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Posted August 31, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Human Rights

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Randy Alonso | [url=http://www.cubadebate.cu]http://www.cubadebate.cu[/url]
Simon Wollers | Radio Havana Cuba

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Freed Terrorist Luis Posada Carriles

The outgoing president of Panama, Mireya Moscoso, last Thursday pardoned four men serving prison sentences in Panama for endangering public safety by possessing a large amount of explosives. She did so for what she said were “humanitarian reasons.” The explosives had been designed to kill visiting Cuban President Fidel Castro in 2000. The release of the terrorists has caused consternation in Cuba, Venezuela (where one of the men is wanted) and Panama with Havana immediately severing diplomatic relations and Venezuela recalling its ambassador.
Cubana flight 455 crashed into the sea off the island of Barbados in October of 1976 after a bomb exploded on board. All 73 passengers and crew died. One of the men found guilty of planning and executing the sabotage was Luis Posada Carriles who escaped from a Venezuelan prison where he was serving time for the act of terrorism.

After years of walking the streets of Miami and San Salvador a free man, he turned up again in Panama in 2000 where he and three Cuban Americans attempted to kill Fidel Castro along with many hundreds of students and workers attending a welcome for the Cuban leader.  Now they have been released after serving only 4 years of a 7-8 year sentence. Iraida Malberti’s husband was one of those killed on board Cubana Flight 455. She says she cannot understand the release of these terrorists:

“My husband, who was flying in the plane, was killed by Posada Carriles. These men are confessed killers, of that there is no doubt. And now they’re pardoned under this false concept of humanitarianism. In the name of what humanitarianism does she speak, this woman?”

Dr Julio Yao is a professor of International Law at the University of Panama and was very explicit about the illegal nature of the Panamanian president’s act:

“The President of Panama has violated the Constitution because the political constitution of Panama only authorizes a pardon in cases of political crimes and terrorism is not a political crime. She also violated international law because she did not comply with her obligations and treaties signed by Panama regarding terrorism.  I personally believe that the elections in November are not indifferent to this fact.”

Indeed, says former US Attorney General Ramsey Clarke, the timing of this event coincided with an electoral campaign visit of US President George Bush to Miami and the beginning of the Republican National Convention in New York:

“This pardon by President Mireya Moscoso has to be seen as the most recent in a long line of terrorist acts against the government and the people of Cuba. It is not insignificant that this happens on the eve of the Republican Convention. That the United States desired this and caused it to happen would be hard to deny and it is sad to see in the midst of President Bush’s war on terrorism, he continues the US war on terrorism against the sovereignty and independence of the people of Cuba.”

Cubans are astounded at what they call the treachery, lies and support of terrorism by Panama’s president. Stephen Fay of Radio Havana Cuba explains that the 1976 bombing of the Cubana flight has never been forgotten:

“I think that caused such an incredible impact in the Cuban psyche Posada Carriles was involved in that sabotage attack so now to see him released after serving four years of a pitifully short eight year sentence, perhaps it would have been easier to cope with if he’d escaped. But he’s been pardoned and released by the president of a nation. There’s a feeling of disbelief and disgust.”

Mireya Moscoso said she released the four men on what she termed as “humanitarian” grounds because she feared they would face the death penalty if a succeeding Panamanian government extradited them to Cuba or to Venezuela which specifically claims Posada Carriles. Her comment elicited anger in both countries with Caracas promptly recalling its ambassador after Cuba had severed diplomatic relations with Panama.

Havana has previously publicly guaranteed the four terrorists would not face the death penalty and Venezuela doesn’t even have the death penalty on its books. Cuba pointed out that Moscoso was quick to triumphantly call a US official with the news three of the four were on their way back to a hero’s welcome in Miami. The fourth, Luis Posada Carriles, once again free, flew to an unknown destination.

Most Cubans believe it will not be the last they hear of him.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on August 31, 2004 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    We try not to lean one way or the other but sometimes life is stranger than fiction and a commment needs to be made.

    Castro will pardon Cuban political prisoners sentenced to very long terms for very minor “crimes” but for Panama to release Posada seems a bit too extreme.

    For what its worth, George Bush would never pardon anyone.



    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on August 31, 2004 by Jesus Perez

    People that blow up planes with inocent people aboard are no different that those that carried out the 9/11 attacks, but we could not expect Mr. Bush to understand that, could we?


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