneficial to a Nixon or a Kissinger or a Bush Sr., then it was routinely done and nobody ever faced any consequences. Great journalists such as Robert Parry for two decades begged Bush Sr. to comment on his amazing closeness to Carriles, Bosch, etc., and if, as CIA director, he authorized the downing of the child-laden Cuban civilian airplane (killing all 73 aboard) in 1976. Not to even comment on such things (as the airplane bombing), with Internet search engines providing all the minute details, is ridiculous. To mention such things you might be called “anti-American” by people who profess to believe that American support and protection of vile terrorists, the overthrow of democracies to install killer dictators, etc., is “American.” I like to think it isn’t. Carriles and the ongoing trial (before a Bush-appointed federal judge that has greatly favored Carriles in an earliar “trial”) should be studied, and Mr. Kornbluh is an unbiased expert that can educate us all.

  7. Follow up post #7 added on March 13, 2011 by Miami Cuban

    Mr. Kornbluh is one of the few people out there reporting the unbiased truth.  It’s time the world saw Posada Carriles for what he really is—a terrorist.  Regardless of how anyone on this site feels about Castro,the truth is the truth—and anyone who blows up a plane with innocent civilians on board should go to jail.

  8. Follow up post #8 added on March 19, 2011 by miguel with 41 total posts

    Thank you for the story from The Nation. An interesting supplement on Mr. Posada’s connection to the Cuban Five case is furnished by the Canadian journalist Stephen Kimber’s “Open letter to the FBI” (FBI documents on contacts in 1998 with Cuban Security concerning Miami-based anti-Castro terrorists have mysteriously disappeared). It can be seen on http://cubanfive.ca/

  9. Follow up post #9 added on March 23, 2011 by eduardo hunt

    posada has leverage with powerful people -he was a cia trained operative who committed terroristic acts on behalf of his anti-castro cause.  remember nixon himself was on tape trying to keep the lid on all this cuban hanky panky that hunt was involved in.  the stuff these guys did and were protected by cia people like george bush if it were ever exposed would be very bad for the counry-nixon’s words.  his fear of cuban related cia-mafia activities brought down his presidency. let me see,- who can posada bring down?

  10. Follow up post #10 added on April 10, 2011 by miguel with 41 total posts

    Those who have (had) faith in the administration of justice in the US must feel disappointed and embarrassed, knowing that Posada was acquitted of all charges by the law court in El Paso (April 8).

    No one has done more to discredit the Cuban opposition than Posada. You can still see a photo of the old terrorist in a demonstration in Miami in support of the “ladies in white” a year ago on web-site of the Spanish newspaper Público (http://www.publico.es/internacional/303351/posada-carriles-reaparece-en-una-manifestacion-en-miami

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