U.S. Release of Accused Terrorist Sparks Outcry
President Daniel Ortega this week joined a growing chorus of voices around the world in condemning a U.S. judge’s decision to release on bail accused terrorist and anti-Castro militant, Luis Posada Carriles.
Posada, long-accused of a 1976 bombing of a Cuban airline that killed 73 Cuban athletes, was released on a $350,000 bond from a court in El Paso, Texas, as he awaits a May 11 trial for immigration charges in a U.S. court.
His release has led many around the world to accuse the United States as having a double standard when it comes to fighting terrorism.
“We are going to formally request that the U.S. government extradite Posada Carriles to Nicaragua to be judged in our country,” said President Ortega April 19, in statements to Sandinista Radio Ya.
The former revolutionary leader also accused Posada of helping to illegally arm the Contras as part of a CIA plot to overthrow his Sandinista government in the 1980s.
Posada, a naturalized Venezuelan citizen who fled his home in Cuba soon after Fidel Castro took power in 1959, has been accused by both countries of masterminding several terrorist acts, the most serious being the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner off the coast of Barbados. He is also accused of bombing hotels in Havana in the 1990s.
Posada was later arrested in Panama City in 2000, after Cuban intelligence uncovered a terrorist plot to kill Castro during the Summit of the Americas held in the Panamanian capital.
Outgoing Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso, in her last act in office, pardoned Posada from a seven-year jail sentence, causing a temporary rupture of official diplomatic ties between Cuba and Panama.
President Hugo Chávez, a close ally of Nicaragua and Cuba, has also accused Posada of trying to assassinate him. Venezuela for years has requested the extradition of Posada, but the U.S. government has refused, claiming the accused terrorist wouldn’t get a fair trial there and could be tortured.
Ortega retorted last week that Posada would have a better chance of getting a fair trial in Latin America than he would in the U.S. Guantanamo military base and terrorist tribunal in Cuba.
Chávez is now calling on the United Nations to intervene.
“All Venezuela raises its voice in indignation for the protection the imperialist U.S. government continues to provide for the alltime father of all terrorists on the American continent,” Chávez said on his weekly radio program. “We demand the extradition to Venezuela of this terrorist and murderer, instead of continuing to protect him the way he is being protected.”
The movement of non-aligned countries is also urging the United States to do its part in the war on terrorism.
“The movement demands that all States refrain from extending political, diplomatic, moral or material support for terrorism,” the movement said in an April 20 joint statement.
It added, “In this context, we urge all States, consistent with the U.N. Charter and in fulfilling their obligations under international law, to ensure that refugee status or any other legal status is not abused by the perpetrators, organizers or facilitators of terrorist acts, and that claims of political motivation by them are not recognized as grounds for refusing requests for their extradition.
The Federation of Latin American Journalists also criticized the United States for having a double standard in the terrorism war.
“Our organization extends our solidarity to the families of the victims and with the people of Cuba who are demanding justice, and we denounce the double face of U.S. authorities who consider some terrorists good and others bad,” the journalist organization said in a statement.