Sunday, April 14, 2024

EDITORIAL – Painful recall over acquittal of Cuban exile

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CUBAN EXILE groups in the United States of America were last week celebrating the decision of a court in Texas that may well have finally ended any hope of a well known Cuban terrorist ever facing trial for his documented involvement in the bombing of a Cubana commercial aircraft off Barbados on October 6, 1976, that killed all 73 people on board.
The court’s decision was to acquit Cuba-born Luis Posada Carriles, an admitted agent of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), of having lied to immigration officials on charges including “perjury and immigration fraud” when originally detained in 2005.
But Caribbean Community foreign ministers who are on record as urging in a statement that Posada (now 83) be brought to justice for his central role in that horrific Cubana disaster – unprecedented in Caribbean air space – would understandably take a cynical view of that decision in a United States federal court.
The cynicism would be based on awareness that instead of being criminally indicted for his key role in the Cubana tragedy, with information made available to them, the immigration authorities had opted to detain Posada for illegally entering the United States following his escape from a prison in Venezuela. 
In the wake of the bombing disaster, Posada hurriedly departed from Barbados for Venezuela, where he had previously acquired citizenship.
Both the governments of Cuba and Venezuela had formally requested Posada’s extradition from the United States to face trial in connection with the Cubana tragedy that claimed 73 lives – 57 Cuban citizens; 11 Guyanese and five North Koreans. 
However, from the administration of the senior George Bush to that of his elder son’s two-term presidency and extending to the current period of President Barack Obama, the Cuban exile Posada, often described by leading United States media as a most “notorious terrorist” of the Western Hemisphere, was to continue eluding prosecution for the Cubana bombing tragedy, while facing charges on providing false information to United States immigration.
But against the backdrop of strident declarations by United States presidents against international terrorism as well as pleas from the governments in Cuba, Venezuela and CARICOM for him to be tried for the Cubana bombing disaster, the toast of the Cuban exile community in Florida was last week acquitted by a court in Texas on mere charges of having lied to United States immigration. 
The cynics may well remark that in view of President Obama’s recent reversal of a decision to close down the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay as a court for military trials of claimed “terrorists”, the acquittal of Posada by a jury on charges of having simply “lied” to United States immigration should perhaps not be viewed as a big surprise, however painful a development after some 35 years of that horrible human disaster off Barbados.

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