By Jose Pertierra*
Read article on original web site (Spanish)
Everything seems to indicate that the U.S. administration strategy is to prolong, postpone and delay the trial of Luis Posada Carriles until he dies of old age in Miami. The last postponement was last Friday in El Paso. Judge Kathleen Cardone announced that the trial, initially scheduled for March 1, would be postponed indefinitely.
Posada Carriles is an international fugitive with 73 pending murder charges in Caracas. Venezuela formally requested his extradition on June 15, 2005, but Washington has chosen to prosecute him for having made false statements regarding his illegal entry to the United States.
The U.S. attorney’s office has evidence that Posada Carriles entered the country on a boat called Santrina with some of his conspirator friends. Nevertheless, Posada alleged that he had crossed the U.S.-Mexican border on foot when he was 79 years-old, a story nobody believes.
Posada’s lies were convenient for the Bush administration because they allowed it to block his extradition as the perjury charges were aired before a federal court.
After Barack Obama took power, the U.S. attorney added other charges, accusing Posada of blocking an investigation on international terrorism when he denied his role in the terrorist campaign against Cuba in 1997. This campaign was something that Posada Carriles had boasted about in an interview with The New York Times, admitting that he was the intellectual author of the bombings that killed Italian citizen Fabio de Celmo in Havana.
Every time Posada feels pressure on himself, he threatens to talk about his relation with the CIA. The documents presented by his lawyer before the court are full of these threats and insinuations; they even say that what Posada has done in Latin America has been “in Washington’s name.”
His novel legal strategy includes allegations that the CIA taught him how to lie, use fake names and carry false passports. He wants to show himself in court as if he were a soldier of the U.S.’s intelligence agency to allege that all the crimes he committed were under Washington’s supervision.
The U.S. attorney has reacted strongly to this strategy, because the last thing Washington wants is Langley’s hidden skeletons to be discovered. Posada is right about something: the CIA’s mendacity is broader than that of its agents. What was the role of the CIA in the dirty war in Latin America? Who was actually responsible for the Cubana de Aviación aircraft bombing in 1976 that left 73 civilians dead? The CIA, or Posada? What was the CIA’s role in the terrorist campaign against the Cuban tourist locations in 1997?
To prevent Posada from playing his last valuable card, thus telling all he knows, the U.S. administration has managed to block more than 90 percent of the documents presented in court. The district attorneys, defense attorneys and the judge are the only ones allowed to have access to them. Neither the press nor the audience have had access. Some journalists blame Judge Cardone for not keeping the “case open and clear.”
Oddly, the secrecy was requested by the U.S. attorney. A judge forcing the government to reveal delicate information that may allegedly damage the nation’s national security is very strange.
What is clear is that the true goals of the U.S. attorney are being accomplished. So far the legal process has been secret, and the case continues in a legal limbo without precise trial date. Judge Cardone’s decision announced a hearing for May 20, in which she wants to know the “status” of the case to determine if she can finally schedule a date for the trial.
Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government’s request is still pending and Posada Carriles continues having absolute impunity for having killed 73 innocent people on that passenger plane. When Posada’s attorneys meet the district attorneys next May 20 in El Paso to check the “status” of the case, is anybody going to tell the judge that this international terrorist has spent five years without responding to any of the criminal charges pending against him? Or that Giustino di Celmo has been waiting for 12 years for the killer of his sun Fabio to be processed? Or that the relatives of the victims of the Cubana de Aviación aircraft bombings have waited almost 34 years for justice in the attack that killed their loved ones? What are they waiting for? For the murderer to die of old age in Miami?
*José Pertierra is an attorney based in Washington. He represents the Venezuelan government in Luis Posada Carriles’ extradition request.